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Comparing the MMO Industry With the Silver Screen

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the talkies-will-never-take-off dept.

Movies 95

Karen Hertzberg writes "With video gaming — specifically the massively multiplayer online titles — quickly surpassing Hollywood's cash flow, it seems logical that the silver suits at Tinsel Town would begin paying attention to their digital brethren. On the same line of thought, Hollywood provides the MMO industry with a history in the entertainment medium that we simply don't have. Ten Ton Hammer's Cody Bye sat down with four industry experts to draw together some similarities between MMOs and films, and he attempted to use those points to draw out some predictions for the future of the MMO gaming industry."

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JWSmythe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015603)

He is rich. He is goddamned rich. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME.

Pardon the smell (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015703)

I just dropped an Obama in my pants!

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015627)

first post lol

Re:first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015735)

first fail lol

I don't know why... (4, Interesting)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015665)

They (you know, "they") don't tie the two industries together in a video game.

Login to "Hollywood World", pick your sim. Have them go on sets, act, thrash hotel rooms, act strange on Letterman. Get fat, get too skinny. Drink too much, do drugs. Go into rehab. Be "reborn" with a role that makes you relevant again.

Hell, I'd play this game. :-P

Re:I don't know why... (2, Funny)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015903)

They (you know, "they") don't tie the two industries together in a video game.

Login to "Hollywood World", pick your sim. Have them go on sets, act, thrash hotel rooms, act strange on Letterman. Get fat, get too skinny. Drink too much, do drugs. Go into rehab. Be "reborn" with a role that makes you relevant again.

Hell, I'd play this game. :-P

I beat that game already...

Re:I don't know why... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016013)

I think anyone that's played an MMO has...

The only thing it's missing is getting 100 cups of coffee for the film crew in Stage 4.

Re:I don't know why... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023355)

"Fame," the ultimate addictive MMO. Try to leave it behind and go to college...try to find another career...try to go back home to your small town...but you'll always come back to the casting couch for Fame. It's the game that never lets go.

Re:I don't know why... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016051)

Um... this has been done:

The Movies [amazon.com]

Re:I don't know why... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016081)

They did [wikipedia.org] , twice [wikipedia.org] . Like most adaptations that are tied to both industries, they sucked. ^_^

Stay Away. (3, Insightful)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015677)

Try to play a (post N-64) Bond game and tell me with a straight face that Hollywood should be involved in gaming.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015755)

What is it with that Nintendo 64 James Bond game? People keep bringing it up like it was a revolution or something.

Ever heard of Castle Wolfenstein, Doom or Quake?

Re:Stay Away. (3, Insightful)

redJag (662818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015795)

People talk about those games all the time, too. Goldeneye for the 64 is much loved because it was a lot of fun, had split-screen multiplayer and enough levels/modes to keep it interesting for a long time. I liked the three you mentioned, too, but my friends and I used to love getting together when we were younger and playing Goldeneye for hours. My guess is you're just too old to have been the right age when it was out.

Re:Stay Away. (0, Troll)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015867)

or perhaps you were TOO YOUNG to understand that PC > N64

Re:Stay Away. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015975)

On the other hand, you could play with 4 people and a single N64. Can you easily do that on the PC? Especially those of that time?

Re:Stay Away. (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#29022791)

Sadly, only with an N64 emulator. As I've moved away from gaming in the sense of sitting at a screen alone for hours on end, I've found that there's a pretty big void for casual PC games that can be played on a single PC with multiple people. The only things available are a few board games, things like Worms and good old Project64...

You hear that, gaming industry? I want MOAR!

Re:Stay Away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016311)

that's probably because it wasn't

Re:Stay Away. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020361)

or perhaps you were TOO YOUNG to understand that PC > N64

Or perhaps he had 3 friends to play with, and they were, like, at his house.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015925)

Because you only needed 1 N64. You didn't have to know anything about networking. It hooked up to a TV easily. It didn't have complex controls, which made it easy to pick up.

Hell in college it was a fucking awesome drinking game because it was so simple to play. I want a remake on the Wii, don't change a thing but update the graphics and maybe a level or two.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016037)

Speaking of college, I was a freshman at the height of Goldeneye's popularity. You'd see an N64 hooked up and people playing it at parties. And I mean real parties with kegs, and girls, and fun drunken stuff. The only other games I've seen with that kind of popularity among the non-gamers are Wii Sports and Guitar Hero. That's where Goldeneye was popularity-wise. A lot of people forget that for a very brief time, normal folk were playing an FPS on a regular basis and doing it in a social setting.

Re:Stay Away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016195)

Yeah, it dominated my freshman year of college (along with Mario Cart and a few brief bouts of Star Fox). 1997-98 was a big year for Goldeneye. I havent seen a Bond game since that played as well.

Re:Stay Away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016077)

People certainly liked it, but I have to disagree about the controls! They were just awful.

For somebody who is used to playing Quake with a mouse, trying to play Goldeneye with the N64 controller is a seriously painful experience. You stare at your tiny quarter of the screen, trying to make out any sort of detail while bumping into walls and aiming in the wrong direction because of the clumsy joystick controls which are clearly designed for platform games, not an FPS. It is amazing that it was a success, given that even Wolfenstein was more playable.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

shar303 (944843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017433)

The controls weren't really that much of a problem for Goldeneye because the pace of the game was such that you didn't need the kind of responsiveness that a mouse/keyboard offered. e.g. sniping - you could still pick off a sizable bunch of guards from miles away (with indecent haste)

The other weakness as compared to pc lan offerings was that you could see what the opponent was up to, on their half of the screen - but this was never too much of an advantage - and using it was very much a part of the game

Imho it would be pretty hard to overestimate the significance of the game. everything was so balanced and well thought out that the player had scope to be as fiendish or clever as they like.

For the joy of proximity mines alone it deserves to be remembered.

Re:Stay Away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016095)

an embarrassing place to admit all of those things in one short post. Networking some sort of challenge for you? TV connections a bit much work? Controls too complicated? Having a problem picking up a controller even? I'm not sure slashdot is your true home.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018577)

Point he's trying to make is that anyone can pick it up and play. His friends could practice because they could hook it up, play at home, bring it to his house and play there. I fall squarely within the Slashdot crowd, and lots of people here don't talk about end-user friendliness. It's plausible for someone to learn about networking to play doom. But you know what? You barber isn't gonna go ahead and learn networking so they can play one game they tried once (mind you, this is 1997ish. They may not have even had a computer) But what they might do is pick up an N64 for their kid and learn how to play with them.

Re:Stay Away. (0, Troll)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021963)

This is exactly why the Wii is succeeding. Parents pick it up for their kids, but end up learning how to play along with them, and then get hooked on the games themselves. Goes to show that marketing methods can outweigh graphics enough to build a pretty strong "niche" market.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016015)

Goldeneye was the first console shooter that really worked. Plus, it was a ton of fun on local multiplayer in a time before online play was common with console games, making it fun to play, plus had lots of secrets.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016235)

Ever heard of Castle Wolfenstein, Doom or Quake?

You're responding to a post discussing the tie-ins between games and Hollywood. Where's the movie tie-in on the three games you mentioned?

Re:Stay Away. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016639)

Doom has already been done [imdb.com] ?

Re:Stay Away. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020547)

Well, if you're going to be like that, Wolfenstein was every-WW2-Nazi-movie-ever and Quake is your standard schock scifi horror.

Re:Stay Away. (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017075)

I thought Everything or Nothing was a great game and plot wise I consider it among my top five Bond movies.

Similarities between MMOs and films - Huh? (1, Interesting)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015713)

They should be looking at the differences to see where convergence will generate a lot ^H^H^H little more money.

My prediction is that by 2020 films & their ilk will have all but disappeared, like lithographs in the age of photographs, or 16mm in the age of video. etc. etc.

Re:Similarities between MMOs and films - Huh? (2, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015813)

That analogy doesn't make sense. Lithographs vs photographs, and 16mm film vs video are cases of the technical medium being replaced, while the basic art form remains the same. Lithographs and photographs both serve the same purpose, to visually capture a moment in time (approximately), while film and video both serve to capture some interval in time.

Film, like physical film might all but disappear in 2020, but I bet that there will always be something analogous to it, even something as 'mundane' as digital video. To predict that gaming as a form of entertainment (or even artistic creation?) will completely replace film/movies is just silly. They are fundamentally different. One is active, one is passive. They give completely different levels of control to the creator(s). And it goes on and on. It's really like saying, now that we invented ways to record sound on wax, books will disappear in 60 years! And this is ignoring the ridiculousness of capturing moments in history (news and such) in GAME form, as a primary reference.

It's a fair prediction to say that films may recede in their... scale might be the right word. But for them to disappear? No way.

That analogy doesn't make sense (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015945)

It wasnae meant to sonny. Parse the sentence: "looking at the differences to see where convergence"

Re:That analogy doesn't make sense (2, Funny)

jesset77 (759149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019015)

It wasnae meant to sonny.

"Wasnae"? What in the.. *squints*

Holy Gods, he's typing in Scottish! :O

Re:That analogy doesn't make sense (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020571)

Sean Connery, is that you?

Re:Similarities between MMOs and films - Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29023909)

Now that you mention it...
Yeah, I'm sure we'll be less books in the future... more than 60 years, of course, but they are being replaced by a completely different medium... we'll have to give motion picture a bit longer than books though. Personally, I'll be happy when that garbage is gone. News could be explored with our network of cameras digitising the environment and allowing VR exploration of the areas in question at the time of the event or even in real time. People will have lost interest in the passive story as they will lose interest in the written word (in favour of the spoken one). The mere idea that people read less than a book a day is clear proof of my concept.

PS: Captchas still spying on me... "drafty"

Re:Similarities between MMOs and films - Huh? (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015885)

I disagree. Simply moving to digital "film" format will keep the genre alive.

Like I stated below in a post, some people like to listen to/watch/read a story instead of participating in it. Modern movies are IMHO the most well produced entertainment on the market. They have perfected the craft of story telling. It's gonna be a long time until the moving picture format goes away, if ever. In fact, one could argue that modern video games simply borrow from it, continuing the format.

Re:Similarities between MMOs and films - Huh? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017541)

My prediction is that by 2020 films & their ilk will have all but disappeared, like lithographs in the age of photographs, or 16mm in the age of video. etc. etc.

Wall-E is as technically advanced in its use of digital techniques as anything we have seen.

And yet Wall-E at it's core is a silent movie - and the silents were never projected in silence - but told their stories through music and expression alone. Wall-E is no less deeply rooted in the aesthetics of 35mm film and optics.

The end credits of "Presto" are a handsome and knowledgeable pastiche of the stone lithography of the American circus.

Parallels That Don't Exist (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015737)

While some of this may have apt parallels, one of them seems a bit of a stretch. And that's the old Western Vs Eastern card:

With Hollywood operating a fully-functioning, movie-making machine throughout the two World Wars, it wasn't until Asian cinema blasted onto movie screens in the 1950s that we saw really poignant non-English cinema. Akira Kurosawa was perhaps the most influential of these Asian film makers, and his films Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress went on to influence a large number of film makers. However, Asian cinema still hasn't caught up to Hollywood in terms of overall, international popularity, and may never surpass the Los Angeles juggernaut.

However, the scenario is different when it comes to video games. Nintendo and Sony - and Sega for many years - have held a tight-fisted grip on the video game world⦠but not so with MMOs. Remarkably, MMO design and development has remained a very segregated sphere with very little crossover success occurring. Still, the MMO industry is beginning to feel the influence of our Asian allies quite significantly, and the buzz around this fall's upcoming release of Aion only proves this point.

The question still remains: Will Asian MMOs ever succeed where their film brethren have failed? I went to our experts to find out. Again, the answers were mixed and divisive along several lines of thought. Rather than preface their thoughts in any way, I'll just give you the ideas of the men, straight from their mouths.

I think a lot of the responses deflated this pretty well even though a few reinforced it. I've been torn apart on Slashdot for claiming Hollywood out performed other country's movie studios (like the USSR) [slashdot.org] so it'll be interesting to see the movie buffs here come out of the woodwork. The fact is that you can't judge a country's MMO successes based on its movie successes. Luckily most of this article doesn't attempt to do that but why ask, "Will Asian MMOs ever succeed where their film brethren have failed?" It doesn't make any sense to me. Compared to 95% of other countries, I find Japanese movies to be very successful. Same with their MMOs. I don't understand this parallel or the differences between MMOs here and MMOs there. WoW has obviously been very successful both in China and the US ... and while Chinese studios may only have one per year debut in US theaters, they are successful in China. Confusing to compare across countries the movie/MMO success stories. Weakens the comparison of MMOs to movies in my book.

Re:Parallels That Don't Exist (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018591)

Many neglect to realize what their target audience is. /. isn't filled with marketing and business majors, after all...

Re:Parallels That Don't Exist (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021497)

Yikes, have you ever actually *seen* Chinese domestic movies? Ugh...I thought Hollywood was unimaginative and relied on spinning the wheel-o-tropes to generate stories, but the Chinese movies are even worse. The really bad part is that now the "edgy" films are aping Western films and doing coming-of-age flicks and modern alienation. You'd think that kung fu flicks would get done less, too, but nooooo.

The future of MMOs is already here (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015759)

We're ahead of the filmmakers' schedule... we've already got a million remakes of World of Warcraft, none of which are as good as the original.

I know I know! (4, Funny)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015761)

I've got this! They're like action flicks! Except with loot!
*No plot
*No cinematic story telling or character development (just nonstop action)
*They make tons of money corporate executives want
*Corporate executives are interested in making money, but are too stupid to understand what a video game (much less a MMO) really is
*By making comparisons with an established industry, you can pretend to lend credit to your MMO ideas
*One company has a virtual monopoly on what consumers get
*I'm just going to start pulling stuff out of my ass now
*MMOs and movies both overcharge for the highly desirable yellow products (gold, popcorn..)
*People write articles on how they're correlated!

Re:I know I know! (1)

Zixaphir (845917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015891)

And all the players are extras...

Which means they're like viewers...

Because, y'know... their roles don't matter by the end of the day.

Re:I know I know! (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015927)

*You can waste a lot of time on both, and even more time reading articles on the topic.

Re:I know I know! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016561)

I agree, except for the plot thing.

You see, that's a "traditional" rant of the old industries "but, the game has no plot. so it's also no real art!" blah, blah...
But actually, all forms of entertainment you could ever think of, are subsets of what games are.
Including those with a plot.

The point is, that a plot is the natural opposite of freedom in games. And there's no way to circumvent that.
But that is ok. Because plots in games are partially besides the point.
And the point is to create a specific experience. The superset of a plot.

So you can create the experience with a plot. Or without one.
Or to be more correct: There are four things in games: mechanics, story, aesthetics, and technology.
And for a good game, you need all four of them. Seamlessly interlocked and merged, supporting each other.

The perfect example of a pure mechanics game is Tetris. It would be very weird to expect a story in Tetris, wouldn't it?

Believe me: There are many tricks to make games let you feel like they would give you total freedom and also a story. But they are all just illusions.
And you begin to understand why, when you calculate what it would take to create total freedom with a perfect story:
Let's approximate by saying that you have one binary choice every minute. And there are 40 hours of play time.
This would force you to make up 2.9647603 * 10^722 endings! Now imagine it with more frequent and multiple-choice choices.
Also, the giant majority of those would by definition be between horrible, boring and really weak.

And that's why we game developers want to create *experiences*. Like the emotional thrill of a roller coaster ride (which also has no story) with the feeling of seeing the world trough a new pair of glasses when you walked out of Fight Club or Matrix. If this needs story elements, so be it. If not, then not.

The fact that EA & co. just can't do this right, has not much to do with missing plots / stories / character developments, but more with them mass-producing games like throwaway commodities instead of like art. For the quick buck. Similar to comparing the "Chocolate"/"Cheese"/"Wine" from WalMart with a small company in France/Switzerland where they do it because they love it.

The good thing is, that you can still support and buy such games. It's not even expensive. Just go to Kongregate.com and tip the developers for their games, or buy some smaller games for your mobile phone. With a bit of time, you will find exactly those nice things in those games, that you missed in the big ones. Like really addictive gameplay or visible love for game design.
But if you are still buying EA stuff instead, you really haven't much right to rant, have you? ;)

P.S.: Yes, yes, I know. The self-whooshing is accepted. ;)

Re:I know I know! (1)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016641)

Sooo... are you arguing that MMOs do have plots? I think you're arguing against a point I never made (in other words, you are agreeing with me that these games do not have plots).

Re:I know I know! (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017257)

"But actually, all forms of entertainment you could ever think of, are subsets of what games are.
Including those with a plot."

No.

There are two archetypes of entertainment, both of which are (or should be) considered the main forms of art:

Story telling, and story writing. The ONLY thing these two CAN share, is setting...

Setting is therefore the main area in which games can benefit from all of the development of the various forms of story telling (books/films etc.).

Games are what we generally call the type of entertainment based on writing stories.

What makes modern computer games what they are, is the way in which the different types of stories, both told and written, can be *interleaved* with each other, even multiples thereof at the same time, (especially with multiple players).

But too many people focus on telling stories in games these days, which is not what games are about.

"So you can create the experience with a plot. Or without one.
Or to be more correct: There are four things in games: mechanics, story, aesthetics, and technology.
And for a good game, you need all four of them. Seamlessly interlocked and merged, supporting each other."

Again, you're slightly missing the point. Games require THREE things:

Setting. An object, (or objects), for the player(s) to control in order to write his/her/their story with, (even just him or herself in some playground games). And the rules binding the two together.

Games do not require anything else whatsoever. Chess has nothing else, neither do games such as hopscotch/tag/sports etc..

What defines a game, are the stories the player can WRITE - NOT the story that is told. EVERY genre of game, is based around something that defines the stories told - from card games to board games, (though, yes, that is mainly about the setting, but only because it's the main element defining the written story), and even genres of computer games, (from shooters to strategy games etc.).

As it happens I'm in the process (still) of writing a paper at the minute called 'Story Writing in Computer-based Role-Playing Games' - (and, yes, I know I should probably call it 'video game RPG's but I prefer the term computer instead).

The reason why I'm writing this paper is simple - I've come to realise from many conversations that many people don't fully understand what I've explained above and the ramifications of it, at least for cRPG's - (and maybe other games too).

(I've had people try and tell me, (from both within the industry and without), that cRPGS's are defined by the stories they tell, which is the underlying reason for me writing this paper).

Games are about allowing people to write their own stories within constructed settings and rules. Everything else is not a game. Whether or not anyone else here fully understands the ramifications of that I don't know - but then, that's what my paper is/will be for...

Re:I know I know! (1)

erple2 (965161) | more than 5 years ago | (#29026953)

Or to be more correct: There are four things in games: mechanics, story, aesthetics, and technology.

I disagree. There's really only 3 - mechanics, story, and aesthetics. A new technology is strictly a method for delivering the other 3. I therefore don't think that it's one of the core aspects of the game. In other words, the technology doesn't manifest itself unless through at least 1 of the other things. I'd conjecture that you can get any of the others without requiring the others...

Re:I know I know! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023305)

Duh, you forgot the hot chicks in skimpy clothing.

lolwut? (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015781)

With video gaming â" specifically the massively multiplayer online titles â" quickly surpassing Hollywood's cash flow

This is fucking bullshit. Each of the Hollywood studios brought in around $8-12 billion each last year. Activision Blizzard as a whole company only made $5 billion. World of Warcraft is the most successful MMO to date and it grossed around $1.1 billion last year. I'm not sure where this submitter is getting that an MMO title's cash flow exceeds any Hollywood studio's cash flow, since it's total BS.

Re:lolwut? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015821)

Oops that $1.1 billion was for all of Blizzard. WoW only grossed around $250-300 million which makes the submitter's comment even more patently absurd.

Re:lolwut? (1)

Warheft (1578209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016279)

Please provide links to your data. I fail to see how WoW could have possibly only grossed $250-300 million last year. Perhaps netted that little, but not grossed.

11 million accounts * $15 per month = $165 million per month (give or take a few million for long term subscription discounts)

$165 million * 12 months = $1.98 billion per year approx. gross from subscriptions alone

Add in new sales and you get an even larger number for gross.

Re:lolwut? (1)

mordenkhai (1167617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016771)

I don't know how much WoW grossed but it is is important to remember that the account totals announced are always worldwide. WoW does not have 11 million accounts in North America/Europe. There are more accounts based in China than anywhere else. WoW does not charge $15/mo. in China.

From: http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/50881 [shacknews.com]
Blizzard Entertainment's unavoidable MMORPG sensation World of Warcraft (PC) now sports over 10 million active subscribers, the company has announced. Of those, about 2.5 million are located in North America, 2 million in Europe, and 5.5 million in Asia."

"the subscription model for WoW in China is different from other parts of the world. Instead of a monthly subscription fee, Chinese gamers purchase WoW Points cards for 30 Yuan ($3.64) that are worth 600 points. Points expire at a rate of 9 per hour of play, so this amounts to 66 hours and 40 minutes of play for each card at an average of .45 Yuan ($.06) per hour"

The link below is the article where it was said, it is from 2006, however it has the link to the company page in China who handled WoW until recently and it is the same.

http://www.joystiq.com/2006/02/11/joystiq-interview-hoyt-ma-the9/ [joystiq.com]

Re:lolwut? (1)

Warheft (1578209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29022339)

Thank you for providing references to your data; however, it still does not change the fact that Desler pulled numbers out of their ass and did not provide any links to back up their claim.

Even with only 4.5 million subscribers paying approx. $15 per month, the gross would be $810 million per year. That alone puts their gross earning well over the stated $250-300 and does not take into account the Asian market, where if each of the stated 5.5 million subscribers bought just one points card per month it would add another approx. $240 million per year. Non of those numbers take new sales into account, which would include the core game and two expansions (for 2009).

The point? The largest MMO in history makes a lot of money before expenses and the game industry as a whole has been growing at a far faster rate than the movie industry in the last few years.
From: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2008/01/growth-of-gaming-in-2007-far-outpaces-movies-music.ars [arstechnica.com]

Re:lolwut? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016829)

I have a question about these numbers. What is the net profit on MMO games vs movies (especially the movies that are related to MMOs where there are comparisons to be made)? I realise that TFS is talking about gross, which is completely different, but I'm just wondering if net profits (not counting the Hollywood Accounting that claims that box office smashes lose money) are showing MMOs to be quickly catching up if not surpassing movies. The challenge here, though, is to get some meaningful lifetime numbers for a given title. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is still selling (albeit slowly). Early MMOs probably have been shut down (I don't know - I don't play these games). No MMO is as long in the tooth as RotJ, so comparing the long tail is impossible - we need to make predictions about the long tail of MMOs - I expect that once players dwindle to a certain point, the MMO goes offline as profitability does go to zero.

Re:lolwut? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020665)

Net profit is probably greater for a successful MMO but it's *very* heavily back-loaded. A movie can get away with 1-2 years from a script to announcement to theatrical release. To be actually successful, an MMO will need at least 3-4 years in development plus a lengthy (6+ months) closed alpha/beta AND a similar scale public beta. Call it 5 years all up, for a team of at least 40-50 people. On the other hand, a skeleton crew can continue to maintain that MMO for its 5-10 year lifetime, over which it will generate strong profits if it can maintain a solid userbase.

Re:lolwut? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015993)

Every couple of years, the "videogames are overtaking cinema" claim pops up. And every time, it's been wrong.

Re:lolwut? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020701)

I also regularly hear the Radio Star on my radio.

Re:lolwut? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020733)

You bastard, that song is one of my all-time most virulent ear-worms.

Re:lolwut? (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016259)

The only way I could possibly interpret the claims are that they are using the ratio of investment:profits per game/movie--still ridiculous because you can't invest 50x more than wow (in new games) and expect your profits to grow 50x.

Re:lolwut? (5, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016287)

Each of the Hollywood studios brought in around $8-12 billion each last year.

World of Warcraft is the most successful MMO to date and it grossed around $1.1 billion last year.

How many movies did each of the Hollywood studios release last year? If you're going to compare game vs. movie, then it's erroneous to look at total revenues for the Hollywood studios.

As for the aggregate for each industry... well... movie ticket sales in 2008 (a record high, btw) was approx 9.8 billion dollars. Videogame software sales were 11 billion dollars (hardware sales were just under 8 billion). See, anyone can pick irrelevant numbers to make their case (notice I left out home video purchases and rentals, around 30 billion IIRC).

What's made so many people take notice is that blockbuster videogames now take in more cash than blockbuster movies, which was the point of the quote that you argue with.

Classic Slashdot (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017025)

You are handily forgetting the important fact that movie ticket sales are an ever decreasing source of revenue for the film industry.,

Films usually make more on DVD/BluRay than they do in theater now, not even including pay per view and cable distribution. So quoting only box office sales is a big no-no.

I love articles like this. It is classic Slashdot, elevating something popular mainly only in geekdom to some kind of broad-market status that simply does not exist. For example - World of Warcraft has 11.5 million subscribers worldwide. Yes that sounds like a lot - until you compare it with the number of people who see at least one movie monthly worldwide, which numbers in the many hundreds of millions.

Comparing MMO to Hollywood is a total pile of BS in terms of money alone - don't even get me started on how much less relevant it is on a cultural scale.

Re:Classic Slashdot (1)

sien (35268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019937)

Spot on.

And what's really great about slashdot is that it is also classic slashdot for people like you and others to come in with figures and good information and very correctly point out that the claim is BS.

That's why people stick around.

Re:Classic Slashdot (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020107)

Notice He left out home video purchases and rentals, around 30 billion IHRC.

Did you mean to reply to GP or TFA perhaps?

Re:Classic Slashdot (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023773)

If you think gaming as an industry is only for geeks and a non-existent broad-market status, then you are either not paying attention or incredibly stupid. How old of an industry is film? How old is computer gaming? How much market share has gaming gained in its short existence? How much is it growing each year? And on a personal note, how old are you to be so out of touch with reality?

Gaming != MMO (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 5 years ago | (#29024581)

The article is about MMO gaming, not gaming as a whole. They are totally different beasts. In terms of sales and revenue almost all of the growth in gaming in the past two years is as a result of the explosion of casual gaming, popularised by the Wii. Casual gaming is about as far from MMO as you can get.

MMO is never going to become mainstream because most people do not become infatuated with their entertainment in such a way that they want to devote hours upon hours to it nightly. This is a uniquely geek trait. Every non-geek I know who has tried out WoW, has enjoyed it at first, but ditched it after a few months, because if you can't commit to it it quickly becomes not very enjoyable.

Re:Classic Slashdot (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023845)

You are handily forgetting the important fact that movie ticket sales are an ever decreasing source of revenue for the film industry.

Handily forgetting? Despite the fact that I explicitly mention the 30 Bn in home video and rental revenue for 2008? Despite the fact that I actually state that I'm cherrypicking numbers to make a point?

You missed my main point, which is that blockbuster video games gross higher than blockbuster movies, which is why they've caught so much attention.

This is why I love slashdot discussions. It's always possible to find someone who sets up a straw man to argue against, even though their straw man was explicitly pre-empted by the post they are responding to.

Re:lolwut? (2, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017087)

What's made so many people take notice is that blockbuster videogames now take in more cash than blockbuster movies, which was the point of the quote that you argue with.

Somehow I cannot get used to the idea of calling best selling videogames such as "Wii Fit" (20m+ copies, 2b+ revenue) a "blockbuster". Next thing we know, people will be talking about "blockbuster" Barbie doll dresses or blockbuster Lego Kits.

The future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015789)

Obviously, if the MMO market follows the path of Hollywood, the small good studios will gradually become encased in massive media conglomerates that will stifle creativity and focus on profits, then endorse the actions of gangster organizations like the MPAA and RIAA, while programmers and content developers protect themselves with massive union hedgerows. Eventually the Next Big Thing will come along and kill all of their profits, and they'll begin to resort to carrion crow rehashes of formerly popular titles.

Oh wait, isn't there a new Star Wars MMO coming out... ?

Sarah Palin: Cokehead (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29015825)

I'm serious. A Search with "Sarah Palin" and cocaine returns, in Bing, these shocking results [bing.com] .

What's next?: Sarah Palin learning to read?

Yours In Democracy,
K. Trout

games areinteresting but I still like to "veg out" (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015845)

I will always love movies, because sometimes I just want to watch a story and not participate. Just like I'd rather read a book than write my own.

Some interesting predictions in the article though. One thing they should recognize is the power of the indy developer. Look at how the movie industry has moved to embrace the indy film industry, if only because it shouldn't cost a 100M dollars to make a good film and get a good return on investment. All parties win.

MMO: the Movie (4, Funny)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015849)

In a world ruled by darkness, could one man kill 20 spiders?

In a time before time itself, will one spaceship be able to deliver 10 space cows to Jita IV?

The movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting to level: MMO Grindhouse.

Re:MMO: the Movie (2, Insightful)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016001)

MMO: The Movie

Act 1. Scene 1.

Ext. Bank, Daylight

The Hero, Heroine, Sidekick and Disposable Guy#1, stand outside the bank, hanging around the mail box.

Hero: LF Healer, for heroic movie then gtg! Have geared tank, DPS! Must be keyed and exalted rep status!

...

Ext. Bank, Night

Sidekick: Seriously, screw this. Can't buy a freaken heroic run on this server. That's it, when a new MMO comes Im jumping ship.

Sidekick leaves party

Re:MMO: the Movie (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016927)

Our heroes leave town to fight the...

CORP POR ...what the hell, dude? I'm the announcer.

Re:MMO: the Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016041)

I love a good Tarantimmo.

Re:MMO: the Movie (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017255)

Imagine those lines voiced by Donald LaFontaine when you read it, and for me, it's easy to imagine people lining up at the theaters to eat it up.

The only parallel that matters: (2, Interesting)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016027)

I couldn't get through the page fest to check if they made the one parallel that really matters: movie execs would love to "lease content" to you the way MMO's do. That's what they want to be the future.

LAN party at the local movie theater? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016047)

Everyone brings a wireless laptop, and game moderators look for interesting action from either an individual player's perspective, some shots of actual gamers playing, and/or some "camera angles" so you can see large scenes within the game. Could easily be a 3-way splitscreen with a little of each.

You can come to watch the big screen (and pay), or participate in the actual game (and pay a lower fee or get in for free - maybe even get some love in the form of free concessions or something). Gamers play for some sort of prize at the end, and their picture up on a big effing theater screen holding their prize at the end.

Everyone who comes to participate has to buy a legal copy of the game. The movie theater only has to maintain a network and server and have a couple of people acting as mods/"directors". The theater probably doesn't have to pay licensing fees, since the game publishers are happy that the theater is encouraging people to buy legit copies of the game. In fact, the publishers would probably chip in for the servers. So the theater could probably have people pony up $5 a head for viewers and say $2 a head for gamers, offer a free pre-release copy of the next iteration of the game, and make decent money at the concessions to boot.

It's like reality TV, except all the "stars" are locals, they work basically for free (or may even pay a little for it), there's plenty of action and mayhem, and you never know what's going to happen in a particular showing.

I have no idea if it would work, but it's an intriguing blend of Hollywood and Gaming.

Re:LAN party at the local movie theater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016135)

'intriguing' is a little strong. i'd go with 'stupid'.

Re:LAN party at the local movie theater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016461)

Some incorrect data in here:

The 'theatre' running this event will require the players to pay a fee as well as that is how they afford prizes at the end.
Normal customers would contribute to that and the rest would go into their pockets for fees and profit accordingly.

Game publishers will NOT just allow this kind of thing.
Most require a fee for their game being used in a commercial setting.
Some will just be each participant must have a legal copy while others will be a set fee per player per time span (often per year).
Blizzard (for instance) allows WoW copies to be run for free as they require a subscription while StarCraft, Diablo, and Warcaft titles all require fees per year to play. ((Check into fees involved in internet cafe's // gaming centers))

A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016105)

A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. Too much story in a game makes the game a "track ride", where you ride along the plot track, mostly doing drive-by shootings. This has been the curse of most movie-licensed games.

Fortunately, the game industry has gone beyond that. Most major games are now large-area free-play games. There are plotted things to do, but you're not locked into the plot. You can start up GTA IV and just tour Liberty City if you like. Try that with early Star Wars games and you get nowhere; you're locked on the track and you will bomb the Death Star as ordered.

The free-play model breaks the Hollywood process, which progresses from plot to script to production in a very sequential way. Game development today is more about world-building. There are subplots, but often there's no overarching plot at all. Nor is there necessarily a story arc.

MMOs go even further in that direction. Not only are they free-play, but there are tens or hundreds of users all creating input. Those users have to be kept happy (they're paying by the month) and managed. Managing an MMO is a politician's job, not a director's. Hollywood types hate that.

World of Warcraft is run from Irvine, CA. (WoW staffers, you have my sympathy.) Everquest is run from San Diego. EVE is run from Bellevue, WA. Lord of the Rings is run from Westwood, Massachusetts. The big successes in the MMO area aren't coming from Hollywood.

Re:A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (1)

scoser (780371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017441)

EVE is run from Bellevue, WA.

EVE Online is actually run from Reykjavik, Iceland (a London datacenter provides the hosting).

Re:A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017489)

Do the MMO's (never played one) allow players to set up challenges and situations for other players? Can they build dungeons/space stations/oil rigs for others to go through.

Re:A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29023589)

In EVE. Yes, the rest not so much. Though you cannot create a dungeon of sorts. Its more like the Berlin wall where you and your 3000 other friends guard your stuff. You, the players, create everything. Ammo, space stations, moon mining equipment, interstellar jump gates, ships, guns, sensor modules, ozone reaction compounds, empires, factions, trade routes safe and savory, you get the idea. There's NPC stuff too, but whats the fun in that when you can scam, pirate, trade with, harass, declare war, peace, or resources with the 300,000 other real people in real time. Oh did I forget there is a huge espionage element to the game which is on a time scale and cunning that I have never seen anywhere outside of history.

Re:A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29024359)

City of Heroes/Villains does since Issue 14: Architect.

From their site [cityofheroes.com] in untranslated marketingspeak, "Now, with Issue 14, this game takes another giant step, allowing players to design their own missions and story arcs to share with the entire City of Heroes community across all of our live servers. Using an intuitive interface, players can browse through other player created missions and create their own missions from the ground up. Players will determine details ranging from environments, mission objectives, and enemies, to written fiction and character dialogue; giving their stories nearly infinite depth and personalization."

Re:A movie is a story; a game is a place you go. (1)

Randym (25779) | about 5 years ago | (#29154519)

The free-play model breaks the Hollywood process, which progresses from plot to script to production in a very sequential way. Game development today is more about world-building. There are subplots, but often there's no overarching plot at all. Nor is there necessarily a story arc.

In a certain sense, a "story" is just a cross-section of a "game". But that very act of differentiating a plot from its environment induces the story to appear: characters with motives utilize the gamescape at a 'higher' level, and there's your movie, complete with story.

{Luke: You mean old Ben Ken-Obi?}

Games are imbued with the possibility of drama. Most stories are banal; Hollywood carefully selects out the dramatic stories from the worlds in which they are set. (Hogan: I don't know what you mean, Colonel.} But they are stuck with their old trick: you can merely passively 'identify' with a projected /character; you *pretend* to be the hero. The new trick is enabling the "player" to experience *inside* the story; thus the allure of games, where first person experience is assumed. In a FPS, you *are* the 'hero': that is what Hollywood craves.

But Hollywood has already demonstrated the shortcomings of the *pure* first-person narrative: remember The Blair Witch Project? (Or, for that matter, the cheesy clunkiness of Cloverfield?) Simply incorporating subjectivity into the movie-going experience is not enough: it must be done *artfully*.

Consider the first 15 minutes of District 9; talking head vignettes blend naturally into on-the-ground you-are-there action to convincingly bring us into the director's vision. It is our extreme identification with the main character that constructs the movie for us. But, despite his immediacy, knowing *only* what he knows would hamper our comprehension of the movie. (Interestingly, for our discussion, the lead character knows that *he himself* is a character in a 'game' as well: the charade of "consent".) Indeed, it is a plot-driven "accident" which triggers his sudden re-evaluation of that 'game' he's in, and, of course -- and, not incidentally, -- "makes the movie".

A movie is a 'place' you "go"; a game is all of the stories at once: *you* are the /character that cross-sections the mileau with your own unique motive. *You* pull the story out of the world by your stances and attitudes -- then you are no longer playing a game, but experiencing your self-created reality.

In a world... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016167)

In a world where MMOs and movies collide...one man comes forth to save humanity.

(Voice over) It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

"CUT! Where are the grues? What do you mean they need dark? What is this lame? Damnit, stupid game developers. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FILM THE GRUES IF I CAN'T SEE THEM?

What do you mean, infrared cameras? Oh. Nice. Carry on, dead voice-over guy."

Arnold Schwarznegger: "We've got to get out of heauh!"
Adam Sandler: "NO! They're all gonna laugh at you!"
Gary Coleman: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?
Nicole Ritchey: "Like, wow. That's one ugly grue."
Jim Carrey: "I sped. I followed too closely. I ran a stop sign. I almost hit a Chevy. I sped some more. I failed to yield at a crosswalk. I changed lanes at the intersection. I changed lanes without signaling while running a red light and *speeding*! I changed lanes without signaling while running a red light and speeding while trying to hit a grue!"
Jack Nicholson: "I picture a man, then I take away reason and accountability."

One man, a team of flatulent horses, and a grue.

Gruesome. Coming soon.

MXO? (1)

Tripledub (951046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016265)

Remember when MXO started they promised that everything that happened in the game would become lore for any more movies. Too bad that the brothers(!?) screwed up the last two so bad that there never will be any others. Of course MXO bit the dust last month and no one even cared about the end of the Matrix.

"(T)he silver suits at Tinsel Town" (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016649)

I think I just rolled any eyeball out of joint.

The worst from hollywood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016703)

Was the "invention" of letterbox. Now computer users cringe at those short computer screens. OK, with gaming industry taking the lead, can we have fullscreen (or 16:10, at least) back?

Tunnel vision (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017129)

The motion picture and television industry is cyclical. Which is why you see so many remakes, clones and sequels. But it has been willing to embrace every popular fictional genre.

The premise of most online games tends to read like a "Mad-Lib" generated from the stock elements of D&D, Stars Wars and GTA.

The open world allows you to disconnect from the storyline - but then its back to same old grind.

Advancement in the game is measured by the body count. Smarts and skill count for less than the time you have to invest in the game.

- and in a game like GTA, your willingness to beat up a prostitute.

That's a little cynical, of course, but I'd argue that there is more than a little truth in these sterotypes.

German cinema (1)

chefren (17219) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020559)

From the article: "With Hollywood operating a fully-functioning, movie-making machine throughout the two World Wars, it wasnâ(TM)t until Asian cinema blasted onto movie screens in the 1950s that we saw really poignant non-English cinema." The writer seems to have missed the influential pre-nazi German cinema industry that seriously challenged Hollywood in innovation and quality in the 20s and early 30s. Some of the stuff is still perfectly watchable today.
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