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Financial Issues May Force Changes On Games Industry

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the go-go-gadget-indies dept.

Businesses 246

krou writes "According to comments made at the Edinburgh Interactive conference, operating costs of making games are spiraling upwards, and there has been 'significant disruption' to the games industry's business model. Games are getting much bigger and taking longer to develop, the console market is fragmented, and the cost of licensing intellectual property has gone up. All of this, says Edward Williams from BMO Capital Markets, means that 'For Western publishers, profitability hasn't grown at all in the past few years and that's before we take 2009 into account.' Recent figures suggest game sales have fallen 29% over the last 12 months. While westerners still relied on putting games on DVDs and selling them through retail channels, 'Chinese developers focused primarily on the PC market and used direct download, rather than retail stores, to get games to consumers,' and the lack of console users 'meant developers there did not have to pay royalties to console makers.' Peter Moore of EA Sports said that significant changes will come in the future, particularly in electronic purchasing of games."

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246 comments

Looks like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081535)

Whoever said PC gaming is dead is about to eat crow.

Re:Looks like (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081957)

I think it's only stupid sensationalist reporters who have made the ridiculous claim that PC gaming is dead. The only way to kill PC gaming is to kill the PC.

Genres that the PC can't handle (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082773)

The only way to kill PC gaming is to kill the PC.

Or to popularize genres that deployed PCs still can't handle, such as party games where four players share one big screen, or music games that depend on extremely low audio latency by PC standards (under 17 ms).

Re:Looks like (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082251)

Indeed, except that neither the summary, nor the article, claimed PC gaming is dead.

Re:Looks like (5, Insightful)

Ren.Tamek (898017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082339)

The delicious irony is that publishers and developers were the ones who decided to abandon the PC games market. There's 'too much piracy' there they say, throwing away millions in sales from the many loyal PC fans worldwide. Now they're telling us that console royalties are too much money? Well, I can't have too much sympathy there; they've pretty much made their own bed, and are complaining that they have to lie in it.

ARRRGH (3, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081549)

Goddamnit slashdot!!! I had an f'in essay written on this topic and inadvertently clicked on a link, thereby wiping my whole mother F#$*%^! comment out! Can you not save data in forms when I go back like every other webpage out there???

Ugh... FRUSTRATION!!!

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Dante Shamest (813622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081587)

*sympathetic pat*
Hi, you must be new here. :)

Re:ARRRGH (1)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081615)

:'(

Re:ARRRGH (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081621)

that's why you fire up notepad when writing long comments. :|

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Johnny O (22313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081875)

You mean n/k/gedit of course

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Bluebottel (979854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082555)

Real posters use Emacs.

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081625)

Browser itself should do it.

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081837)

It would, but it can't, because the form isn't on the page before you click a button and the JS creates it.

Re:ARRRGH (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081941)

Opera just freezes the page the way it was when you navigate away, that said I'm still using the old Slashdot interface so comments go on a separate page anyway.

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082273)

It does not freeze for me. Though I have Javascript disabled.

Re:ARRRGH (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082517)

I mean it takes the site as it is instead of reloading it.

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082277)

Well, even if created by Javascript it should be still there when you press back (when using Opera at least). I don't use Javascript so I don't have this problem - /. shows me a normal form on a separate page.

Re:ARRRGH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081679)

Goddamnit slashdot!!! I had an f'in essay written on this topic and inadvertently clicked on a link, thereby wiping my whole mother F#$*%^! comment out! Can you not save data in forms when I go back like every other webpage out there???

Ugh... FRUSTRATION!!!

You could always try data recovery;-)

Re:ARRRGH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081855)

get firefox, install "Lazarus"

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Ravendruid (1260572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082301)

get firefox, install "Lazarus"

Dagnabit, you beat me to it.

Re:ARRRGH (3, Informative)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081881)

Re:ARRRGH (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081949)

I'll second that. Lazarus is a fantastic FF plugin to avoid this very problem. Plus it encrypts all your data for added security. Great little tool.

Not a Bug. A Feature. (2, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082169)

Like calling for a meeting in a room with no chairs, the Slashdot forms discourage lengthy messages, which, after you've read enough "essays" on Slashdot, you recognize is a Good Thing.

Re:Not a Bug. A Feature. (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082969)

Too bad there's always a moron that keeps going about their vacation even in a stand-up meeting...

Re:ARRRGH (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082607)

Opera does this automatically for you.

The only time Opera loses the stuff in edit boxes is when you forcefully reload the page. You can click on links and rewind back, or you can start out rewinding to see what was on the previous page and then go forward again and the stuff in edit boxes is still there.

This has been standard Opera behavior for as long as I can remember (at least 10 years.) Other browsers require plugins to mimick the extent of behavior (and those arent even very good at it)

Not necessarily a bad thing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081635)

I admit that I'm probably in the minority on this, but I haven't been happy about where the game industry has been going in the past decade.

The big budget phenomena has been the very thing that's lowering my enjoyment of games. IMHO, the obsession with graphics, sequels/IP and marketing (all big budget things) has detracted from the biggest part of games: gameplay.

Perhaps this will be an opportunity for the game industry to take a step back and reevaluate their approach to development. I, personally, would very much like to see developers choose a route of detail, gameplay and innovation rather than releasing the same game every other year with improved graphics.

But what do I know, my ideal game is Dwarf Fortress.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (2, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081973)

I don't think you're in the minority here. People on Slashdot have been complaining about stupid eye candy, cut scenes, intro movies, crappy franchise games, DRM and general lack of creativity in games for ages.

I do love the rise of smaller game developers to the mainstream, like Stardock. The big giants can die for all I care, and clear the way for a new generation of game developers.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (2, Interesting)

MrSands (1605441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29083193)

Go play them then but don't assume every one wants the same thing as you and don't live in the illusion that simplistic game play can cut it for the mass market today. When I was younger, tetris, pacman, mario, sonic etc. were all fun, very fun for me to play in fact. However, simplistic games can only go so far. Now for my serious money ($50+AUD) I expect a great story, excellent voice acting (this is actually very important, voice acting can ruin a game), sound effects and then also great game play and top notch graphics. Great gameplay alone doesn't cut it for me anymore. A game without a story isn't worth the time for me, a great story needs great dialog and a game with bad voice acting no matter how much it excels in other areas can be terrible. It's not like before where good gameplay alone is enough. Back then game developers only needed programmers and maybe a background musician. Now games need everything else and that means they need to hire not just programmers but also writers, actors, musicians (midi music doesn't cut it anymore). That increases the cost of the game, but it also provides jobs. Now it would be great if all game developers can make great games. However that's unrealistic. Just like everything that involves creativity, for every good work it is preceded by many bad works. It is experimentation and learning (take for example Too Human, they tried an innovative way to control the character - many found the controls bad, now many developers would know to steer clear of that control method or to improve it). Sure I will still play simplistic games, and will enjoy them. But those games better damn well be free (ie-Flash games) or cheap (iphone games -- less than $2AUD). But if the two types of games were mutually exclusive, I would prefer to have the big blockbuster games that breaks new ground (albeit expensive) rather than the cheap simplistic games (that are mostly a rehash of games already released). As for tie-ins and those kind of games, I personally don't enjoy them. But do I get pissed off that I think they are priced much more expensive than I think they should be? No, why? because I wouldn't buy them even if they were $5. But other people do enjoy them and do think they are worth the price they are being asked for (hence they buy them). Do I have the right to say that they should get rid of those games simply because I don't enjoy them? No I don't. And as for DRMs, if pirates didn't pirate there wouldn't be a need for them. Developers develop DRM because they have mouths to feed so more power to them.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (3, Interesting)

bmatt17 (1494941) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082173)

"The big budget phenomena has been the very thing that's lowering my enjoyment of games. IMHO, the obsession with graphics, sequels/IP and marketing (all big budget things) has detracted from the biggest part of games: gameplay."

I don't think that's quite the case. There have been some exceptional games released that have both excellent gameplay and great graphics. Call of Duty, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Dragon Age is looking to be awesome, the list of great games really goes on and on.

What I have a problem with is the games that don't have cutting edge graphics and great gameplay yet still cost the same. $60 for a AAA title I have no problem spending. $60 for the latest movie tie in or just average game I refuse to buy. And will pick it up used for half the cost if I want to play it. I really think that games should be released in different pricing tiers. For example the new Katimari for PS3 that's coming out would be fun and worth buying new for 20-30 bucks, but not a good deal for 50 or 60 when compared to Uncharted, Gears of War etc. If publishers would release these average games at a lower price point I would buy a lot of them new. As it is, most games aren't worth the price of admission and as such instead of the publisher/developer getting $30-40 of my money gamestop gets it.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082597)

I haven't paid the full 70€ for any "next" generation game so far, the most I paid for a game on the 360 was 45€ for Prototype, imported from the UK (and apparently they imported it from Korea if I recognize that font correctly). Other almost full-price games were Red Faction Guerilla which would have been 70€ had it not been for a deal of the week on Amazon and HAWX which was only 30€ because the store was going out of business. Yeah, I will stay away from the 70€ price even more when I know a game isn't great but so far I don't think I'd pay that even for the greatest games there are.

I certainly won't buy used at Gamestop, 5€ off is nowhere near enough of a discount for a used game. I'd rather wait for the new copies to fall to 30€ or less. If Gamestop wants my business on used games they should offer much bigger discounts.

For comparison the Wii's full game price of 50€ is much more acceptable.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (1)

bmatt17 (1494941) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082797)

I understand the issues people have with gamestop, but if you shop around and get them on their specials deals can be had. For instance Lair is still selling for $50 to 60 new in most stores around here, including gamestop, but used it's $15. Granted any recent title is going to be $5 off(plus another $5.50 with the edge card) so you're saving over $10. Add that to being able to trade games you're no longer playing in and it's not too bad a deal with the edge card and the extra 20-30% they offer at times. Make use of the 7 day free rentals at gamestop as well and it's a decent bargain. I've beaten more than a few games during that free rental period, including Gears of War 2.

Re:Not necessarily a bad thing (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082655)

There have been enough "Gems" over the past decade that I cannot not agree with you.

Three examples of great sequels are Civilization IV, Oblivion, and Half-Life 2. I admit that there are a lot of crappy sequels out there, but there has always been loads of craptacular games dating all the way back to the Atari 2600. Thats just the way it is.

For great new innovative games you check out World of Goo, and Defense Grid.

If platformers are your thing, you gotta check out Trine.

Disruption is the right word. (0)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081637)

there has been 'significant disruption' to the games industry's business model.

Yes and it's called the Wii [50webs.com] .

Re:Disruption is the right word. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081655)

If you like a source with less unconventional writing there's this one [ondisruption.com] though it doesn't go into the basics of what disruption means.

Re:Disruption is the right word. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081691)

Oh and maybe I shouldn't amend my posts that often but here [hbs.edu] is a good description of the attack process in a disruption.

Good thing, too (5, Insightful)

puroresu (1585025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081653)

The cost of licensing IPs has gone up? Then stop relying on licensed IPs and start making compelling games that people want to play.

Every year there's a new Tiger Woods/NFL/WWE game, virtually identical to the last offering with a few player updates and token changes to the control system. Sorry, but I prefer actual depth over the latest and greatest graphics and accurate sports team rosters.

A lot of developers could take influence from the greatest pro wrestling game series ever devised [wikipedia.org] . Concentrate on making a fun game and make it customisable enough that the player can change it to accurately represent a given league/company/tv show/movie/comic book (delete as required).

Re:Good thing, too (4, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081771)

While licensing big properties like that is part of the equation, later comments in the summary lead me to believe that a big part of "Licensing IP" that they reference is simply the fees you pay to publish on a console. If you put out a PS3 game, Sony gets a cut. If you put out a Wii game, Nintendo gets a cut. If you put out a computer game though (be it Windows, Linux, Mac, whatever), you generally don't have to pay royalties to any company just to publish your game.

Needing a PC for each player (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082571)

If you put out a computer game though (be it Windows, Linux, Mac, whatever), you generally don't have to pay royalties to any company just to publish your game.

But if you go PC, your game generally becomes single-player unless it targets the college demographic, which can afford a separate gaming-class PC for each player. Very few major-label PC games take into account the case of one PC, one 32" monitor, and four USB gamepads; most 4-player party games are either single-console exclusives or multiplatform in the sense of "both country and western".

Re:Good thing, too (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082623)

I think that that is a "All they that take the DRM shall perish with the DRM" moment.

They wanted a nice clean, shiny platform that kept the riffraff off. And they got it. Trouble is, putting yourself in the hands of a single gatekeeper is a bad idea.

Re:Good thing, too (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081775)

Then stop relying on licensed IPs and start making compelling games that people want to play.

Maybe the cost of IP is going up because those games sell and people want to play them?

Re:Good thing, too (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081849)

Well, you go the first one right.

What would Guitar Hero have been? (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082581)

Then stop relying on licensed IPs and start making compelling games that people want to play.

What would Guitar Hero have been without songs that people recognize?

Re:What would Guitar Hero have been? (3, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29083183)

Canceled... like it should have been a long time ago. ;)

Download .iso & key? (4, Insightful)

achowe (829564) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081669)

If the games industry switches to a buy online / download model, I want to be able to burn that download to CD for backup. Nothing worse than paying for something and finding N+1 months later when you want to play again, that the download is no longer available and/or the seller has gone bust. For example NetStorm. Greatt game. Good single player campaign. Net play was good too, except the servers eventually died off. Still I do like to play single player from time to time. If I didn't have the CD, I'd be shit out of luck to replay later (yes I know there are online cracked versions now). The point is that if you buy something, people had better be able to burn to CD and install from CD.

Re:Download .iso & key? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081835)

You are not alone in that sentiment, in fact it looks like the vast majority wants a physical copy. In an interview even Shigeru Miyamoto (I think he holds a lot of sway on Nintendo's business decisions, not just game designs) said he wants a physical copy of things he downloads.

Going online-only isn't going to fix the financial woes of the gaming industry anyway, the problem is with the content (which is costing more and more to make while bringing in too little money), not the delivery method. Even if online reduces the overhead costs that's only a fixed growth, a one time spike that may delay the end for a few years but not going to prevent it. The only way to prevent it is to make costs go down (or at least stay level if you've got them down to a good level already) and sales go up. Sales don't go up by making the delivery cheaper, they go up by making the product more interesting to more people, i.e. expand the market. Companies that keep pushing unnecessary expenses like even better graphics while keeping their product's appeal more or less the same will implode from rising costs.

It's really not news though, apparently the percentage of households with a gaming system has remained unchanged over the last few generations and all growth was driven by population growth. If the population declines so will the core market for gaming. Doesn't help that core games are currently being made for a very narrow demographic and the demographic change in the upcoming years (i.e. the number of people in the age brackets below the target demographic) looks like that demographic is going to shrink massively.

Consumers should change too (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081671)

It would be nice if economic troubles caused gamers themselves to be more selective about which games they bought. A few years ago when I worked at gamestop, most of the customers (children especially) seemed to buy games based ENTIRELY OFF THE BOXART. "Hey, I have a PS2. Hey, I enjoyed the movie 'fight club". Hey, this box which appears to have been the first game I picked up is Fight club for the PS2. That's GOT to be a good one!" [metacritic.com] Many people are apparently buying wii games at random, the effect being that most of the games for the wii are barely playable. Developers wouldn't make movie-tie in games if they didn't sell. It would be great if the economic troubles really put a damper on people buying games on impulse without reading a single review to tell if the game was halfway decent, or shovelware [metacritic.com] .

Then again, I'm pretty sure even if that 29% decrease were entirely due to throwaway games, the industry would still follow the path of least resistance. Maybe they'd just make ONLY worthless games.

While I'm making demands of millions of people who wouldn't change even if they did read this post, it would be nice if gamers were more supportive, or at least more forgiving, of games that try to do new things. A lot of "hardcore" gamers get very entrenched opinions about what a game should and should not be according to genre. It's like if moviegoers complained that a movie wasn't formulaic enough.

Re:Consumers should change too (4, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081721)

Many people are apparently buying wii games at random, the effect being that most of the games for the wii are barely playable.

The data actually shows that sales are MORE concentrated on the Wii, most sales go to an even smaller number of games than usual (80% sales on 14% games, the usual values are 80-20). The few shovelware titles that managed breakthroughs did so because they did something people really wanted. AFAIK the sales of the shovelware are mostly really low and the market for it is so oversaturated (the developer of Carnival Games, a million-selling minigame collection said they wouldn't stand a chance in today's Wii market... yet they kept throwing money at more shovelware) that I wouldn't be surprised if they failed to sell enough to break even despite their low dev costs.

The whole situation has made third parties run around like headless chickens, only able to clone what others succeeded with and not realizing that they could at least clone games from other consoles instead of only what was released on the Wii. As it is they keep cloning a very small pool of games with no understanding of why the original game worked in first place and then act surprised as the result bombs. EA's Peter Moore seemed to have a recent realization of how to sell Wii games, namely thinking about what the customer demands from a game of that type and then dealing with those demands instead of just taking an existing formula (that was probably developed with those customer demands even if it was by accident and so long ago that noone remembers what exactly happened). Maybe it was triggered by Wii Fit where everybody could immediately understand why a customer would buy Wii Fit: Because they wanted to lose weight! By knowing the customer demands they were able to make their own fitness games that worked. If you don't understand WHY something was done you probably won't be successful at copying it.

Re:Consumers should change too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081899)

Somebody forgot the number one rule of Fight club for the PS2...

Another victim (1)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081675)

An economic crisis such as this one is a wet dream for governments wanting to offer "protection" to all sorts of businesses and have them comply with their ideologies. And games are just another industry in the hands of those who may offer tax cuts or printed money in exchange of new politically correct (and boring) games.

Re:Another victim (0, Flamebait)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29083221)

It doesn't even need to be a crisis... they will run for office under the guise that there are developers starving to death on the streets and going bankrupt left and right because of the situation and create a fabricated crisis out of it. Then when they pull on the strings of the sympathetic (aka: charitable) people in the US, they will eat it up hook line and sinker. They'll blame the evil corporations and capitalism and trumpet their ability to create a better system. People will overlook all the other failed programs and insist on change.

Not suprising (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081709)

The last financial crisis killed Loki Games even though they were on track with their financial plans.

In the past... (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081715)

In the past games were made with much less developers and a much smaller budget, and yet I found them just as fun to play.

That's the way it's supposed to happen. (5, Insightful)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081727)

This is the natural way it's supposed to happen.

Graphics
When SNES came out, the fact that it looked so much better than the NES added to the enjoyment. Now graphics are at a point where we can move characters around in something akin to what we'd see in a CG movie. We've hit a peek where cartoonish graphics can't really get much better.

Expansiveness
Next we have huge sandbox games. Again we've hit a peek, where the worlds are so expansive that by the time you've explored everything you're either addicted (like an MMO), or you've spent so much time doing the same things that the gameplay becomes repetitive.

Complexity
Then we've got games that take months to learn all the possible moves and combos.


Flair is no longer as important
So the old adage of more is better is no longer valid with video games. We've hit a peek in many areas where more is simply not necessary. Now we can focus specifically on what makes something "fun" besides the flair.

This is why the Wii is so popular. And as technology keeps getting better, it becomes easier and easier for independent developers to produce graphics, game play, and complexity that are passable, so that audiences will just focus on if it's fun or not.

Of course big game companies may soon be in trouble. A lot of their main commodities (graphics, expansiveness, complexity) are getting easier and easier to reproduce to an appropriate level. This makes what they produce less valuable. It's progress.

Re:That's the way it's supposed to happen. (3, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081795)

Their main commodities don't get easier to reproduce but they are demanded less by customers. Most if not all core values of gaming have overshot the majority of customers, i.e. reached the point where they offer more than the customer demands. The big publishers may be better at driving these values but since they've overshot a smaller company can come along, make a game with lower core market values than the big guys do and still not be too low for the customer's demands so the big guy just spent a whole lot of money on something that failed to give him a competitive advantage. Meanwhile some companies find values that were traditionally ignored but are undershooting the customer (i.e. not up to the standard the customer would like and improvements are much appreciated) and improve them, resulting in a MASSIVE advantage. This is a disruption (actual business term) and it usually ends with the incumbents being driven out of the market while the newcomer becomes the new master.

Re:That's the way it's supposed to happen. (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082637)

This is why the Wii is so popular. And as technology keeps getting better, it becomes easier and easier for independent developers to produce graphics, game play, and complexity that are passable

But it still remains hard for independent developers to meet the minimum bar that Nintendo and Sony have set. For one thing, Nintendo is still openly hostile [warioworld.com] to a developer preparing its first title:

We typically look for companies that are established game developers, or individuals with game industry experience. The authorization for Wii/WiiWare or Nintendo DS will be based upon your relevant game industry experience.

We require that companies are working from secure business offices. Home offices are not considered secure locations.

Re:That's the way it's supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29082887)

We've hit a peek where[...]

Again we've hit a peek[...]

We've hit a peek in many areas[...]

We've hit a what? A peek? A pique? Ohhh, a peak!

Legally Downloading Games (1)

Armaron (1330535) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081737)

I really hope they don't stop selling games in brick&mortar stores. I have a limited download limit (25GB) and I can't afford to up that limit at the moment. So if I want a game and the only way to get it is to download a 5 or 8GB file, it won't be worth my trouble.

Re:Legally Downloading Games (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081787)

With a cap that low you're a rarity in the market, and will be even moreso as time goes on. They'll only service your market so long as the profits gained exceed the revenue expended in the endeavour. Right now there are enough people to justify B&M store sales by a decent margin. There will likely come a time within the next few years though when the cost of producing and shipping a boxed copy will outweigh the profits they get from that minute portion of their customers that either won't or can't download the game.

Re:Legally Downloading Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081951)

With a cap that low you're a rarity in the market

In NZ I pay $50 NZD ($34 USD) per month for a 15GB cap and 8Mbps download speed.
This is considered a "high-end user" plan here.
While the type of broadband you're talking about might be common is a lot of places, it's not ubiquitous yet.

Re:Legally Downloading Games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081953)

Judging by the comments that followed a story on Games on Demand on Eurogamer it sounds like the entire UK has low caps (like 30GB). Of course the entirety of Australia has very low caps as well but AFAIK that market is only a few hundred thousand people.

Re:Legally Downloading Games (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082217)

With a cap that low you're a rarity in the market

Not here in the UK he isn't. Most UK ISPs have a 10GB or so monthly cap on their basic service.

Customers who live in areas without cable or DSL (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082661)

With a cap that low [25 GB per month] you're a rarity in the market

In areas of the United States not serviced by cable or DSL, the cap is even lower. MiFi service from Verizon and Sprint, which runs over their 3G networks, has a cap of 5 GB per month. Satellite Internet from companies like WildBlue typically has a cap below 10 GB per month as well.

Cost (3, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081741)

I'm buying more games than I've bought in ages at the moment, but 'the industry' may not like the reasons I'm doing so. My two primary platforms are iPhone and Wii, in that order. iPhones games are anywhere from 59p to an eye-watering £2.99, the Wii has Gamecube games available which I can get for £1.99 second-hand.

That's about what these are worth to me. Looking at games appearing for £29.99, even £49.99 etc....I'm just not interested. The only games I've bought within the last year or so at full price have been Guitar Hero III (thinking about it, must be more than a year now) and err...err...hmm. Actually that's it. Oh yes, World of Goo which was already a download and relatively cheap. One glaring exception would be Wii Fit, depending on whether you want to count that as a pure game or not.

It's really a question of pricing for me. I don't care about licensed IP, I only marginally care about having the latest greatest graphics....it's just that games started costing a huge chunk of cash and I'm simply uninterested at that level. It's not that I can't afford it either, it's that I simply don't think it's worth it and would rather put the money towards a day out, or more bits for the bike, or something other than gaming.

Bring down the cost, get more buyers. If it's not profitable for you to bring the cost of your current model down, then change the model.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Cost (4, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081873)

One glaring exception would be Wii Fit, depending on whether you want to count that as a pure game or not.

I think it's an important one. Wii Fit isn't just a game that manages to sell stupidly well without pricedrops a long time after its release and even sells consoles too, it's also a game that would be impossible to make online-only because of the balance board. As much as game publishers seem to love the idea of something like OnLive where you basically subscribe to a gaming broadcast Wii Fit would be a killer app against it. Peripherials can't be downloaded and Wii Fit cannot be done without the balance board (there are other fitness games but AFAIK they all come with at least one peripherial to get more data about your body movements). OnLive's promise of playing all games without upgrades is made impossible by games like Wii Fit.

Re:Cost (2, Interesting)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082071)

I've been doing a similar sort thing with the PS3, when inFamous came out it was £49.99 in the shops. Its only been a few months but the games £26.99 now and if you get it second hand I paid £17. The price difference is extreme enough that a 3/4 month delay on games is really worth it. Plus you get a much more realistic opinion of the game (don't trust critics myself).

DNAS Error -103: You waited too long to buy this (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082695)

I've been doing a similar sort thing with the PS3, when inFamous came out it was £49.99 in the shops. Its only been a few months but the games £26.99 now and if you get it second hand I paid £17.

Both times I tried this, it failed. I bought PS2 games from the bargain bin, and the day I took off the shrinkwrap, put the disc in my PS2, and go online, I found that Sony had already pulled the plug on online play: "DNAS Error -103: This software title is not in service."

Licensed songs in Guitar Hero (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082687)

The only games I've bought within the last year or so at full price have been Guitar Hero III [...] I don't care about licensed IP

Would you have paid full price for a copy of a Guitar Hero game if it didn't have any songs that you recognized? Some people would; I know I bought a copy of Dance Dance Revolution Konamix for the original PlayStation to get away from the crappy licenses that characterized DDR at the time. But a lot of people buy Guitar Hero games for the set list.

overhead bloat (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081743)

There is a lot of senseless cost in making many games today. Paying famous celebrities insane sums of money for voice overs, the bean bag chair mentality, the never ending focus on improving on graphics instead of just making good gameplay and so forth. Plus publishers and distribution costs. Game costs are rivaling the bloated costs of making movies these days.

Somewhat off topic but think about this. How can District 9 which is such a great movie with some of the best unique effects Ive seen in a recent Sci Fi movie cost 30 Million and yet Transformers 2 cost $228 million, GI Joe Movie $170 million etc. All icing and no cake.

Re:overhead bloat (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082237)

Somewhat off topic but think about this. How can District 9 which is such a great movie with some of the best unique effects Ive seen in a recent Sci Fi movie cost 30 Million and yet Transformers 2 cost $228 million, GI Joe Movie $170 million etc. All icing and no cake.

It's called Hollywood accounting [wikipedia.org] . The quoted cost of producing a film that's expected to do well typically actually includes costs of earlier films that didn't do so well when they were released. By doing this, they reduce royalty payouts on the successful movie (as Hollywood typically pays royalties to writers, IP holders, etc. as a percentage of profit rather than percentage of net takings as most other IP-related industries do).

Evolution of games and gamers (1)

Cothol (460219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081753)

I do not agree that evolution of games must mean that they're more expensive to make. Maybe I am not one of the majority but big, long, high-budget games based on some movie IP is not what I am after. I am soon 30 and have a job, I love small and fun games that I can play for a few hours or so without having anxiety for not being able to play for a week. It seems like this market is growing and I sure buy 3-4 casual-gamer games than one high-budget game that I am going to get tired of before I am able to finish it. I think studios that can find a good balance between such releases will be successful.

Re:Evolution of games and gamers (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082703)

I am soon 30 and have a job, I love small and fun games that I can play for a few hours or so

Then you might like Animal Crossing series.

without having anxiety for not being able to play for a week.

Oh wait, scratch that recommendation. For each day you don't play an AC game, weeds get added to your town, and you might miss a holiday event.

Why do profits always have to go up? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081853)

Why can't anyone be satisfied with a flat profit of several billion dollars a year every year for 10 years?

Someone explain capitalism to me. If I ran my own business and I made 1 million dollars last year, and only $900,000 this year....well I just pocketed $900,000.

If a big company does the same, they go bankrupt.

Explain.

Re:Why do profits always have to go up? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29081977)

As long as you make a profit that's good but most of the gaming industry is actually making losses.

Re:Why do profits always have to go up? (2, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082229)

Someone explain capitalism to me. If I ran my own business and I made 1 million dollars last year, and only $900,000 this year....well I just pocketed $900,000.

If a big company does the same, they go bankrupt.

Explain.

A venture capitalist or bank lender looking at this will extrapolate a trend, and assume the next game will earn $800,000 or less. The amount they are prepared to lend wioll therefore go down, perhaps to the point that producing the game becomes uneconimcal. A company raising funds via an IPO rather than VC will face a similar issue.

Re:Why do profits always have to go up? (1)

griffinfinity (121020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082421)

Big companies believe advertising budgets need to be BIG in order to sell more 'units'...seven figures are where they begin. These expenses have nothing to do with production costs. Big companies tend to have massive overhead. This often leads to implosion. Big companies tend to lose focus over time, but not their ego's. This may be the biggest expense in the long run.

I seem to recall a guy who developed a mod in his parents basement. He called it Counter-Strike. Damned if it didn't kick the industry in the backside.. Never believe the hype that you need some Wall Street connection or a VC angel to make your dreams come true. If that was the case, Apple would only be remembered fondly as the Beatles record label.

Re:Why do profits always have to go up? (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082857)

Someone explain capitalism to me.

It's not a matter of capitalism. If you're happy with your 900k that's fantastic. But if you're asking others to invest (stockholders, money loaners) they want to invest where they get the most bang for their buck.

Believe me, if every business had to show a continuous profit increase there wouldn't be many that would last. Small businesses do what you're talking about and one of the reasons they can do it and survive the dry times is because they knew enough to invest in themselves. They don't need to go asking others for money the second they become unprofitable. Business owners who ride the edge of reserve capital are the ones who falter in difficult times.

Re:Why do profits always have to go up? (1)

MrSands (1605441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29083229)

Put it this way. Suppose you run a company and its networth is $200 million. Now lets suppose that out of that you have $100million to spend (the other $100 million is from non-cash assets like buildings). Now you can take that $100 million and deposit it to a bank that provides you 10% interest per annum. You can earn $1million a year simply from doing that. That method is virtually risk free (there is still risk but it is very small compared to the next scenario. Now lets say your company is a game developer. You can use that $100 million to pay employees, expenses (like electricity, advertising, etc) used to create and publish a game. Your plans are that the game will be finished within a year. But there are risks, the game could take longer to finish, the game may not sell as much as you hoped, etc. The projections are that you will also earn $1m for developing the game (Assuming all goes as planned). Now given that scenario, which path would you choose? Deposit it to the bank and earn $1m or take the risk and also earn $1m. It is rational in that scenario to choose to go the less risky way and deposit it in the bank. For it to be rational to choose to develop the game, it needs to return much more than $1million to take into account the risk. Now if you include complexities such as having to answer to investors the issue only gets more complicated. Why would an investor provide you funding to start a project that can return $1m when another can return $5m?

Serves them right ! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29081891)

The dreadful sequelitis has messed up the whole industry.
You see while Doom / C&C and whatever game here were indeed groundbreaking and innovative, Doom 25 / C&C MCXIII and Sims 2014 isn't.
Sorry, treating a initially good idea solely as a cash-cow and milk it for all it's worth is not a feasible business model in the long term.
This has killed many game companies and will still kill them in the future.

The second problem is the utter lack of story telling these days. The most telling sign for this is the downfall of the graphics adventure genre. There are some exceptions, but in general the state there is terrible.
Best example is World of Warcraft which rakes in over 100 million revenue per month but still the developer think they can get away with a retarder story a 3rd grader would make up. And add this collecting 10 bear asses. Over and over and over again. (Mind the invention of the assless bear in this setting).
While the crappy story telling is counteracted in games like WoW by the social interaction and competitives challenges, this will kill most offline games in the long term. That's why this achievement stuff has been added to the xbox - to add a competitive challenge to overcome the shortcoming of ass-brained game stories.

Re:Serves them right ! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082037)

Best example is World of Warcraft which rakes in over 100 million revenue per month but still the developer think they can get away with a retarder story a 3rd grader would make up.

They don't just think so, they can. Most customers don't really care about the quality of the story and will often games with no story at all (e.g. sports games).

He's full of shit (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082019)

Physical media isn't the problem. He would like people to think that so they can force people into download only media where they can kill the used games market and even kill off old popular titles if they wanted. The problem is that the business model for gaming is shit. No one makes profit on the hardware (except Nintendo as they always have) so when MS & Sony ramp up the cost of their hardware to out do each other they have to pass that cost on via licences which will drive prices up. That's why we've gone from $50 to $60 in this generation.

Because 3rd parties need to pay out to develop they need to make sure they make money and they do that by no being very imaginative or experimental so we get a lot of the same old shit but with new graphics. So it's harder for a title to stand out from the crowd and make money.

They need to build profits into the hardware to alleviate some of the pressure on software costs and they need to make games that will appeal to more than teenage males.

The cost of the hardware has to go up either way. If they go with a download only model and stick companies with only selling the hardware they will want a profit. As it is now they make no profit or even a slight loss just sell the thing. This is why retailers have to rely on used games so much. Publishers are giving retailers nothing decent to work with. So that means the price has to go up or you get stuck only being able to buy hardware from the manufacturer directly.

We could let shops mange their own digital sales to account of the shitty way hardware is sold but I don't see the likes of MS giving up control to let places like Best Buy or Wal-Mart mange their software.

Sins of a Solar Empire (5, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082057)

Didn't Sins of a Solar Empire have a budget of just $1 million? Didn't the game sell more than 500,000 units? Wasn't it a good game? Maybe other developers should follow their lead, and for the record not every game has to be ported to all 3 consoles to make money.

Re:Sins of a Solar Empire (3, Funny)

tpgp (48001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082457)

Didn't Sins of a Solar Empire have a budget of just $1 million?

Just 1 million you say? Wow! Let's hear it for those small budget indie games!

Re:Sins of a Solar Empire (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082621)

That's pretty small for a game that appeared on every retail shelf in large amounts like the next big blockbuster.

Re:Sins of a Solar Empire (2, Informative)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082659)

Sins of a Solar Empire wasn't a small indie game, it was made by Stardock, an already established studio and released for full retail price. For a better indie game, consider World of Goo: two coders, $10,000 development (including food and rent), sold over $450,000 on WiiWare alone.

Re:Sins of a Solar Empire (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082749)

Maybe other developers should follow [a PC-exclusive low-budget video game developer's] lead, and for the record not every game has to be ported to all 3 consoles to make money.

One problem with this reasoning is that as of 2009, there aren't a lot of home theater PCs (defined as PCs connected to a monitor big enough to fit several people around). One reason for this is that the majority of living rooms still have CRT SDTVs purchased before the late 2000s when HDTVs finally became affordable. This means PC games need to put each player on a separate PC, and the cost of doing that within a household limits a game's market. So until HDTV displaces SDTV, real-time games designed for four players sitting on a sofa will still tend to come out only on consoles.

Not enough outsourcing, I suppose (1)

superphysics (1619033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082281)

They say costs are going up. Should they, then, not be doing what every industry in the world is doing? i.e. throwing the dirty work to cheap coders sitting back in China and India and Pakistan?

Re:Not enough outsourcing, I suppose (1)

superphysics (1619033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082297)

Oops. Talk about filling forms while setting Slashdot prefs...

Re:Not enough outsourcing, I suppose (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082631)

They already do that to some degree but it's not enough and apparently you can't get very good talent over there currently (maybe because it all emigrates to western countries to get more money), usually the outsourcing to those countries is done for crappy ports to secondary systems and original games from the area tend not to do very well. I guess the best you can hope for in terms of cheap labor is eastern Europe.

Re:Not enough outsourcing, I suppose (2, Interesting)

superphysics (1619033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082725)

Actually, I happen to live in one of the countries I mentioned, and I happen to be involved in the related circles. I can tell for certain that all IT companies actually come back over and over again to these 'low cost' outsourcing centres. What surprises me is that no game developers ever do...

DRM and more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29082303)

Well I am not buying games that need some fancy online activation.

Start treating me (aka customer) with the respect I deserve and not like a criminal.

Start making games that are fun to play and not the 512th reincarnation of an old concept.

Start making games that have useable controls on the PC, and not just some lame console conversion.

Stop charging 50EUR for a game with bugs, which needs 2 patches before beeing playable and which is over in 8 hours.

Stop blaming pirates for your losses. If you don't like the current market, change it. Don't fight to keep the Status Quo.

Stop forcing me to watch thos stupid intro movies, add a decent in-game tutorial, quicksave goes on f6, ...

Re:DRM and more (1)

jackal40 (1119853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082495)

This, and while were at it, start embracing the community that successful games have built. For example, Company of Heroes - the original game didn't have DRM, had a unique twist to the typical RTS format, supported LAN and TCP/IP play, and quickly developed a mod community. Relic/THQ promised additional mod tools which didn't come out until just before the THIRD expansion, they changed to a peer-to-peer patch system which sucked, and they pretty well ignored the mod community while releasing patches which constantly broke the mods.

All in all, great game, but poor decisions on the part of the company turned a great game into something not worth playing any more.

economic growth (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082307)

What makes the difference between Western firms and Chinese developers was the way they went about getting products to players

And the disparity in the growth rates of their economies.

Re:economic growth (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082651)

Yeah, that analyst seems to forget the old adage about correlation and causation. China uses online and China has growth therefore online means growth? No, China grows by itself and it uses online because they can't get people to pay in any other way. Makes you wonder what kind of sucker hands this guy a paycheck for faulty reasoning like that.

So, time to come up with something original! (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082449)

Maybe it is time for those people who have no ability to come up with anything new to come up with their own intellectual property, instead of just making games based on movies and books. Seriously, a good game is a good game, and I am sick of how few original ideas and stories show up in the game industry.

If license fees are too expensive, come up with your own original works that share the same vibe as what you are looking to make, and if you make it solid, people will play. Gamers are STARVED for games that are new, and not just a clone of an existing game, or a 6 hour game based on a movie.

The console world also should NOT be the center of the game universe. A really really huge game that is PC-only right now can be released for the next generation consoles if those can handle it. Drop support for Intel graphics if they can't handle the demands, and in under five years, Intel will either get their act together on the graphics front, or players will start to demand that computers come with a real graphics chip in them that CAN handle it.

Re:So, time to come up with something original! (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082673)

The thing with the PC market is that it's fairly small and relying only on it when you've sunk a hundred million into your game is suicide. The number of people who have a PC that's gaming ready and care about having it is fairly low though there is a HUGE market of people who have a PC, don't care about its game readiness and want something simple to play. PopCap is serving that market.

Re:So, time to come up with something original! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082795)

If license fees are too expensive, come up with your own original works that share the same vibe as what you are looking to make

It's not just the licensing for copyright in the underlying works. It's also the licensing for patents and digital signatures needed to run the game on video game consoles. Not all genres fit the PC. (You can prove me wrong by showing me a four-player platform fighting game for PC that is even half as good as any game in the Super Smash Bros. series.)

Fragmented? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29082595)

I'm not arguing that PC gaming is dead. But, while the console market may be more fragmented than it used to be... it's still.. 3 consoles vs... how many potential computer configurations? Yea, I think I'll develop for consoles.

- A professional video game programmer

I think the biggest obstacle is greed (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29082755)

Anyone remember the old x-wing and tie-fighter games? What did these games have? Relative long gameplay, you couldn't finish those games in a weekend. And then when you were done, there were TWO expansions for both games, released at a small price that offered another few days of gameplay.

Compare that to Kotor and Kotor2. You can't of course compare gameplay of an RPG with a space-sim but you can compare the expansions. Or rather the lack of them. Had Kotor2 been produced as an expansion right from the start and not been shuffled out of house AFTER lucasarts realized that a sequel might make some extra money (gosh, a SW rpg might be a success, who would have thought).

If games were tv, then they would produce a pilot to test the audience, tear down the set, kill the actors and de-invent the camera. If the pilot happens to be liked, they start filming. One episode at the time. But no more pussy-footing about. They don't just tear down the set but nuke the state. Kill the actors entire lineage through time-travel and get god himself to remove light from the universe.

What exactly is taking so long with Mass Effect 2? They seems to be adding a lot of stuff (yet more planet surveying, my favorite part of the game) but the delay really shouldn't be necessary to tell a story. The series really should have ended now OR at LEAST we should have had a few expansions produced for some quick cash and extra gameplay.

Games really just don't to be produced sensibly.

Of cours the tech has to advance, but it doesn't have to happen for every game.

Tell me this, if a producer had simple done Planescape: Torment 2 with absolutely no advances to the engine, just purely another story, would you have bought it? I think the answer is yes.

So why do companies produce so few "expansions" and so many year long sequels that look fantastic but are the equivelant of making a television series with episodes 2-3 years apart.

Re:I think the biggest obstacle is greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29083223)

that's all good and well but... star wars is for fags.

Not everyone can download and ..Increase value! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29082951)

I'm in South Africa. The extremely high cost of bandwidth means you essentially pay double price if you download a game( the price of the game plus the price of downloading it) . So unless I can buy the game and download it somewhere for free, I simply won't buy it.

I think the answer is simple. Increase the value of the games and I will buy more games. Otherwise I'll keep playing the games I have. I think this will simply mean that less games that suck will be made.Also, keep in mind not everyone can afford pc's with high-end spec's. Market new games that work on older machines.

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