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Elite Creator David Braben: Games Like Elite 'Too Risky' For Publishers

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the games-are-business dept.

Games 109

Pecisk writes "While PC game development veterans are using Kickstarter more and more for their projects (see the already successful Star Citizen Kickstarter project, which already went home with $2 million, or Elite: Dangerous, a sequel of classic space sim series, which has yet to reach its set target), questions arise: why are devs trying this rather risky way of financing, anyway? For a long time there's also been discussion on Slashdot and elsewhere of game publishers like EA have a preference for unlimited sequels (e.g. the EA Sports series). David Braben, one of creators of first classic 3D space sim, Elite, and its sequels, and also the popular Raspberry PI board/computer, has commentary on that: 'Publishers had and still have now, established processes and a key part of that is the forecast ROI or return on investment. For that to work there has to have been a sufficiently similar game in the near past to base the forecast upon Anything else will be "too risky."'"

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No Risk (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152135)

No reward.

Re:No Risk (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152165)

tell that to the bankers who got to roll the dice.. and when they won they kept the money... when they lost they charged it to the tax payer.

Re: No Risk (2)

Rational (1990) | about a year ago | (#42153993)

This is what the bankers' methods remind me of: "Nicky's methods of betting weren't scientific, but they worked. When he won, he collected. When he lost, he told the bookies to go fuck themselves."

Re:No Risk (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42154647)

Star Wars: The Old Republic -- "Let's re-skin World of Warcraft!"

How's their reward doing?

On the other hand, City of Heroes shut down last night. It was everything those games aren't -- Innovative, fast, cheap, true 3-D travel, very powerful compared to monsters, which come at you in masses.

And it ran out of enough subscribers, too.

Re:No Risk (0)

Xeranar (2029624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42158127)

Says one guy on the internet.

Clearly the market didn't agree with you.

Re:No Risk (5, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152207)

A 3% return on 20 million units is preferable to a 100% return on 20,000 :)

I work in the film industry and the story is about the same; this is why we seem to keep making marginally-good $200 million films, instead of twenty $10 million films, 16 of which bomb because they don't find their audience. If you want to do something really edgy an original, you can do it, just don't go to Paramount (or EA in this case) and expect them to front you the money, and you're much more likely getting your money back if you premiere on Netflix.

I'm not sure this is an Earth-shattering tragedy, it has a lot to do with the way large corporations make decisions, and organize themselves around their distribution chains.

Indie access to gamepads (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152293)

If you want to do something really edgy an original, you can do it, just don't go to Paramount (or EA in this case) and expect them to front you the money, and you're much more likely getting your money back if you premiere on Netflix.

The trouble is that some genres work better with physical buttons than with, say, a touch screen [pineight.com] . Most mobile devices open to indie developers lack a gamepad, and I've been told most users aren't willing to buy a gamepad just for one game. And though Xbox 360 controllers work wonderfully with a PC (or, in fact, a Nexus 7 with a USB host cable), I've been told most PC users aren't willing to plug in one Xbox 360 controller let alone two to four.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (4, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152461)

Ummm. We PC types bought flightsticks, HOTAS systems, steering wheels and other input peripherals when console games were just Mortal Sonic Mario Kombat with all analogue thumb twisting blocky controllers.
I really don't understand why some of the current PC gamer generation don't like controllers. For some games they are great. I can see them working in a space sim. Just don't forget to also have mouse support for menus and such. No Skyrim inventory shenanigans plx :(
Also port it to Android/Ouya. No publisher needed there. And you can easily get it on Steam/GOG without publisher backing.

Braben raises money by his name alone and Elite is still fresh in memory. Publishers wouldn't add anything in his case anyway. So why did he even bother? It's not the only way to get funding. Hell, he should even be able to get venture capital. Kids playing Elite grew up to be all sorts of things. Accountants, mass murderers, heads of state, blue-collar workers and ...heaven forbid... venture capitalists.

Publishers used to be needed for funding and access to the sales&distribution channel. Sales&distribution has become trivial if you don't need to get boxed games to WallMart. A lot of games are digital distribution only and are doing fine.
And funding comes your way when you pitch it to the right people.

The classical publisher is going the way of the dodo.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (4, Insightful)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152597)

The summary is wrong in its implication. Kickstarter is about the most risk-free fund raising you can do. It's a formal way to solicit donations. Non-refundable, no-promises, walk-away-and-keep-it-all money. Legally a Kickstarter project that funds has no obligation to do anything at all. Some percentage of them (so far small, and small amounts of funds) don't.

Venture capital, on the other hand, will insist you field a AAA-class team, will insist on majority ownership, and will insist on installing a suit as an executive, and will want signatures in blood for your first born if the project fails (or as much of whatever as they can recover, which very likely includes exclusive intellectual property crap like trademarks and any copyrights that have attached). So if you fail, you lose everything and can't even try again. If you succeed, you pay your investor the majority of the profit.

If your Kickstarter fails, you owe nothing to anybody and retain 100% ownership so you can try again later (though probably not with another Kickstarter). If your Kickstarter succeeds, you retain 100% ownership, deliver on your Kickstarter promises (which is usually a vehicle to get you even more money, if you're doing it right), and keep 100% of the profit.

The classical venture capitalist could easily go the same way of the dodo as the classical publisher, at least for projects below the level of capitalization that crowd-funding can generate. And that ceiling is already higher than anybody expected. Whether or not it continues is anybody's guess, though the number of successful deliveries is high enough that the odds are good. Venture capital, meanwhile, is also mercurial and unreliable long term. It goes through fads of its own on a regular basis.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

Swistak (899225) | about a year ago | (#42154837)

You're very wrong. Kickstarter does not mean donation. There have been lots and lots of articles on this recently (even here on kickstarter), you owe people things you've promised, if you promised them copy of the game when finished. you have to publish it and send them a copy. If you don't deliver you have to refund everybody, or they might sue you (happened in few cases already), so its not a donation and there are real consequences. If you don't complete game, and you don't have money for returns you might loose ownership of product that is almost ready. So it's definetely not a risk-free method.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about a year and a half ago | (#42160695)

Disclaimer: I'm a author of summary.

Well, Kickstarter *looks* like it's risk free from finansial point of view. However, if you completely fail to deliver or walk away with money your reputation is tarnished at best. With choosing Kickstarter it's like burning bridges with publishers - while they do like money, they don't like to be talked about like they're ignorant about good bets - and if you went KS, they will put a stigma on you (I know mentality of these guys). And if you collect your money and don't deliver a inch you never ever will get donation money either.

So it's actually "make it or brake it", and definitely there are long term risks involved for any serious game developer who seeks finansing this way. Because I really doubt is there way back.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152701)

I really don't understand why some of the current PC gamer generation don't like controllers.

Because they prefer mouse and keyboard genres (FPS, RTS, MMORPG) that take advantage of the separate view per player that a desktop or laptop offers, as opposed to the multiple-gamepad shared-screen model. Shared-screen is traditionally associated with consoles, but which also works with set-top PCs and even desktops now that desktop PC monitors are bigger than 19".

Braben raises money by his name alone

Once he retires, how should an indie developer start to make a name?

Publishers used to be needed for funding and access to the sales&distribution channel. Sales&distribution has become trivial if you don't need to get boxed games to WallMart. A lot of games are digital distribution only and are doing fine.

Publishers are still necessary if you want your game to get signed by a console maker so that it'll run on a console.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year ago | (#42154171)

Ouya, Google TV, and Even Apple TV could be big winners for inde developers. Apple TV has Bluetooth so it would be easy to support controlers. While not all games would work ports would be pretty easy. Frankly an Apple TV with the guts of the iPad without the screen or a Google TV with the guts of a Nexus 10 without the screen would be plenty for a lot of games. Seems silly that Google and Apple do not jump into that market.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152507)

I've probably bought a dozen gamepads for my PCs over the years, and I might still have half that many, if you count adapters which permit plugging in console controllers. I still have an adapter I bought from Lik-Sang, I think, to let you plug a playstation controller into Xbox, PC, or Gamecube, with a Xbox memory card port. But now I mostly use an Xbox 360 controller, as you say. They're pretty cheap used at Gamestops, and these days you can get repair parts very reasonably so it's not even a bad idea to buy them. I used to use a "Big Duke" Xbox controller, but both of mine are jittery and I haven't repaired them. Last I checked the sticks were spendy.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152769)

I've probably bought a dozen gamepads for my PCs over the years, and I might still have half that many, if you count adapters which permit plugging in console controllers.

So have I [pineight.com] . But as CronoCloud might say, you and I are edge cases. I'm told most PC gamers associate the PC platform with one mouse, keyboard, and monitor per player, and most players appear to expect major PC games (apart from some token cases [pineight.com] ) to be designed around this assumption. A developer apparently must pay his dues by developing successful mouse-and-keyboard or touch-screen games before being allowed to develop games that take full advantage of a capability that consoles are known for and PCs have had since 1999 but PC users tend to underuse because of tradition.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (1)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year ago | (#42154207)

I am lousy with a controller. I cannot do anything meaningful with one, and have no interest in learning. I have bought and eventually sold several game consoles because I *wanted* to be able to play them, but in the end each time I got rid of it because the result (for me at least) was far worse than playing a PC game with a mouse and a keyboard (or the Joystick I have for games that utilize that).

Consoles suck ass for me. I prefer PC games and my mouse. I don't think I can adapt, nor do I want to. I can't understand how someone would drop the keyboard and mouse and pick up a console controller hooked up to their PC, when the resulting level of control seems to me to be inherently inferior.

Re:Indie access to gamepads (3, Funny)

karnal (22275) | about a year ago | (#42154423)

I have a co-worker who told me mouse and keyboard in FPS games was "cheating". I laughed.

Gamepads are arguably better than taking turns (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42154433)

the Joystick I have for games that utilize that

By joystick, do you mean a flight simulator joystick or an arcade-style joystick?

I can't understand how someone would drop the keyboard and mouse and pick up a console controller hooked up to their PC, when the resulting level of control seems to me to be inherently inferior.

If you live alone and never have anybody come to visit, and you play mostly FPS, RTS, and RPG, a keyboard and mouse may be ideal for you. But if you have multiple gamers in one household, either living together or visiting, a gamepad is better than having no control at all because you're waiting for the player with a keyboard and mouse to finish his turn on a single-player or online game. Even fewer PC games support multiple mice than multiple gamepads. And even if you restrict yourself to single-player or online gaming, how would a mouse improve, say, a platformer or a fighting game?

Re:No Risk (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152387)

Art that is profitable to the artist, isn't really art.

Re:No Risk (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about a year ago | (#42154363)

Tell me, what's it like living in a world without art?

Re:No Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42160629)

Ask that from a kid proudly showcasing his latest drawings.

Re:No Risk (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#42153013)

Yeah but one thing you are missing is the long tail and lack of competition in this genre. We got a billion "fat space marines that love Chesty McWallHigh" but a good flight sim (needs to work good with keyboard and mouse as well as stick) can be sold for years and years.

Hell just a few months ago I went out and bought yet another copy (my third) of Freelancer...why? Because i had lost my disc in my last move and thanks to the mods there are hundreds of star systems, and factions, you can go lone wolf and just mine and trade or join a group and fight as a pack, this is a game from 2003 yet has tons of people still playing and more mods seem to be made for it every year, so even after nearly a decade its still worth buying.

So you'd think as long as the budget wasn't insane studios would jump on this, sure its a niche audience but its a niche that has money, is under served, and will buy games even years after they are released if they are good and moddable. Frankly good elite style space sims and actual survival horror (as opposed to current games where you are given practically infinite ammo so it feels like playing Power rangers more than being in actual danger) are niches that have fans just aching to open their wallets and hand you money if only they would give them something to buy.

And if anybody here doesn't have FreeLancer? BUY IT NOW and go to ModDB and load up on mods and grab the mod manager. With the great mods you have this HUGE universe with everything from little cargo haulers and mini fighters to fricking monstrous capital ships ALL of which you can buy and customize if you have the credits, and with so much space to explore, trade routes to make runs on, derelict ships to raid, even badlands to hide in, its truly an epic exp.

Re:No Risk (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#42156459)

I've always seen the Long Tail with videogames to be a bit touchy, since game platforms seem to go through periodic upgrades and it becomes more and more difficult to get your hands on $ARBITRARY_GAME, let alone structure a business model to collect revenue from them. The HUGE hits are sometimes kept in bundles and updated to new platforms, but they disappear.

Movies are quite different in this regard, because they can be replicated to new platforms mechanically -- you don't have to hire developers to keep them available on the new format.

Re:No Risk (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42160069)

Uhhh...you go to Amazon, type in name of game, done. And with Steam having even fricking genesis games i honestly don't see why a game can't have a crazy long tail, its not like there aren't hundreds of millions of Windows PCs out, and after a game has been out a year or two frankly even the IGPs (well if you are using AMD, Intel takes longer) will be able to run your game.

Hell look at Team Fortress Classic...that was originally a Quake TWO mod wasn't it? and it was released...what? 1998 or so? Yet Valve is STILL making money on that game, Half Life I, Counter Strike, I should know as my oldest picked me up the Half Life Classic set during the summer sale since he knew I had all of HL 2 but not HL 1. Know what I found on TF classic? TONS of players, it felt just as full as TF2 as a matter of fact, and everybody was having a fricking BALL, just a blast playing it even though the graphics could be run on a $200 netbook.

So I see absolutely NO reason why a game, especially a niche genre that is moddable, can't make money for several years. again look at freelancer, load up one of the big MP mods like Crossfire and just see how many people you'll have playing a nearly decade old game. If its a good game its a good game PERIOD and as long as you make it easy to buy, Amazon and Steam would be the big two to make sure its on if it were me, then there is no reason that you can't keep right on making money with the game.

Re:No Risk (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | about a year ago | (#42156581)

That reminds me, I've been meaning to fire up my copy of Battelfield 1942 and load up the DC final mod again. Ah those days were fun. BF2 and BF3 have totally failed to recreate what made those mods fun.

In 1942 your engineers and medics were vital, even though there was no extra scoring for repairing or healing. Now you just sit in a corner for 30 seconds and suck your thumb.

Nothing as exciting as trying to defend a flag with me as anti-armor against a single T-72. We both are in the flag area, the flag is white, neither side can spawn there. I have to use my knowledge of the map and the radius of the flag cap area to stay alive and land enough hits to hill his tank,if I'm lucky, run up to the back and put landmines on the back so he can't move. You spend 5 minutes fighting a single tank and yet it was neither tedious or boring.

Limited ammo on vehicles also significantly influenced game-play. In El Alamein, the ammo crates in the north and south flags were placed so that you had to withdraw from your firing position to reload. The South Flag was especially a bugger. It was high on a mountain, so if you were defending you had a great height advantage and the enemy tanks did not have enough gun elevation to return fire, but with only 40 rounds, bullet drop and travel time, you had to be careful with your shots. A good strategy was to send a dune buggy in front of the tanks. They were fast and hard to hit, you could climb up the backside of the mountain and turn the flag white, while the tank tried to flush out the buggy guy it gave the tanks time to advance and climb the mountain.

Of course I'd coordinate with the tank at the flag and hover behind the mountain in a cannon armed helicopter and wait for the buggy to some around the mountain. *Oh hai!!!* *BOOM* The helicopter controls in DC were very unforgiving, but if you learned them there was very little you could not do with the helicopter.

Re:No Risk (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about a year ago | (#42153585)

>you're much more likely getting your money back if you premiere on Netflix.

How do studios get paid by Netflix streaming anyway? Just something I've always been curious about.

Re:No Risk (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#42156489)

Netflix pays an amount-per-view, either against an up-front access fee or not -- it's a small amount, but it's something. their model to charge subscribers a flat fee and simply have such a huge number of titles available that people are willing to pay a premium over what they actually consume, just to have the full-time access to the titles.

Netflix lost the Starz content because Starz wanted an amount per subscriber-month, like a premium cable channel, and Netflix (probably rightly) deduced that having a premium tier would ruin their business model, because all of the sudden subscribers would have to jump through hoops (let alone pay more) to access particular movies. Starz demanded the premium tier because they (also probably rightly) deduced that they were losing cable sub revenue to Netflix. This is why HBO and Showtime are strict about not releasing any of their stuff to the Internet unless you're already a cable subscriber or a lengthy blackout period has elapsed.

Re:No Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153825)

why we seem to keep making marginally-good $200 million films, instead of twenty $10 million films, 16 of which bomb because they don't find their audience

It seems the other way round to me. Most of Hollywood makes lots of stuff that most people won't and don't watch, and then complains about piracy being the problem. But Pixar keeps making their usual family friendly stuff and lots of people go to watch them.

As for edgy and original, sorry but only a minority care about edgy and original. I think it's pretty well known what the masses will like, which is what makes it more surprising that Hollywood gets it wrong so often.

For example, who the heck thinks many are going to watch: "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" or "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" on the big screen? Of course some stuff is not so easy. It's hard to say beforehand whether enough would have watched say "Green Lantern" (while not great it didn't seem that bad to me- didn't care for the protaganist but I didn't care about the protagonist in the Avatar movie either which did very well[1]). Not even sure enough would watch The Hobbit. Very very many will watch it - but apparently they have spent a LOT on it, so they are going to need an Avatar scale crowd to pay for it.
[1] But I watched Avatar as a tourist to Pandora. I wouldn't be interested in watch Green Lantern to visit the GL/DC universe. I suspect many watched Avatar for similar reasons - to see the very pretty graphics.

Re:No Risk (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#42156547)

It's always easy to list one or two films that sucked, but they make hundreds every year. Nerds don't like most movies but on average the ones they do make tend to do alright. Even the abortion that is Green Lantern made its nut -- remember, foreigners love even pretty bad action movies; entertainment is one of the few sectors of the economy where the US runs a huge trade surplus.

Re:No Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153917)

What apparently could save the indie/ultra low budget movie industry is that today's ~$3k DSLR's in many ways surpass ~$50k 32mm film cameras from a couple of years back, and they shoot on virtually free bits instead of expensive film, ready to be edited with a PC. At least one barrier to entry to movie making has pretty much vanished - all you seem to need is a good story and sales skills to get amateur actors onboard.

Re:No Risk (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a year ago | (#42156519)

What apparently could save the indie/ultra low budget movie industry is that today's ~$3k DSLR's in many ways surpass ~$50k 32mm film cameras from a couple of years back,

No they don't, though they're ok. As always, though, the most expensive part of filmmaking is compensating talent and doing the VFX; even with film the actual physical costs haven't been an issue in some time.

Re:No Risk (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about a year ago | (#42156075)

Yeah or, you know, you could look at Star Citizen.... 100K unique users and 7 million total in funding (not sure why they say it's 2 in the summary, that's completely wrong for the overall total).
100K clocks in at a need for $6 of profit per copy to equal your 3% on 20 million. Even if we account for cost variances and other things, Star Citizen is going to make a metric fuckton of money for its creators before the game ever even gets out the door.

Re:No Risk (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152227)

Wrong. Let's see the what the best selling games are (source: vgchartz.com/weekly):

1 X360 Call of Duty: Black Ops II 1,239,686 [generic FPS, sequel]
2 PS3 Call of Duty: Black Ops II 1,183,752 [generic FPS, sequel]
3 X360 Kinect Adventures! 615,283 [sounds innovative enough, risky]
4 X360 Halo 4 607,817 [generic FPS, sequel]
5 Wii Just Dance 4 569,302 [sequel]
6 PS3 Hitman: Absolution 501,081 [sequel]
7 X360 Hitman: Absolution 488,127 [sequel]
8 PS3 Assassin's Creed III 471,345 [sequel]
9 X360 Assassin's Creed III 402,324 [sequel]
10 WiiU New Super Mario Bros. U 372,169 [sequel]

MYTH BUSTED! Risk is for suckers, what the wallets want is more sequels.

Re:No Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152327)

If they are "generic FPS" then why do they have names?

Re:No Risk (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152513)

We simply number them.
So there is codblops2, codmowa4 and codandchips.

You need to be an enthusiast to tell them apart simply by watching. Since I'm not a fish-fancier I only see guns going boom.

RETURN TO COMBAT ZONE!
PRESS X FOR VICTORY!
KILL THE STREAKER!

Re:No Risk (5, Interesting)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152491)

Ummm. You know we stopped believing those numbers years ago? They do not include digital distribution and only very few games get shelf space.

Also there is a lot of money to be made in the long tail when you cut out the middle man. Which in this case would be publishers and retailers. So you don't need to be #1. Or even in the top 20 to make back your money. Unless of course you had a production cost rivaling the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Which Braben doesn't need.

Sales figures alone are meaningless.

Re:No Risk (1)

schnell (163007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42159509)

Sales figures alone are meaningless.

Not trolling, genuinely curious... what statistics (i.e. actual numbers with verifiable sources) do you have that are a better representation than sales figures? Or can be quantifiably used to meaningfully modify the value of sales figures? I agree that those sales figures sound incomplete but unless there are other "real" numbers out there, how do we know whether they're only marginally inaccurate or way off base?

Re:No Risk (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42159917)

You don't know how much money they need to make to break even. Darksiders 2 sold a million and reputedly didn't break even, adding to the financial woes of THQ to the point where they humble-bundled their back-catalogue. Orks must die 2 sold nowhere near that much but made Robot Entertainment a nice profit. And that's before DLC.

Or take for instance the original Nintendo Wii. That thing sold like hotcakes. And yet a huge part for Nintendo's business model didn't happen. the console had an attachment rate of 1.8 games per unit. Nintendo gets money per game even if it is developed by 3rd parties. So if only 1.8 games were sold per console profits were nowhere near what they could have been even if the console itsself wasn't sold at a loss.

Also we are at the end of 2012. Yet sales figures still are based on sold boxed copies. Digital download isn't counted. Which makes the figures a bit crap to begin with.
Sales figures measure popularity and little more. You need to look at the big picture.

Re:No Risk (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152725)

Markets certainly reward franchises. There's room for innovation, but now is not the time for it. Right now is the end of a console lifecycle and no one wants to go too far out on a limb on this generation.

Note that Borderlands, which isn't on your list was a brand new franchise not too long ago, Xcom has done very well which is a resurrection of a very old genre. You only need to sell about 500 or 600 k copies to make a decent amount of money on a moderate sized title (you aim for a million for a console title generally with ad cost etc. ).

The only big new IP lately is Dishonoured, which is a sort of action stealth game in cyberpunk world, pretty standard stuff to do technically so the technical side is low risk and the gameplay is reasonably generic, but at least it's new IP.

Re:No Risk (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about a year ago | (#42156599)

The only big new IP lately is Dishonoured, which is a sort of action stealth game in cyberpunk world

Are you sure it's not just a slight remodelling of Thief: The Dark Project, which was a stealth first person shooter, set in a medieval steampunk city?

Re:No Risk (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year ago | (#42156845)

Hence: reasonably generic.

Re:No Risk (3)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#42153365)

IMHO there's absolutely nothing wrong with a good sequel. Chances are extremely good you didn't get everything right and you didn't have the time or budget to implement everything you wanted to do. You'll probably also learn a lot from the feedback from the first game that you don't get in alpha/beta testing or possibly to late to do anything about it. It doesn't matter if it's the modern games or the classics, I'd be pretty sad if they stopped at Ultima I, Final Fantasy I or Civilization I and said that was it, on to the next thing. Not to mention you have a bunch of fans, people now know what the game concept is and they're hopefully looking for more. By all means if you have a cash cow, milk it.

That said, if you drop anything that isn't a cash cow today chances are good the customers will eventually get tired of the same old rehashes and you'll slowly head into the sunset. Most cash cows started as a risky proposal. Sure, for example "The Sims" is now out in two sequels and dozens of expansion and stuff packs but the original was a very risky game. I perfectly understand that companies don't want to bet the farm on unknown projects, but in this case I think it's too much next quarter thinking. That chance game that may lead to a decade long series of sequels making us money is probably going to be a loss on next year's performance. It's like R&D for the game industry, except it's a lot more accepted to not do any.

Re:No Risk (1)

pev (2186) | about a year ago | (#42153627)

No, what the wallets want is good games, end of story.

However, human beings are risk adverse and if they know a game was good when hedging bets on next (expensive these days!) games purchase they will instinctively head to a sequel of one they enjoyed. However, if they play something new that's really good they'll buy that. That's why games demos / sharing and dare I even sugest piracy is good - it may detract a little from the sales of the production line sequels but it massively raises awareness of different games that people would instinctively avoid as unknown quantities and I believe they generate sales too.

Re:No Risk (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42160013)

You're demonstrating the assumption of familar=good.

Mission Impossible 2 did very well *because of MI:1*, not because it was a good film. But by your logic, it was fantastic.

Which means that Justin Bieber is one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Re:No Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42160303)

Interesting perspective, but behind every sequel is an original (or maybe a sequal of an original). The true success therefore is to be the person that can come up with an original that spawns a thousand sequels!

Re:No Risk (2)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152245)

Actually, it is even worse -- bad prediction models (because past performance does not guarantee future returns, as the disclaimer customarily goes) reward mediocrity, and not only in games. Anything from music to clothing to computer devices is affected. The larger the market, the fewer the players, the more obvious the effects.

Not true (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152265)

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 did $500 million in sales on its first day alone. The game takes very little risk. It is just another CoD game. Minor tweaks and updates but it is basically the same formula that has won time and time again and yet again it has won big.

While it isn't true that it was zero risk, they did outlay a fair bit of money (8 figures) in development and marketing, it was pretty low risk. Past CoD games have done very well, there was no reason to believe this one wouldn't too and indeed it did.

In the games industry, the safe road often leads to great rewards. People seem to want that which they are familiar with.

Re:Not true (1)

StarTuxia (2767965) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152369)

Unfortunately publishers tend not to favor innovation, they are purely a business in it for the money, so what Braben interestingly states occurring back in 1984 still holds true today as he mentions in the article. Lets not also forget the publisher Gametek really screwed them over with an early release of Frontier, in fact David Braben won an out of court settlement against Gametek back in 1999, so its no wonder he is extra skeptical about using them, plus they tend to have a lot of control over how the project is run and what the contents will be. In other words, a 100 or so star systems and instead of seamless planetary landings you'll get cut scenes.

Re:Not true (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about a year ago | (#42156139)

WHY IS THIS MODDED INFORMATIVE!?!?!?!

Ahem. sorry for shouting. Why is this modded informative? Seriously, you people don't realize that those numbers are bullshit, right? Just like album sales?
I've seen this number trotted out recently elsewhere, but don't we realize that it comes from the total amount SHIPPED TO RETAILERS, not the number of people who actually bought it?

Sigh...

No it is the number sold. (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#42156633)

If you want a small sample, go have a look on Steam and see how many copies are floating out there (it is a Steamworks game so all PC copies are on it). Remember that the copy only appears in someone's account after they've paid for it.

I know there's this irrational need from some people to pretend like the game is a flop because it is a very samey shooter, but it isn't. It is a massive success. I'm not saying that is a good thing, I'm saying it is the truth. Trying to spin it doesn't change anything.

Re:Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42159233)

...your virginity is showing.....

Re:No Risk (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152697)

EA risked 300 million dollars on SWTOR and lost 200 million.

They will, eventually recoup some of that money, depending on how long it last and how well the F2P transition actually goes. But there's only so much tolerance for risk, and when you gamble and lose big like that you need to lick your wounds for a while.

There's nothing wrong with some risk but the last big space games were freelancer and the Jump to Lightspeed expansion to SWG, earth and beyond tanked and Eve has 300k players. Star Trek online is still going but it's a very very niche product at best.

Markets evolve, and making a good game can be expensive. If EA is going in they're going in for 30 or 40 million dollars likely, (not always but most of the big publishers are only going in for big money) but it's not clear they'd be able to make 30 or 40 million back. 6-10 probably. Deep involved space RPG shooters just don't have the appeal they used to, it's a bit like skyrim in space, you could make 300 million dollars or 3. And until it's out the door it's hard to predict which. The problem with trying to be an indie publisher is you don't have a bottomless pit of money from which to fund dozens of projects, and right now markets are very risk averse. Getting a bank to give you 4 or 5 million dollars to develop a game with no similar market product is not trivial.

The next gen console market will shake things up a bit, as people try new things and find new traction in a new market, but for the moment we're waiting.

And the thing with (for example) the space shooter is that a couple of them might be really good and make money, and most of them might be terrible and the people would lose their shirts, and it's hard to know what a good space shooter is going to be when there aren't other space shooters around that people can compare to. Nostalgia only gets you so far, and you have to have working tech (not a lot of working space shooter engines out there, even to prototype with), you have to know just what exactly makes it 'fun' for a new market that needs to be 10x the size of the old wing commander market.

15 years from now I expect the gaming market will have changed in a completely different way. There will be super rich guys who grew up gaming (much as I despise him, think Mark Zuckerberg types, not necessarily that rich, but still rich) who will be willing to fund pet projects like Kurt Schilling did with 38 studios, but who will be able to lose 50 million dollars and laugh it off. It will be like people who buy sports teams, they'll fund games. They'll fund nostalgia projects, they'll fund new innovative stuff and be willing to laugh off failure. That will be good for the industry as a whole, and might do a lot of good to bring in people who aren't 'games industry' guys, but oil tycoons, or rich inheritors, bankers mobile phone people, Apple guys etc.

Re:No Risk (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152811)

But how does the risk/reward equation look for the decision maker? Not the studio. The manager actually looking at studio pitches and deciding which ones he's going to fund.
  • Huge success. A pat of the back a small bonus, and probably contributes to a raise. The publisher rakes in millions.
  • Moderate success. A pat on the back. Probably contributes to a raise.
  • Moderate failure: Commiserations. Won't contribute to a raise. Not a huge problem. Win some lose some. everyone realises that.
  • Huge failure: Called in by the CEO and asked what the hell you were thinking. You become the guy who wasted millions on a ridiculous concept that would never work. Hindsight is 20/20 so nobody can grasp why it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So the managers will find themselves going for the low risk options. The reward simply isn't high enough. It's unlikely you even get risk takers since these people would find the environment too limiting.

Re:No Risk (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a year ago | (#42154117)

so true. but Star Citizen went home with $6.8 million, not just 2.

Summary is wrong (3)

trevorrowe (689310) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152147)

Star Citizen raised over $6 million dollars ($2 million via kickstarter, $4 million via paypal). Since the campaign it has raised nearly $1 million dollars more (total $6.9 million).

Re:Summary is wrong (4, Informative)

theArtificial (613980) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152235)

Star Citizen raised over $6 million dollars ($2 million via kickstarter, $4 million via paypal). Since the campaign it has raised nearly $1 million dollars more (total $6.9 million).

Expect that figure to climb. Star Citizen is also much more tangible than what we've seen from Elite. They just released footage [robertsspa...stries.com] of what one of the space ports will look like. For the early adopters (people who invested prior to 11/26) all ships purchased will be insured [robertsspa...stries.com] for the life of the ship (the insurance transfers with title, hello second hand market value). In addition to that, additional ships may be purchased and accounts may be upgraded for the next 12 months. I wouldn't be surprised it if breaks $10mil. They've given this a lot of thought, one of the points raised was how will this prevent people from simply ramming ships? I recommend reviewing the link and giving the FAQ (and comments) a once over.

Some of the models they're releasing images of show the insides of the ships which players will be able to move around in. They've got a pirate style 2 man ship which enables the passenger to board a vessel. Very cool stuff if you're into that sort of thing. Now, about that Constellation...

Re:Summary is wrong (3, Insightful)

StarTuxia (2767965) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152423)

I backed both, and interestingly Chris Roberts has also backed Elite and has said he is looking forward to playing in the Alpha and likewise David Braben has said he is looking forward to playing Star Citizen, with such great camaraderie between groups within the same genre I do hope people find it inspiring . Elite cannot use the Crysis 2 engine due to what they intend to do with ED, which is to push what Frontier did much further along. Frontier had the entire Milky Way procedurally seeded onto a single 720K floppy disk, and that wasn't all, you could seamlessly land and take off from them, so with E:D he intends to push this further. We're hoping for a video soon of this, but he has heavily implied this will be the case with E:D when he talks of atmosphere (and shows the clouds) and then of what he could do with the surface. This is the latest video on how the Galaxy (The Milky Way, all 200 billion stars) will evolve over time (not the way I thought he meant, rather it seems to do with space stations, resources etc, fascinating stuff mind you): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uKD1ap5hsI [youtube.com] For SC I got the Orion 300i and the M-50, hope to see you on both though, they are both quite distinctly different and the genre as a whole needs both of them to really make 2014 special and may I say it? Drive innovation.

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

Armakuni (1091299) | about a year ago | (#42154879)

Braben has some serious ambitions, and he has a tendency to deliver.
Good points. Would mod insightful if I could.

Re:Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156475)

Another promising game in the genre: Limit Theory [kickstarter.com] .

It reached its first stretch goal at $75K, at the next goal at $100K (which it most probably will reach during the next week) it will bring Linux & Mac versions.

Loved Elite on my C64! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152171)

That just looks so sweet, heck yeah.

Re:Loved Elite on my C64! (1)

jools33 (252092) | about a year ago | (#42155587)

Have to agree - Elite was my favourite C64 game (and I played very many C64 titles back in the days). Whoever posted this article - a big thank you! - and I have just reserved my digital copy of this game - wouldn't have done so without slashdot.

surprised studios haven't tried something similar (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152255)

One of the key advantages of something like Kickstarter is that so many of the "sales" are up front: you don't have to worry about the game being a total flop and selling nothing, because you've already "sold" $2m+ worth of the game before starting! I would've expected major studios to try to get in on some of that pre-order action by mobilizing fan enthusiasm: stuff like, if we get X preorders by $date, we'll make a sequel to $game. Or is it that actual preorders of un-made games have more legal trouble than Kickstarter's sort of weird not-really-a-preorder-but-sorta-is variety?

Re:surprised studios haven't tried something simil (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152495)

I believe Obsidian has said that they were approached by publishers to do something along those lines, but they refused. The spirit of Kickstarter isn't compatible with that idea, really. It's supposed to be for projects that otherwise would not be possible or viable to make. Publishers have plenty of money, that they don't want to try making more niche games is their problem. People like Roberts or Braben, while certainly not poor, don't have the kind of money to make games from scratch from their own pocket, so Kickstarter is appropriate for them.

I think there's a good chance that a publisher attempting to weasel its way through Kickstarter would receive a fairly harsh backlash anyway, which is one other reason why they haven't tried. They'd need to entirely hide behind a developer with a good reputation, and I'm not sure there's a developer out there who'd be willing to gamble that on such contrived grounds.

Re:surprised studios haven't tried something simil (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152553)

The problem is some games spend so much on production that 1m or 2m in sales at full price are considered a failure. That's basically what AAA means. going full retard.
A prime example for this would be Assassin's Creed 3. They had to justify the steep price somehow so they added shit on top of shit. Naval battles, board games, a surprisingly competent multiplayer component(yes, I'm shocked too), deer hunting, single player capture the flag and farmville. In fact that game is so unfocussed that you really don't know what it is supposed to be. I sure don't. But what it isn't is a competent parcours stabby game since they still haven't fixed the controls. Expect to jump up walls when you want to run around them. Expect counters to fail despite you having pressed X for victory. Expect no stealth whatsoever unless you are on a mission where detection arbitrarily kills you(without telling you that beforehand). Expect to spend half of your time in loading screens or cut-scenes.
Take the 16 minutes it takes to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLdMgIhpD9s [youtube.com]
That's all you have to know what makes AssCreed 3 such a mediocre game.

And yet they need to shift millions for that thing. The end credits roll for 20 minutes and all of those people in it need to be fed.
AAA is going full retard.

true faqs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152263)

this is true, it explains why EA keeps killing the Command & Conquer (both it and the : Red Alert spin) over and over and over again...

If I had one wish, its that EA would let it die, instead of the continual torture they keep putting us old school C&C fans through. Hell, there was one time I wish they would have brought back Earth & Beyond (a subscription based game I actually liked), now after seeing what they have done with C&C and C&C:RA... please dont... let it die, open source it, sell it to someone else, no more killing please!

*A sick-sad fact I hate to admit even to myself, there was the C&C FPS game (no, not Renegade), that had some leaks, before it got squashed, that I thought looked totally bad-ass (actual in-game footage leaked, made me quake in my fat-man boots), even better looking and more advanced feeling then the recently released COD:BOPS2, I was REALLY looking forward to it... Seeing what they put out instead, I can only mourn for the fact that they squished the GOOD looking game, and decided to go with the pile of dog crap that is the last few release's of C&C...

Re:true faqs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152563)

Renegade was awesome. Not sure what game you're referring to, but it sounds intriguing.

He would be right (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152277)

Which is the reason we'll probably never see the completion of Freespace.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/107649-Volition-Wed-Commit-Murder-for-Freespace-3

The space sim is a really hard sell (unless it's that one mission from Halo: Reach) and frankly, even with a joystick, games of this sort can be notoriously difficult. Companies only really want to make games that are like other games or sequels to previous ones since it's more of a business now than a genuine love for games (unless you're "indie").

Re:He would be right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152443)

Descent and all classic C=>64 games are why I can't play with those little fiddlesticks they have on console controllers. I need a gargantuan pulsating behemoth in my hand to activate my past joystick pleasuring muscle memory. It all makes so much sense now.

Re:He would be right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153041)

I need a gargantuan pulsating behemoth in my hand to activate my past joystick pleasuring muscle memory.

I think you may be a homosexual.

Re:He would be right (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152541)

The only reason why we won't see another Freespace is because Interplay are dicks, and refuse to sell the IP. My hope is that they die a fiery screaming death with all their IP's up for sale so developers like Volition can get their hands on them.

Re:He would be right (1)

dadioflex (854298) | about a year ago | (#42153351)

The space sim is a really hard sell (unless it's that one mission from Halo: Reach) and frankly, even with a joystick, games of this sort can be notoriously difficult. Companies only really want to make games that are like other games or sequels to previous ones since it's more of a business now than a genuine love for games (unless you're "indie").

The X series of games trundles on year after year though I don't think they'll ever have a blockbuster hit. There's also the Evochron series, but it's even more niche. Then of course there's Miner Wars 2081 though it's determined to bill itself as Descent's closest relative. Like the article you linked to suggests, any modern Space Sim is going to have to be 100% playable with mouse and keyboard, the way Freelancer was because the joystick just isn't standard for PC gamers any longer.

Fantastic vehicle for game development (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152287)

Kickstarter demonstrates again that it is a fantastic vehicle for game development. It's not always about the Mega Millions. For instance The Pinball Arcade used Kickstarter to get financing for The Twilight Zone [kickstarter.com] and Star Trek: The Next Generation [kickstarter.com] tables (both closed and made target). Pinball is a bit of a niche market and there's a pretty good free pinball simulator out there.

Without Kickstarter to pay the high upfront licensing cost, these tables would not have seen the light of day. There's really no shame in using Kickstarter to both test the waters and raise "venture capital" that you don't pay back in cash but in product.

Re:Fantastic vehicle for game development (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152371)

I wouldn't go as far as saying that kickstarter is fantastic for game development, there's much room for improvement in the system (which is to be expected as the concept itself is young). Rather, a large corporation is inherently bad at game development (and creating music and other arts) because art is stifled by the requirement to profit.

Elite 4. (1)

SwampChicken (1383905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152565)

Finally. After all these years....

Re:Elite 4. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152585)

yes, that's what the article is about. now, did you have something useful to say ?

I see his point... (1)

gowen (141411) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152629)

But I can't really agree with it.

As someone who played Elite on the BBC B in the 80s, let's look at the what made different:

i) massive, open ended universe and freedom to make one's way, within a convincing universe of varying dangerousness
ii) strong element on trading, and with combat as a means to grab extra goodies and facilitate profitable acquisition of cash
iii) missions, and a progression of deadliness - that unlocks cooler gear and more dangerous missions and story progression

Does that not sound like most MMORPG ever invented? Could that not be WoW, or Skyrim?

Games like Elite don't not-exist, they're practically the norm. It's just that they were groundbreaking in 1983, and now everyone's seen them 1000 times over.

Re:I see his point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42152835)

Games like Elite don't not-exist, they're practically the norm.

EVE Online.

That's the problem with Lol Citizen and Elite: The Next Generation. They're going to attempt to challenge the premiere game of Internets Spaceships; a game that's had a freakin' decade of constant development.

They're going to fail. They're going to overpromise, under-deliver, and go down in flames.

That is why these sorts of games are "too risky" for "publishers".

Re:I see his point... (1)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#42153723)

If they fail, it won't be because of Spreadsheets Online.

Eve is a niche game. It caters to its niche really well. It has zero-to-negative appeal outside of that niche. The odds are pretty good that the number of people who want a more arcadey space game (ala say Tie Fighter) and don't like Eve are significant.

Re:I see his point... (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | about a year ago | (#42154301)

That's the problem with Lol Citizen and Elite: The Next Generation. They're going to attempt to challenge the premiere game of Internets Spaceships; a game that's had a freakin' decade of constant development.

I invite you to hop over to this forum/thread [failheap-challenge.com] and read through it. That's a forum full of EVE veterans. And they were throwing money left and right like crazy at Star Citizen. If Star Citizen fails, I don't think it's because of EVE.

Re:I see his point... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#42153173)

The point is that Elite was groundbreaking, and I think this is what's meant by "Games like Elite". Make a game similar and it's something we've seen before.

I'm not sure this is really a fair comparison. At the time there was something of a Cambrian explosion of games. Lots of potential niches, lots of scope for new ideas. Elite was a risk and the publishers had trouble getting their heads around it (one suggestion was that the player gets three lives).

Also, for every huge success like Elite, there were many failures. I remember a game that combined space combat and word puzzles.

its a shallow market in this case IMO (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152773)

I have eleite for a couple platforms, its a space shooter with some menus tossed in there ... honestly didnt even know it existed till a few years ago, so I hunted down copies for my retro computers.

its much less risky than pumping a shit ton of money into something only a small percentage of people will remember, let alone be fond enough to play nearly 30 years after the fact

It is always risky saying the unwanted (-1, Offtopic)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42152919)

SOME GAMES SUCK.

As an analogy, Israel lost its game against the world vs Palestine.

Now, that game continues.

http://www.thepiercecountytribune.com/page/content.detail/id/269807/Israel-moves-to-build-3-000-new-settlement-homes-.html?isap=1&nav=5040 [thepiercec...ribune.com]

"Israel responded swiftly Friday to U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, revealing it will build 3,000 more homes for Jews on Israeli-occupied lands that the world body overwhelmingly said belong to the Palestinians. The plans also include future construction in a strategic area of the West Bank where critics have long warned that Jewish settlements would kill hopes for a viable Palestinian state. Israel's moves served as a harsh reminder to Palestinians — euphoric over the U.N. upgrade — that while they now have a state on paper, most of it remains very much under Israeli control. "This is a doomsday scenario," Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amim, a group that promotes coexistence in Jerusalem, said of the building plans. Israel's decision was bound to embarrass the United States, which was among just nine countries in the 193-member General Assembly to vote against accepting Palestine as a nonmember observer state. "

WTF?

"Israel's decision was bound to embarrass the United States"

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/clinton-calls-on-israel-to-embrace-moderate-palestinians-negotiations.premium-1.481733 [haaretz.com]

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Friday that without progress toward peace, Israel will be forced to choose between "preserving democracy and the Jewish identity of the state." "

Ok, Israel wants to fuck the US, once more, despite the support? Yet, for how long?

You can't fool a game between humans, forever.

"Why are devs trying this rather risky way of financing, anyway?"

Exactly! Apparently because it pays off! Israel fucks the US, and it pays off.

Hence, screw any fucked up until they bleed or die.

Re:It is always risky saying the unwanted (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#42153315)

Well done. For your next mission, join a conversation on a Subway franchisee forum and somehow link quality of chipotle dressing with the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Re:It is always risky saying the unwanted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154651)

For your next mission, join a conversation on a Subway franchisee forum and somehow link quality of chipotle dressing with the Israel/Palestine conflict.

I'd rather he joined a conversation on the Israel/Palestine conflict and found a way to link it to the quality of Subway's chipotle dressing.

PUBLISHERS ARE OBSOLETE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153289)

Publish that shit yourself. Digital sales digital downloads from 'the cloud'. Installer with bit torrent style distribution for day one.

There is no need at all to pay to put this stuff on a disc. and package it. and ship it to a store, to sit on the shelf anymore!

Publishers are obsolete middlemen the world can really do without. They're stealing a cut of your profits anyway.

But then again this highlights the main problem with games today. nobody wants to do shit unless its gonna make millions the first week. so risk adverse they are killing their own markets with all the silly shit they do.

It makes me wonder, where IS the "Investstarter"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153381)

Where is the investor-version of Kickstarter? The one where investors actually do get a more direct say in the product and even get a partial profit from it?
Such a system distributed among hundreds, hell thousands, of people, could likely pay of much more than Kickstarter would because the people involved actually are part of the company.
There is a bit more legal stuff that needs to be taken care of at the initial stages of investing, but it could be interesting.

It'd also give reason for the thousands of possible people investing a reason to spread it everywhere, get more people involved.
It seems like it would make far more successful products.
Of course, there is also the part where you'd need to hold investors wishes to the word or they could request or demand something be done. (just like standard investment really, but with thousands more people!)

Upsides and downsides. But if you could keep all those possible thousands happy, even most of them, you could go places pretty far.

Re:It makes me wonder, where IS the "Investstarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154465)

Where is the investor-version of Kickstarter? The one where investors actually do get a more direct say in the product and even get a partial profit from it?

I've wondered the same thing. I've got a few thousand I'd like to invest this way, but I'm not going to donate my pension fund to kickstarter schemes to make rich white guys richers.

I want my share and if I want to help poor people I'll go to kiva, thankyouverymuch.

Exciting! (4, Interesting)

jregel (39009) | about a year ago | (#42153467)

Elite was a huge consumer of my time during my teenage years. I'd originally tried it on the 8bit Acorn Electron (the BBC Micro's baby brother), but was a bit too young to really get it and was hopeless at playing the game. But when I got my first PC, I was able to really get into it, spending hours playing when I should have probably been studying for my GCSEs, eventually getting the missions and the coveted Elite status.

All this was done on the CGA version, low resolution in four colours. On loading, a menu would allow me to select wireframe graphics only, or if the PC was really fast (6Mhz 286 or greater I seem to recall...), then you could select solid filled polygons. I had a 20Mhz 286 so could enjoy the enhanced version. Didn't matter though, because the imagination filled in the gaps.

When Frontier:Elite 2 came out, I was amazed at all the things we wanted to do in the original could now be done (landing on planets with a seamless transition between space and atmosphere, different ships that could be bought and equipped, more missions). But the flight model was a bit too complicated and lacked the immediacy of the original. I was never really taken with the "Star Dreamer" time acceleration feature either as it was too easy to skip through things (like docking).

Never played Frontier: First Encounters as I think I had moved onto girls by then, but having read that it was released by the publisher in an unfinished state, it sounds like I've not missed that much.

But Elite:Dangerous sounds like the sort of game I really want to play! A huge universe as a playground? Flying through the clouds of a gas giant? Mining asteroids? Teaming up with friends to complete missions? Yes please!

So far I've pledged a little, with the expectation I'll pledge more before the Kickstarter finishes. As a [very] occasional gamer these days, this is something I want to spend my evenings playing.

Re:Exciting! (1)

Armakuni (1091299) | about a year ago | (#42154919)

FFE was indeed released with an enormous amount of bugs. But once it was patched, which happened quite quickly, it was a gem. It had a storyline you could follow if you wanted, but if not, the entire Milky Way galaxy was yours to play with. There was a freedom of play that I've yet to see in any other game. But is seems ED will follow suit - without the bugs.

Re:Exciting! (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#42155165)

The most difficult part of Frontier was fighting through the copy protection, which required entering a specific word from a specific place in the manual, except it was never really clear which lines counted and which it ignored (headings, etc?). I seem to remember we eventually found a list of all the answers on Usenet, which rather defeated the point.

Ironic (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#42153653)

Isn't it ironic - someone who has raised money based largely on the nostalgia for what he done in the past... commenting on the gaming industry making games just like the ones they've made in the past.

Seriously, as much as the Slashdot demographic complains about endless remakes, and the mining of the past... at every possible turn they demonstrate exactly *why* the entertainment industry keeps doing so.

Too risky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42153699)

Given David Braben's track record on the previous Elite sequels, I'd say that game companies have all the reasons to think that a new one is too risky. The Elite: dangerous kickstarter response also seems pretty lukewarm so far.

I wish that this kickstarter thing would be used by small, starter groups to really have a, you know, kickstart in their business, and not washed up hasbeens like Braben or Molyneux...

Re:Too risky? (1)

Armakuni (1091299) | about a year ago | (#42154931)

The campaign recently reached the halfway mark with over a month to go. A rule of thumb with Kickstarter is that if a campaign reaches the halfway mark, it will be fully funded by the end.

What's risky? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#42154401)

What is risky here?
People give you money, and you don't have to give anything in return but empty promises of delivering a game at some point.

The alternative is asking investors for money, who will expect a working business model, 4 times as much as what they invested in returns, and who will sue you if you mismanage the money.

New Direction (1)

Highway_Tramper (2717203) | about a year ago | (#42154569)

I think it has good prospects. I believe in "Dangerous" not only can you land on planets but be able to walk around etc. That can lead to "add-on quests" on that planet or even collection of planets to open up new quests etc.

Cheap Discount UGG Boots handbags sale (1)

kaituwei (2779791) | about a year ago | (#42154849)

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Back to Basics (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#42156165)

The entertainment market is cyclical.

Genres go in and out of style.

Successes and failures in other media can make or break you.

Star Trek and Star Wars have been so long identified with space opera that there is scarcely any room to breathe here. That both franchises are looking rather old and tired isn't helpful.

The mainstream publisher/distributer takes more chances then the gamer geek is often willing to admit:

From EA. Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Arkham Asylum/Arkham City. From Rockstar, Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire. This stuff is much harder to pull off then it looks.

 

Re:Back to Basics (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#42157567)

Mass Effect is on its 3rd sequel. It was also based on the Unreal Engine. Arkham Asylum is a comic/movie license. I'll give you Dragon Age, L.A. Noire. Don't know Red Dead Redemption to evaluate.

Hollywood and other big business... (1)

qeveren (318805) | about a year ago | (#42156343)

...learned this ages ago. "Nobody wants to be first; everyone wants to be second."

Something nearly the same = $.... (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42160001)

....and a whole bunch of piracy from people that don't accept a full-price-game that contains a single change.

FPS, for example - now with slo-mo! now with hiding-behind-objects! now with (etc.) - bleat about piracy killing games all you like, but when they're nearly all reduced to two or three genres of copying original C64 games, that's not really what most would consider an 'industry' anyway - and it's this problem that means pirates will never really care about costing EA money when that's exactly what EA are doing to begin with - and expecting a full-price for them. How many times would you pay The Beatles to hear the same entire album but with one slightly changed instrument with each release?

The fact that after around thiry-odd years games that are ultimately little different to Elite, Chequered Flag, Way of the Exploding Fist, the Ultima series etc. bears this out - to the point where you can stick MB Games' 'Simon' on a guitar neck and call it a new game is seen as 'original'.

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