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Video-Game Publishers Outsource Development

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the global-world-globality dept.

The Almighty Buck 786

randomErr writes "According to a San Jose Mercury News article reprinted at the Miami Herald: 'Mark Vange is in the vanguard of globalizing the video-game industry. He employs 30 game developers in St. Petersburg, Russia, who have worked on everything from flight simulators to dragon-fighting games. 'We can get the work done for half the cost that it takes in the U.S.,' said Vange, president of Ketsujin Studios. Similar outsourcing of video-game production is being done in places like China, India, Vietnam and parts of Eastern Europe. California game developers, who are the creative force behind a $10 billion industry in the U.S. market, view the trend with a combination of fear and anticipation'."

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fp (-1)

kahuna720 (56586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630395)

fp

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630528)

props to all dead homiez

Many comrades died in the First Post Campaign of 2004 and the CLIT Wars of 2003, indeed.

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630567)

many a troll have been lost due to the GNAA. the GNAA's massive cocks have been too much to handle!

Here we go... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630396)

Standby for a flood of "In Soviet Russia" jokes in 3....2....1....

Re:Here we go... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630405)

0.. In Soviet Russia, games outsource you!

Re:Here we go... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630410)

In Soviet Russia, games outsource YOU!!!

Re:Here we go... (1, Funny)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630427)

In Soviet Russia, game developers outsource income!

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630429)

joke flood YOU!

Re:Here we go... (-1, Troll)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630451)

In America, you play games on the computer...
In Soviet Russia, the computer plays games on YOU!

Re:Here we go... (0, Offtopic)

oldwarez (763916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630459)

exactly where did this start from?

Re:Here we go... (3, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630467)

exactly where did this start from?

In Soviet Russia, of course!

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630474)

AC's firstpost YOU.

Also, Russian versions of... (0, Offtopic)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630507)

...'all your base' - only not as funny. :)

Re:Also, Russian versions of... (-1, Flamebait)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630582)

In Soviet Russia, all our base are belong to you!

Re:Also, Russian versions of... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630596)

In Soviet Russia, All your base belong to the People of the Revolution!

Awesome! (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630399)

<Sarcasm>This is great! No really -- now my video games won't cost $50+ each.

What? You mean the price won't go down? But we are saving so much money on the labor -- where is all that extra cash going?</Sarcasm>

Sarcasm aside I think those three sentences pretty much sum up my feelings (and most other /.'ers?) on all types of outsourcing (techie or otherwise). It's an excuse to pad the pockets of the fat shareholders at the expense of the middle class.

Too bad smarter people then me have looked at it and can't come up with a solution. I've said this before but I'll say it again: If this trend towards globalization continues I fear we may wind up proving poor old Karl Marx correct. It's really a crying shame too because capitalism actually does drive innovation. Too bad it also drives greed.

Re:Awesome! (5, Insightful)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630412)

Because, you know, it would be a bad idea for developers to MAKE MONEY and be able to make more games. That's never a good thing, you know. A business. Making money. It'll never catch on.

Re:Awesome! (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630439)

Because, you know, it would be a bad idea for developers to MAKE MONEY and be able to make more games. That's never a good thing, you know. A business. Making money. It'll never catch on.

Let's see how much money they make when they wipe out the American middle class. How many games are the CEOs going to buy? There's also a wonderful concept to business called: Not shooting yourself in the foot for the sake of a temporary increase in profits.

Re:Awesome! (3, Interesting)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630487)

Isn't this the same bullshit argument that people have been using for the past 20 years to prove that the outflow of jobs to factories in Japan is going to destroy the American economy within 10 years? Hey! It is!

Re:Awesome! (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630557)

Isn't this the same bullshit argument that people have been using for the past 20 years to prove that the outflow of jobs to factories in Japan is going to destroy the American economy within 10 years? Hey! It is!

Yeah all these arguments must be wrong because the American economy is doing so well right now. Why just the other day the unemployment rate dropped -- err wait that was because people gave up and stopped trying to find a job.

Re:Awesome! (-1, Flamebait)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630583)

Yes, and it's all the fault of some game company moving production to India. That is a SYMPTOM, dumbass, not a cause. The economy is shitty simply because the economy is shitty. Things like this happen all the time. It's simply the way the economy works.

Feed the horse an increasing ratio of sawdust... (5, Insightful)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630628)

Just because the US middle class hasn't been fully impoverished YET (and we're NOT better off than we were ten years ago!) doesn't mean that continuing outsourcing WON'T do it. Why should one expect a relatively highly-paid workforce with political rights and high expectations to be able to compete with much-lower-paid folk who can't unionize and don't get health insurance or retirement benefits, and will work for peanuts even by local standards 'cause any job is better than none?

With outsourcing trends as they are, we are rather likely to get what Neal Stephenson describes in Snow Crash as an globally-distributed layer of what a Pakistani bricklayer would call prosperity. Unfortunately for us in the US, *we* will call it "abject poverty".

Re:Awesome! (5, Interesting)

back_pages (600753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630591)

You are absolutely correct about one thing. When enough American jobs have been outsourced, there won't be enough American economy left to purchase the luxury products being produced. All the outsourcers are basically freeloading the system. They make profits off of high paid American and European workers while paying low wages to external workers.

But seriously, what do you expect a single game company to do about this? Stand up and be the good guys? Compete with other companies with much lower labor costs? Save the world?

The problem is here to stay; no question about it. Unfortunately, I don't believe this is a problem that the free market will solve without first bleeding the American and European middle classes to the brink of survival. I don't claim to have "the right" solution, but one solution is an export tarrif on wages. Let the Russians develop Russian software, let the Americans develop American software.

Re:Awesome! (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630577)

It does no good to 'make money' when the number of people that can afford your product dwindle with every layoff and 'outsource'.

That's the deal. Our economy depends on money moving around. Certainly doesn't help if the money moves overseas OUT of the economy.

Re:Awesome! (2, Interesting)

iswm (727826) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630420)

Yes, I think that's how many of us feel.. Less local jobs, same price for the product, more money for the CEOs/top dogs.

Re:Awesome! (2, Interesting)

Saragon42 (763516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630455)

I'm going to have to disagree with the idea that globalization will prove Karl Marx's theories of capitalism correct; I think it will, in fact, prove exactly the opposite. After all, Marx predicted that capitalism would eventually become communism through a massive worker revolt - and I certainly see no signs of that. That said, I think there is a political backlash against outsourcing that's going to become stronger and stronger in the next year or so. (Just look at the role it's playing in US presidential politics, seven-and-a-half months before the actual election.)

And to be honest, the huge surge in videogame popularity over the past decade - and the recognition that gaming is a "mainstream" activity - is what's pushing this wave of outsourcing. Companies have to have cheaper labor, or they simply won't survive in the highly competitive environment. Would I like to see my games get cheaper? Sure. And that will happen - but the price wars haven't started yet.

Re:Awesome! (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630515)

After all, Marx predicted that capitalism would eventually become communism through a massive worker revolt - and I certainly see no signs of that.

Wait until we are all working at McDonalds and Wal-Mart getting paid $5.15 an hour with no benefits or hope for advancement. Then you'll see a workers revolt. Marx's theories relied on the greed of capitalism to exploit the working class. This is happening right now!

Of course communism isn't exactly known for a healthy middle class either. Sigh -- What is to become of us?

Would I like to see my games get cheaper? Sure. And that will happen - but the price wars haven't started yet.

You'll need them cheaper to afford them when you are flipping burgers. Besides I call BS. They won't lower the prices. Why would they? Most good games are unique experiences. Is there anything out there that competes with Sim City?

Re:Awesome! (0)

fodi (452415) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630540)

simAnt of course...

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630603)

In Communism, Man exploits Man. In Capitalism, it's exactly opposite.

Re:Awesome! (1)

palutke (58340) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630504)

It's an excuse to pad the pockets of the fat shareholders at the expense of the middle class.

And an excuse for me to become one of the fat shareholders!

Re:Awesome! (1, Troll)

the-build-chicken (644253) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630510)

>>It's an excuse to pad the pockets of the fat shareholders at the expense of the middle class.

Solution...become a shareholder.

Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630530)

Solution...become a shareholder.

Why don't you try putting your kids through college, paying the mortgage and bills and become a fat shareholder. Your 100 shares of MSFT or eBay don't count on this level. What are you going to see from outsourced labor? Perhaps a nickel more a year in dividends?

Use your head before you make arrogant statements like this.

Re:Awesome! (1)

the-build-chicken (644253) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630611)

oh my, sometimes it's just too easy :)

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630618)

If you look at the actual ownership of companies, I'd have to say institution investors, i.e. mutual fund companies, pension funds, etc, are the so-called fat shareholders you're bitching against.

Get an education before blaming the world that you don't make enough.

Re:Awesome! (1)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630622)

What are you going to see from outsourced labor? Perhaps a nickel more a year in dividends?

So what you're really saying is that they need to outsource to even cheaper countries, and at the same time charge even higher prices, so that they can make some outrageously high profits and the dividend on my 100 shares will actually amount to something substantial. Right?

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630534)

> Solution...become a shareholder.

Let's see, buy food or shares? decisions, decisions...

Re:Awesome! (5, Insightful)

snookerdoodle (123851) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630529)

The solution will occur when all management of all corporations gets outsourced. The truth is, Increasing Shareholder Value is the only objective, and having your corporation managed by a shrewd, talented CEO in Bangalor who gets paid $30,000 per year with no bonus or stock options is a smart thing to do.

'not even half joking...

Mark

Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

wrf3 (314267) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630537)

Greed is present regardless of the economic model.

Economics 101 (5, Insightful)

hng_rval (631871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630543)

What? You mean the price won't go down? But we are saving so much money on the labor -- where is all that extra cash going?

Unfortunately, that isn't how the economy works.

When you are producing a commodity product, like lumber, coal, or oil, then competition drives the price of your product down to the average total cost of producing that product. In theory, in a commodity market the profit margins are enough by the end of the year to leave each firm in the industry with exactly zero profit. If games were a commodity, reducing either the variable costs or the fixed costs would result in a reduction in price.

Games, however, are not commodities. In fact, they are much closer to a monopoly market. When a company makes a game, no other company can produce that same game. If I want to purchase Diablo II, I have to pay Blizzard exactly how much they are asking - no one else can provide that product.

I can purchase Fallout 2 instead, and there is some price sensitivity there. However, I would not necessarily purchase Fallout 2 over Diablo if Fallout was $10 less. Game companies run the demand curve, and price their games accordingly - $50.

In general, when you are the sole provider of a product you should charge as much as necessary to maximize the equation:

Profit = (Price - Variable Cost) * Quantity.

Quantity = Func(Price)

Changing the cost of producing the game has no effect on the Variable Cost or the Quantity, and therefore should have no effect on the price you pay for the game.

Re:Economics 101 (1, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630605)

Changing the cost of producing the game has no effect on the Variable Cost or the Quantity, and therefore should have no effect on the price you pay for the game.

Then why not do the Patriotic thing and actually keep the jobs here since we are making so much anyway? We can write the code in Russia for half the price? Big fucking deal! We could probably pad the bottom line by that much if Mr. CEO took a 15% salary cut, but god knows that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

I love when companies lay hundreds of people off and then you tally up the salary of the laid off workers (along with benefits and other costs) and it doesn't equal the salary of the CEO and his stock options. The same CEO I might point out that ran the company so well that it was necessary to lay those people off in the first place.

Fuck the rich fatcat bastards. This is my country too.

Re:Awesome! (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630560)

Yea, it's true. People keep trying to say "But you still want those cheap computers and cheap software!!"

It doesn't add up - when a company oursources they never lower prices they just make more profits. GO USA...

Re:Awesome! (1, Troll)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630609)

Just do what a lot of us do: Level the playing field by only burning games that you download or burn. Never ever pay for a videogame.

cause != effect (2, Insightful)

Howzer (580315) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630631)

You've (typically, I must add) confused cause and effect.

Greed is the thing that drives both capitalism and innovation, not the other way around.

The reason centrally planned economies don't work is because, at the heart of it, they tell people not to be greedy. And people don't listen.

Greed is the thing that causes companies to form to make games. Greed is the thing that causes programmers (fresh off a hit game) to demand the big bucks. Greed is the thing that then drives the _people with the money_ to go elsewhere to hire the programmers.

It's their money.

Saying they can do what they like with it is capitalism. Saying they can't pad their pockets is, my friend, central planning.

So far from "proving Carl Marx right" what you're actually doing is making the case for why he is still wrong.

Sim City (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630401)

I seem to recall that Sim City was ported to the Macintosh by a group in Russia and that a significant amount of the original programming was outsourced to Russia as well? Given that the sim was incredibly slow on a Pentium 3 I had and not that much faster on an old G4, I wondered about the "cleanliness" of the code that went into the sim. There certainly is a huge pool of programming talent in Russia (at least in Kiev that I know of where estimates range from 10-16% of the populace having CS skills), so perhaps the sim code was simply so big that it resulted in the slow performance?

Re:Sim City (0)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630422)

surely you must mean SimCity3000 or SimCity4 because SimCity was incredibly fast on a 386!!! either that or you got ripped off :)

Re:Sim City (2, Insightful)

iswm (727826) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630488)

Well, like the article says, they only pay them half as much as they would Americans, so there might be the "getting what you pay for" factor, not saying American devs write better code; far from it. But when you pay half has much, you can't always expect the same quality.

Re:Sim City (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630508)

An American newbie MCSE will probably make two to three times as much as a UNIX sysadmin with 10 years experience in some other countries. Which would you rather pay for? Ted, the MCSE? Or Achmed the BOFH? Choose wisely.

Re:Sim City (2, Informative)

istewart (463887) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630551)

The game you're referencing was SimCity 3000, which was ported by a group called Software MacKiev. SimCity 4 was ported stateside, I think, but it was still dog-slow.

Japan is way ahead of US (0)

anandpur (303114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630404)

US should not worry about Video-Game, Japan is already taking care about it.

This is all well and good, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630406)

Does it run Linux?

Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1, Insightful)

Metallic Matty (579124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630411)

This will probably just be labelled as flamebait or trolling, but whatever.

The fact of the matter is, outsourcing is the end result of the bloated salaries of programmers and designers in the US (among others.) The fact that they can make it for HALF as much in St. Petersburg just goes to show the problem. If someone is willing to do the same job, just as well, for half the price, why would a company NOT do so?

People bitch about this, and that's fine. But at the same time, those people claim to be for free-market economy. But of course, only when it supports THEIR cause.

Such is life, I suppose.

Moderate this! *finger*

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630424)

The fact of the matter is, outsourcing is the end result of the bloated salaries of programmers and designers in the US (among others.) The fact that they can make it for HALF as much in St. Petersburg just goes to show the problem. If someone is willing to do the same job, just as well, for half the price, why would a company NOT do so?

Yeah because it has nothing at all to do with cost of living (why don't you try living in Southern California on the salary that these folks in Russia are getting) or corporate greed. No it's all the fault of those fat overpaid American bastards.

Hey, see my other post [slashdot.org] . If this is going to save the industry so much money when is the price of my games going to drop?

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (0)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630525)

I've seen people on this forum scoff at $60,000 a year like it was some kind of pittance. Yeah, the programmers have quite a bit to do with it. Everyone seems to think they're more valuable than they are, and they seriously need to realise that despite what they may think, some dude in Russia CAN do their job just as well and even factoring in the cost of living they don't charge as much.

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1)

DrDoombender (681389) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630503)

I'd like to add...yeah, and its not like those programmers don't work their asses off to get the game done either. Gee, those darn lazy programmers and their bloated salaries. How dare they only work 12-16 hours days, and sleep at work so they can get started working on the game faster. How dare they try and make a living wage based on the education and skill they contribute. Darn evil programmers making too much! They can burn in hell! Outsourcing is good cuz it helps the poor broke little game making companies. boo hoo!

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1)

ack154 (591432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630520)

I would complain more that the consumer doesn't benefit from these lower costs at all... not so much that the work goes overseas. I agree that it could be in a company's best interests to outsource it for cheaper labor. But when a company has lower costs, but keeps prices the same... that extra money sure isn't going into floor wax...

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630521)

I don't think the problem is outsourcing alone, but rather the pace of it. I find it very scary how much investment is going over seas rather then being spent in the US. I mean, JESUS!!!, I would like to have a fucking job with my skill set that I've learned and adapted with. But it's happening just to fast for me to keep up with the uber fast changing economy.

Now days, my future is even more uncertain. What's the next "thing" going to be? What should I educate myself in? If I spend all my time and money on a new job skills, will those get outsourced too?

Damned if I do, damned if I don't. What the fuck is citizen to do in the good ol US of A?

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1)

bloo9298 (258454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630552)

You are right, but harsh and unsympathetic to those that have lost their livelihood despite significant investments in their education.

Having said that, I'm not sure that I'll shed a tear when some of the other middle-class jobs outside of the tech industry move overseas too...

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (2, Interesting)

infinite9 (319274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630559)

People bitch about this, and that's fine. But at the same time, those people claim to be for free-market economy. But of course, only when it supports THEIR cause.

If I step out of my situation, I agree with you completely. If I step back in my situation, I say that how outsourcing has happened was just not acceptable. It sure feels to me like my entire career was gutted in just a few months. I'm sure may others feel the same way.

If you want to destroy an entire profession in your country, that's fine assuming you have a good reason. But you can't simply ignore all the people who invested years and tens of thousands of dollars in that career. People have 5 year car loans. People have 30 year mortgages. People make long term plans based on the assumption that their lives will be stable long term.

Outsourcing demonstrated to me that I can't count on my government to consider my needs before making a decision. I would say I'm completely meaningless to them, except as a part of consumer spending. I'll be moving into a house with no mortgage by the end of the year. I'll be completely debt free. I will never again finance something. Why? Because I can't ever assume that the amount of money I'm making will remain stable with any certainty. How's that for consumer confidence?

Hell, i would have been ok with outsourcing if i had just been given some warning. How about phasing in this outsourcing over five years? Warn everyone so they can plan, then do it? That's not what happened here. Why? Because corporate executives wanted all the profits now. And the people in washington took their money and did what they wanted. So much for representing us. Fuck the middle class.

This is the stuff that brings about communist revolutions. Follow this trend 20 or 30 years in the future and see where it gets us. Capitalism is fine as along as it's restrained.

Re:Capitalism reers its ugly head. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630579)

Thank you. I said the same thing [slashdot.org] but you did it about ten times more eloquently then I did. Welcome to my friends list :)

Outsourcing ourselves out of the economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630590)

You bring up an interesting point. Why would a company not outsource to a foreign country if they can save so much money?

Because then American consumers have no money to buy their products.

Let's just say that all video game work in every aspect is outsourced to Russia. Everyone besides the decision makers is out of a job in the video game industry. The result? Less people in America have a job/less money. America is the #1 consumer of video games in the world. Just like in the music and video business, breaking into the American market is the high water mark for foreign entertainers.

All this outsourcing hurts in the long run not because Americans are being laid off, but because the ability for American consumers to consume luxury items is being destroyed. Do you think programmers in India are worrying about whether or not to buy the new Britney Spears CD? Do you think these Russians are going to support the video game industry when Americans can't afford to support it?

The problem with outsourcing is that America is the only country that thrives on luxury items. When the average American is too poor to pay $8 for a movie ticket, $15 for a CD, $25 for a DVD, or $50 for a video game because his $60,000 a year job has been outsourced and he now works for $7.50 in retail just to live, the last thing he's going to worry about is what new games are coming out this week and more about if he'll have the money to afford the economy pack of Ramen Noodles so he can eat.

The first American businesses to truly suffer from the pains of outsourcing will be companies who sell to American wants, not needs.

Yeah, because this is an excellent idea (5, Informative)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630417)

Re:Yeah, because this is an excellent idea (1)

dupper (470576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630586)

*ahem* [gamespot.com]

Re:Yeah, because this is an excellent idea (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630592)

They should never have out-sourced Tetris to Russia, what a mistake that was! :)

But seriously, out-sourcing is nothing new to the gaming industry. When it used to be possible for a small team to make a game, who cared where their physical location was? It's only with games that require a cast of thousands to develop that it matters.

Re:Yeah, because this is an excellent idea (1)

neonstz (79215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630607)

A quote from the developer website [stellarstone.com] :

The highest technical caliber of Stellar Stone developers coupled with low offshore Russia-based engineering costs gives us sustainable competitive edge to employ more and higher quality engineers than a typical US company can afford, staff up projects faster, put more developers on a project for a better gameplay value and graphics visuals. For our customers that transfers into richier product feature set at the same price point.

Easy workaround (1)

C17GMaster (727940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630421)

If the shareholders benefit so much from all the outsourcing, why don't we all buy stock in programming-related industries? Not only would we benefit from the outsourcing itself, but the Slashdot effect would drive stock prices sky-high!

Re:Easy workaround (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630539)

Because they don't. How many companies are outsourcing PURELY to increase revenue? How many are outsourcing to keep their ass out of the red? Compare column A to column B and you'll probably end up with a rather lopsided victory for column B.

Even the Simpson's..... (4, Interesting)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630426)

Yup... the Simpson's - perhaps the most biting commentary on American life - now has credits for offshore production. From the name of the manager it's likely India or Malaysia. The voices are still American but the graphics are probably done in a country where the sarcasm will not likely be noticed as sarcasm. Nothing is sacred and I'm seriously reconsidering my Simpson's habit.

Bit late to notice now (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630466)

Simpson's animation has been outsourced more or less since the beginning. Its only that you've just noticed now. http://kn.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/html_dir/200 1/08/27/200108270029.asp Thing is outsourcing has been an issue since before you were born. Its not going to get a quick fix or go away in a hurry. Its just that its impacting you for the first time. The rest of American industry has had its turn(s) before.

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630469)

The voices are still American but the graphics are probably done in a country where the sarcasm will not likely be noticed as sarcasm.

I take it you mean the graphics are also being done in America?

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (1)

Saragon42 (763516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630473)

NPR's All Things Considered had an article on this a few months ago - it's outsourced to Thailand, as I recall.

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630531)

I thought it was done in Korea or somewhere for ages...

And you don't need to worry about the Simpsons habit. The show is going backwards and will be off the air soon enough.

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630555)

Wow. This is fucking stupid. So since the majority of in-between animation is done overseas (the annoying grunt work), you're going to stop watching the Simpsons? You do know that practically every cartoon produced in the past 4-6 years is animated at least partly overseas, right?

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (4, Informative)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630562)

As a student of animation, I can tell you that this is nothing new. Almost ALL animation viewed in the US has been produced overseas since mid-eighties, corresponding closely to the ill-fated animators strike (they were striking against overseas production...) It's not all bad, however - although the scenes are animated overseas, you're right - there are certain actions and idioms that must be carried through precisely as indicated, or else jokes won't work.

Whose job is it to set up all the timing, thumbnails, and notes so the overseas animator doesn't screw up? Layout artists and timers, working here in the US. Although they succeeded in exporting the actual animation jobs, they made the remaining jobs here much more valuable. There's not too much room for screwing up when getting a reshoot of a bad scene takes weeks - hence, timing* is a very important position.

*timing is literally someone timing out actions with a stopwatch, notating them on an exposure sheet to dictate precisely how, when, and where keyframes and inbetweens fall. The timer has the most control over how a show looks in terms of the actual animation.

Re:Even the Simpson's..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630606)

Since you are a student of animation, can you explain to me how they actually outsource the drawing? I mean do they say... "ok... Homer walks into Moe's and then, like, he gets hit by Grandpa... no, no, Grandpa is standing on the left. Oh yeah and draw in that Love Tester thing too. Thanks". I mean how do they know what to draw over in Korea... I don't geddit.

All Your Base (2, Funny)

Autonomous Coword (749584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630438)

I wonder how "All your base are belong to us" translates from Russian?

Moving to Russia and... (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630447)

changing my name to Grigori Kasamentov doesn't sound like a bad idea at this point. :/

GJC

Good luck... (2, Insightful)

Tirinal (667204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630456)

The problem with such an approach is that cultural differences will likely cause numerous rifts between the marketability of a game and its ultimate appeal. Not only is guy outsourcing game programmers, but he's also outsourcing game designers, which usually has disastrous results. Games are highly subjective, and you can't have one part of the world design a game for another part of the world and expect it do well with no exceptions. Examples abound. At least 80% of all Japanese video games never make it stateside. Most every FPS in existence has little to no appeal in any part of Asia. The most popular MMO in the world, Lineage (soon to be surpassed by its sequel), is virtually unknown in the western hemisphere. Ad infinitum. These methods to save a quick buck rarely pan out in the end, though they look good on paper.

Industry goes back to Tetris founders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630461)

Don't forget that the author of tetris is Boris Pajitnov.

Re:Industry goes back to Tetris founders? (1)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630491)

Who now works at Microsoft

Re:Industry goes back to Tetris founders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630599)

Operating Thetan?

Say hi to Xenu for me.

Need Constitutional Amendment on Economic Treason (3, Interesting)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630462)

What we need is a constitutional amendment defining economic treason as a high crime. Economic treason might be defined as sending "high value" work to a location where wages are substantially lower than Americans would earn.

Re:Need Constitutional Amendment on Economic Treas (2, Interesting)

Saragon42 (763516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630502)

By that definition, you'd end up banning imports - which would completely destroy the economy of the United States and its trading partners (i.e. the industrialized world.) A better way to handle it would be to crack down hard on overseas tax shelters and then provide tax benefits for companies keeping their labor in the US (or your appropriate nation, international /.ers. I'm not greedy.)

Re:Need Constitutional Amendment on Economic Treas (1)

LordK3nn3th (715352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630581)

How utterly and completely stupid. Boycott, but don't pass laws outlawing outsourcing. This is brainless.

Re:Need Constitutional Amendment on Economic Treas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630625)

Amen! More government meddling in business is sure to further the famous American free market agenda!

Bad idea for several reasons (2, Informative)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630463)

1)Cultural differences. A culture founded on Confuscian ideals has few reference points with one founded on Hellenistic ones, for example. This pretty much ensures you can't outsource design. It also introduces communication difficulties between designers and coders.
2)Work ethic. Missed deadlines, shoddy work etc are mentioned in the article. What isn't mentioned is the shit approach to aftersales-Eastern European games are notorious for never being patched.

Essentially, the only real part that can be outsourced well is the art. This has already been going on for years, and it's only a logical step now to use the company in Saigon rather than the one in London-right up till Kinetix questions how the people you hired could afford the site licenses.

Re:Bad idea for several reasons (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630532)

Actually art is one of the few things that can't really be outsourced well. Cultural differences affect things like style and color selection. I remember reading a while back about problems US companies were having outsourcing art to India.

Re:Bad idea for several reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630550)

2)Work ethic. Missed deadlines, shoddy work etc are mentioned in the article. What isn't mentioned is the shit approach to aftersales-Eastern European games are notorious for never being patched.

This is bullshit. I've worked with two different Russian game development teams and in both cases they had outstanding pride in their work. Know why? They're hungry. If they don't do a good job, they don't EAT. There wasn't any 9-to-5 phone-it-in bs on those teams. In fact, if anything they went too far the other way: they were perfectionists.

About patching those games: the reason they have fewer patches is they are considered "budget" teams. Publishers don't want to spend the money to pay for patching. Believe me, the developers are more than willing to do the work if it means they get to keep eating.

Nothing new (1, Redundant)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630470)

Um...since when did "video games from Russia" become a new thing? Tetris anyone?(although I seem to recall the original programmer got screwed somehow out of most of the profits).

And Asia? Has anyone forgotten that true jem, "all your base are belong to us"?

Oh, and since nobody else has said it, I might as well get it over with:

"In Soviet Russia, video game PLAYS YOU!"

myst on amiga scandal, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630471)

AG: Why did you tell the "whole truth about clickBOOM" right now, a long time after you left them ?
JT: First of all, we were all very angry about what happened. We believed that Aleksandar didn't make almost any profit from the games as he told us himself. We were very disappointed but in the mean time, we realised that he "made a name" of "his" team clickBOOM using our hard work leaving us completely anonymous, as no one knew who formed really clickBOOM. Now, he is denying our work completely.

It was too painful for us to remember about all that. But we realised that he might continue to work in the same fashion with other computer artists, and so we decided to react and reveal the whole truth.
AG: "ClickBOOM" denies your story. Have they already taken legal steps against you ? And what can you do to prove that you're right ?
JT: We have not been informed officially about any charges on us. We have worked for more than three years, there are many material proofs (all the development material, for example), many witnesses, etc...

The easiest thing would be to release those proofs to the public, but - hey, how could we claim that only we own that material then ?
AG: There some strange points in your version of what happened.
1. Why should a Canadian company hire Serbian programmers for a commercial game right in the middle of a bloody war ?
JT: First of all, Aleksandar Petrovic, the manager of clickBOOM was born in Serbia. We think he left for Canada in the beginning of the nineties. We live in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, which was never in the war. The life was more or less normal, but the economical situation in our country was very difficult. Aleksandar didn't have much money in that time and the only place where he could find computer artists for his projects was his own country, because it is the best place to find someone who would understand you.
AG: 2. Why should Aleksandar Petrovic, the manager of clickBOOM, give you the very important job of programming the Amiga version of "Myst" when, according to your story, he even doubted about your abilities in writing a simple installer program ?
DD: First of all, he "tested" me with the "Beach" project and saw that I could very well work on it. Writing an installer was much more easier than working on that project. Yet, Aleksandar was afraid that something could go wrong, because it might happen that I write an installer which could not work on some specific Amiga systems. The official system Installer is supposed to work on every system. That is my opinion. I don't know what were his own reasons.
AG: What are you doing nowadays ? Do you still have an Amiga ? Are you still a programmer ?
JT: We all still have Amigas (did you doubt about that ? once with the Amiga - forever with the Amiga) and we still work on it. The only thing that kept us away from working on new games was Aleksandar and what he did to us.

We have some projects right now. You'll soon be able to see more about that on our web site.

We'd also like to add something which was not mentioned in your questions.

We heard that a message has been sent to every Amiga magazine to ignore mails and news from us. Think about it: if the truth is never revealed, young talents will still be used and abused. Will they make any new games, then ? What will happen to Amiga ? What will happen to the Amiga community ? What will happen to the Amiga fans ? What will happen to you ? Just put your finger on your head and think about it !

Face Facts (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630475)

Programming has gone the way of the VCR repair man. MY 10 year old nephew is programming in C++ right now. Face facts, the bar has been raised for what a technical professional is and its time to suck it up or are all the programmer going to whine like a bunch of autoworkers who feel its necessary to earn $45+ dollars an hour to turn a fucking screw on an assembly line?

Very true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8630556)

A lot of people who read Slashdot are young enough that they don't recall the careers of CS graduates before the dot.com boom. The quick story is: those people did not get paid particularly well and were for the most part regarded as "technical" rather than "professional".

The boom has led to a misapprehension on the part of many as to how much programming is worth as a skill. You have to realise that ten years ago there was a shortage of talent and massive amount of work that needed doing. All that is happening is that the situation is normalising. American programmers won't give up the artificially inflated wages the boom led to (which were as high as they were purely on the basis of scarcity rather than the implicit worth a code monkey), so they are shipping over seas.

Makes a lot of sense and, if I can just point this out to Slashdot hive mind, it is ultimately good for everyone in American economy who is not a programmer themselves. Pumping money into places like India inflates the export market which will eventually allow us to relieve the crushing burden of the trade defecit. With software costs reduced thats jobs in other areas of a (hypothetical) factory or service industry that can be retained. Given the character of the American economy at present the money is better in the hands of people who will buy exports than it is in the hand of over-valued programmers.

Re:Face Facts (2, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630571)

Why isn't C++ being taught in public schools now? Being that everything can be reprogrammed (software, robotics, sales metrics, accounting...etc). Programming should be like any of the major subjects such as Science, English and Math.

Soon, programming will be required education rather then an added skill set to profit on just alone.

Outsourcing is good. (0, Flamebait)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630478)



This is good. It increases productivity. Game prices will go down. Also bringing jobs to these countries reduces the terror threat. These are jobs none of us are willing to do, not the good jobs. These guys will do the dirty work, like writing the graphics engine.

Too bad the don't write the code under the GPL, then we could see real productivity increases.

Good and bad? (4, Interesting)

doormat (63648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630481)

I suppose it can be good and bad. One of the good things would be cutting development costs, and maybe lower prices. But with the high piracy rates of Asia/Eastern Europe, I'm not sure I'd trust anyone with a large chunk of the code. And I'd say its a lot less likely than it happening here merely because of the legal reprocussions. Going half way around the world to a different legal system to try and apprehend and punish the guy/gal who did it is far more difficult, when compared to staying in your own backyard (USA/Canada) where you know the law.

Re:Good and bad? (1)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630570)

As posted by someone before, there is no "maybe lower prices". The prices WILL NOT be lowered, no matter what. The best we can hope for is that more games would become profitable.

here's an idea (2, Insightful)

negacao (522115) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630497)

When a company has 50% or more of its "high pay" employees outside of the US, kick them the fuck out - they're not a US company anymore.

At the least, put a HIGH tariff on thier products - the same way we currently do with imported steel.

If the company isn't willing to give back to the country that allows it's existence, the country should cease to allow it's existence.

Unfortunately, this'll never happen with our current gov't.

half the cost (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630505)

'We can get the work done for half the cost that it takes in the U.S.,' said Vange, president of Ketsujin Studios

Well, let's just hope that Vange gets paid half of what is normal in the U.S. and the price for the games are half as much so that the unemployed, underemployed, and those working a minimum wage to compete with Russia can afford the games.

Unless, of course, the primary market for these games is Russia.

I don't really see outsourcing as such a big deal. I just don't understand why some CEOs get paid so much money to supervise a workforce halfway across the world for a company that is officially located in a third world country. It really seems the company could increase shareholder values by moving the CxO to those cheaper countries as well.

Well! (5, Funny)

LordK3nn3th (715352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630566)

This is an outrage! Next thing you know, Nintendo will outsource to some obscure place, like Japan!

Westwood / EA (3, Interesting)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630568)

Not too long after the EA takeover of Westwood studios, some of the work was contracted out to a group in Germany, keep in mind they did very good work.... but still

A creative endeavor? (1)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630589)

This isn't like outsourcing tech support or even office software. Games are inherently creative things and I think there will be a quality issue, real or percieved, with games made like this. I'm not saying games can't cross cultural bounds, but what kind of heart can an a Malaysian put into GTA game set in New York? (Just an example, I don't like GTA).

Heh, if I was running things, I'd outsource all video game making to Japan, I'd much rather play Japanese games then 90% of the crap that comes out here (relax! a joke kinda - among my favorite games are TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Dungeon Master, but nearly everything coming out here seems to be Tony Hawk games, FPSes, and RTSes).
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