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The Videogame Industry is Broken

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the busted-up dept.


GameDaily is running an interesting opinion piece running down the ways in which the gaming industry is just broken. The author cites soaring costs, huge risks, a reduction in creativity, and a stagnation in market growth as just some of the signs of this crisis. From the article: "The next-gen systems require publishers to place very large bets with each title. This will mean decreased risk taking and just regurgitated sequels of big brand franchises. How many publishers will take risks with multiplatform original IP? This is clearly not good news for the consumer as innovation has driven our industry from the beginning. The irony is that the amazing tools, capabilities and quality of the new systems may very well doom what is most important, which is the game itself. Reconciling what a creative team wants and what the executive suite needs in terms of profits will be a growing challenge for many companies."

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Simple fix (3, Funny)

WileyK (988408) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729374)

Set up EA the bomb.

Indie developers CAN set up EA the bomb... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729584)

...by putting out more interesting, fun games than the big shops. Currently my favorite game is Mount&Blade [taleworlds.com] , which was begun by a husband and wife team.

May not be so gloomy afterall (4, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729382)

Whether it 'wins' is one thing, but it does look as if the Wii is going to get Nintendo a lot more attention this time. And Nintendo game platforms have always been places where new ideas get tried it. From the doomed Virtual Boy through bongos-as-controllers to dual-screen touch-sensitive handhelds, a Nintendo machine has always given things a bit of a go.

Maybe the new creativity might start showing through that?


Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (3, Insightful)

Z80a (971949) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729399)

and dont forget that is cheaper to develop for Wii than X-box 360 and PS3 as you dont need to do really high resolution texture and super detailed models,or use rocket science programmers to deal with Cell :3

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729413)

Jeez man, you were really slow on that. Wii needs to be the first system mentioned in every slashdot games article. PC review? Talk about how the Wii version would rule because of the controller. PS3 info? Talk about how expensive it is and how the graphics won't matter much because of the Wii controller. You need to have the Wii comments ready to go as soon as an article comes up so we can get a comment on how great the Wii will be.

Oh, p.s. remember to humbly suggest that it might just be the second coming of gaming Christ. You can't just say it, or else we'll be outed as the Nintendo fanboys we really are.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729571)

The Wii is mentioned so often because Nintendo has built so much excitement around the system without adding a movie format of questionable value, pre-rendering movies of games and passing them off as real-time footage, or stealing the ideas of their competitors and passing them off as inovative while calling their cometitors gimmicky; all Nintendo has done is promise a new way to play existing games and (hopefully) new genres and games. Why this is so apealing to so many people is that most games have not really evolved all that much since the N64 was released; most FPS are still copying Half-Life, Counter Strike, Golden-eye or Unreal Tournament and passing it off as a new game.

Nintendo may (or may not) dominate the game industry for the next 5 years, but I am positive that they will have the most inovative and interesting games released on the Wii or Nintendo DS.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729695)

Dude, it's an article on the lack of innovation in the gaming industry. If a comment on the Wii is on-topic anywhere, it's here.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (3, Interesting)

Gnostic Ronin (980129) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729467)

Well, depends on what the developers can do. It allows different types of inputs, true enough. But so did eyetoy and the DS.

Most games making extensive use of either one looked more like tech demos to me (mostly I looked at eyetoy). The rest of the time, they used the technology very sparingly, relying on more traditional control scemes. In fact, most of the "eyetoy" functionality in games is reserved for scanning your face into the game you're playing, not some innovative gameplay feature. The only "true" game that makes use of eyetoy is Antigrav, the rest are either collections of minigames or minigames in traditional games. I expect similar from Wii -- sure Wii's Wario Ware will be fun, but I'm not expecting much more than Tech demos for the first year or two.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729538)

Yeah and if the DS was still doing "tech demo" games it would be irrelevant at this point. Looking into both things sufficiently your going to comment on before rattling off how both are "dumb" makes you look less dumb and keep others like me from having to post this kind of BS. Such games on the DS such as Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Magnetica, Nintendogs, Sudoku, etc are anything BUT "tech demos." It's funny though, for the first year or two any new things like the DS people decry every game as a tech demo. Do you even know what a tech demo is? A tech demo is an "incomplete product to show functionality" aka "prototype." I don't know of any games on the DS that I could call tech demos. There have been plain shitty games from companies like EA, but that's just the norm.

Now the Eye Toy? I can agree with you there. That "gimmick" is more an attempt by Sony to try and steal a little of Nintendo's thunder without following through with it. I'm no Nintendo fanboy. Hell it was nice to see Nintendo get dethroned as the king of the hill so they could have some competition. The DS & the Wii is their way of fighting back and I must say I was impressed at E3.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729567)

Great post, but let's not assign credit in the wrong places. Bongos-as-controllers is a great idea, yes, but it's not innovative -- unless you think maracas-as-controllers is completely different. Sega hit on that idea with the fantastic "Samba de Amigo." (Which probably should have sold a million Dreamcasts if Sega's marketing division had noticed it and ramped up the hype machine a little more.)
  This is not to belittle Nintendo, though -- but they've got plenty of legitimate innovation going on without giving them credit for someone else's innovations. Do give them credit, however, for seeing a great idea and asking "how can we do that?" which is the complement to "innovation."

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729588)

Whether it 'wins' is one thing, but it does look as if the Wii is going to get Nintendo a lot more attention this time.
It seems like the article - and your comment - are focused exclusively on consoles. If you want a game industry with lower costs, lower risks, and more creativity, why not just look elsewhere within the industry? Even though we own a PS2, my 7 year old spends more time on Flash and Java games, simply because there's an endless stream of new games coming out - and they're certainly not million-dollar titles. Even PC gaming, I think, has a more vibrant "indie" development scene than consoles. Don't get me wrong, consoles have largely taken over gaming and now occupy center stage. And like Hollywood movies, they're likely to remain targets for criticism about "the industry." But if those things really worry you, there are other options.

Re:May not be so gloomy afterall (5, Insightful)

SteveXE (641833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729665)

You forget Sega, although they dont make consoles anymore they had alot of inovative ideas. The motion sensing controller, almost identical to the one Nintendo has made was done first on Dreamcast but never released. Samba Di Amigo was a game that used Maracas in the same way Donkey Konga uses drums. Sega was the first to use the microphone as a gameplay device First fishing rod controller First Analog triggers First console online (Genesis) First Online console RPG. The Wii is full of concepts dreamt up by Sega and hopefully perfected by Nintendo...best of both worlds if you ask me.

Same Thing... Different Day (5, Insightful)

dufachi (973647) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729390)

It's not so much that it's broken; it's that game developers keep hashing the same games out over and over with different themes and newer graphic engines. I haven't bought a new game in almost 2 years because everything is the same.

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729421)

game devs are pushing out the same games over and over again because that's what they get funding for from the suits.

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (4, Insightful)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729544)

Game industry = Music industry
Developers = Bands
Publishers = Record companies

In each industry, which entity do you think is to blame for the generic corporate schlock that's on the store shelves?

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729575)

to finish the analogy:

games that look the same = songs that sound the same
managers that care about revenue instead of game quality = managers that care about revenue instead of song quality

The list can be finished easily. What it boils down to is that the creativity has been sucked out of both industries by the predominance of the publishers instead of the artists.

music and games are different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729586)

Modern games are expensive to make. Music is cheap to make.

Music preference is strongly effected by promotion.
Gaming preference is weakly effected by promotion.

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (2, Insightful)

jmp_nyc (895404) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729645)

Exactly the same thing can be said of movies and Broadway shows.

In all of these cases, production costs have risen faster than the incomes of the target consumers. As that happens, investors are loathe to have a failure on their hands, so they take fewer risks. For a perfect example, after the successes of Lion King and The Producers, look at how many films turned into Broadway musicals. Do we really need a musical theater adaptation of The Wedding Singer? Innovation has moved off-off-Broadway, where costs are lower.

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (1)

Jesufication (963786) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729692)

That would be true if it weren't for the fact that recording equipment is getting cheaper and artists have the Internet for distribution. Whereas making games is getting more expensive, making music is getting less so.

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729556)

Something looks appealing to you at the time, and you spring for it in the hopes that you're picking out a winner. You know you'll at least get a few hours of mindless entertainment. If you're lucky, you'll get some good replay value out of it too. Just cross your fingers and hope that you don't pick up a virus.

File Under: [gaming], [dating], [public toilets]

Re:Same Thing... Different Day (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729730)

+3 Insightful modifier after blaming game developers for the mistakes of game designers

What are the odds (2, Interesting)

9x320 (987156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729391)

that another video game will ever be produced for a console with graphics on the same level as that experienced by NES games, and that people will buy it?

Also, I find it odd how many video games based on movies are coming out at the sacrifice of both gameplay and plot in order to cash in on the franchise. You'd think they'd have learned from the E.T. video game, but apparently the better graphics have changed that? Why must a book usually be made into a movie before a video game is based on it?

Re:What are the odds (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729568)

They have learned. They learned that as long as the game and movie come out at the same time it will sell fast enough that the word of mouth on how bad it it won't kill sales before a profit is made.

Re:What are the odds (1)

9x320 (987156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729616)

Yes, exactly. If they intended on creating video games from movies just to shamelessly rip off ideas for plots, rather than generating some quick cash, they would also be looking through books for such ideas.

But if they designed video games based on books, they would have the creative freedom to design the characters and backgrounds, rather than copying what was shown in the movie, and everyone knows how much the type of people that make these movie-to-video game rip-offs hate creative freedom....

Re:What are the odds (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729595)

Games don't need to have such low graphics in order for them to be original. 1998 was a good year for games, and those most certainly had better than NES level graphics. For the PC there were Starcraft, Half-life and Homeworld. Consoles had Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Metal Gear Solid.

Some truly excellent games were released the second half of the last decade, in fact I'd go so far as to call it the best time for originality in gaming so far.

Nowadays, innovation is almost completely driven by computing power. Physics, lighting effects and skeletal animation change how we play and view our games in various subtle and unsubtle ways.

HL2's gravity gun is driven by physics, and don't get me wrong, I think it's a really great idea, but it was bound to happen once physics engines begun to be used in games.

Games can now be presented in increasingly cinematic and/or theatric ways, and can be incredibly stunning to look at, but what's lacking is originality, because many of the methods used to produce games in such ways can already be seen on TV, in movie theaters and at plays.

Re:What are the odds (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729630)

that another video game will ever be produced for a console with graphics on the same level as that experienced by NES games, and that people will buy it?

Handhelds have been a good refuge from 3D graphics in recent years, and I'm almost sad to see the advent of 3D graphics on the DS and PSP. I've been enjoying Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap over the last couple of weeks, and the GameCube/GBA Four Swords Adventures is a great example of old-style 2D graphics being almost seamlessly merged with 3D effects. I couldn't comment on the sales figures of these games though.

Why must a book usually be made into a movie before a video game is based on it?

The easy answer to that is because a lot of the creative work is already done by the film crew. Turning a book into something visual is a very tricky business, because everybody has a different interpretation of how it should look. Why not let the film crew worry about that? It means that the whole dev team has one set interpretation to work from.

Re:What are the odds (1)

Tatsh (893946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729720)

The easy answer to that is because a lot of the creative work is already done by the film crew. Turning a book into something visual is a very tricky business, because everybody has a different interpretation of how it should look.

Very true, but I think it should be up to the artists (not using a movie if there is one). Some of the great "tales" of the past also have authorities that say what things should look like. The J.R.R. Tolkien Society is said to have had to approve of what EA could do in its Lord of the Rings games, and many players disagreed with Tolkien Society's views.

Bubbles Happen (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729392)

The game industry has always been cyclical and probably always will be. Every 12 years or so there will be a "great meltdown", "implosion within", or "game recession", etc. Time to buy dot-com stock instead :-)

wah wah wah (5, Insightful)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729394)

The only thing that's broken in the game industry is that magazines seem to have no other story list to draw from other than "videogames are broken."

Right now, at this very minute, Nintendo and the DS are demonstrating that it's innovation, not licenses or technology, that is selling software, and first and thrid parties on DS are benefitting. The same thing is happening on PSP -- look at Loco Roco's appeal and sales overseas.

The next-gen systems face some challenges, but no more than they ever have. As games move into a more mature phase of their existance, we have positives -- almost everyone under 30 has played games, and most continue to play games -- and negatives -- the percentage of people who buy new games just becuase their new isn't growing; instead most people are looking at the quality of the game itself before they plop down their sheckels.

The actual article is more reasoned than the Slashdot recap, but honestly, games don't face any more challenges than movies, TV, or any other media. Innovation is alive and well. Innovation doesn't have to mean better graphics or experimental gameplay. Look at Xbox Live Arcade, and Sony's and Nintendo's forthcoming online services. That's a HUGE innovation in the console space, and it enables new types of games on consoles that we simply wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Bottom line, the biggest problem with the game industry today, to me, are the jaded pundits, not anything else.

Re:wah wah wah (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729446)

agreed. I wish rather than posting articles on how the industry has no innovation, these same sites would instead feature smaller budget games that ARE innovative.
I have two of them on my website they could start with right now.

Re:wah wah wah (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729618)

Kudos - Why Live A Real Life When You Can Simulate One?

Oh yeah, actually living one would probably be a better idea. Sorry, don't like it.

The democracy one looks boring too. Sorry.

Re:wah wah wah (1)

Lerc (71477) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729703)

Ahh but that's the thing about making new and innovative games.

Not everyone likes everything.

If everyone made innovative games There would be heaps of games you don't like, There'd also be a few that you really, really, like that others don't.

When you are not going for the lowest common demominator it's unavoidable that you lose the common, but A game shouldn't be everything to every person.

Re:wah wah wah (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729486)

. . .the percentage of people who buy new games just becuase their new isn't growing; instead most people are looking at the quality of the game itself before they plop down their sheckels.

You said something about negatives. Care to tell us what they are?


Re:wah wah wah (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729535)

Ha! Good point! Well, I come at it from an industry perspective. If people would just keep buying any new game because it was new, or it had a license slapped on it, it would make my job a lot easier! We could just license a Genesis engine from Acclaim and...

No seriously though, I guess I meant that the overall number of hardcore gamers isn't growing, and that does put limits on what kinds of games you can make: a deep, complex, fighting game is not going to get the greenlight as well as a game which has a better chance of appealing to a wider audience. That's what I meant.

Although, that said, you could probably make a good Live Arcade case for a new hardcore 2D fighter...

Re:wah wah wah (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729587)

I come at it from an industry perspective.

Yeah, I figured. :)

. . .it would make my job a lot easier!

You only build strength when your muscles are stressed.

I guess I meant that the overall number of hardcore gamers isn't growing

I would suggest that what is happening is that you are not seeing the hardcore gamers because, as per your own statement, it is the gamers who are jaded, not just the journalists. They are not buying your games, so you think they do not exist.

Build the game and they will come. The problem is that you have built an industry. Industry depends on production. Mass output. "Sofa sized" paintings. Games depend on creativity. Rarity. "Starry Night."

And so the industry is broken by design. It can be nothing else from the gamer's perspective.

We're looking for the artists.


Re:wah wah wah (2, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729530)

Blockquoth the poster:

but honestly, games don't face any more challenges than movies, TV, or any other media.

Yes, and clearly, in TV and movies, we don't suffer from the regurgitation [imdb.com] of proven material [imdb.com] over [imdb.com] and over [imdb.com] and over [imdb.com] again, with a focus on blockbusters [imdb.com] in a vain pursuit of mega-profit....

Re:wah wah wah (1)

radish (98371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729560)

Sure we do. But there are also plenty of inspired (and inspiring) movies and TV shows around. The point is they're not exclusive, whilst we might all groan at another American Idol season I can't wait for the next "outside the box" classic like The Matrix, Napoleon Dynamite, or Sin City.

Re:wah wah wah (1)

WhyCause (179039) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729599)

Yes, and clearly, in TV and movies, we don't suffer from the regurgitation of proven material over and over and over again, with a focus on blockbusters in a vain pursuit of mega-profit....

And this is why we have seen the growth of gaming as an industry, namely because it offers an alternative to the same mindless entertainment that's been shoved down our throats.

Unfortunately, if videogames move toward a system where only big-name sequels and licensed pablum comes trickling out, then the entertainment experience of gaming will no longer be the strong competition that attracted us to the medium in the first place. If this does happen (it's in the process of happening now), then there may well be a 'crash' like what we saw in the early 80s. Frankly, I'm not looking forward to that.

Re:wah wah wah (2, Insightful)

AK__64 (740022) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729574)

Bottom line, the biggest problem with the game industry today, to me, are the jaded pundits, not anything else.

So my question is, why are the pundits so jaded? Seems to me if everything is so rosy than the pundits would agree with your analysis.

I think there IS something broken about the gaming industry, I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think video games will be able to entertain the same number of people in the same way that they have been. I don't think the depth of experience is there to keep the same people involved while also reaching out to their kids.

Re:wah wah wah (0, Flamebait)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729646)

Nintendo and the DS are demonstrating that it's innovation, not licenses or technology, that is selling software,

Pardon me if I ask you the simple question WHAT INNOVATION?

Apart from the provably false DS==Innovation axiom, what can anyone here provide to show Nintendo is innovating with this budget Mac look-alike?

And no, a strong fanboy base doesn't count either.

Outdated news (1)

Mikachu (972457) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729397)

The next-gen systems require publishers to place very large bets with each title. This will mean decreased risk taking and just regurgitated sequels of big brand franchises. How many publishers will take risks with multiplatform original IP?
This article makes it sound like they've been thinking about only the Xbox 360 and the PS3. This was exactly what the Nintendo Wii is doing differently, and has been since the Nintendo DS. The entire platform is a risk, but they seem to be making innovations we haven't seen the likes of since the NES. Nintendo is already making a huge leap.

If this was posted in the last generation of video game systems, I'd probably agree, but not with the Wii just around the corner...

Yahoo! Gets It (1)

bobsledbob (315580) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729401)

You've all seen games.yahoo.com. A lot of the games there are priced at $20, which for the simplistic and fun nature of the games is the right price.

Yes, I'm guessing the hard core video game market is suffering, but that doesn't mean the video game industry as a whole is suffering. I bet Yahoo is making a killing on these games, as are the independant little game studios producing them. Or how about the cell phone game market? They're definetly not suffering.

Do we really need epic $60-100 games? Or do these $20 games satisfy, both the kids and the wallet? It's just a changing of the video game landscape. Those game companies who adapt will reap the rewards. It's not suprising really, is it?

Re:Yahoo! Gets It (1)

henryhund (989235) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729572)

It's really hard to create an "epic" masterpiece, or to come up with the next Zelda, Final Fantasy, or Mario. It's even harder to continually create such epics. So, if you can't make one or can't keep creating them, you should stick to the fun, simple titles (Electroplankton, Loco Roco, Brain Age, etc.). If King Kong the game can't be a blockbuster epic worth the $60 purchase, make it a $20 game.

Re:Yahoo! Gets It (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729647)

Personally, I do miss the big epic games. Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 had a ton of content, loads of hidden paths and things to discover. On the 3d side of things, Deus Ex had fantastic writing, amazingly complex areas to explore, and a fantastic feel of scope. Even more recently, HL2 proved that you can make a killing on a large-scope game based around a well-written story. The article's point, I think, is that although this is still possible, it also requires a risk: it requires that you actually find a good writer and work with him to bring his vision to the screen. Why do that, when you could just license the latest fantasy action film and build a game around a bastardized version of the story already written for the movie?

it's good. (3, Insightful)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729406)

Hey, there's a mistake in the summary - this is good for the consumeres.

Finally the industry is discovering that making a sequel of a sequel of some old game is not a receipe for success. Of course Fallout N will sell good like hell. But at the end some companies will die. But most importantly a few other companies will succesfully create a new franchise, that will be good. And will have not only graphics, but the storyline. It's competition guys. Competition is always good for consumers, and bad for companies that fail to innovate.

That makes me think that they do not compete with themselves but with the hardware. Kinda funny if you asked me.

Re:it's good. (1)

radish (98371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729581)

Why is storyline important? Let me list some games which are pretty widely accepted to be "great":

Super Mario Bros
The various Burnout titles
Sonic (the original ones)
Gran Turismo
Crazy Taxi
Mario Party
Guitar Hero
DDR ... I could go on ...

Now, how important is storyline to any of the above? Sure a good story is vital to certain genres - obviously RPGs, also FPSs to a lesser extent. But there are plenty of great games out there, even many absolute classics, which have no story whatsoever. And they don't suffer for it.

Re:it's good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729640)

Why should we care about the story? Horrid long cutsecenes are whats choking the games industry - give us some decent *gameplay*.

The Ghost Of Console Gens Past - Again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729408)

Every new console cycle we get the same deluge.

Rising costs!
Graphics/technology too important - bring back the good old days where gamers cared about gameplay!

It's like the holiday decorations that are left in a box up in the attic and brought down and dusted off once a year. I've read enough of these inane rants to feel like there has to be some sort of DIY form online somewhere where an author just has to fill in the new gen's dates and names and dump the thing on a website and wait for the pagehits to come in.

The industry will fix itself (2, Insightful)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729411)

Ultimately, the video game industry will correct itself through market selection.

If newer systems with fancier graphics and capabilities require more development time and cost, development houses will take fewer risks and innovation will suffer. Those systems will eventually die out in the market as people lose interest.

But if other newer systems come along and don't require more development time or cost due to smart development tools and SDK/platform, the development houses won't have to avoid taking risks and innovation will still thrive. Those systems will succeed whereas the ones costly to develop for will not.

The next generation consoles just cost too much (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729412)

The industry is trying to move to a higher price point. And that's just not going to happen.

It's quite possible that the Xbox 360 and PS3, and their games, will sell slowly at their higher price points, and won't go mainstream until the prices come down, which could take years. The PS2 is still outselling the XBox 360. Microsoft caught up with demand, and nobody cared.

Forgetting a next-gen console (2, Insightful)

Exatron (124633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729466)

Some members of the industry are trying to move to a higher price point. Nintendo's Wii is expected to have a launch price similar to the company's previous consoles, and the games will be priced accordingly.

Re:The next generation consoles just cost too much (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729678)

I love how everyone is up in arms about the industry "suddenly" trying to raise the price point. They've been trying to do that for 20 years. Am I the only one who remembers Nintendo trying to push SNES carts for $70 for a while? N64 carts sere similarly over priced at first. The market wouldnt bear it. At the other end of the spectrum CD based games didnt cause a price drop with the cheaper media. New games will contunue to be $50, give or take. Were seeing early an adopter tax right now. Wait 3 months and the game will be $40 wait 8 months to a year and it'l be a $20 platinum hit.

As with everything else that's popular (4, Interesting)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729416)

What I find facinating is how companies change the way they do things when they get popular. They forget what made them popular in the first place. My company is a prime example. We we extremely successful and thus bought by a huge company. The first thing they did is change the way we did things... not realizing that the reason they bought us in the first place is that we were already doing things right. Very strange indeed.

As for the video game industry, I see a trend of going back to the basics with respects to gameplay. All this push to make super realistic movie like games is just not working yet.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:As with everything else that's popular (3, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729607)

We we extremely successful and thus bought by a huge company. The first thing they did is change the way we did things... not realizing that the reason they bought us in the first place is that we were already doing things right. Very strange indeed.

You don't mention what industry you're in, but buyouts rarely happen solely on the success of the company being purchased. Most likely it's simply your product that the parent company wants. Could be for IP purposes or to remove a competing product from the market.

Either way, and having been through a couple buyouts myself, the reason they changed the way you did things was to match their corporate culture, not the other way around.

multiplatform is not a risk (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729433)

multiplatform original IP

The real risk and reward comes from SINGLE-platform ventures. This way you get to make the absolute best game for the platform you've chosen. You use its performance hardware, user interface, network connections, etc to the best of your ability.

With all this multiplatform crap going around, we're stuck with the lowest common denominator in all our games.

Basically this was an anti-console rant by a PC gamer who's sick of shallow PC ports of console games that suck because they were made assuming you didn't have a mouse and keyboard.

Prophets of Console Doom... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729453)

Wasn't this thing same they were saying when the video game industry was making the transition to the PlayStation 2, XBox, GameCube and GameBoy Advance? (BTW, the PC is dead, dead, and dead!) When I was working at Infogrames (now Atari), the fad back then was for the publishers to release versions of the same title for all the platforms. Talk about crapware flooding the market. I don't think that will work this time around as Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are going in such different directions that the publishers are in a panic that the tried and true strategy of shoving product into the channels isn't going to cut it this time. Not only is the video game industry is broken, the marketing people may... actually... have... to... WORK!

Re:Prophets of Console Doom... (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729718)

PC ain't dead. There's a small valve [steampowered.com] keeping it alive [cad-comic.com] . :D

That given, the consoles have a long life in them yet. Wii60 is the way forward; power and innovation, hand in hand.

New Tag: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729461)


Op-Eds Like this Aren't Helping (4, Informative)

MrNash (907751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729464)

It's funny that these opinion pieces continue to crop up, where all they do is criticize what is wrong with the industry. Sure there are tons of sequels, certain games are going to cost more in the future, and there are plenty of other far from pleasant possibilities on the horizon, but there can be plenty of positives too. However, most magazines would rather A) focus on Big Game Franchise X cover stories, and B) complain instead of showcasing things that are interesting.

At the end of the day, magazines and web sites are conduits to much of the game info that is out there, thusly helping to shape a lot of its readers' tastes, as well as often indirectly instilling interest in new areas of gaming. On the rare occasion, there'll be an interesting bit in a mag or on a site that focuses on aspects of the industry that could rejuvenate, or at least provide an acceptable alternative to, what this op-ed chastizes, but often times these mags simply don't go that route.

One could argue that they do this because they are just giving their readers what they want, but if readers aren't exposed to obscure game / trend X, how do they know if they want it or not in the first place?

The specs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729465)

The specs are what really are going to kill the gaming industry. A one and half year old computer is no longer good if you want to play some of the newer games. And the major nuissance is when the package says Windows XP only. I might have become a senile old fart, but what exactly is it that you can do on Windows XP and can't do on Windows 2000 when it comes to gaming (well, obviously play Windows XP only games, but that's not the answer I'm looking for)?

Sigh... (2, Informative)

CaseM (746707) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729470)

Yes, the industry is "broken" because games get larger and larger and require huge budgets and thousands of man hours to complete...so the little guys are shut out because they can't compete or lack said budgets and the pubs don't want to take a risk...blah blah blah...

With the next generation development costs are increasing rapidly

So go develop a DS game or something for the XBox Live Arcade that's fun and original, and then you can get your funding, FFS. If you really have something insanely fun and interesting then you'll have no problem getting backing for it. Do it on a smaller scale and watch the doors open for the bigger deals. What the hell is an unproven "independent" trying to accomplish by making a $20 million game, anyway? Prove that you're worth the money and publishers will make sure your game gets to market...it's not like they don't fund all sorts of crap that sells anyway (see any of the Matrix franchise games for examples of this).

Growing the market - Where will the growth come from? Will the size of the hardcore audience suddenly double and triple or do we need the broad base of the mainstream to grow the business? The answer is obvious and so far the winners seem to be Microsoft with Xbox Live Arcade and possibly Nintendo with its easy to use and enjoy Wii games.

Again, sigh....this guys has answered his own damn question.

And the funny thing (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729716)

Is smaller companies CAN compete. Nobody said it was easy, but then nobody said it was supposed to be. On the PC market we see a small but thriving indy games scene. As the most successful receant example see Galactic Civilizations 2. It is the game Master of Orion 3 should have been, and because of that it's sold quite well (if you don't have it, get a copy, it's well worht it). You also discover, when you persue these Stardock people, that they've got a little system set up where you can buy a bunch of other indy games easily, you just pay and downlaod through their little tool. More research will show they aren't the only place doing this. Ok so you don't tend to see them on Walmart shelves (other than Gciv2) but that doesn't mean they aren't out there making money.

Consoles are harder, but even then, it happens. See Marble Blast Ultra for the X-box 360. Marble Blast is just a little "roll the ball through mazes" 3D game for the PC/Mac from Garage Games (another site you can get multiple indy games off of). However it is enough fun that MS decided it would make a good game for X-box Arcade and thus we now have Marble Blast Ultra.

Are people becomming mega-millionaires off of this? No, but then I don't think that's the only measure of success. I think if you can make a game that people like to play, and make money doing it, you've succeded. Apparantly that can be done indy, despite the current game market.

So... (2, Insightful)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729473)

...it's heading the way of the movie industry and the music industry then? Lack of imagination, repatitive themes, form over function, soaring production costs and focus on brand rather than content... sounds familiar?

If you look at it that way, then it's not surprising. Although that said, the recent bedroom musician/indie film producer model means that we'll hopefully see a more gung-ho type of do-it-yourself game writing in the future.

Re:So... (1)

dvdave (175509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729539)

I agree with the movie/music analogy. From the article, change this:

The irony is that the amazing tools, capabilities and quality of the new systems may very well doom what is most important, which is the game itself.

To this:
The irony is that the amazing tools, capabilities and quality of the CGI may very well doom what is most important, which is the storytelling itself.

Sounds familiar, but people still go in flocks to see movies devoid of innovation or creativity. Still, there are plenty of movies that offer the opposite experience. They make less money, but often cost less money because they don't require explosions to draw in the crowds. The same can be said for video games. A good game is a good game no matter if I can see pores on a character. Let the big publishers chase their own tail, it's what they do.

Fear Not! (1)

nih (411096) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729475)

Once DNF ships it will usher in a new dawn of originality.
oh, once it ships... ffs!

Re:Fear Not! (0, Offtopic)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729545)

Yeah, I hear you can do things like have Duke send you an email from within the game!1! OMG, this will be teh k3wl!!11!!

PC gaming (0, Troll)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729506)

Just another reason PC gaming was always better, is better, and will always be better. Sure, you have worry about compatibility, even in the DirectX age, but by and large the 'system' remains the same for a very long time. Not to mention the games are always better here anyway. Last console I owned was the Super Nintendo, and it will always be the last one I ever owned. Consoles are uninteresting to me, and the games are almost always sub-par because of the restrictions the consoles face.

VR is getting closer.... (4, Interesting)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729507)

...much closer!

Graphics cards are faster, stronger and more powerful than ever. Some years ago when Virtual Reality
where introduced - it lagged BIG time, it was however revolutionary - all the rage...and only
the worlds hottest shopping-malls got it back then, but it quickly died because the games where simple
and very boring except for the virtual reality immersion.

The technology for virtual reality just wasn't there yet, but behold...we're THERE NOW!

Just take a look at your own pc's gfx cards with their 1680 x 1050 resolution for your widescreen that
you can't see the pixels on more (from a meters distance) anyway... imagine two of these cards
and two seriously high-res mini OLED displays in your glasses and we're in business.

Virtual reality online gaming also needed the bandwith - and it's only recently we've
gotten this.

The technology is dirt cheap too! Mobile cell phones already come with high-res Oled displays
and you could create higher-res oled displays fit for "VR-Glasses" already...heck...they even
exist today in 800 x 600...even higher if I'm not entirely mistaken. And they're NOT expensive.

So get cracking! Take a chance - make the VR games right now!

Experts are the problem (1)

texaport (600120) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729511)

This will mean decreased risk taking and just regurgitated sequels of big brand franchises

Just like Disney does with movies? *
(Once video games became big business, the "big players" have tried running operations like a generic entertainment industry offering)

* Disney just announced [dailynews.com] it slashes new releases to 8 per year.

good news for the rest of us (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729521)

As a small games developer with big idea's, this is great stuff. It's not especially new information though, it's been obvious for a while.

The problem is that the major companies are in an arms race. None of them dare innovate massivelly in case it causes losses that upset shareholders, right now they have a stable, if stale, market, and their shareholders do like stability. I have no shareholders to worry about.

I can't afford the kinds of graphics they can, but I see no evidence that this money they have is helping. Was C&C generals really all that good? Nope, a small increment that looked a bit prettier, and while I hate to critisize the creators of Doom 1 and 2, ID software proved with Doom 3 that fabulous graphics do not equal a great game.

What we need is some fresh idea's, something to wow us and crete the industry anew. I'm trying to play my part, a small and mean part, but we all have to start somewhere.

Games take ideas? (1)

JohnWiney (656829) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729531)

You mean, games are like every other art form ever developed? Most authors follow the patterns that predecessors have created, but every so often someone with a spark of genius creates something new? What a revelation!

Correct. (2, Insightful)

goltrpoat (944891) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729552)

As far as gamedev articles posted to Slashdot go, this one is the first one in years where the author actually has a clue what they're talking about. Many people in the industry have been making similar points for a couple of years now, myself included. One of the points ("increased risk means decreased creativity") has been valid much longer, and is the primary reason for the current consolidation trend -- big companies trying to hedge their bets and spread the risk amongst as many projects and studios as possible. This is inextricably tied to the following myth: throwing 200 monkeys on a project means it'll ship in 12 months. That's what [insert large company that shall remain unnamed] does, and it's a trend that will not suistain itself, simply because technology is evolving even faster than their employee turnover rate. In other words, grabbing fifteen senior monkeys out of 200 and making them implement global illumination is just not feasible, while the shop down the street with a team of 30 and five superstar programmers will have the tech. More importantly, the current state of the art is in enough flux that the production pipeline changes drastically as we progress; the word "designer" means a very different thing now than it did five years ago; the term "technical artist" is relatively new, etc. It's very difficult to implement those changes in a giant production team -- especially considering the sheer number of suits that a team of that size requires, and their reluctance to rock the boat.

Personally, I'm cautiously optimistic about this, in the sense that the industry is way past due for a major overhaul, and that won't happen until it's painfully obvious to everyone involved that the current model is not feasible.


Yawn (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729562)

This is self correcting. Either small companies or enterprising product managers in large companies will take advantage of the high cost low play quality games and will offer a lower cost option that plays great or people will quit upgrading, some companies will go out of business, and the games will correct towards playability. All of this assumes that playability is what everyone wants... although it seems that the Wii, X-Box 360, PS3, etc. aren't actually emphasizing the playability of the games that much and nobody is saying... "Ah schucks, I just loving playing on my PS1 so much and the games are just so playable I don't need to upgrade."

But hey, I don't write for a game magazine or anything so what do I know.

The market isn't as broken as the opinion pieces (1)

ddt (14627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729563)

The game industry is not all that broken. It's simply stratifying, and if anything, there are wonderful new opportunities that game developers never had before. To be a console developer on the PS/2, for example, you had to ship a retail title. This is a huge investment, because there is a cost of goods, a large licensing fee to Sony, there is a cost to rent shelf space, and there is a cost to marketing to let people to know to go to the tsore. However, on the Xbox 360, you can download games, and if they're self-funded, you get a huge percentage of the back-end directly from Microsoft. There is no cost of goods, you don't have to market them because people can play the demos for free, and there are already several examples of games that almost instantly made back their investments. Geometry Wars is said to have recouped in 6 days from launch. The typical ratio of people who buy a game to people who play a demo on Xbox360 Live Arcade is a whopping 20%. Compare this to under 3% on the PC, and you can see why this is a really big development.

Sony and Nintendo are expected to launch similar services for the PS/3 and Wii. With all this downloading action, the barrier for entry to be a next-gen console developer is going to be lower than ever. This is really important, because indie games used to be relegated to the PC. This sucked, because you have this massive compatibility headache, and you had marketing issues trying to reach your crowd. On the console, you just have a single, high-performance architecture and a captive audience that wants only to play games, not to browse the web, download porn, read slashdot- just play games.

Downloadable games are also a terribly honest way to make a game. If the demo isn't so fun that the player wants more at the end of his 60 minute or N-level trial, then he won't buy the rest. So you have to make the game fun first.

If you believe the common wisdom that all you can do with GPU cycles is render things, and that therefore you must have to make these expensive next-gen art assets, then yes, everything will cost more, and everyone will suffer. If, on the other hand, you simply look at the Xbox360 GPU as 48 specialized processors running at 500MHz and another 3 general purpose processors, each with dual cores, running at 3.2GHz, then what you really have is an assload of compute bandwidth with which to simulate whatever you want.

At E3, Havok was demonstrating their physics engine running on the nVidia 7800. It was an impressive demonstration. You are going to see advanced physics simulations open up a whole to world of possibilities for gameplay mechanics.

No, it's not easy to write optimized code for this stuff, but it's also really easy to get something up and running and to begin iterating on optimizations.

Claims that the game industry is broken are badly exagerated. It is certainly getting harder to be one of the top tier game developers, and those that are finding themselves in the middle ground are feeling the squeeze, but this is the natural outcome of most growing, hit-driven markets. If you're in that middle ground and starting to whine instead of adapting, then you're going to go out of business.

It's unavodiable... (1)

NexFlamma (919608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729592)

I see this as an inevitable, unavoidable future that we have brought on ourselves.

We wanted our hobby (gaming) to become successful, widespread and more mainstream, but, in that happening, more people, and thusly, more money become involved. Due to that, we get bigger publishers with bigger monetary risks and less willingness to take risk on new IP's, un-fomulaic games and so on.

Unless the industry were to collapse upon itself and become "indie" and "uncool" again, this whole situation is simply going to get worse.

It's reminiscent of how Hollywood got huge and decided to start churning out idiotic sequels and any movie by Michael Bay. Eventually something will come along and shake up the system, but it's going to be a long time in coming, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Cost of Games (1)

kingkoopaunion (873659) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729596)

I seem to remember a little title for the SNES called Chrono Trigger, which was released at the humble price of eighty dollars. Eleven years ago!! Just one example illustrating that expensive games are no new thing. As for consoles, does anybody remember the cost for SegaCD or Saturn when they came out? I bet it was more than my two cents. :-P

Re:Cost of Games (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729670)

It cost around 500 dollars give or take. But that is a pretty bad example as both are considered failures. Even though games cost more back then the argument is not complete. These days people can pick up a 20 dollar game on a DS or play internet games for free. So even if games cost less today than it did 10-15 years ago because there is so much competition for gamers a company that charges 80 dollars for a game is less likely to survive now than it did years ago.

Game Programming Is Mainstream (1)

sciop101 (583286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729604)

Game Programming is taught at SMU/Dallas, DeVry, Westwood, ...etc. Used book stores are full of used (and not used) text books from these schools.

I don't see who can teach imagination or innovation.

The games all look the same.

Let's shoot with hi-tech assault weapon, magic power, futuristic blasting spear, yada-yada-yada.

Death To Games.

My reasons why the video game business is dying (1)

partowel (469956) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729611)

based on my limited iq....but here goes.

1. Stories suck. they suck big time.

2. Eye candy bullshit. oh...very nice, pretty, sexy, textures, blah blah blah. I played with ega 16 colour games that were more fun and had better frame rates.

3. Look at 2. Look at how obsessive gamers are with "appearance".

4. some games have NO story. just shoot, kill, or something else. might as well play tic tac toe with a cat.

5. game managers do NOT care about the game. game managers don't even Play games. some game managers HATE computer games.
        Really good idea to put these people in charge of making a game. NOT.

6. programmers that do not care about games. just another paycheque. you can tell who programs good games and who doesn't by the final product.

thats my $0.02 have a nice day.

It's a variety of problems (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729625)

First of all, the game industry is trying to sell essentially the same games over and over, with a new twist here or a new gadget there (to use a fitting Simpsons quote: "But with a new hat"), but the game stays the same. What's the big difference between Quake III and IV? What's the selling statement to convince me to buy NHL 2006 when I have NHL 2005?

Earlier "sequels" were different games. Not only new graphics. Diablo II was a completely different beast than its prequel. Yes, both had the hack-n-slash element, but II offered a LOT more variety and a lot more gameplay. Settlers IV was vastly different from the first three games and was definitly "something new". Let's drape the shroud of blissful ignorance over part V...

This is, of course, already the reason why studios do that: Changing the gameplay is an inherent risk. But this risk they have to take if they don't want us to finally figure out that we keep buying the same game over and over.

Review papers and pages lose credibility, because too many of them allowed themselves to be bought by publishers, directly or indirectly, to grant them good reviews for shoddy games. Of course, they don't want to lose the advertising money, and who would put an ad in a game magazine, if not game studios?

Another problem: Game ideas get patented. Sure, studios want to protect their development. But what would've happened if the core idea of Tetris (blocks falling from above and vanish if a certain condition is met) would have been patented? A lot of very entertaining games would never have existed. And we're steering towards this problem.

Games are also a "luxury" good. You buy them if you have the money left, but it's one of the first things you cut back on when spending money becomes scarce.

This all adds up to it, and that all has to be taken into account. It's not that games "get worse" or that gamers don't want to spend as much money on their games, or that games get pirated more today than earlier (actually, with the amount of online content and online multiplayer in today's games, the pirating is actually in decline).

It's a combination of problems, and all of them would have to be addressed if we were to solve it.

Prey is an obvious example (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729627)

runs on the quake4 engine... basically no character development - all one liners which are not funny - let duke nukem handle the one liners please.

and lets not even go talking about EA and their current state of unaffairs.... but personally, I think delivering lots of bugs into BF2 is a great way to make people want to switch to BF 2145 when that comes out.

Re:Prey is an obvious example (1)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729654)

Doom 3 engine, actually. I'll bet you ten bucks that Prey's design didn't change much since they started working on it in 1995, and that's why it is so horrible by today's standards. They got an updated engine for it, but it's still basically a 1995 game. And we all know how far we've come since then. Of course you're going to think a 1995 game is kinda bad now.

I'm afraid I don't follow your logic concerning Battlefield 2, though. It shipped with tons of bugs, and that fact is going to make people want to get the next Battlefield game when it is released? Why? Because it won't be buggy? Or because it will? The whole comment doesn't make any sense.

Indie games seem to be doing ok on PC (1)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729631)

Lately I've played a wide variety of titles with plenty of innovation - Odyssey: Winds of Athena, Wik and the Fable of Souls, and the incredible Eets. Alien Hominid started life as a Flash game and transitioned to the consoles. Darwinia was made by a team of three, proving that a full-size commercial game can still be made even if you don't happen to have a mega-buck budget. With the reported low cost of a Wii devkit, Xbox Arcade and the Wii's purported download system, there's still room for plenty of expansion and innovation at all levels of the game business. Sure, the companies with the mega-buck budgets will probably still choose to spend those budgets on well-known franchises, and will probably grind some of those franchises and companies into the ground because nobody's taking risks. I suspect that if every game company in the world went out of business tomorrow, there'd still be a bunch of people sitting coding by themselves or with a few mates because they've got an idea for a game they've just *got* to get out of their heads. Flash is the new Spectrum 48K...

This is the movie industry (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729637)

and we want our story back. Then at least we would have one story to turn into a movie.

Nintendos' Wii (2, Insightful)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729642)

This is why the Wii will take the lead in sales with the coming generation of consoles. The development kit is cheap and rather than companies spending millions on pushing graphics to the max they are more focused on game design. The console is also signifficantly cheaper than Sony and Micosofts offerings so game companies could sell more.

No original games? as if (1)

Kabal` (111455) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729644)

Just what the hell are things like Katamari, Loco Roco and Guitar Hero then?

Poor programming (1)

nukem996 (624036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729648)

There will always be some games that have a crappy story but what I think is really killing the game industry is the poor programming job that many of the game companies do. I just got Half-Life 2: Episode I and for some reason if I want to load any saved game auto or quick save the game will refuse to load it and crash. This really sux since the game crashes all the time during normal game play. I cannt get through an hour of game play without it crashing im giving up on the game no more value games for me. Companies should let other comanies that know to code games(like idsoftware) do the engine and just focus on content.

Games will never die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15729656)

Games will never dissappear. Even bald french starship captains like a good game now and again!

Too much of the same (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729661)

I don't want to play another WW2 FPS. No matter what side I can play. For most popular games, they seem to go nuts with sequels that add little to the game play. Specialy with racing games which I play when I can find one with proper physics, which are rare. There were one game that I didn't buy because it was protected with Starforce.

I did like the latest Halflife 2 release although it was a bit short. It didn't bring any new ground braking gameplay, but for me it is more about the story line, and I would like to see more of them. I see it more as a interactive book so if only they can come up with a good script, I will be more of them.

Some games seems hard to re-invent. I have played Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 & 2 a lot, but as every other game, they had to go 3D with number 3 because you can't make bitmap games today. But that kinda killed the gameplay for me, I bought it but ended up just playing RT2 again.

Gamers Are Sick & Tired Of Being Ripped Off (4, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729676)

I really cannot remember the last time I actually bought a newly released game at full price within days or even weeks of its release. Why should I?

For starters, I don't read many reviews any more because I don't buy computer magazines any more. In the UK, most computer magazines seem to "magically" have the same cover price of around £6.00 - on the basis of mounting a cover CD or DVD that holds demos & patches that I can download myself; not that I ever play demos anyway because otherwise I'd be deinstalling as quickly as I'm installing and screwing up Windows XP in the process. I regularly read Gamespot reviews for PC and Gamecube games but when I look through their "All Time Best Games" tables for both formats, modern games rarely appear in those tables.

Going on from that, because I care more about gameplay than graphics, I buy PC budget games and visit eBay or the local games shop to buy used Gamecube titles - simply because I am not paying full price for a game that throws pretty in game animations at me but little gameplay. Now I can pick up more than enough good games for either format for around £5 apiece, I'm happy waiting for a year or two - especially with PC games where they've been patched enough after that time to actually be playable.

Furthermore, the games industry is obsessed with 3D graphics to the point where some excellent titles have become unplayable dross when transferred from sprites to 3D graphics. Heroes Of Might & Magic is an excellent example of this - a superb strategy game up until HOMM3, then came 3D graphics in HOMM4 and the interface started to feel slow and cumbersome, now in HOMM5 the 3D graphics are fully in there (yes, you can even step into each battle you fight) but it's appalingly bloated. The same has been true for C&C /Red Alert and whilst I love Warcraft II & Starcraft, I've never been near Warcraft III.

As for FPS games, Half-Life is probably the best game I've ever played but I've never touched Half-Life 2 because I'm not giving Valve the honour of installing their Steam spyware on my PC - I don't care how good the game is. Besides, Counterstrike & Unreal Tournament 2004 have given me hundreds of hours of fun and still continue to do so.

So, all-in-all, I've a large *totally legal* games collection that I'm still working my way through on the PC and Gamecube plus I can also emulate Amigas, Megadrives & N64s on my PC so I can also have fun with retrogaming and mess around with a whole heap of free games in Windows or Linux also - so why would I *want* to go back into the endless hardware upgrade loop just to play a few new games that each cost £30-£40?

Blame the video card industry instead (2, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729679)

There's obviously going to be good games and not so good games, but the biggest problem is the increasing demand of super graphics. My impressions tell me that previous reviews focused a lot more on the story, playability and addictiveness of a game. Now it seems like reviewers take on the graphics more and more, as if it was a necessity. I find it sad that it's - as far as I can tell - impossible to get a top score with mediocre graphics. I'm not saying that graphics aren't important, but I do think that the importance of graphics has been ramped up recently.

My take on the situation is rather obvious. Video cards are getting seriously powerful and realism in games is only a decade away or so. Yes, it's obviously a stunning experience to play the most visually appealing games but that's only a couple of hours of excitement and it goes away, quickly. I still play StarCraft, despite the fact that it looks like crap and only supports 256 colors. Fact is, it has the playability. It has the story and it does have the addictive features. If such game was released today but with perhaps a higher resolution and more colors, without improving much beyond that, it would require far less resources and obviously less personell. It could still be a hit and I doubt anyone in here can prove me wrong on that point. Point is, to create a super pixelated game with the latest and best stuff, you need more developers but that will only add little to the last hours, days, weeks and (hopefully) months you're spending.

There is a solution, however. Games have become more complex and it is almost impossible to create a game that would generate some interest with the work of only a handful of people. Nowadays that number is more likely 30-50, sometimes even twice, three times or even four times as much. Therefore, the only way of making a game more profitable and less risky would be to slash the amount of developers who are working on a game title. This could be done if developers started exchanging technology and graphics. A lot of code and graphics can be reused in many other games and altered only a little without risking repetitiveness. Think about it: great-looking grass is always grass and a wooden crate is always a wooden crate. Just change the colors of it, add different shapes. We don't need artists to redo all that stuff over and over again. Instead, recycle what's still good and create games that last (read: story, playability and addictiveness).

How to fix the industry and save money (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729705)

There are some simple things to do that can fix the industry

Voices: First get rid of all the actors and actresses doing voice work, nobody else cares if Alec Balwin is doing the voice of bobo the clown in Flaming Death Racer 2k6, so why should the publisher.

Visuals: Get rid of the lame ass cinematics that delay the games for a year. Most everyone skips after the first time and many dont watch at all. If you really need a cinematic intro or cut scene render it in game and show off your ai skills rather than trying to make us drool over graphics that we wish were in the actual gameplay. If we need more background give us a text screen to read or throw in the manual, if thats not enough to explain things perhaps your story is half baked and needs to develop a little more before you make a whole game out of it.

Packing and Paper: Speaking of manuals, put that on the disk, text, pdf who cares just searchable and handy...save a tree. On the subject of saving trees, why not just ship games in a dvd style case and be done with it.

Game Licenses: A kids movie hitting the theaters is not enough of a reason to shove a bunch of money at a "license" to create a crappy game based on it. History has shown that most of the worst games in history have been based on movies, its not hard to see the trends. Licenses trap and restrain a game to stay within the boundries of something that has already been created. Look at Star Wars, there are tons of bad Star Wars game with only a handful of good one, the best being based on Lego's. Bottom line is if you are going to use a license think outside the box.

You want to really know what broke the game industry, its the idiots in the movie business thinking they could run the games business like movies and television, sorry to disappoint but in games its not the voice talent or number of explosions that the star its the fun level of the game. Get rid of the crap and bring back the fun and games will succeed, heck they might even end up profitable AND affordable...a win-win for everyone.

Oh please. (1)

TwelveInches (976724) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729722)

People pretend that it is the big bad corporate bosses in the Game/Music industries that force the products to be boring repetitive drivel, because of sheer malice. The reality of course is that they provide what people want. Otherwise they wouldn't sell anything. All this howling and moaning should be aimed at how boring and staid your typical person is- not at how good corporations are at taking advantage of people's lack of imagination.

Just now? (1)

peterfa (941523) | more than 7 years ago | (#15729735)

I love video games, but I feel that the video game industry has always been in jeopardy. It's just the nature of the business. When video games first came out, nobody cared, and nobody would buy. Atari struggled to make a system that would sell. They're systems were good at the time, and realistically, the evolution of Atari consoles has matched, shockingly close, to what we see today.

The consoles grew in speed and in power, and often, they were backwards compatible with older games. Later, during the 16-Bit wars, Atari came out with the Jaguar sporting a sexy 64-Bit path. At the same time the 3DO was developed which was a 32-Bit system. Both failed because the memory required was just too much at the time. Today, such systems would be cheaper. The games for these systems were actually a lot of fun.

32-Bit machines consistently failed in the console world. The Sega 32X, which was an add-on to the Sega Genesis, was a flop. The Virtual Boy (which sounds kind of homoerotic) was a flop. These systems went the same path the Atari systems went. They struggled, and they flopped.

Sega, sadly, continued the same path that Atari went. Their Sega Saturn, a 64-Bit machine, flopped, and so did the Dream Cast. The Dream Cast was particularily advanced considering all the innovations. In fact, GoldStar 3DO was riddled with neat innovations (it was nightmarishly expensive, like the new systems of today) and it too flopped, like all 3DOs.

The video game industry has always seen a horrible market. Systems might succeed. Every new generation, the companies jam more innovations and improve the overall experience, but people have proven to be so fickle. Expensive games won't succeed, yet, games with poor graphics won't succeed. A game with excellent graphics and at a low price won't succeed if the game play is just sorry. The margin, it seems, is very low. This is nothing new, it's always been this way. Maybe it will change, but failure plagues the console market.

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