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It's the Economy, Stupid

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the games-need-cash dept.

32

This Sunday's political column on Joystiq gets into the economics of games, and why Canada's encouragement of game developing may have a very positive impact on the industry of the future. In the same vein as France's declaration of games as art, the 'Great Canadian Videogame Competition' may just mean more great games for gamers, more jobs for game makers, and the chance for a new EA or Ubisoft to emerge. From the article: "While the nanny staters trip over one another in their rush to legislate games, they are missing an opportunity to embrace an industry that grows bigger every year, one that could brings jobs and educational opportunities to their constituents. ESA boss Doug Lowenstein talked about the economic benefits of the video game industry at this year's E3, pointing out that U.S. sales of games for all platforms surpassed the $10 billion mark in 2004. But more importantly, the game industry stimulates another $7.7 billion in related spending, bringing its net effect to $18 billion."

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Taxpayers should subsidize billion dollar industy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16918102)

And that will get the nannies and do-gooders off our backs? No thank you. Gamers need to assert themselves politically and demand their freedom. Let the gaming industry make their billions without my tax dollars (they get enough from me directly).

And let's stop subsidizing oil companies to make money and subsidizing farmers to lose money.

Gaming is becoming mainstream culture (3, Interesting)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918852)

Youths of today are spending less and less time watching TV, and more time gaming and browsing the web
National TV of various nations have a long history of state subsidized programming to further said nation's cultural values.

So, now they have the choice of subsidizing games to do the same thing, or watching the upcoming generations fed with even more US "propaganda" (as most game companies are american, and thus reflect american values).

And with the current state of US moral(s/ism), I can't say I'd blame anyone for wanting to expose the children to something more appropriate.
Also, I think exposing everyone to different cultures is a good thing. The various cultures of the world is a treasure chest - do we really want them overrun and wiped out, when a small investment could be all it takes to save them in this new world?

I think you missed the point (4, Insightful)

Ynsats (922697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16919052)

The article is not about subsidizing game makers. The article is about the economic impact a very large company like EA or Ubisoft could make to an area. Game makers provide numerous jobs in not only software development but also in IT, any business discipline and if the company manufactures on-site, there are skilled labor jobs and even unskilled labor jobs available.

Providing incentives for a company to a move a plant of any kind into an economically depressed area is almost always a boon to the area. Even if the tax hit is taken in the incentive, the tax revenue goes up because more people are working than before and that is a constant source of revenue. There doesn't have to be any tax revenue expenditure to make that happen. However, it does need the support of the law makers and government to make it happen.

In the same vein, having another company the size of EA or Ubisoft is a good thing, regardless of anyone's opinions about the quality of the product they produce. A large company provides a large environment, full of resources and experienced people that can support many entry level positions. Those entry level positions are filled by entry level candidates that have a vast environment to learn in. Once they learn, they either move up the ladder and make thier own impact on that company or they go elsewhere to try and do better than that company. Either way, it provides choices to consumers. Give consumers choices and they will go for what they like. That drives competition which drives advancements and yields a more enjoyable gaming experience for teh consumer.

Just because Madden 2007 isn't the Slashdot communitiy's cup of tea doesn't mean that there aren't a million other sports fan out there who love the thought of being able to play NFL Coach on thier couch at home and see how well they will do. EA and Ubisoft are large and incharge because no matter how poor anyone thinks thier games are, the bottom line is that they sell games and that is what drives any business, profit.

Re:I think you missed the point (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#16924218)

Nah, plopping one factory into a depressed area rarely does much good for the area long term unless the population makes a concerted effort to reinvest the companies capital into other ventures, most importantly education. I live in the rustbelt and can tell you unequivocally that when one employer accounts for a significant fraction of the jobs in a community that the government and population are held hostage to the whim of that employer and that the result of the employer pulling out leaves the area in a bad, if not worse position then they were in to begin with.

Re:Taxpayers should subsidize billion dollar indus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16920124)

The point ------->

Your head

The idea is that rather than trying to pass "Won't someone please think of the children" type legislation, gov't's should be boosting growth of the industry in their region. It fuels the economy, creates jobs, etc... instead of blowing money on constitutional non-starters.

Re:Taxpayers should subsidize billion dollar indus (2, Interesting)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16923022)

Presumably it encourages competition by lowering the barrier to entry into the market. No idea whether that actually happens.

Oh Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16918114)

So can I expect "Doug and McKenzie's Beer Bash" soon?

Re:Oh Cool (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918730)

Take off, hoser! It's Bob and Doug McKenzie. And they're going to be making their game in 3B.

Re:Oh Cool (1)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920220)

It'd be Rated E for "eh"?

I must be reading this wrong... (3, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918136)

...and the chance for a new EA or Ubisoft to emerge.

Whoa, whoa...back up the wagon train, Hoss, I think we missed a turn - it would be a good thing to have another EA?!?

Re:I must be reading this wrong... (2, Insightful)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918252)

Moreover, EA isn't a successful game creator, they're successful as a game publisher. This means focusing on the traditional business areas: marketing, advertising, and financing. None of which is promoted via this Canadian contest. This isn't about making the next EA or Ubisoft, it's about making the next company for EA to buy and lay to waste.

Re:I must be reading this wrong... (2, Insightful)

swanky street (1029822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16919852)

A large video game production company really would be good kudos for Canada; sadly, though, it would suck for the rest of us, as games such as "The Lone Constable" and "Mush! Dog Sled Racing: Yukon Drift" would flood the clearance bins at gamestops nationwide, making it insanely impossible to find that $4.99 Red Faction PS2 disk (or the like) buried far underneath it all.

What about Warhammer? (1)

Spacehog320 (985368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918166)

that number would probably be even higher if you include pen and paper rpg's and other such games (magic, DnD, Rifts, Warhammer 40k, etc.).

Good luck... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918188)

So, you think that the government deciding what games should be developed is going to lead to better games than the government trying to keep certain people from buying certain games...?

Enjoy Multicultural Non-competitive Curling '07!

Re:Good luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16923786)

Isn't that what non-PvP WoW is already?

High speed floor polishing ~= Grinding

Re:Good luck... (1)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 7 years ago | (#16923908)

and what is wrong with curling good sir? its just as good as bowling... shoot curling on the wii could be a good game as part of another sports package...

We don't need another EA (2, Insightful)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918192)

In the same vein as France's declaration of games as art, the 'Great Canadian Videogame Competition' may just mean more great games for gamers, more jobs for game makers, and the chance for a new EA or Ubisoft to emerge.

EA messes up so much of its product out of stupid policies like high programmer turnover and insisting on long-running franchises like Madden 20XX and others.

What the game industry needs is for the PC to reemerge, which wont happen until there's an OS for PCs that 'just works'. People use consoles over PCs because their PC is splorked full of viruses and spyware so all their games run like crap, even on expensive hardware. That's in addition to the constant battle over whose responsibility it is to get the game to work: the video card company or the game company.

EA messes up so many PC games it's surprising they still make them. Bugs galore, lack of optimization, and console-like limitations all end up in the final product. It ends up ruining otherwise excellent games such as Global Operations.

That's one reason Valve kicked so much ass--they release games when they are DONE (yeah I know EA helped distribute hard copies of HL2, but valve sold most of the copies themselves through downloads). I'd put half-life 2 up against any single player game EA ever produced.

Re:We don't need another EA (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918430)

There are some devs who do what ever they can to make a product work. They tend however not to be owned by giant publishers, or they tend to have a fair bit of autonomy from their publisher.

My windows machine that i use for games, has had 1 virus in the last 3 years and that was because I wasn't paying attention at all. I opened an attachment for some reason. I don't get spy ware because I don't do stupid shit with my windows machine, I run FF, I have a firewall, I have AV, and I don't do anything with the admin account. Its not much work and the machine starts up with very few things running and it runs clean and fast. This honestly takes minimal effort after the windows install.

What really needs to happen is for PC graphics to hit a certain level, not quite photo realistic(mostly because most people can afford a monitor which would display photo realistic) but very close. Then Nvidia and ATI will have to improve their cards and chip sets in other ways. However, at this point upgrades will cheaper and less frequent and cards will have more value as the 2 makers will need brand loyalty to survive. That is what is needed for the PC to reemerge.

Re:We don't need another EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16919888)

That's in addition to the constant battle over whose responsibility it is to get the game to work: the video card company or the game company.

Don't forget the "copy-protection" company, which is responsible for more games not working than the video card companies. Are they interested in making the PC a viable platform... well, one of the PC saboteurs is... Sony! (SecuROM).

Not only does it have to work (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920004)

"which wont happen until there's an OS for PCs that 'just works'."

When it comes to a PC for games, I don't want something that just works: I want something to play, too. The virus thing you mention has little impact on this: stand-alone consoles were kicking the PC's A$$ in the game department long before the big era of spyware and viruses.

Advantages the consoles have over PC's? Load time and UI. If you want to play a DVD game on a playstation, chances are you will already be playing the game (power on to play time) BEFORE your PC is even booted to its desktop. And then on the PC, if you have never played the game before, you have to spend 20 minutes or so just to install it: a hassle that you don't have on Playstation and other consoles. And then there's the hassle of having to dig into the PC game's configuration to get it so the arrow keys work for directions like they should. Then there are other matters: console games are typically played on your nice big TV instead of the little computer monitor, and you can plug 4 joysticks into a console game without having the hassle to do the same on the PC (getting USB port-multiplier dongles, unplugging less-used USB devices, etc).

Finally, a PS2 is a PS2. It's not like in the PC workd where you have some current machines that are 1/10 as fast as other current machines and won't run the PC games nearly as well.

Sure, PCs have spyware and viruses, but that has always had little to do with the console advantage over the PC.

Re:We don't need another EA (1)

Loligo (12021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16923044)

I don't disagree with any part of what you said except for this:

(yeah I know EA helped distribute hard copies of HL2, but valve sold most of the copies themselves through downloads)

Uhh, you really think this?

I'd bet a six-pack that Best Buy and Wal-Mart sold more copies of HL2 than the Steam distribution network.

Ah, here it is, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Life_2 [wikipedia.org] :

When sales figures were last announced, over four million copies of Half-Life 2 had been sold.[6] Roughly 25 percent of all Half-Life 2 copies have been purchased using the Steam content delivery service; their exact number is between 750,000 and one million, depending on whether they are included in the figure of four million.[7]

Yes, Steam is a cool means of distribution, but don't think for a second that it is anywhere close to replacing actual media. That point is a looooong way away. Joe Six-Pack wants a physical box and disc in his hands, or an actual package under the tree for his kids to unwrap. Consumer America is not ready for purely digital distribution quite yet.

  -l

Were's the $$$? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16918238)

For a challenge audiance, try reconciling slashdot's "Modern gameplay sux" with the stories "games make money" outlook. Please keep the head explosions to a minimum.

math (0, Offtopic)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918244)

10 + 7.7 = 17.7, not 18.

Re:math (1)

Crasty (1019258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918380)

'surpassed the 10 billion mark..' perhaps.. it was 10.3 billion?

first! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16918342)

First!

Alone? (2, Insightful)

Admiral Frosty (919523) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918724)

Am I the only one here that thinks Governmental interference into the market is generally a bad thing? I really don't want to see government subsidized games.

You can talk all you want about market failures, but I seriously doubt that video games qualify as one.

Re:Alone? (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16925234)

The one place that economists generally accept government interference as "ok" is when the government is protecting cultural distinctiveness. The idea is that different cultural viewpoints fosters creativity, which in turn increases overall productivity.

I'm not sure that actually relates to video games, of course...

Re:Alone? (1)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 7 years ago | (#16930206)

Actually, it directly relates in the case of France. EA has intimated more than once that they would really love to buy up Ubisoft - and might even forcibly take them over. France's government has declared that they *will not* let that happen, precisely for the purpose of preserving the only major French contributor to video gaming-as-art.

economics (2, Interesting)

operato (782224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16920740)

economics? you know i submitted a request for an economics section for slashdot and it got rejected. just because this article was gaming related then it gets a mention on slashdot? is economics really not-geeky-enough for this crowd?

Re:economics (1)

Bill Walker (835082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16923460)

economics? you know i submitted a request for an economics section for slashdot and it got rejected. just because this article was gaming related then it gets a mention on slashdot? is economics really not-geeky-enough for this crowd?

Do you really want to hear what this crowd thinks about economics? The oblique comments are infuriating enough.

Gaming Grants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16929278)

I'm more interested in the idea of support for small games. It would be wonderful to give budding talent-- which might otherwise have to suck up and get a job at Wal*Mart --a chance to be seen.

In today's climate of games with multi-million dollar development, I think this is something we need. The small projects could be downloaded on any of the modern platforms, and the online services get a nice tax break for 'supporting the arts' (everyone's a winner).

Canada is world famous for their "subsidized" short films and excellent animation. IMHO, this news very exciting!
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