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Why Do Games Sell?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the psychic-powers-beats-gang-violence dept.

The Almighty Buck 103

simoniker writes "Game designer Pierre-Alexandre Garneau has published a new article compiling a list of factors that make games popular, and although he notes: "The test assumes that the game is good — if it's bad, chances are it won't sell no matter how high it scores on this test," his comparison of GTA 3 and Psychonauts tries to apply common-sense reasoning to why one sold well and the other did not."

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Why do games sell? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996034)

Marketing.

Re:Why do games sell? (-1, Flamebait)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996052)

Some people have ethics. I personally pirate - my brother in law buys. Live and let live. PS I don't care about whether it is ethical or moral to pirate - this is only my opinion and I refuse to change it.

Re:Why do games sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996122)

PS I don't care about whether it is ethical or moral to murder - this is only my opinion and I refuse to change it.

Re:Why do games sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996130)

PS I don't care about whether it is ethical or moral to murder people who use the slippery slope fallacy in logical arguments - this is only my opinion and I refuse to change it.

Re:Why do games sell? (1)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005236)

My point was that I was answering the question - not inviting a discussion about the ethics or pirating. (dickhead)

Re:Why do games sell? (3, Interesting)

gregtron (1009171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996158)

Being open about being a pirate isn't an opinion, it's an admission of apathy.

Re:Why do games sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996484)

because people like you pirate original, fun, playable games rather than buying them, their developers go bust and don't make any more.
nice work asshole.

Re:Why do games sell? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996668)

I don't care about whether it is ethical or moral to pirate - this is only my opinion and I refuse to change it

You choose to be poor and irrelevant forever? That's quite an ideology you got there.

Re:Why do games sell? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17997484)

Dude, he's Catholic. Poverty and irrelevancy ARE the ideology!

Re:Why do games sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17997610)

Want a Catholic discussion board? Help me start it. [thecatholicrecord.org]
I'm assuming a level of sarcasm with your signature. If you're serious about your religion then you should be advised that you are not only stealing (and violating the terms of posting with your "illegal" statements) but are also committing the sins of greed , sloth, and pride. If you're not, then disregard this statement and speak into the SPA's microphone embedded within this message.

Re:Why do games sell? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998462)

"Marketing."

No. Psychonauts was all over TV with flashy commercials and it still didn't sell. It did encourage me to download the game though and but it sucked, I'm glad it wasn't a success.

Re:Why do games sell? (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18003928)

FWIW, I bought the game when it was re-released on Steam and strongly disagree with your sentiment that it sucks (and a lot of people agree with my view). It was too different to sell well, and because of opinions like yours we're doomed to bland, cloned games, because no-one will have the guts to try something different.

Fan base (3, Insightful)

jaymzru (1005177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996050)

I've been a casual player of GTA for years, and I imagine a well established fan base is a huge factor.

Newsflash (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996090)

critically acclaimed games like Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil have sold far fewer sales than they deserved.
Critically acclaimed movies usually tank at the box office and critically acclaimed books and albums are usually the preserve of pretentious/elitest twats.
Who was the clever chap who said "Give the public what they want" ?

Re:Newsflash (5, Funny)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996106)

Also, in the video game world, "Critically Acclaimed" can mean that a few 15 year olds that write for video game blogs liked the game.

Re:Newsflash (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996472)

Also, in the video game world, "Critically Acclaimed" can mean that a few 15 year olds that write for video game blogs liked the game.

Zonk, I'm looking at you...

Re:Newsflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996374)

Who was the clever chap who said "Give the public what they want" ?

Public wants sex. Public wants influence over other gamers. Public wants new shiny stuff. In fact, seems like public wants all the things some caveman from stoneage might want.

There's the problem. Some people don't like caveman games but since most of public are cavemen, all they can do is whine how stupid games can be.

And oddities don't end there: cavemen want sex, but they don't want to look like they want it. Whee, enter Dead or Alive or Beach Volley instead of porn!

They want influence over others, but they're too stupid and/or weak to get it. What to do? Why, let them have it by the amount of time invested in playing a game. That doesn't require wisdom or social skills. Enter World of Warcraft.

They want new shiny stuff but they are too poor to actually buy it. Well, that's where virtual goods come into play my friend...

Re:Newsflash (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996684)

"Some people don't like caveman games"

Who doesn't like Caveman Games [wikipedia.org] ?! Mate tossing, Fire Staring, Dino Vaulting... What more could you want?

Why games sell. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996094)

There are some tits on the box.

Re:Why games sell. (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18004304)

But how do you prevent them from flying off the box?

Uh, this is newsworthy? (3, Funny)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996142)

If you think this article is awesome, wait until my submission hits; "Why is water wet?".

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996152)

Looking forwards to it!

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997994)

Good job pointing out that you can not even understand a four-letter sentence.

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18000822)

Which four-letter sentence would that be?

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18001214)

"Why Do Games Sell", genius.

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

KingKiki217 (979050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18002414)

You know that's 4 WORDS, right?

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18003688)

Yes, thanks for the totally relevant typo flame.

Re:Uh, this is newsworthy? (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18002568)

That's 14 letters. Do you perchance work for Verizon?

Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (1)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996144)

Because they're either well-made or well-marketed.

Re:Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (3, Insightful)

Comfy1 (1011347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996190)

You mean, because they're either well marketed or well marketed.

Re:Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (2, Insightful)

Psychofreak (17440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997638)

Well marketed crap is still crap.

Starcraft is still being sold, now over 8 years past it's release date because it is a great game. There are a lot of games that were marketed harder and not as profitable.
Sorry, I don't have numbers or names to back this up. I'm looking forward to seeing some replies with well marketed busts and less marketed winners.

Phil

Re:Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998084)

...marketed busts

Daikatana. 'nuff said.

Re:Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998158)

...less marketed winners

I don't think Tetris started out with any real marketing. I think the fact you could get it for specific systems was marketed somewhat, but the game itself was insanely popular, with little or no formal advertising.

Re:Vague answers for overly-broad questions... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996322)

Thanks for the summary. Looks like the article is almost as insightful as Malcom Gladwell's Blink, which offers the thesis that "You should trust your instincts except when they're wrong."

Uninformed buyers are majority? (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996148)

I think its very likely that most people don't first look at a review or try to learn about a game from an outside point of view before they decide to buy... its mostly what they hear from the hype, from commercials on tv, from ads, and from walking in the store and looking at the box. I don't know about anyone else, but just based on the "cover", GTA looks more enticing than Psychonauts. Not because of the guns, or the hip look of the box, but because after I look at the game Psychonauts, I can very quickly decide I don't wanna spend my hard earned cash on it because it doesn't even look all that appealing on many levels.

some games sell well I think usuall due to graphics alone... and maybe even a touch of friend referral as is the case with Halo and probably Gears of War

Whu do games sell? (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996160)

Well, for the same reason that good beer sells and a bad one doesn't. Or for the same reason a good and not expensive car sells well and a bad one doesn't. Really, the same laws of economy that rule anything else do äpply to games as well.

Licensing, licensing, marketing (5, Informative)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996214)

2006 top ten:
Madden NFL 07 - PS2
New Super Mario Bros. - DS
Gears of War - Xbox 360
Kingdom Hearts II - PS2
Guitar Hero 2 Bundle- PS2
Final Fantasy XII - PS2
Brain Age: Train Your Brain - DS
Madden NFL 07 - Xbox 360
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter - Xbox 360
NCAA Football 07 - PS2

2005 top ten:
Madden NFL 06 - PS2
Pokemon Emerald - GBA
Gran Turismo 4 - PS2
Madden NFL 06 - Xbox
NCAA Football 06 - PS2
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 - PS2
MVP Baseball 2005 - PS2
Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith - PS2
NBA Live 06 - PS2
Lego Star Wars - PS2

2004 top ten:
GTA: San Andreas - PS2
Halo 2 - Xbox
Madden NFL 2005 - PS2
ESPN NFL 2K5 - PS2
Need for Speed: Underground 2 - PS2
Pokemon Fire Red - GBA
NBA Live 2005 - PS2
Spider-Man: The Movie 2 - PS2
Halo - Xbox
ESPN NFL 2K5 - Xbox

Out of the thirty possible, there are only three games that are not sequels or licensed content: (Halo, Brain Age, and Gears of War). 1/3 are EA Sports titles. That's pretty sad.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997072)

1/3 are EA Sports titles. That's pretty sad.

Not sad. Predictable.

Sports fans obsess over details. The rules. The line-ups. The stats. The stadiums. The uniforms. The "game day" experience, at least as they know it from television.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997668)

It's not sad at all. I don't understand the hate piled onto EA for making Madden games every year. There's obviously a lot of people who want the games and enjoy them.

The game in almost every way; gameplay, graphics, characters, etc. all is reaching towards a known and well understood target, real NFL football. And the games slowly march closer to that goal, and people appreciate that enough to buy it. Why is that a problem?

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18001868)

I don't understand the hate piled onto EA for making Madden games every year.
Seeing that so many people have bad taste annoys those with good taste.

*goes back to playing Ikaruga*

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (2, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997390)

1/3 are EA Sports titles. That's pretty sad.
Sports are a proven entertainment industry. There is a fan base of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions. A lot of them are cross sectioned with video game players. It just makes good business sense, really.

Personally I hate sports video games. The only ones I've really ever found myself enjoying (so far) are Techmo Bowl (NES) and Virtua Tennis (DC) and Gran Turismo 3 & 4 (PS2).

It's like Lego hooking up with the Star Wars franchise. Lego is cool. Star Wars is cool. Make Lego Star Wars sets and everybody wins. The three largest (if not more) Lego sets ever produced are all Star Wars - the newest of which is brand new (~5200 piece Millennium Falcon!!).

So if you want to dethrone EA Sports as the largest 'genre' of popular games you need to find something that is as popular with people who like video games as sports and start producing good games. I'd suggest Star Wars, but they've pretty much fucked up that industry with games that continually fall short.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17998216)

Geeks like Star Wars. Geeks like Lego. Geeks like video games. Voila, Lego Star Wars, the video game. It's such a dumb concept that it's brilliant. And then, of course, they made a sequel.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998284)

The only [sport sims] I've really ever found myself enjoying (so far) are Techmo Bowl (NES) and Virtua Tennis (DC) and Gran Turismo 3 & 4 (PS2).
Have you or have you not had a chance to try Wii Sports yet?

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999158)

Have you or have you not had a chance to try Wii Sports yet?
Actually I haven't, but a Wii is on my next Christmas list. The last Nintendo console I owned was a NES. It's probably time to revisit the great Nintendo empire.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998688)

Actually, I usually buy the NCAA Football and Madden games every year. There's nothing wrong necessarily with sports games, but it sucks when something with that little "substance" takes such a large share of the pie every single year. At least they're relatively good games, though. It's even worse when crap like Star Wars Episode 3, Spider-Man The Move, or *shudder* the Matrix games sell a lot only because of their title and graphics. Remember Masters of Teras Kasi or Episode 1: Pod Racer? God those were some awful games. Even Hollywood gets original movies in more often than the video game industry. Sure Happy Feet and Night at the Museum sucked, but at least they're not goddamned sequels.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999350)

Actually, I usually buy the NCAA Football and Madden games every year. There's nothing wrong necessarily with sports games, but it sucks when something with that little "substance" takes such a large share of the pie every single year. At least they're relatively good games, though. It's even worse when crap like Star Wars Episode 3, Spider-Man The Move, or *shudder* the Matrix games sell a lot only because of their title and graphics. Remember Masters of Teras Kasi or Episode 1: Pod Racer? God those were some awful games. Even Hollywood gets original movies in more often than the video game industry. Sure Happy Feet and Night at the Museum sucked, but at least they're not goddamned sequels.
I think what blows me away is that the sequel sports games are usually 'full price', for what is essentially a database update. New team / player stats, and a handful of new features. They're not really creating anything, they're just digitizing it. And once they have a foundation it's basically a money train.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18000082)

I think what blows me away is that the sequel sports games are usually 'full price', for what is essentially a database update.
Because they let the NFL charge them that much for the database.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18003786)

Lego Star Wars, and the Star Wars Battlefront games are actually fine games. When I first heard of them I was expecting crap too, but amazingly they pulled it off.

Re EA Sports is not all bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17999188)

EA sports also did SSX:Tricky. Yeah, that's technically a "sequel" to the SSX series, but it was innovative and fun enough that it got me to buy a PS2 in the first place.

p.s. I wouldn't accept any of the "top 10" games you mentioned if they were given to me for free. Give me Ratchet&Clank (any the first three) or Jak&Daxter (but not #2), and I'm a happy camper.

Re:Licensing, licensing, marketing (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005118)

That list can only be a US only list. Considering that video games are one of the few industries where the US are not the majority market such a list is actually quite useless.

I would be willing to bet some good money that Madden has never been the top selling game in any year ever.

Hindsight is 20/20 (2, Insightful)

remmelt (837671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996228)

Great! Speculation mixed with after-the-fact analysis.

This should all be nothing that a good marketing campaign can't handle. Notice how all the questions are very fuzzy, you can interpret them in any number of ways and answer them favourably for any game on the market.

Some examples
Sims: you can play.. people, leading... ordinary (quote, unquote) lives. Doesn't look especially nice, not based on anything well-known. Initial target market: Who knows? Girls? Kids? Yes, afterwards it turns out everyone and their dog plays Sims. Social uniqueness: it was funny that I could exchange Sims with other savegames.
Sims: Big hit.

Commandos: does not stand out at all, even at the time. Looked rather dull, with its faux 3D. Gameplay was nice but you had to use the keyboard for fast movement in the later levels, so not really for the inexperienced gamer. No social play. Communication of idea: "you blow up enemies in WW2", so much for standing out, right? But wait: this is in 2D! Game is based on a known idea only in so much as it is a WW2 game and view from the top 2D, so rather something to avoid. Target market: fuzzy question. You never really know who turns out to be a fan, right? So, anyone who likes Starcraft?
Commandos: Big hit.

Re:Hindsight is 20/20 (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997338)

He's not presenting this as some kind of crystal ball that is going to tell you exactly how many units a game will sell. The questions are fuzzy because it's a subjective test. This is an article with game developers as the intended readership. Yes, you could answer them favorably for just about any game, but this isn't some kind of marketing tool to pull the wool over the publics' eyes and make them think a game is better than it really is. These are questions for a game developer to honestly ask themselves and answer only to themselves so that they can improve their game.

Everyone's tearing this apart like it's nothing more than common sense, but he makes some good points in the article. For instance there's a segment about how a game can be recognizable and familiar to audiences without relying on movie licenses or previous IPs. With the loads of licensed crap out there these days, this is certainly something I would want developers to consider while making their game.

Re:Hindsight is 20/20 (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997546)

Sims: you can play.. people, leading... ordinary (quote, unquote) lives. Doesn't look especially nice, not based on anything well-known.

Sim City in 1989 defined the Sim genre as open-ended game play with an anchorage in real life. There can be few franchises with deeper roots in PC gaming.

Re:Hindsight is 20/20 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998324)

Sim City in 1989 defined the Sim genre as open-ended game play with an anchorage in real life. There can be few franchises with deeper roots in PC gaming.
How about the Microsoft Windows franchise, which has roots way back in CP/M? Or the Solitaire franchise, which debuted with Microsoft Windows 1.0? Where would PC gaming be without the monopolistic dominance of Windows?

'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996246)

Nothing like getting a lecture from one of game development's leeches - 'game designers' aka level monkeys.

Wanna know why your game costs 60 bucks? Overhead.

Overhead is the number one issue in game development. Teams are filled with clowns like this guy and a million different types of talentless producers and other dead weight. Add up their salaries over a couple year project and you have a massive amount of cash you need to make back in game sales.

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996758)

Many of these people end up being friends of management who end up using the game development house as a place to give jobs to their talentless friends. So you end up with very many producer type or game designer type positions being some retard who is friends with the CEO or one of the VPs.

Also game companies tend to fill out staff to make the company appear more legitimate with lots of producer type positions that aren't actually contributing to the game but simply sending lots of emails back and forth, sitting around in meetings, and other busy work. Once producers get a hold in a company they start to spread like cancer. Every producer wants to hire a bunch of little producers under them to make their status appear to be very important.

Doing game development is a lot like doing porn - you end up looking around the set and seeing a bunch of people who have no business being there other than they are friends with someone making the movie.

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17998574)

Doing game development is a lot like doing porn
Except that you don't get to bang several hot chicks in one afternoon, so in truth it's not much like doing porn at all ;-)

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17997330)

Ha, spoken like someone who's never seen the inside of a game studio except in an "Unlockable Special Feature". FYI, game design and production has about the lowest $/time ratio that you can find in the software industry. Games are pooped out half-finished on a weekly basis because of inadequate team size, and you're complaining about personnel bloat running rampant?

Here's a reality check for you, if you "add up all the salaries [of game designers and producers] over a couple year project" what you get is about the amount the publisher will spend on marketing in print publications ALONE. Not even close to the total marketing budget. Not even close. And, as so many others in this thread have pointed out, marketing represents a pretty substantial percentage of both any given game's total cash outlay and its degree of chart success.

Please feel free to eliminate the designers and producers from your next title, Anonymous Coward, and let us all know how much you save on the bottom line.

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17997430)

Uh oh! Sounds like some company's level monkey got their feelings hurt!

Don't worry, EB is always hiring...

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (2, Insightful)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18004418)

You have got to be kidding. You can't know anything about the game industry if you think that designer positions are useless. That's like saying that programmers are useless. Design is a very important step in making the game and ultimately determines if the game is any good or not. Tell me have you heard of the names Sid Meier, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Warren Spector, or Will Wright. If these names aren't familiar to you, you have absolutely no business in telling anyone about making video games and what is wrong with it. They are game designers. Are these the development's leeches you were talking about?

Btw designer and producer are different positions designers make decisions about the games, producers make decisions about the business. In fact each is just a category for positions. There is level designer, character designer, sound designer, game designer and others. Producers are used in every facet of the game high level producers are watching the budget of a game and making planning on the development timeframe, milestones and manage the mid producers. Mid level producers are enforcing the milestones communicated between departments and aid and manage the lower producers. Low level producers handle asset management, database entry, some bug fixes, and general gofer work around the office. All of these positions are absolutely necessary in big budget games.

If you are talking money wise the number one issue in game development is marketing distribution and licensing not staff.

Re:'Game Designer' AKA Former EB Sales Clerk (2, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005402)

DOOM 3 is a great example of a game that, to its detriment, focused way too much on technological prowess and neglected solid game design. (i.e. can't use flashlight and gun at the same time, an entire game of enemies magically appearing behind you, etc)

Every game I've worked on (I'm a programmer, not a designer btw) had a critical need of a designer to shape the direction, design all the missions, tweak all the numbers (skills, weapons, spells, enemies, items, rewards, etc), and ensure the game is balanced and fun to play. Yes, some designers were better than others - just like any other profession.

Does it make more sense to have your more expensive programmers or artists doing this sort of work? That makes no sense to me, although I have heard of companies leaning in this direction. The problem with this approach is that not every artist or programmer really has the sensibilities or desire to design the game as well as working on their specific craft. I've known a number of both artists and programmers like this. They work very well when they have specific and well-defined task, but tend to stumble a bit when given more ambiguous tasks.

I'd suggest that games probably cost 60 bucks because the market has determined that this is the optimal price point for maximizing profits, given the content and development costs of a AAA title versus the standard market size, not because game makers pay for designers.

Um... (1)

zantolak (701554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996350)

Because people like to play games? Seriously, what kind of ridiculous question is this? Is this a joke or something?

Re:Um... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998360)

Seriously, what kind of ridiculous question is this?
The article states that the real question is: why do some games not sell?

Publicity? (2, Interesting)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996364)

You can thank Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton (among others) for high GTA sales. Tons of publicity, making it the "maverick" game to play. I bet if a Senator had asked for a probe into Psychonauts, it would've sold a few more copies.

Re:Publicity? (1)

Buddy_DoQ (922706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997372)

More like GTA looks fun, while Psychonauts looks weird.

Everyone can "get" GTA style graphics, but not everyone can "get" Psychonaut's Tim Burton look. I was one of those who didn't even bother with Psychonauts based on visual style alone, I just didn't like it.

I also didn't pick up GTA:SA for the same reason, I find the 80's pulp melodrama much more interesting than the 90's gritty gangland I grew up with. *shurgs* (Plus, the music was so much better, and you know it!)

Why? (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996446)

comparison of GTA 3 and Psychonauts tries to apply common-sense reasoning to why one sold well and the other did not."

I'll tell you why I like the GTA Series. It is open ended and I love the physics. It is so fun sometimes to just drive around in a motorcycle.

3 Reasons: Marketing, name and quality (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996528)

And in exactly that order.

You can pump a mediocre game into the heavens by throwing a truckload of money into its marketing. It's even enough to hint at what you would probably play, as long as there is action and as long as there is ground shaking graphics. Whether that would need a 10 GHz machine with a graphics card that becomes available somewhere in late 2010 doesn't matter. It looks great. And the marketing spin does the rest.

Name is another reason. There was a good game that sold, so this will too. Civilisation IV would have bombed without the Civ-tag to it. Duke Nuke... ok, ok, no bad jokes, I promise. Everquest 2 is a very average fantasy MMORPG, really vanilla and bland, but it has the EQ name. Generally, you can sell a game that has a great name, even without too much marketing spin. People will even preorder it, without even having seen a single screenshot, the game can already sell its first batch of copies before you started coding.

And finally, quality. Quality is the poorest seller, and it's amazing how many high quality games collect dust on the shelves simply because nobody ever heard about them. Quality is a seller once someone starts a hype around them, starts recommending them and thus it sells. But this kind of "marketing" is getting more and more out of fashion. Studios prefer to pump their money into marketing instead of programming, and squeeze out yet another "graphics enhanced" version of the same old game to trying something new.

Well, people, we get what we buy...

Re:3 Reasons: Marketing, name and quality (1)

Paradox (13555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998004)

And finally, quality. Quality is the poorest seller, and it's amazing how many high quality games collect dust on the shelves simply because nobody ever heard about them. Quality is a seller once someone starts a hype around them, starts recommending them and thus it sells. But this kind of "marketing" is getting more and more out of fashion. Studios prefer to pump their money into marketing instead of programming, and squeeze out yet another "graphics enhanced" version of the same old game to trying something new.

I think on the contrary, it's getting more and more in fashion with the right people. It's just that big companies like EA can't make games that market themselves out of their specific rights holder areas.

If you were right, games like Katamari Damashi wouldn't still be available.

Re:3 Reasons: Marketing, name and quality (1)

BlackEmperor (213615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18000270)

What, I'm sorry but that's rubbish. Yeah lots of good quality games don't sell but that doesn't mean that lots of bad quality games do sell. Generally all the top selling games are high quality products, especially when you project sales over 5 or (hey duke nukem) 11 years.

Quality is the NUMBER 1 decider on a games sales in the long term. But other things influence this in the short term. Marketing hype can make you buy a poor quality game, but generally this doesn't produce sustainable sales, since pretty soon the word is out that this game sucks. On the other hand a high quality game that nobody knows about can't be sold.

Most people buy games after reading reviews (ever wonder why there are so many review sites for games?), not after seeing an ad for the game. The ad only makes the person check out the reviews.

Name or Brand: Sure this is also important, but it's only important because previous games with this name were QUALITY.

Re:3 Reasons: Marketing, name and quality (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009884)

I've seen to many crap games hit the infamous "top 20" shelf just because it had a certain brand name slapped to it to believe that. And I've seen too many "XXXX 2004, XXXX 2005, XXXX 2006..." games which are essentially clones, sometimes even with better graphics (rarely, but at least sometimes), sell well to accept that quality is the decider.

Re:3 Reasons: Marketing, name and quality (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18004024)

And in exactly that order.
I think it's name, marketing, and then quality.
Just slap the pokemon, mario, or star wars name on a game and it will sell without any marketing.

Why do games sell ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996546)

Because people buy them.

Demonstration : if nobody buys the game (or any product), it won't sell.

Next question, please !

One Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17996792)

Bouncy Boobies

Psychonauts.... some game devs are crazy... (0)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997142)

Why do game developers thing their games should sell when they make games based on teh weirdest stuff imaginabe without doing any market research about the themes and ideas they are doing?

The truth is not that original games suck, it's that the so called "original" game isn't original most of the time and creatively and thematically they game is way out there (like WAY out there).

Take for instance Planescape torment. It was an excellent game if you LOVED TO READ TEXT and CLICK THROUGH DIALOGUE for hours on end, but for people more action or task oriented, it's a very tedious thing. It was also based on the baldur's gate engine which we had seen before.

Next is the fact that planescape was thematically WAY out there, did you see the box art and ma,e for that game? That alone would have killed sales like the plague. Then there was the fact that it in no way associated itself with Baldur's gate or Forgotten realm properties and franchises. Big mistake. If we changed the box art and the name of the game and art setting and basically had it in the Baldurs gate / forgotten realm universe with decent box art and a some reworking of thee game to make it fit that universe it would have been more of a success I gaurantee it.

Some game developers go a litttle crazy when they are given TOO much creative control and it must be said that creating you dream game, while fufilling can tank your company if you're not considering the business end of it and tempering your labour of love with the reality that people will want to play in your games world especially if they are buying it for $50.

Re:Psychonauts.... some game devs are crazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17997646)

Strange, everyone I've heard talk about Planescape:torment was very impressed by it. Is there something wrong with them producing games with a somewhat limited intended audience?

Re:Psychonauts.... some game devs are crazy... (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18000412)

Take for instance Planescape torment. It was an excellent game if you LOVED TO READ TEXT and CLICK THROUGH DIALOGUE for hours on end, but for people more action or task oriented, it's a very tedious thing. It was also based on the baldur's gate engine which we had seen before
The point behind Planescape is the STORY. It has a vast number of interesting NPC's and one of the more original stories I've seen (how many other games have you playing an immortal amnesiac who is trying to die?). It may have been more text-heavy than Baldur's Gate but that's because there was a more interesting setting to go through with more interesting characters (the Forgotten Realms have been done to death), if you want a game with no story and lots of action then play Diablo.

Then there was the fact that it in no way associated itself with Baldur's gate or Forgotten realm properties and franchises
That's because it wasn't set in the Forgotten Realms, the Forgotten Realms would have been a very inappropriate setting for Planescape, the vast majority of what makes Planescape original, interesting, and excellent does not exist in the FR.

If we changed the box art and the name of the game and art setting and basically had it in the Baldurs gate / forgotten realm universe with decent box art and a some reworking of thee game to make it fit that universe it would have been more of a success I gaurantee it.
So make it a Baldur's Gate clone and it will sell better? Sorry, but more likely it would have been called a BG knock-off and sold poorly, and either way it wouldn't have had nearly the fan following that is has. I have played BG, BG 2 and the BG 2 expansion and they are very good games, but Planescape is on an entirely different level, Planescape is up there with Deus Ex, System Shock 2, and GTA: San Andreas on my list of best games. I will admit that the character-based, story-heavy design isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for those of us who like to immerse ourselves in a game world Planescape is one of the best.

On the other hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18003290)

Shaddap. Tim Schafer is a god.

Nobody complains about filmmakers like Martin Scorsese or animators like Hayao Miyazaki having too much control over their creations. Maybe that's because the players still treat video games the way we treated movies when we were kids. If it wasn't in the big 12-screen theaters back then, it wasn't worth watching. Luckily we've grown up, and realized that there are literally millions of movies made every year, and not every one of them makes every person associated with it rich and famous in an instant. This is what the games industry is like; that's what the art business is like.

Two words for you... (1)

7grain (583823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997584)

From the article:

Is the Idea Behind the Game Easy to Communicate?
Can players explain quickly, easily and in a convincing way why your game is awesome? Can the marketing team? If the high concept of the game is hard to communicate, then you'll have a hard time convincing players that it's worth their time.
[...]
Is the Game Based on Something the Market Already Knows and Loves?
Put in other words, will the market "get it" quickly? It's a lot easier to convince people that a game is good if it's related to something they already like.
Perfect example: Deer Hunter. Perfect name, perfect subject, perfectly low system requirements. (i.e., runs on any celeron 400mhz or higher, I'd say.)

Crappiest... game... ever! But I still find it installed on relatives' computers all the time.

Wild Guess (1)

Wyrd01 (761346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997736)

> Why Do Games Sell?
Because they're sitting in stores with price tags on them?

Ok... now explain these (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998140)

- Daikatana
- Anachronox

both failed, yet they contain the elements of success

Re:Ok... now explain these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17999284)

or in daikatana's case "suckcess"

Re:Ok... now explain these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18002622)

I worked on both. They failed because they were hideously mismanaged, incoherent pieces of crap with obnoxious marketing three years too early and no marketing in the year leading up to the release. The horror stories I could tell you about those projects (and ION Dallas in general) would fill a book.

Re:Ok... now explain these (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18003552)

Now that raises another question.
Would that book sell?

(probably not because that story has been told a couple of times, even recently in the current issue of the escapist)

Re:Ok... now explain these (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18003852)

No, Anachronox failed because it was a Square style console RPG released only for the PC. Had id released it for the PSone/PS2 it would have sold like crazy.

I might as well ask: Why the heck wasn't it ported to PSone/PS2. Who was the dumb fucker who made that decision.

Multiplayer support vs Piracy (1)

UED++ (1043486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998278)

I addition to quality and marketing I would like to add Multiplayer. Games that have really good multiplayer force those who would otherwise pirate them to go out and buy it. If you take away the multiplayer from warcraft3 you're left with nothing, the campaign is nothing special. Being unpiratable (ok I made that word up) can work wonders. There are quite a few people that download their games illegally but end up buying them for the awesome multiplayer they possess. Course you can make a singleplayer only game and sell like crazy (cough Oblivion cough) and at the end of the day nothing beats Hype+Marketing. Diablo2 sold well despite getting terrible reviews because of the hype about a diablo sequel.

From TFA... (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17998452)

I don't like the "social" bs. For me, it's a turn-off. I prefer my friends in RL, thank you very much. I game alone. When I'm not busy with more interesting things, that is.

Psychonauts - can we get a better example? (1)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999144)

I really don't think Psychonauts was that good, I don't see why people elevate it to Sacred Cow status. The reason I personally didn't buy it was because I played the demo. It's a generic 3D platformer with a collect-a-thon bolted on. A cute art style and nice writing are irrelevant when the game isn't very appealing.
I basically thought that getting it when I still have Shines to collect in Mario Sunshine (which handles better and is more fun to jump around in, despite having zero writing) would be a waste of money.

Incidentaly, I bought Sunshine because I totally loved Mario 64 and wanted more. And why did I buy Mario 64? I didn't, I pirated the ROM (but have since bought it on DS)...

Re:Psychonauts - can we get a better example? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17999806)

I had the same reservations after playing the demo, but the full game is another story entirely. For some reason that likely comments on the industry as a whole, Double Fine thought repetitive platforming was the best sell to the widest audience of potential players. The rest of the game is extremely story based and anything but repetitive.

Word of Mouth + Shared Experiences (1)

sottitron (923868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999332)

This is the power of social networks. Everyone may mutter to themselves 'Oh, I told everyone I know about Psychonauts,' but did those people pass the message along? Obviously not like GTA 3 spread. Its only sad if you cared about the game in the first place. As a side note, and just to make sure I get nailed as offtopic as well as flamebait, another great game that never really took off was Kung Fu Chaos...

Good != Popular!!! (2, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999818)

Microsoft Windows, and TV with its crap "unreality shows" is proof that good is not equal to popular. Popular is (almost) all about marketing. SOMETIMES they overlap, aka the iPod.

NOW, if you want to know what constitutes a _good_ game, then EVERY game has 1 or more of these properties:

* Acquisition
* Communication
* Competition
* Cooperation
* Creation
* Destruction
* Environment that is interesting
* Execution -- how well the game executed its principles
* Exploration
* Fun
* Navigation
* Organization
* Pattern Recognition
* Strategy (Problem-Solving)
* Tactics
* Trade

Bridge is a popular card game because it is one of the rare card games that has both Competition & Cooperation at the same time, amongst Acquisition, and Communication.

Tetris is a good game because it has: Strategy, Tactics, Navigation, Pattern Recognition, Organization.

Counter-Strike: Competion, Cooperation, Destruction, Creation, Communication, Navigation, Exploration, Organization.

World of Warcraft: Every single property!

But what do I know, I'm just a game dev.

Re:Good != Popular!!! (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005218)

Interesting.

A small quibble, I don't think fun should be in that list. A good game is fun by definition. I've never been addicted to a game that wasn't in some way fun.

Now if you don't mind, I'm off to fill out my tax return. It's got: Trade, Tactics, Strategy (Problem Solving), Pattern Recognition and Organization. Looks like it's gonna kick ass!

Re:Good != Popular!!! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18006778)

You have an interesting point -- can you have a good game that isn't fun? Probably, as you point out by definition, since you can have popular games, that aren't good games. What's really counter-intuitive is that a good game is _relative_ to the player. EverQuest is a good example of how NOT to design a MMO -- I think its design is utter crap, but the merits for what constitutes a good game is made soley on the fact that if at least one person enjoys it, then it was a good game for that person.

But I was looking at the bigger picture -- by listing fundamental properties of games; and there is a reason fun is in the list: If you take away fun, you're left with a simulation, IMHO!

Now I usually don't enjoy most simulators -- too dry for my taste, plus the realism gets in the way, but how else do/would you distinguish games from simulators???

Games like Gran Turismo approach the simulator category -- but the real interesting reason is why is it still a game? Is it because you can't roll or crash your car? Similiarly, is Microsoft Flight Simulator a game? Why isn't it "just" a *toy? What distinguishes toys from games? Is "RealFlight" a game?

I'd love to hear your ideas!

Cheers

* Calling MS FS a toy is not meant to be derogatory. I actually enjoy all 3 examples (GT, MS FS, and RealFlight) I mentioned.

--
'cuz calling it "Wii" has a better ring then "Gamecube 1.5" ;-)

Re:Good != Popular!!! (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18008828)

can you have a good game that isn't fun?
They're called MMORPGs.

I don't how to sell a game, but (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 7 years ago | (#17999858)

I sure know how NOT to sell a game:

You announce a sequel to an extremely popular and profitable game, vanish, come back every two years and announce that "we are completely rewriting the engine to leverage the latest hardware," and then vanish.

my personal take on buying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18000796)

Depending on price I use the following before buying the higher price/full price games (not in order and not all of them):

-Demo
-Word of mouth
-Popularity of the game
-Quality
-History of a game series (did I like it and did the previous games have expectable quality)
-Is my computer up to playing the game in an enjoyable format or do I have to upgrade
-Is the game worth my upgrade price, if needed
-Who made the game and did I like their quality (some what repeating myself)

For cheaper/bargain games, normally things I want to try (again not in order or not all of them)

-Demo
-Awards
-Game magazine review/rating
(it helps me to determine if they are close to what I like to play)
-Do I think the game will be fun or not - description on back or from the magazine(s)
-Also is it cheap enough so if I find out that I do not like it, I will not feel bad over the price
-Word of mouth
-Is it a series and how has the series been doing in the market
-Does it have something that is new or different or something I have not done before or do I have games of that style that are better or do I want to play more of that style game

Here's the more interesting question - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18001062)

Why are folks willing to shell out $60 every 4 months or so for games which will given them at most two months of enjoyment, but unwilling to pay $200 once for something that they will use for three years to write all their documents etc (like Office?)

Re:Here's the more interesting question - (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18002304)

Why are folks willing to shell out $60 every 4 months or so for games which will given them at most two months of enjoyment, but unwilling to pay $200 once for something that they will use for three years to write all their documents etc (like Office?)
You've pretty much answered it yourself. You'd pay for something that'll give you enjoyment, but not for something that'll make you suffer!

Addiction (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005760)

Games are the opiate of the twenty first century.

South Park nailed it in both the "Towelie" and "Make Love, Not Warcraft" episodes. An addicted gamer has very similar symptoms to chemical addicts. Gamers:
-get irritable without their fix, and angry when denied it
-think about the game when they are doing other things
-spend all their leisure time and time when they should be doing chores or work playing the game
-build up a tolerance, and then go searching for something new and better that triggers the same receptors
-spend large amounts of money on their fix (compute cost of home computer + video card upgrades + games + power + etc etc) if they can't avoid it.
-will lie to themselves and others, cajole, respond aggressively, etc, indeed anything they can think of to give themselves an opportunity to play some more.

Instead of using a chemical to tap into the pleasure receptors of the nervous system, the game taps into those receptors in a more roundabout way. How?
1) By simulating one or more aspects of real life where success or merely participation gives good feelings (which drive us to do more of them).
2) Quickening the feedback loop to make the game able to generate good feelings that are more intense or generated at a faster rate compared to real life. Essentially, to take out enough of the parts of the real life experience that seem like work, but not enough so that our brains aren't fooled and don't dole out the pleasure.

As a result, real life seems a little hard and stale by comparison. Why slog away spending ten years to become a master carpenter when in 6 months you can be a 50th level mage with a huge cachet of spells, able to take out powerful monsters (though carefully selected so that you always have a chance to defeat them if you work hard, except for Lord British of course), with many and varied adventures and friends along the way?

Different people are wired slightly differently. Some people don't get addicted easily to them. And all those who are addicted tend to have their type of addiction, be it combat simulation (killing), exercising strategy and tactics (to kill people), cooperating with friends (in between killing people), ransacking dungeons or climbing the virtual ladder.

Thus it's not surprising how companies market, and why we see relatively little experimentation now that a lot of the population is hooked and we know the methods of hooking them. It's not that surprising really. We have a few traits that have been honed by thousands of years of natural selection - to mate, to band together and make war, to eke a living from the land, to function in a community doing some sort of service, to accrue scarce resources, to climb a pecking order, to explore and find new and better pastures or new and better things that other people own and we can liberate from them. (And women have a different set of drives. Which is why we have house cats and yip yip dogs.)

There are only so many human drives, and thus, only so many games that will have mass appeal.

"Boredom's not a burden Anyone should bear" - Maynard James Keenan

Re:Addiction (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18005786)

Er, that should be cache, not cachet. Preview is for cwoards.

How a game makes or breaks a sale for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18009224)

A game gets bought by me:

  When it's good, and not some thrown together crap.

  When it allows me to create levels or tracks (block editor) or better yet is open to complete modding. I bought Need for Speed: High Stakes a while back because a fan had made a track editor for it. If they included an editor from the get go, they may have sold more copies.

  When the game (such as a sim) is wide open and free and does not try to micromanage everything I do. (ie. no going "No no no! You can't do that" if I want to run a track down the middle of a street in a rail sim game.

  Conversely, here is what *guarantees* to piss me off

  When a game has copy protection that screws with the OS, loads drivers our other unwanted
crap and malware that is hard or almost impossible to remove even when the game is

  When features are taken away. I had an experience when I went to Best Buy and spotted
"Trainz: Drivers edition". Trainz is basicly sold as a "model railroad for your PC",
and I know it came with an editor called "Surveyor". However, the "drivers edition" added
to the title kind of made me go "huh?", so I checked the box. Completely silent about the
Surveyor. So I did a quick Google on my cellphone, and found out that this edition had
the Surveyor stripped out! Arrrrghh! One of the reasons for model railroading is to
*build your own layouts!* Clearly, a marketing weenie, not a rail fan made this incredibly
boneheaded decision, and I walked out of the store muttering some choice words about
said weenie. Of course, the non-crippled version of Trainz was no whyere to be found.
Additionaly, Microsoft's railroad simulator seems to have mysteriously disappeared
off the shelves even though it was there (along with the non-crippled version of
Trainz) just a few months prior. There were plenty of flight sims, and all of that tycoon
crap laying around those. ( I tried a few of the tycoon games, but I got bored with
them quickly because of all of the micromanagement that the software does, even in sandbox
mode Their discs make nicer coasters than mis-burned CR-Rs though.)

* Artificialy micromanaging or restricting the experience. Kind of hard to describe
when talking about *all* of the genres, but you know it when you see it. A huge
turn off.

* Too many sequels. With few exceptions (such as Final Fantasy), sequels are usualy just rehashed crap. If a game has more than say 5 sequels (I'm being real generous here) it's time for something new.
 
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