Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 06, 2006
 
State of the video game industry

The New York Times reports (via news.com) that the video game industry is having some problems with sales. The stated example was that True Crime: New York City only sold 348,000 copies, which was less than expected, in spite of the following quoted features: "It was the sequel to a well-received game, it had the violent aesthetic of the popular Grand Theft Auto series, and it featured licensed songs from name acts like DMX and Public Enemy. Activision promoted the game heavily, with full-page advertisements in mainstream magazines."

Okay, so we got a game which is a sequel of a game which already was a ripoff of GTA, and *surprisingly* it doesn't sell half a million copies? Doh! Wake up, video game industry! It is 2006, GTA has been around for some time already, and there are numerous sequels, clones, and sequels of clones of it. All developed in the same couple of year, using about the same standard of graphics. There is simply a limit of how many copies of always the same you can sell, even with full-page advertisements. And no, the World of Warcraft clone you plan to bring out in 2007 isn't going to sell 5 million copies either.

There is some hope that online console gaming will bring huge profits to the industry. And some day in the next couple of year that will most probably happen. But *not* by taking one of the classical PC MMORPGs, or a clone, and putting it on a console. Console gaming, lying on a couch with a dual stick controller in hands, has a totally different dynamics than PC gaming in an office chair with a keyboard and mouse. A PC MMORPG is very much based on chat, and neither menu-driven canned texts nor USB keyboards for consoles will create a console MMORPG that sells a million copies. For the console market you will need to create a MMORPG-lite, with a much reduced social interaction between players, easily playable with just a gamepad. A bit like WoW for quests and soloing, but without the raid part, and a lot less complicated. Maybe some automated interface for finding a group for a certain zone, but with little or no "group-only" content.

In general the video game industry needs to realize that they are approaching market saturation. The previous strategy of combining old successful ideas with some brand, hyping the thing with lots of marketing, and having a sure hit is over. To sell well a game now needs to be either a very, very good implementation of a known idea (World of Warcraft), or be based on a totally new idea (Spore, probably). Muddling through with just another me-too game is not going to cover the development costs any more.
Comments:
The older I get, the more and more I see parallels between game development and standard artistic endevours.

Blizzard makes good games because they have good people. People who have genuine, God-given talent.

Why did Led Zeppellin kick ass? Answer - they had good musicians.

Why did Warrant suck? Answer - they had crappy musicians.

There is a paradigm out there right now that says we can somehow quantify and/or examine game design to the extent that we can control it. That we can do so the extent that it is possible to formulate success beforehand without any genuine and divine artistic inspiration. This makes about as much sense as Boy-Bands. 100 years from now people will remember The Who. They wont give a rats ass about The Back Street Boys.

The pattern of games repeating (or trying to repeat) the GTA success is seen in every wave of popular music where money-grubbing record-industry sleaze-bags try to piggy-back on the success of the genuine revolutionaries who move their genre forward. We all know what happens when this occurs - the fad burns out and lo' and behold...

...the industry goes right back to relying on people who were born with the God-given talent.

Stormgaard - The Se7en Samurai
 
A little off topic, Guys... I have a question. Yesterday I had fun with this site:
[url=http://www.rivalspot.com]Rivalspot.com - Wii Live Tournaments[/url]
They say you can play online sports game tournaments on any console for cash... had anyone tried that before? Looks like a cool idea...
Are there any other sites where you can play sports games for real moneys? I Googled and found only Bringit.com and Worldgaming.com but it looks these guys don't specialize in sport gamez. Any suggestions?
 
A little off topic, Guys... I have a question. Last week I found this site:
[url=http://www.rivalspot.com]Rivalspot.com - Play Ps3 tournaments for cash[/url]
They say you can play online Football game tournaments on any console for cash... had anyone tried that before? Looks like a cool idea...
Are there any other sites where you can play sports games for real moneys? I Googled and found only Bringit.com and Worldgaming.com but it looks these guys don't specialize in sport gamez. Any suggestions?
 
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