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Going (for) Broke

AJ Dellinger | 9 Mar 2012 13:00
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The best part for developers is that DLC makes perfect sense financially. Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick perhaps explains it best, as he stated to the ThinkEquity 8th Annual Growth Conference, "Once we do the core development, which takes a long time and is pretty hard, doing the development related to the DLC in a high-quality way is a lot easier and a lot quicker." Having more content made available quickly is an ideal situation for gamers, who are often left wanting more of a game and forced to wait for sequels to go through the development process. No longer is the case with DLC, which involves just building atop an already established world on existing hardware and engine. There's less cost associated with creating the content, and most fans of a product are willing to drop an extra $10 for a few more hours of game play. However, there is another area that gaming companies are beginning to focus on.

While DLC will no doubt be a force for console and PC gaming, the financial future of gaming as a whole may lie with a different realm all together.

While DLC will no doubt be a force for console and PC gaming, the financial future of gaming as a whole may lie with a different realm all together. Social networking platforms and iOS devices are beginning to take their positions as the focus of the gaming industry. Game developers are taking notice. Disney hit its games division with a massive layoff, cancelling major console projects along the way, in the name of focusing on social gaming. Electronic Arts bought up PopCap Games in hopes of turning big profits by bringing PopCap's proven franchises to new platforms. It may be hard to believe, but the financial foundation being laid to continue with the development of massive undertakings like Battlefield 3 is coming from things like The Sims Social and Peggle. And it's happening because of where gamers are investing their time and money.

Take a look through the news feed on any social network site and odds are good that a friend will be playing some sort of game. There are millions upon millions of people actively playing games every month, so the likelihood of not being friends with any of them are extremely slim. The likelihood of not being made aware of friend's gaming habits is even slimmer, as social games have a knack for talking for the player. An immeasurable amount of posts from social games are made every day, but what can be tracked is how much gamers are plugging into the games. Zynga pulled in $850 million in revenue in 2010 from people who paid to maintain virtual farms and cities. Social games keep gamers talking and spending, as interaction drives more to play (and pay).

Perhaps just as pivotal as social games are iOS developments, which have a knack for disguising addictiveness in the form of simplicity. Apple's mobile operating system plays host to some of the current largest gaming franchises, including the international hit and media powerhouse that no one can quite explain, Angry Birds. The model for iOS games is simple: Make something easy enough that anyone can pick up, create some sort of system that adds a little competition or incentive for playing, and watch everyone in the world buy the game and compare scores. The final step in Angry Birds developer Rovio's business model includes somehow becoming the next Pixar and getting grown men and women to wear shirts with cartoon birds and pigs on them, but not every company can make that leap.

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