"Magazines are dead, long live magazines!"
This isn't really something that I - or anyone else - could dispute; print is dying a slow and painful death, especially the enthusiast publications serving our business. That said, they're not going anywhere for quite some time. At the ECA, we're looking into a model that may be of interest for our members, and we've also noticed that other formerly print-only products are now thriving online in the digital form. The bigger concern is really one of the value proposition challenge, which we don't discuss nearly enough. Gamers are finicky about what they'll pay for, and if they can get the same (or at least similar) content online for free, why would they pay? That's a much larger, more important question than the confines of this article will permit, but it's at the root of the problem for magazine publishers. The good news is that publishing companies are an intrepid bunch, and they recognize that the true value they have to consumers is in the knowledge base and expertise of their editorial staffs. As long as they can transition the model and port it to a different medium, there's no reason to predict gloom and doom.

"Content is king!"
Long live the king! Here's where the first-party publishers really need to be concerned. I first noted that my son, now 10, became a LEGO Star Wars fan not when he was playing it on the Xbox, but when he had that privilege taken away and booted up a copy for the Mac. He went on, as I noticed, to play it in every iteration - using friend's consoles, handhelds, you name it. He ingested the media because he loved the content and execution. He could care less who manufactured the device that played it, the input device he used or even the quality of the graphics. He liked the content. The same will likely be true of the LEGO Indiana Jones games. He reads the books, watches the educational "Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" on the History Channel, the movies ... see the theme here? The more attention I paid, the more I realized that Generations X and Y have grown up brand loyal. The reason, as best I can determine, is our parents couldn't afford to buy every gaming device, so we got the one that we begged/saved for and that was the brand. With this generation, it's not so. They're agnostic because they can afford to be. It's all about the content.

"Game prices will eventually begin to fall."
Totally agree, and in the face of everything logical. Here's why: Consumers are willing to pay in that previously discussed value proposition challenge, but not if they can get a similar experience elsewhere. So if Battlefield Heroes is a raving success and EA can figure out how to do it for free, profitably, it will lead to new business models. Skeptical? I give you the amazing success of web email as an example. Why pay AOL every month when Google gives it to you free? There are ways to make phenomenal games, with amazingly compelling gameplay at a low price point. In-game advertising, sponsorships, micro-transactions, tie-ins, giveaways ... all of these are revenue-displacing venues. Why stop at the success of the Burger King games for Xbox? Why can't there be a whole product line that mitigates the cost associated with development via alternate revenue streams? Doing so would open gaming up to the masses in a far more profound way.

Hal Halpin is the president and founder of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), the membership organization which represents gamers.

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