Jimquisition: Dark Souls and Dark Sales

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I would love to see how much of a typical AAA budget actually goes into developing the game, to the code and gameplay parts, to the artists and sound techs (not Voice Actors, or Movie Actors).

I'll bet less than a third of the budget is for developing the game, and more is paid for the additional human assets (top actors, legal representation, business executive representation, special 'gift' money for corporate co-operation)... and even bigger chunk goes into marketing, paying for all those adverts, special launch events, none player issued demos and interviews, royalties to hire certain entertainers, use of IP held media, paying fines incurred during stunts.
Generally trying to hype the game up before players actually realise the eternal truth ... there is no spoon,err game.

I mean say a game like Kleis Dont Starve... graphics are not going to melt even a built in internal graphics card let alone some gaming cards, and the voice acting...some random instrumental blaring at various base or treble settings.
Do I care if Vin Diesel or [insert popular actor here] is voicing the main character, naah I just dont want to starve in that game.
Do I really care if [same actor here] is the voice of my gun toting avatar in CoD ? Nope, too busy QQ'ing about SMGs and Laser sighting.
I dont even care is [popular band] is bashing out the background tunes in my games, thats background noise not the aim of the game...unless its a Rock Hero or Dance game.

I bet most of a AAA budget is wasted on legalities, royalties, executive wages, lunches, handkerchiefs for the divas and actors and musicians... how much could be cut out if they tossed out the top actors and hire decent average actors to do the voices ? How many LESS copies if another actor did Soap McTavish in CoD ? Will Metal Gear fail because Hayter isnt Snake ?

This reminds me of how Atari made 2 million copies of ET to sell in the USA even though there weren't 2 million consoles in the USA that could play this game. Companies need to figure out a realistic level of sales and adjust their budgets accordingly.

Jim has a 10 year old child...?

I just want to say as a criminology professor. HH Holmes was a messed up dude. Do you have a booby trapped maze in your basement Jim? do you?

Another amazing video Jim! So glad you got around to this topic because its been something that has been bothering us all for quite some time now; even if we didn't all know what was it was that made us dislike the industry's spending practices, we do now.

I don't have the ego or arrogance or popular internet platform to bombastically shout to the masses exactly what I was thinking when I read the articles referred to in this weeks Jimquisition. So today, more than usual, I thank God for Jim Sterling.

It is a saddening day to have to admit to you that I, Jim Sterling, am sick.

I thought this was true for some time now. :P

(I keed, I keed. hope you have a speedy recovery)

On topic, it's an example of how detached publishers have become from the truth of the industry. Most major publishers see themselves AS the industry in it's entirety so when they cry doom and gloom consumers are supposed to panic and buy up their games to "save the industry".

Umm, no.

What they're not getting is the following: They're not nearly as important as they think they are anymore. Smaller budget titles made by smaller studios are vastly exceeding sales estimates because they control their budget and focus on making a quality game. The big publishing arm is a relic that's struggling to stay above water. It's time to let them drown.

BREAKING NEWS: EA's New CEO Names 10-Year-Old Boy to Lead Company, Legal Ramifications Unclear.

Other Headlines- Pixie dust and unicorns now interim development goals at EA.

Jimothy Sterling:
Dark Souls and Dark Sales

Dark Souls sold over two million copies and is a bonafide success. Tomb Raider sold over three million copies and is a disappointing failure. Wut?

Watch Video

0:36 Don't be too sad,Jim. I'm sure you'll ascend one day. 1:02 /Salute 3:55 And I would probably be getting more Costume Quest games, as well. 5:40 If only they would GET that. 5:54 Really? You? XD

Another great episode Jim, although personally I'm not seeing the link between Capcom/Square Enix's disappointment in their sales and From Software's success with their's and "the mess the console market is in". Unless I've missed something completely obvious, it just seems that some publishers are being idiotic with their predictions and some aren't.

Jim I have to ask, is that a goonswarm shirt you are wearing?

Once again Jim you are the voice of common sense in an industry which is clearly lacking in it. Publishers need to learn that ever increasing budgets cannot be sustainable if they are expecting 5 million sales in the first few weeks of release. And that is another thing, why do publisher only look at the sales over the first few weeks instead of over the long term? There are plenty of examples of games that have done well in sales over the long term, which didn't sell initially.

Amaror:
I would rather know, what these publishers spent all that damn money on.
I played Dead Space 3. It was pretty, but it wasn't prettier than the previous games really. It didn't add any new gameplay elements, that need a lot of work either. So where did all that money go?

The vast majority of the money went to the other 4 dev teams that EA made work on it so they could churn out the game in 18 months at vastly lower quality instead of waiting the 3 years for a decent product.

I was not expecting an episode on this, but I am really happy about it.

I was happy with 2.3 million copies, I congratulated From Software, the game is very niche and yet it sold that many copies it almost two years!

I had only found out just now that Tomb Raider sold 3 million copies, and congratulate Eidos/Squenix as well. It hasn't even been out more than a year and it sold that much. And this is considered a failure?

I mean jesus christ, like I can understand EA's unreasonable demands. But if other publishers think this is a logical practice then they have lost their way, as bad as Capcom is, I at least thought they had some sense of logic.

daxterx2005:
Jim has a 10 year old child...?

Bastard child of Square-Enix and EA who couldn't afford to raise him.

I thought the whole reason we put up with publishers is because they can afford to take risks without crying about one that didn't pay off after the fact. They want us to overlook the nickle & dime bs they throw at us, they also have to overlook it when we don't buy it.
I think the game industry has attracted enough looters that I'm sure plenty of $ from a game's budget goes to people who don't contribute anything of use to it.

Andy Shandy:
Another great episode Jim, although personally I'm not seeing the link between Capcom/Square Enix's disappointment in their sales and From Software's success with there's and "the mess the console market is in". Unless I've missed something completely obvious, it just seems that some publishers are being idiotic with their predictions and some aren't.

Shh, don't let anyone else hear that! Remember, if a couple games from a couple of the big pubs do badly, it means the entire industry is crashing! Don't you know science/economics/maths?

King of Asgaard:
The nail. You've hit it. Right on the head. Again. Thank god for you.
Also:
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That image got so saved so very fast.

And now for my contribution.
image

Everyone is gay for Solaire
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But seriously, my reaction to today's episode.
image

Quote of the week - "Expecting to sell as much as CoD based on little more than wishes and gum drops is fucking silly bones".

Beautiful Jim.

My favourite game - Dark Souls
My second favourite game - Demon's Souls

My new favourite game - Dark Souls 2? I hope so.

Charcharo:
I remember when GSC was happy with its 4 million total sales on the ENTIRE STALKER SERIES (even though I think they did not include steam sales, still for 3 niche games on the PC it is quite decent). And how much better it was/is in many ways then most games that are released now. Hell, even visually, Clear Sky practically whipes the floor (its not even funny) with almost all AAA games this year...and it had better AI... and atmosphere...despite an engine from 2000...
What has changed with the way games are made now? I like Tomb Raider, but surely why would it want THAT much sales?

Because growth is important in the business world. It's not enough to turn a profit, you need to turn a bigger profit, or at the very least not a smaller profit, that means spending more money in order to turn more profit. Throw in that failure to sell an obscene number of games implies that a competitor that does is a better investment.

But these guys don't seem to have a fucking clue how growth works, if you release a 60$ game on a 250$ console then how do you expect to convince somebody who doesn't already have plans to buy 5 other titles for the console 310$ to play the game? There's minimal growth potential in selling games that rely on expensive hardware, so the AAA industry needs to dial down its expectations and deal with the fact that the barrier to entry is too high for the industry to continue to grow, and then start coming up with hairbrained schemes to grow the customer base (Nintendo seems on target here actually, so does valve with its love of cheap indie games over Steam).

I am reminded of the Syndicate "argument" that if the new Syndicate sold well, they said they would (maybe) do a remake of the old games.... so what? are we supposed to buy games we don't want so they'll make the games we do want?

My response was "Fuck that!"

Excellent episode that raised some very interesting points. For example, I had no idea that Tomb Raider had a multiplayer mode, I had to go boot the game up and check, but sure enough, it does!

Sorry to hear your sick just as the weathers heating up.

Allergies? Back on topic good watch. Not a big fan of either game, but with all these big industry failuers as you suggest week after week,

how do they keep do they keep going on?

Seeing this makes me think of Fire Emblem Awakening. The game overall just made minor improvements. A basic avatar maker, minimal voice acting and some small but noticable mechanical tweeks. But overall it was a small-scale game. Nintendo released an amount of copies based on the last best selling game in the franchise. Reasonable expectations lead to selling a little under 120,000 units in a month for the US launch being considered "the greatest launch in franchise history".

Yes, it was a handheld game and just one region, but its not like the 3DS is a stranger to games that sell over 1 million units in a short amount of time. Just look at Luigi's Mansion. 1 million in 2 weeks, 400,000 of those in the US. Now imagine if Nintendo expected ALL of their games for the 3DS to sell like this.

The game industry today scares me. Outside of Nintendo, games I care about. Actually care about, rarely sell much more than 100,000 copies.

I really don't understand why games today have to have such high budgets and have to sell so many copies. Can't more games just have small budgets and produce more niche games? Well, I guess I like my niche games, since most of the games I care about tend to sell under a million.

Cute story about your kid Jim. It's so true too.

Hope ya feel better soon, but I have to say that if you didn't say you were sick I wouldn't have noticed.
But hey, who would think something as little as a cold would weaken you, right? ;D

Thank god for you Jim.

Darkstalkers Resurrection was a "failure" despite making more sales than Dark Souls.

Zero Serenity:
I think it is worth mentioning that Tomb Raider is just using Crystal Tools (Final Fantasy XIII's engine) so there is saved money.

I had heard earlier that Tomb Raider was using the same engine as Deus Ex Human Revolution, and after your post I was thinking "No way was DEHR running Crystal Engine, some of those faces and areas looked like arse (compared to the FF games)!" turns out you were right. Just goes to show how different studios can make games running the same engine look quite different.

Note: I'm not saying DEHR looks entirely bad, most of it is quite atmospheric and pretty. However, there were some faces, animations, and textures that were just awful.

Nepenthe87:

Bindal:
I think, 2K called the new XCOM a success despite selling only over 1 million copies.

Then again, I also don't remember the new Tomb Raider being called a failure because it didn't sell (yet?) it's expected 6 million copies... Just that they hoped for that and didn't got that far.

I think the 6 million sales expectation was for the first month of sales. I could be wrong though.

No, you aren't wrong. http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/13895/article/square-enix-thought-tomb-raider-would-sell-5-6-million-in-its-first-month/

They also didn't bother to count any digital sales because nobody buys things online, right?

Alas, the poor little rich publisher who can no longer afford to make media splashes and will have to resort to grousing about how it was hard done by the softening of markets and the unpredictability of critical acclaim to guarantee sales if it wants any press.

uanime5:

I bet most of a AAA budget is wasted on legalities, royalties, executive wages, lunches, handkerchiefs for the divas and actors and musicians... how much could be cut out if they tossed out the top actors and hire decent average actors to do the voices ? How many LESS copies if another actor did Soap McTavish in CoD ? Will Metal Gear fail because Hayter isnt Snake ?

Well a good example (well, future example really) is going to be Bioshock Infinite.
It's total development budget was in the region of $100 million (as stated by their publisher).
They then went and spent a mind-blowing $100 million on marketing the bloody thing.

Anyone want to place bets that someone (the publisher) is going to call Bioshock Infinite a disappointment sales-wise because it didn't make back that $200 million in its first month of sales?!

That marketing budget is the issue here, $100 million for a Triple A game is a lot, but recoverable, doubling that target because of the marketing budget sure as hell is a lot harder!

There's your issue. Money is literally thrown away, does $100 million in marketing even double the sales of anything, let alone a title people are expected to pay $60 for.

1nfinite_Cros5:

PunkRex:
Why do I imagine this child dresses exactly like you Jim, including a tiny pair of sunglasses and a Willem Dafoe Jr.

Not quite complete. He needs a friend who's a miniature version of Yahtzee.

Here's the two of them playing with each other.

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King of Asgaard:
The nail. You've hit it. Right on the head. Again. Thank god for you.
Also:
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Let us engage in JOLLY COOPERATION!

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Kraakdoos:
Quote of the week - "Expecting to sell as much as CoD based on little more than wishes and gum drops is fucking silly bones".

Indeed. This is now officially my favorite Jimquisition episode just for that.

Captcha: Trolololol...and yes, I had to make sure I put in the correct number of "lo"s. Seriously, captcha

Gottesstrafe:
Praise the Sun!

Hannibal942:
Praise it good!

This thread needs more Praise the Sun.

This is pretty much what's wrong with the gaming industry now. It's too much about the big budget graphics, new engines, and frame rates and other such shit. They think that if they throw a ton of money at a game, it'll magically create a fortune for them. On top of that, they think that because they spent so much money on that, that I should have to do my part and buy it NEW and get the season fucking pass.

I know that Call of Duty is a huge fad this generation, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel to get me to play your game. Just make something fun. Metal Gear Rising is an incredibly flawed game and many would consider it a 'niche title', but ya know, it as the most fun I've had with a game in ages.

King of Asgaard:

Gottesstrafe:
Praise the Sun!

Hannibal942:
Praise it good!

This thread needs more Praise the Sun.

Ugh, all this sun praising is making me feel so grossly incandescent...

image

Nice vid, though :)

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