Jimquisition: Dark Souls and Dark Sales

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Don't spoil the kid, Jim. "I want a puppy, but I am not getting one!" said Elizabeth (BioShock Inf.)

Have to disagree with you Jim, having absurd expectations because the project costs an absurd amount of money is very coherent as I see it. It's another thing it indeed is a shitty business model and a part of me hopes that this all devolves in the triple A industry market crashing. The problem here isn't unreal sales expectations, that's just a symptom, the real problem is the tech arms race and the need to get Angelina Jolie and photorealistic tears even though nobody will actually give a fuck except for the graphics nuts, and frankly, they can go burn in hell for all I care. Thing is the industry has to get it's head out of it's ass and notice that you don't need to put everything into the oven to make an atractive project. It's better for a project to cost you 20.000.000$ to make and sell 2.000.000 copies than having it cost 50.000.000 only to sell 3.000.000 copies.

TheProfessor234:
Since they wanted the new Tomb Raider to sell six million copies, does that mean the studio is screwed because it didn't? It sounds like they needed to sell that much to turn a profit, if what I heard from the video is true.

I dunno, this is all just to crazy to believe and yet here it is.

Well that's a target so it will be profit up to a margin that they find satisfactory. They probably turned even but they wanted a lot more to work on new titles/roll around in a pool of bank notes.

Wait, Dark Souls is beautiful and plays just as well? We're not talking about the PC port here, are we? >.>

Razhem:
Have to disagree with you Jim, having absurd expectations because the project costs an absurd amount of money is very coherent as I see it. It's another thing it indeed is a shitty business model and a part of me hopes that this all devolves in the triple A industry market crashing. The problem here isn't unreal sales expectations, that's just a symptom, the real problem is the tech arms race and the need to get Angelina Jolie and photorealistic tears even though nobody will actually give a fuck except for the graphics nuts, and frankly, they can go burn in hell for all I care. Thing is the industry has to get it's head out of it's ass and notice that you don't need to put everything into the oven to make an atractive project. It's better for a project to cost you 20.000.000$ to make and sell 2.000.000 copies than having it cost 50.000.000 only to sell 3.000.000 copies.

Which seems like exactly the same as Jim said in the video. Absurd spending on stuff that will not gain more sales -> an enormous bloated mess of a budget -> the need for absurd sales figures to break even.

If I made a game and it was selling and people were buying it I would view that as a fucking success. Selling even one game is a success.

Jim likes Dark Souls? His video about how anyone who thinks easy mode isn't a good fit for Dark Souls is a whining crybaby sure had me fooled.

Thanks for making the effort to get this produced while ill Jim. Its nice to find a commentator that thinks logically and speaks with common sense rather than just being one more of the vast army of sycophantic lickspittles lapping at the foam flecked lips of corporate madness.

Ishal:
Great video, but here is my question(s).

Where did the craze of making hugely "unique" games with Hollywood actors and totally new game engines come from?

Why is the gap so large now that there are practically no middle games anymore? Why does everything need to be a smash hit?

Where did this all start? And finally, who other than regular gamers (such as ones like us, who join a forum to talk about our hobby) buys these games?

I'd say Dark Souls was pretty beautiful graphically. Then again I'm not the type of PC gamer who spends wads of cash to get all the new trinkets to put in my machine. I don't see why graphics matter so damn much. I'm also becoming disinterested with this whole "we need to be more like hollywood" kick. Some of the publishers are forcing it, but a lot of the people are wanting it because they desperately want the medium to be recognized by people who's opinions apparently matter so much.

Video games are in a sort of teenager phase. Just mature enough to not be children anymore, yet still trying desperately to be taken seriously as an adult.

If I had to guess I would say in part this nonsense can be traced back to the "bit-wars" 8 vs 16 vs 32 vs 64 vs 128. When *that* nonsense died the death it so richly deserved graphics became the new yardstick and when that envelop couldn't be realistically pushed any further the 'let's be like movies' insanity began.

And like the movie industry you have people who don't know what will sale making decisions. A classic movie legend is that 20th Century Fox being in financial trouble largely because _Cleopatra_ had become a seemingly never ending money pit was looking for projects to kill and some bean counter thought he found one in the form of a black and white war picture which they said no one would go and see.

The director used his influence with the studio head to make sure the film was made. It brought in five times its budget within a year and got five Academy Award nominations winning two of them. The name of the film that some clueless beancounter thought no one would see? _The Longest Day_ (1962)

The same type of clueless idiocy seems to be happening in the game industry with budgets reaching _Cleopatra_ level of insanity so that you are lucky if the game can make anything resembling a profit.

goliath6711:

Voulan:
Next thing you know, Squeenix will say that Tomb Raider failed sales expectations because it features a female protagonist.

Just wait and see.

Really?

Then why did the successes/failures of the 12 previous Tomb Raider games not seem to radically affect them over a 12-year period until Underworld? (13 games in a 14-year period if you count the downloadable Guardian of Light) Why is this game considered an underachiever already?

It couldn't be due to lack of advertising. I couldn't avoid any advertisements for this game, and I actively tried to. (compared to Sleeping Dogs where I don't remember if there even WAS a TV commercial made for it) That combined with every reviewer/gamer who played it elbow-checking each other to get to a computer fast enough to tell the entire world what a "shining beacon of light" this is in the "dank cellar of overpriced mediocrity" that is the video game industry that was supposed to bring in both new and existing Tomb Raider fans should have assured the game would meet that minimum 5-6 million first month sales quota easily. There's obviously something about the game that made them think that after sinking that much money into it that this is how much they needed to get back just to break even. And overinflated expectations or not, if this was one of their goals for the game and they failed significantly to reach it, then there must be some deeper things that are wrong with it that they need to address than just brushing it of as "it features a woman".

Although, interestingly enough, Mass Effect 3 (aka: The Bane Of Everyone Else's Existence) sold over $200 million (that's just under 3.5 million copies) in its first two months of release and the "soulless, money-sucking bastards" at EA considered that a pleasing success. This despite (or perhaps because of) the controversy surrounding it at the time. Maybe name recognition would have helped...oh wait. That's ANOTHER advantage this Tomb Raider game has. Go figure...

I was only joking. As a female and a massive fan of Tomb Raider, I'm well aware and continue to hope for its success. I was only snidely saying how some people are still under the impression that female protagonists don't sell well and should therefore be avoided at all costs, and that this will somehow be an example despite it actually being a success in sales and critical acclaim. Maybe I'm just not very good at making jokes.

While I think that Jim said a lot dead on in this week's movie, he may be missing one point - Hollywood Accounting.

Since I heard the 6M in sales first month target from Squeenix, I've been wondering if this is all a part of a strategy by publishers to mimic one of the most successful characteristics of the movie studios. The Empire Strikes Back was a commercial failure and never turned a profit...kinda like Tomb Raider and Deadspace 3. Hmmm....

It's simple: the industry has found that people vote for things with their wallets, and we've basically been hoodwinked by the flashy adverts and PR campaigns into buying games that are - like CoD - virtually the same game with a new coat of paint. Now that a percentage of that same consumer base is starting to not buy every game published under the sun, the industry doesn't know what to do. I wonder what will happen to the big three; Microsoft reportedly sells the 360 at a loss each fiscal year, and maybe Sony does too (don't quote me on that) - will we see a massive decline, or will they finally make moves towards actually thinking about their consumer base?

Hmmm....riddle me that.

Background music got so good since the change, though I preferred the older version of the Drill Queen song

I love the mellow harp background music. It contrasts very well with the subject matter.

Aggieknight:
The Empire Strikes Back was a commercial failure and never turned a profit...kinda like Tomb Raider and Deadspace 3. Hmmm....

Is there a different Empire Strikes Back that I'm not familiar with?

Lovely Mixture:

Aggieknight:
The Empire Strikes Back was a commercial failure and never turned a profit...kinda like Tomb Raider and Deadspace 3. Hmmm....

Is there a different Empire Strikes Back that I'm not familiar with?

He surely can't be talking about the fifth episode of Star Wars which was made for $18m and had a return of over $209m... $538m if international sales are considered.

Jabbawocky:

Lovely Mixture:

Aggieknight:
The Empire Strikes Back was a commercial failure and never turned a profit...kinda like Tomb Raider and Deadspace 3. Hmmm....

Is there a different Empire Strikes Back that I'm not familiar with?

He surely can't be talking about the fifth episode of Star Wars which was made for $18m and had a return of over $209m... $538m if international sales are considered.

I am actually. Keep in mind there is a significant difference between revenue (money coming in) and profit (money left over after all expenses are paid). What you provided was the cost to make the movie, only one portion of the total expenses.

I'd encourage you to look into Hollywood accounting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting

Officially, Empire has never turned a profit and therefore none of the actors have been paid residuals. David Prowse (who played Darth Vader) was pretty vocal about this in an interview in 2009.

My exact point is that maybe the game publishers are taking on their own version of hollywood accounting to line their pockets without every having to deal with the "trouble" of making a profit (i.e. pay developers and people their bonuses).

2 MILLION!? AND PEOPLE SAID HARD GAMES WERE DEAD!

That reminds me, I should think about getting the PS3 version of Dark Souls in the near future considering that my 360 has kicked the bucket and I won't be able to play the 360 version anymore.

PRAISE THE SUN Jim!

First off: Congratulations to Dark Souls for selling that many copies, wouldn't have thought a game like that could do as well. Funnily enough, I wouldn't have thought the Tomb Raider reboot or Hitman Absolution would touch the million unit mark for months. I mean, both are games in franchises that have been going downhill, slowly but steadily, so selling over 3 million copies should be a positive surprise, not a disappointment to any sane publisher.

But hey, since many publishers still believe DRM and other ways of treating your customers like shit is helping their business, I guess there is proper reason to doubt their sanity anyway.

So yeah: Spot on, Jim.

Fuck you Jim for saying it should have had an easy mode. If it had it wouldn't have pulled in the niche crowd it needed and it would have gone down the drain as a sub-par action title with a hardmode thats bullshit.

bunji:
Fuck you Jim for saying it should have had an easy mode. If it had it wouldn't have pulled in the niche crowd it needed and it would have gone down the drain as a sub-par action title with a hardmode thats bullshit.

Did you ever actually WATCH the video where he talks about it?
An easy mode would be OPTIONAL. If you're so "hardcore" then DON'T USE IT.
It's that freaking simple.
The niche would be "turned off" by something that's completely and utterly optional? What utter nonsense!
it's like saying that people that want to play as characters being douchebags would not buy Infamous or Mass Effect because of the "paragon" options, or visa-versa. It's your CHOICE to do so!

BrainBlow:

bunji:
Fuck you Jim for saying it should have had an easy mode. If it had it wouldn't have pulled in the niche crowd it needed and it would have gone down the drain as a sub-par action title with a hardmode thats bullshit.

Did you ever actually WATCH the video where he talks about it?
An easy mode would be OPTIONAL. If you're so "hardcore" then DON'T USE IT.
It's that freaking simple.
The niche would be "turned off" by something that's completely and utterly optional? What utter nonsense!
it's like saying that people that want to play as characters being douchebags would not buy Infamous or Mass Effect because of the "paragon" options, or visa-versa. It's your CHOICE to do so!

Thats the point. Many many many games have harder "hard" modes than dark souls only mode is. But people dont praise them for their excellently balanced gameplay. I applaud the team behind DarkSouls for basically going "No, we won't include a difficulty setting because we know how we want our game to be balanced". Theres a huge difference between how those games you listed and DarkSouls engaged players, Infamous and ME does it through player actualization, while dark souls does it through incredibly fine-tuned gameplay. Dark Souls isn't even that hard, if you scavenge around and look for secrets, something that would have been completely rendered moot by an easy mode where what weapon your using isn't as important.

bunji:

BrainBlow:

bunji:
Fuck you Jim for saying it should have had an easy mode. If it had it wouldn't have pulled in the niche crowd it needed and it would have gone down the drain as a sub-par action title with a hardmode thats bullshit.

Did you ever actually WATCH the video where he talks about it?
An easy mode would be OPTIONAL. If you're so "hardcore" then DON'T USE IT.
It's that freaking simple.
The niche would be "turned off" by something that's completely and utterly optional? What utter nonsense!
it's like saying that people that want to play as characters being douchebags would not buy Infamous or Mass Effect because of the "paragon" options, or visa-versa. It's your CHOICE to do so!

Thats the point. Many many many games have harder "hard" modes than dark souls only mode is. But people dont praise them for their excellently balanced gameplay. I applaud the team behind DarkSouls for basically going "No, we won't include a difficulty setting because we know how we want our game to be balanced". Theres a huge difference between how those games you listed and DarkSouls engaged players, Infamous and ME does it through player actualization, while dark souls does it through incredibly fine-tuned gameplay. Dark Souls isn't even that hard, if you scavenge around and look for secrets, something that would have been completely rendered moot by an easy mode where what weapon your using isn't as important.

And again, if it is rendered moot in the easy mode then it DOESN'T MATTER.
You don't HAVE TO play with that mode.
An easy mode can be something as simple as readjusting enemy HP and Damage. It doesn't mean jack shit for those who play the hard mode regardless.
Your delicious challenging game is still THE SAME delicious challenging game regardless.
What, you'll be physically compelled to play on an easy mode if it is available?
We're not talking about stuff like exploitable glitches that make a game easy when it should not be. We're talking about a completely optional mode that you never have to touch.
What, you're just bitter at the thought of someone being able to play the same game as you but not with the exact same difficulty?
That's so unbelievably juvenile.

BrainBlow:

That's so unbelievably juvenile.

What you don't seem to understand is that game design and balance is hollistic. Adding a game mode thats easier effects the whole game, because you have to design a game that works on all settings, not just on one and then dumb it down or up for the other settings.

I've been going through a good few old Jimquisitions lately and he frequently brings up the case of Dark Souls' 2m sales success vs 3+m sales flops like Dead Space, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6. It seems so startlingly obvious that the solution is to budget more effectively but realistically why aren't these companies doing that? Some of these are multi-billion dollar revenue companies. They must have marketers and people who studied commerce and accounting at university working for them; they're hardly run by a bunch of 15 year old kids. So why can't they figure out the very basic practice of turning a profit? There must be something else going on here that we don't know about. It's simply too much to believe that people would keep trying failed ideas over and over and expect them to suddenly work.

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