The Padlocked Pocketbook

The Padlocked Pocketbook

The videogame industry has an increasingly significant problem, and as a consumer you may not be happy about what game publishers have to do to solve it. In business speak, publishers need to expand their revenue streams and explore new avenues for monetizing their properties. In short, they need to find new ways to get money out of your pockets.

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Gaming has problems on all alternative revanue fronts & not just, imo, because of resistence to the alternatives (at least not resistence without reason).

Demos: Charging for demos as they are now is a frankly obscene idea. Demos are not the game, theyre an interactive trailer for it. Movies do not charge you to watch their trailers, neither should games. Theyre a means to secure furture revanue on full release not a source of income in themselves. There is already a gaming equivilent to the threatre/DVD release model of movies, & its rent before you buy. More (especially PC games) publishers should embrace this & seek new avenues to pursue it rahter than flog us yet another Demo consisting of a Tutorial & an unfinished version of the first level.

Patches: Patches are rarely a means to add to the existing content of a game, but rather to improve on things they werent able to before release. It could be argued that patches are like the deleted scenes/bonus commentary etc on DVDs, but you rarely pay extra for those on DVDs, why should you for games?

Advertising: Games have one big glaring problem when it comes to advertising, their audience is small & what they are viewing isnt real. Consequently the only things that can really be "advertised" in games have to be large enough that they can be seen to be distinct as a product. In movies, when you see an actor wearing Oakleys or checking the time on a Swatch, you can see the product. In a game when you see a character doing these things you often only get a unremarkably graphical rendering of said object, idistinct & unmarketable. Also note: Gaming doesnt have Actors, only characters constrained to specific franchises; another problem when seeking sponsorship & advertising since attaching your product to say, Solid Snake, isnt going to have the same broad audience appeal as attaching it to Will Smith.

The Consequence of this is that advertising in gaming only really works when its up front & in your face. In some instances this works (racing games having sponsored stuff stuck all over the place doesnt seem out of place); sometimes it doesnt (soap adverts in BF2142. Contrary to popular belief alot of movies Dont present their advertised products in an overly offenive way. Sure a closeup shot of Bonds Moterolla phone is clearly done for the advertising, but its far less out of place & atmosphere breaking than (hypothetically), Mario whipping out Cillit Bang to clean the dirt in Sunshine, close up shot of the logo included. Till games which the graphical ability to accurately & realistically render real world objects as mundane as watches, phones & glasses etc, advertisers will not be lining up to flog their products.

Extra content/Episodic gaming etc: Its a good idea, in theory. In practise, however, the gaming industry has done nothing to sell the idea effectively to its audience. Half Lifes episodic content takes them almost as long to release as a full game. Bethsedas attemps at charging for small extras fell foul of the fact taht what they were releasing was really not worth paying for (see the whole Horse Armor affair) till they released it as the Knights of the Nine package (& even then its hard to justify).

Theresalso the merchendisable the extras like Special edition boxsets, but these appeal to a very niche audience & always will so long as all they consist of is a behind the scenes DVD (once youve seen one boring day at the development studio office youve seen them all); a cheap figurine; a music CD & maybe some concept art. Simularly, wearing a T-shirt saying "the cake is a lie" or a print pic of a Bid Daddy currently is akin to committing social suicide. Most "gamers" dont want to publicly identify themselves as "gamers" in such a way. So until a) the available merchendise is vastly improved & b) it becomes socially tolerable to own the things, this isnt a reliable extra avenue of income either.

So to summise, theres more stopping the games industry pursuing these alternative avenues of profit then just gamer resistence. Simply put, the Games industry does not have the audience, the maturity or the technological ability to milk their products the same way as the movie industry does. Till that changes, Publishers really just have to make do with the way it is.

If anyone thinks that EA will stop sequelling their franchises every year just because they can expect people to buy premium demoes or because they have ingame advertising, and start blazing new trails with unexpected and original concepts and content... then, well, good luck to you. But I'm not that optimistic.

At present, there's one other stream of revenue that IS accepted by the public, and wasn't mentioned. Expansion packs. They require less effort (and thus time and money) to create, and enhance existing products for what should be half the price (though some stores which may start in E and end in B seem to be missing that bit). I'd be very happy to pay Valve for their bonus maps and class unlocks (when they're all there, that is) as an expansion. If only other developers showed the same level of commitment to the titles they released...

I agree with the expansion pack modal as a way to increase revanue. It certainly works with the Sims. Say what you want about the evil business ethics behind it each expansion pack (the real expansion packs not the funpacks) do add something that really expands the enjoyability & longevity of that game. Bu I think expansion packs are already identified as an existing source of revanue for the industry whereas this piece seemed to be aimed at considering how the industry could expand into other sources of revanue from their games.

Expansion packs aren't a new revenue stream, they are a product unto themselves. The whole point of building revenue streams off a product is to do it off the original product. Think of expansions as the Direct To DVD sequel equivalent, certainly an attempt to build on a property, but still requiring resources, time and money to create. They have all the same costs as a regular game, including payroll, distribution and are hampered by limited audience. They draw on the limited resources of legacy game development, and must succeed in exactly the same way that a full scale release must. And before we get off on bashing EA too much, let's take note of the fact that they are one of the leading 3rd party publishers for producing new IPs (including Crysis, Army of Two, Skate and Rock Band in just the past year or so), far better than Activision which drags the bottom of the barrel at around 7%.

Cousin, I get where you are coming from, but I think your response falls exactly into that category of gamer hesitation. You say charging for demos is obscene, but I think EA's idea to release a free and premium demo of Spore's upcoming creature editor is a fantastic way to generate revenue. To characterize a demo as a trailer is again to completely underestimate the work and effort needed to create a good demo. Demos can take weeks or months worth of man-hours to produce, and can interrupt and extend development cycles if released prior to launch - which is why that's becoming less and less common. If we keep expecting demos to be entirely free then we're going to see a lot more companies go the Halo and Gears of War route, which is to not release them. That word "obscene" is exactly the kind of response I'm talking about.

It could be argued that patches are like the deleted scenes/bonus commentary etc on DVDs, but you rarely pay extra for those on DVDs, why should you for games?

But, that's exactly my point. You are paying for exactly those things, because you are paying for a DVD, which is a secondary revenue channel. The movie industry is able to include all these extras as a way to get you to buy the same movie you've already seen in the theater again, and to attract new customers that didn't pay for the movie at its original release. This is a great example of precisely how broader ways of making money help an industry, and exactly the kind of thing that gaming needs!

Overall, I still strongly contend that the problem is that gamers have clear ideas about what they think they are entitled to. They regularly underestimate the monetary value of the things they take for granted, and it's going to be an unpleasant transition for many as these entitlements and freebies are necessarily transformed into a money making stream.

Charging for demos and patches is foolish, if you want to sale new content sale exstended paks and mini expansion hell SALE CHEATS I need cheats in order to enjoy todays poorly deved games, re balancing the game to fun is always fun, I would enjoy to buy cheats and super item/stat packs as so i can remove the grind and fustation from a game.

Patches are fixes to rushed and poorly deved games,there is no sane logical reason game fixes should not be free. if you want to add extra stuff outside fixes then by all means charge for that...but if you are charging for fixing flaws and rushed mechanics (and demos)...you SUCK.

Of coarse XBL is charging for stuff that should be free so thats the mentality there and why I don't use XBL.

I agree that charging for patches is foolish, especially if they're bug-fixes. Ford doesn't charge for recalls, and neither should EA.

Product placement and in-game ads have their own risks; I actually got kicked out of suspension-of-disbelief in the Casino Royale film after noting that Sony was taking full advantage of their placement contract. It has to be done subtly or it can drive players away... which kills both revenue streams.

I do think that two-tiered demos (freebie for promotion, cheapie with more play as a revenue source) is an interesting concept but I do wonder how well it'll go over.

Of course there's always "merch" as a possible revenue stream (I'm still fighting down the temptation to get my infant niece a plushy Companion Cube) but that requires a fairly large audience... it'll only really work for the blockbuster titles because the attachment rate for merch is apallingly low. I really don't see N+ action figures coming out any time soon.

Then again, maybe "virtual merch" is a possibility for the little guys. Xbox Live gamerpic packs, for instance, act as one way to monitise existing art assets.

One of the reasons MMOs are proliferating is because of the added revenue stream from subscriptions.

Us gamers are going to have to face the fact that "next gen" games cost more to create because of the additional sophistication in software and art demanded by such titles. Either we're going to have to be willing to pony up more (via merch or subscriptions or higher sticker prices) or we're going to see studios play safe and stick with the Big Smash Hits and cheapo tie-in titles to keep paying the rent.

-- Steve

I agree alot more effort (in some instances) goes into making games Demos. But input is irrelavent, since its the quality of the output upon which you decide whether something is worth paying for. I have never played a demo that could justify charging money for the privillege of using it. They are a means to catch potential buyers attention, not a source of revanue in themselves (hense my comparing them to video trailers). As to EAs charging for a premium version of the creature editor, theres a key difference between their use of the editor as a demo & most game demos & its this:

IGN.com:
IGN: Can you do anything with your creature once it's created? Can you share it with friends or show it off in some way online?

Patrick Buechner: Yes, you'll be able to share creatures you've made or import other player's creatures that you've downloaded from the Sporepedia at www.spore.com.

IGN: If you make a creature will it be usable in Spore when it ships or will you need to have to rebuild it with the final creature creator?

Patrick Buechner: Your creatures will work in Spore when it ships. There won't be a need to re-make them.

(source: IGN.com)

I dont think Spores retail version of the character creation will sell well (depending on how its priced), but the point is the way its packaged it could be argued that its a game in itself. It will allow you to take advantage of the complete character creation tool, create & test creatures to your hearts content, & share your creations with the Spore community & allow those creations to be used in the full release game when it comes. This is not indicative of the Industry's approach to demo's as a whole, indeed its to EA/Maxis' credit that theyre trying something seemingly so unique with a major release title.

Case & point the FEAR demo. It gives you a short snippet of the full game experience. It had me hooked, it had me intrieged & it had me wanting the full version. But would I buy it? No, because it lasted all of 10minutes & was simply the first part of the first mission in the full game. It was an interactive trailer, showcasing the standout points of the game in a short bitesize chunk which got you hooked but gave you nothing except the urge to buy the full game when it was released. The FEAR demo is one of the few games demos that can even be considered worth playing, there is a long way to go before such things can be considered worth paying for. Indeed as long as demos follow this formula, they cannot expect to be paid for. (Though being cynical, argueably what EA are doing is releaseing a full demo you have to pay for, & then a demo of the demo which is free)

As to further forcing the comparision betweeen games & the movies/DVD model, the closest comparision there is is the rental then purchase system. There is no equivilent to the theatre for games, & there never will be. Game rental is the closest comparison because it gives you the oppertunity to experience the full product for a limited time & then use that to base a decision on whether to buy the full product or not when your able to. Perhaps games should do the same as movies in this respect, release a rental version of the game in advance of the actual release.

On reflection, my comparison of patches to bonus content on DVDs is a false analogy. Bonus content is exactly that, an addition to an already complete product; often at no percieved added cost (eg. you dont buy a DVD thinking your paying for the directors commentary youll probably never watch). Patches in their current form are not percieved (rightly) as adding bonus content to a complete product, but plugging up holes in a incomplete one. In this respect they arnt like bonus content, but would be more like if a film was released at the cinema with sometimes key scenes removed or actors getting their lines wrong & the complete version only being available on DVD; or if they released films on two discs & you had to pay for each individually. If the movie industry went down that road, im sure theyd get just as much resistence & hostility as the games industry is getting.

The only current Freebie I can see realistically & profitably being tapped for extra revanue is the modding scene. But as already has been shown if nurtured properly the modding scene of games can be used to produce money making titles in themselves (see Coutner-Strike, Portal & TF2). A blanket charge say for being able to make a mod at all will stifle the creative input of modders &, by extention, risk limiting both the longevity of a game & reducing a key pool of future developer talent & money making concepts.

This personally found this article was as biased, and badly researched, as any I have ever read on the Escapist, and it starts with a mistaken premise: that somehow a company can start charging for something it was giving away freely before. This doesn't work well in any industry, let alone in an industry where the product has several substitutes.

Effective ways to "get more money" from consumers are to either offer a different product or chase a different consumer. A largely ignored alternative is to change the cost structure of the manufacture of the product - but this is normally the province of smaller companies that are more free/flexible to try different business models.

I'll suggest something the article writer might like to follow up on: how having a game published online can extend the "selling" life of the product, reduce the need for timing big releases alongside each other, and radically change the cost structure (i.e. profitability) of the company. Without requiring their customer to reach deeper into their pockets.

Required reading: Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, has a much more pragmatic analysis on how to sell games. His interview is at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080320-pc-game-developer-has-radical-message-ignore-the-pirates.html

Anton P. Nym:
I agree that charging for patches is foolish, especially if they're bug-fixes. Ford doesn't charge for recalls, and neither should EA.

Product placement and in-game ads have their own risks; I actually got kicked out of suspension-of-disbelief in the Casino Royale film after noting that Sony was taking full advantage of their placement contract. It has to be done subtly or it can drive players away... which kills both revenue streams.

I do think that two-tiered demos (freebie for promotion, cheapie with more play as a revenue source) is an interesting concept but I do wonder how well it'll go over.

Of course there's always "merch" as a possible revenue stream (I'm still fighting down the temptation to get my infant niece a plushy Companion Cube) but that requires a fairly large audience... it'll only really work for the blockbuster titles because the attachment rate for merch is apallingly low. I really don't see N+ action figures coming out any time soon.

Then again, maybe "virtual merch" is a possibility for the little guys. Xbox Live gamerpic packs, for instance, act as one way to monitise existing art assets.

One of the reasons MMOs are proliferating is because of the added revenue stream from subscriptions.

Us gamers are going to have to face the fact that "next gen" games cost more to create because of the additional sophistication in software and art demanded by such titles. Either we're going to have to be willing to pony up more (via merch or subscriptions or higher sticker prices) or we're going to see studios play safe and stick with the Big Smash Hits and cheapo tie-in titles to keep paying the rent.

-- Steve

I am more than willing to pay the price if the quality is there,more often than not tho they want 2-3X the price of what poo they are offering.

Casuals will pay any price to get their media fix but they are chaotic on their habits, gamers demand alil more and at cost,I ahve joined the unwashed black sheeple of the consumer horde, I refuse to pay more than 30$ for mediocrity, I can live without frustrating and gridny poorly made games.. .

domicius:
This personally found this article was as biased, and badly researched, as any I have ever read on the Escapist, and it starts with a mistaken premise: that somehow a company can start charging for something it was giving away freely before. This doesn't work well in any industry, let alone in an industry where the product has several substitutes.

Effective ways to "get more money" from consumers are to either offer a different product or chase a different consumer. A largely ignored alternative is to change the cost structure of the manufacture of the product - but this is normally the province of smaller companies that are more free/flexible to try different business models.

I'll suggest something the article writer might like to follow up on: how having a game published online can extend the "selling" life of the product, reduce the need for timing big releases alongside each other, and radically change the cost structure (i.e. profitability) of the company. Without requiring their customer to reach deeper into their pockets.

Required reading: Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, has a much more pragmatic analysis on how to sell games. His interview is at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080320-pc-game-developer-has-radical-message-ignore-the-pirates.html

Demos:Free regardless unless you want to do a preorder thing(buy the demo get the game...oh wait... :P)

Fixes:shame on any pub/dev to charge for their mistakes, however it would be cool if you could donate to them to get patches and other things done.

Internet/network access:should be free, MS should raise the price of everything on XBL by 50 cents and drop the monthly altogather,offer a new subscription with more freebees for 13$ a month to off set making the gold plan the default plan.

Extra content:Charge away
Cheats:go beyond god mode and what not offer 4 or 8 status changes per mechanic jump,run,walk,crawl,rate of fire,frame rate booster for quick TB battles, the sky is the limit here and how better to provide working non system harming cheats than the dev/publisher, set out enough cheats as so you ca customize the game to your tastes.

Super content: similar to cheats they give you insane/fun abilities in a game.

game OST by track,voice tracks and other things really make most of the games componants available through DLC, a model viewer you can line up models as a screen saver and what not, game OST,art and scenery albums that can be rendered in some way, the sky is the limit here however the 360 can not handle these ideas its hardware is to antaqauited and land locked.

Hell make a screen saver with a few sexy models posing randomly from a few different games from one pub sell it for 9.99 do machine and cool monsters in the same way..maybe without the sexy posing but it can be done.

I have no problem with in-game ads as long as they are suitable for the game. I expect to see a billboard in a city enviroment advertising McDonald's. I don't want to see a huge Subway sign on the side of a castle in a fantasy game though. Or Bawls vending machines in every hallway of some abandoned space station overrun with aliens.

There is also nothing wrong with DLC persay. Charging 10 bucks for 3 new maps is not a big deal. Too bad other companies feel the need to charge for nothing. 200 points for the new Lost Odyssey content that offers nothing new in the way of gameplay is ridiculous.

It is the whole release date issue I just don't understand. We can have months of mediocore games come down the pipeline which we buy just to have a new game to play. Then all of a sudden a ton of A titles come out at the same time. Since not all of us gamers are rich this means we can only buy a few of all the great games at once. And the rest are bought used or at a discount later on taking the money from the ppl who developed the games. I think that it isn't the time of year that causes the high traffic but more related to the quality of games coming out at that time of year that causes the high traffic. I don't know to many that are happy with thier console collecting dust for half the year waiting for some killer apps.

They could try to boost the quality of the Tie-ins a bit more. If a game has a cool soundtrack with stuff beyond background music there is potential revenue there. The GTA soundtracks would be an interesting example. There's also the lack of real exploration in product placement. Why not have characters in 'GTA', 'No More Heroes', whatever wearing real world clothes? Stuff you can buy online? Or even better, start their own clothing franchises to sell what gamers see in the digital world.

This is a very very long post. You've been warned.

@squid5580,
Three things. First, I don't think it's the guys who make the content that decide how much to charge for it. Bungie have repeatedly stated that they didn't set the price for their bonus maps. So it may not be the fault of Mistwalker that their bonus content costs that much.

Second,

squid5580:
I have no problem with in-game ads as long as they are suitable for the game. I expect to see a billboard in a city enviroment advertising McDonald's. I don't want to see a huge Subway sign on the side of a castle in a fantasy game though. Or Bawls vending machines in every hallway of some abandoned space station overrun with aliens.

I agree with you completely. It has to be suitable for the game. Which is why it's used so rarely - it's honestly not very common to find a game set in the middle of some random english speaking city. My fortresses of doom, my galaxy-conquering space stations, these are places that are inappropriate, and all too common for in-game ads to be worth it. It's disappointing, kind of, because I do want in-game advertising to work. It makes sense for developers to solicit companies for ingame ads. It's just so very rarely appropriate, and often immersion-breaking. GTA would be appropriate, except that it's a parody world, so it's entirely not appropriate. Halo is set in 2550 or so, if I recall correctly, so it'd crush the setting to put contemporary companies into the game's setting.

Third,

squid5580:
I think that it isn't the time of year that causes the high traffic but more related to the quality of games coming out at that time of year that causes the high traffic.

It's the same thing. They would be releasing all the triple-A titles at that time of year because of the percieved increase in traffic, which is caused by all the triple-A titles, which is caused by the traffic, etc, etc. But I certainly agree that I'd be much happier if companies sprinkled their released throughout the year. Having it all bunched into the September-January months is... irritating, to say the least.

@L.B. Jeffries,

L.B. Jeffries:
They could try to boost the quality of the Tie-ins a bit more. If a game has a cool soundtrack with stuff beyond background music there is potential revenue there. The GTA soundtracks would be an interesting example.

I agree. Game music happens to be some of the most emotive, I find. Title dependant, of course, but nothing gets me going like music from games I really enjoyed. I mean, I've got literally gigabytes of music from games sitting on my hard drive. Noone actually stocks it, locally, except for Gametraders, where I picked up the Halo OST.

That said, when you proposed that they start their own fashion labels... that's a little extreme, I think. As was said elsewhere, gamers don't usually want to be identified as gamers in public. It's not socially acceptable to walk around with a shirt that's got a gaming connotation on it. Not if you want people to take you seriously anyway. I honestly do see people at the local EB with "I pwn noobs" written on their shirt... and my opinion of them is pretty instantly formed.

Other forms of merchandise, like miniatures, etc, are all either extremely niche or extremely kiddy. Because if they're like miniatures (detailed and expensive, like books, models, etc), then they're for the hardcore fans, and if they're toys, they're kiddy. And why would a kid want a Mario action figure when he can just go play Smash Bros? There's a place for both of those forms of merchandise, but they're not massive revenue raisers, I think.

@Sean,

Sean Sands:
You say charging for demos is obscene, but I think EA's idea to release a free and premium demo of Spore's upcoming creature editor is a fantastic way to generate revenue.

I agree with you. Charging for a premium demo, as well as releasing a normal one, is a good idea. What EA are not doing is charging for a demo, fullstop.

Sean Sands:
Overall, I still strongly contend that the problem is that gamers have clear ideas about what they think they are entitled to. They regularly underestimate the monetary value of the things they take for granted, and it's going to be an unpleasant transition for many as these entitlements and freebies are necessarily transformed into a money making stream.

Since we're all so fond of parallelling the film industry, parallel this, then. When was the last time that the movie industry, as a whole, started charging consumers for something previously given as free?

Extra content seems to me to be a way for developers to earn money from the community. While this is fine (I do expect developers to want to make money by building games) some of the methods of getting people to pay for the DLC are a bit fishy.

One of the FIFA games had a soccer team that could be purchased for 800 Microsoft points from the Xbox Live Marketplace for Multiplayer games. This team had an advantage other over Multiplayer teams because it had better player stats. The people who bought these teams had an advantage over those who did not so this influenced players to spend the money to get the team. An interesting fact though is that the file size was only a few hundred kilobytes. The team was saved on the disk; the DLC was a key to unlock the team. Gamers where paying for the advantage that could have been given to them in the first place, free of charge. This was a very underhanded technique by EA to collect money from DLC.

This was almost repeated with Battlefield: Bad Company but was stoped due to the Sarcastic Gamer Boycott.

Gamers must learn what should be paid for and what not should be paid for. A stern law must be passed down to developers telling them sternly how they can make money otherwise we will find our pockets being taken for every penny we have.

The idea of charging for a demo is a good idea in my opinion as long as the demo is worth the price. The people who are looking forward to spore are able to pay for a demo to show off what they want. If the price is not to high and the content is in large amounts then it looks like good deal. While the people who don't care for the game as much as people in the latter category but still are interested in Spore can still get a shallower demo free of charge. When the amount of content you receive reflects the amount of interest you are showing to a game then people will receive what they want. I'm sure many people have played demo's and thought to themselves "From this demo I think I really like this game, I wish I could do the second mission, I might even be willing to pay for it". This adds revenue to the Developers and leaves gamers with a satisfying glimpse at their game of choice.

We might find three or four version of demo's in the future each with more content and with differing price tags. However developers walk a fine line between not giving away too much of the game and making sure that the amount of content in the demo is adequate.

Charging for a demo without releasing a free one however will lead the payment for everything. This will not help gamming in anyway apart from amking a few companies rich for a few months.

I beleive in another thread I stated that in-game ads are perfect if they fit the scenario, pathetic if they do not.

@ Fenixius

No no, not a t-shirt with gamer crap on it, like real clothes. As in, buying the jacket you saw someone wearing in a game and not having anything gamer about it except that it's a cool jacket. Same goes for dresses, etc.

problem with that is you dont see real cloths in games, you see a digital representation of them. It doesnt have the same appeal to a consumer & it doesnt have the same appeal to someone seeking to advertise their merchenise

Cousin_IT:
problem with that is you dont see real cloths in games, you see a digital representation of them. It doesnt have the same appeal to a consumer & it doesnt have the same appeal to someone seeking to advertise their merchenise

You're basing this on....?

L.B. Jeffries:
@ Fenixius

No no, not a t-shirt with gamer crap on it, like real clothes. As in, buying the jacket you saw someone wearing in a game and not having anything gamer about it except that it's a cool jacket. Same goes for dresses, etc.

I would so buy a Tommy Vercetti hawaian t-shirt!

This infact is a rather cool idea, game companies could work together with professional fashing designers (not high fashion naturally) and release the new GTA or Final Fantasy (well, it would sell in Japan) brand alongside a new game.

Cousin_IT:
problem with that is you dont see real cloths in games, you see a digital representation of them. It doesnt have the same appeal to a consumer & it doesnt have the same appeal to someone seeking to advertise their merchenise

Yet. As photo-realism improves, I could see this as a growing market. Still niche, but growing. Consider also that some stores are looking at ways to digitize their clothing, and then digitize the consumer, and let the consumer shop all day. Once you've got the product digitized in one setting, it won't be that hard to bring it over. Do I actually think this is ever going to happen? No. But, I'm not ready to write it off as completely as you.

sammyfreak:

L.B. Jeffries:
@ Fenixius

No no, not a t-shirt with gamer crap on it, like real clothes. As in, buying the jacket you saw someone wearing in a game and not having anything gamer about it except that it's a cool jacket. Same goes for dresses, etc.

I would so buy a Tommy Vercetti hawaian t-shirt!

This infact is a rather cool idea, game companies could work together with professional fashing designers (not high fashion naturally) and release the new GTA or Final Fantasy (well, it would sell in Japan) brand alongside a new game.

The idea came to me a few years ago when I wanted a red leather jacket with a pill capsule on the back. Every time I'd google it, there'd be jackets with 'Akira' or some goofy picture of Tetsuo on it. That wasn't what I wanted, I didn't want to reference the anime. I wanted it because it was a badass jacket.

I'd take Travis Touchdown's jacket and a lot of the t-shirts in the game if they sold them.

L.B. Jeffries:

The idea came to me a few years ago when I wanted a red leather jacket with a pill capsule on the back. Every time I'd google it, there'd be jackets with 'Akira' or some goofy picture of Tetsuo on it. That wasn't what I wanted, I didn't want to reference the anime. I wanted it because it was a badass jacket.

I'd take Travis Touchdown's jacket and a lot of the t-shirts in the game if they sold them.

One problem with this is that currently only a few niche games have cool clothing that someone would consider wearing. But if the game is created with the clothing in mind it could work. Square Enix just released a RPG to the DS that contains alot of fashion stuff. If it was released on the PS3 and became a succes then clothing from it could sell for qutie alot.

Unfortunately most games dont have alot of people with normal clothing. Army of Two skullmasks? To snowboarders maybe. Mass Effect tights? No way. Gears of War bandanas? Actualy, people who liked the game might like them.

But ultimately it would only bring major profit to larger games.

That said i would give my soul for a Razputin helmet or Guybrush Threepwood sword (with inscription).

sammyfreak:

One problem with this is that currently only a few niche games have cool clothing that someone would consider wearing. But if the game is created with the clothing in mind it could work. Square Enix just released a RPG to the DS that contains alot of fashion stuff. If it was released on the PS3 and became a succes then clothing from it could sell for qutie alot.

Unfortunately most games dont have alot of people with normal clothing. Army of Two skullmasks? To snowboarders maybe. Mass Effect tights? No way. Gears of War bandanas? Actualy, people who liked the game might like them.

But ultimately it would only bring major profit to larger games.

That said i would give my soul for a Razputin helmet or Guybrush Threepwood sword (with inscription).

Lets not forget the poor cosplayers whose homemade outfits will no longer be able to compete with the mass-produced clothes. And those Final Fantasy costumes might be a bit tricky considering how much random crap is all over them.

Still, most major game companies hire fashion designers to design the outfits for games in the first place, it seems like all they'd have to do is say "Design something that obeys the laws of gravity and also looks cool" and there'd be potential.

Geoffrey42:

Cousin_IT:
problem with that is you dont see real cloths in games, you see a digital representation of them. It doesnt have the same appeal to a consumer & it doesnt have the same appeal to someone seeking to advertise their merchenise

Yet. As photo-realism improves, I could see this as a growing market. Still niche, but growing. Consider also that some stores are looking at ways to digitize their clothing, and then digitize the consumer, and let the consumer shop all day. Once you've got the product digitized in one setting, it won't be that hard to bring it over. Do I actually think this is ever going to happen? No. But, I'm not ready to write it off as completely as you.

Thats the whole problem, its not real. As photoshopped/digitally enhanced as what we see on TV/movies is today, it can still be passed off as real & used to make people buy into it. Companies will pay to have their products used in order for them to be able to reap the benefits of being connected with the film. Thats why when, for example, a film like Memoirs of a Geisha came out, Max Factor ran a pretty heavy ad campaign tying their Masterpiece Mascara to the film & that by extention; if you buy their product you too can look as beautiful as Sayuri.

Simularly, games do not have the franchise appeal to advertsiers that movies have. When Bond uses an Audi car or Moterola phone; advertisers can (& do) say "be like Bond, buy our product." Games do not have that kind of appeal, indeed they often rely on this very same marketing principle to sell themselves ("watch the movie, now play the game").

Advertisers get alot for their money when it comes to placing their products in movies. They get the movie. They get to advertise that their product was in the movie. They get to attach their product to famous (& often fashion followed/trend settting) actors who are visibly seen sporting their product. You do not have this with games. All Advertisers get for their investment is a digital recreation of their product that often is hard to distinguish without looking very out of place. The only time advertisment is generally used is when it fits in to the atmosphere of the game. Seeing Pepsi placards in a FIFA game is fine. Logos on the side of racecars makes sense. But more often than not these are there because the publishers paid for them, so they could increase the realism of their game (eg. Racing Games generally have to pay to use cars names in their games, not the other way round).

Advertisment therefore is not an option for generating significant alternate sources of revanue for a long time yet. Maybe it will when games have a much broader mass appeal & social acceptence, but that is a long way off yet.

As for games using their own materiel to sell as advertising; if it wasnt such a niche appeal it would be a potential source of extra revanue. As it is, very few games have a unique & marketable collection of potential products. Cloths generally are made to look generic, like cheap designer imitations (since they cant afford to pay for the license to use real products). Die hard fans are willing to buy, for example, replica weapons or a clothing pattern designs. But where is the fiancial incentive to go through the rigmarole of pattenting, designing, & organising the production of something that will likely only sell in the low thousands & generate a very minimal profit at best?

Now, like you say L.B.J some games contain marketable products which might be relatively popular. However, the chances of a publisher/developer being able to negotiate a good deal with a third party producer (which is what most movie publishing houses use to produce tie-in merchendise) are slim because, as Ive said, the percieved market appeal of said products are very niche. The costs involved for a company to do it themselves mean that unless they find a philosophers stone, they will lose money trying to do it.

Consequently advertising & developing their own line of product is, currently, not an option the industry as a whole can move into to create a significant alternative avenue for profit. Maybe that will change, but change in regards to this article is irrelavent since its concerned with what the industry can exploit now, not in 10+ years.

I have a real problem with the idea of charging for demos. A demo isn't a product, it's an advertisement, like a TV commercial for McDonalds. It's made to promote the upcoming game. Charging for it separately, rather than considering it part of the overhead, would be like being charged by a local dry cleaner to see their billboard. Ideally, a demo will add to the revenue stream, but by persuading people to buy the game, not by being sold itself. I'm kinda neutral on the Spore demo, at least it has some functionality beyond just being a demo. I'm still not going to buy it.

The idea of charging for patches, though, is absolutely obscene. Patches are most often produced to fix bugs and errors. Any company that starts to charge me to fix their screw ups will soon be looking for a new customer, because I won't be buying from them any longer. It the seller made a mistake in the game, they are ethically obligated to fix it, period.

I think there are too many parallels being drawn between games and movies, and I'm not sure the comparison is appropriate. These are two different industries, and they are going to need two different business and revenue models. Trying to make the gaming industry act like the movies is a mistake, IMO.

@Royas
Patches - You're absolutely right. Downloadable content, however, even if presented in patch form, is another story.

Parallels with Movie Industry - You're right, it's not a great parallel. But it's about the closest one we can find, don't you think? And if there's nothing to parallel... then we're actually going to have to be inventive. And noone wants that :\

Long story short: this must be why for every Psychonauts released there exists a gross of Gun Battle Slapfight's because publishers don't want to take chances. Here's a little tidbit from the Double Fine site about why Psychonauts was never released for the Gamecube that originally tipped me off to this phenomena:

Double Fine:
Double Fine would love to make something for Nintendo's fine machine, but it's not up to us. It's the publisher's money, so they get to decide what platform to invest in. In other words, IT'S NOT OUR FAULT!

Another thought regarding videogame clothing. Maybe the best solution for that isent that gaming companies individualy produce the cloths. Lets say a company called "Gamecloths" is founded. They make deals with companies who want their digital cloths sold as real stuff. Gamecloths gets to sell "Official Tommy Vercetti hawaian shirt" and Rockstar gets X amount of the profit.

Gamecloths could even have some inhouse designers who help companies make cloths that both fit the game and can be sold.

sammyfreak:
Another thought regarding videogame clothing. Maybe the best solution for that isent that gaming companies individualy produce the cloths. Lets say a company called "Gamecloths" is founded. They make deals with companies who want their digital cloths sold as real stuff. Gamecloths gets to sell "Official Tommy Vercetti hawaian shirt" and Rockstar gets X amount of the profit.

Gamecloths could even have some inhouse designers who help companies make cloths that both fit the game and can be sold.

Hell, I wasn't excited about my desk job anyways. Step 1. I'll handle the legal issues, you win the lottery. Step 2.... Step 3. PROFIT!

I think pure digital distribution will ameliorate a lot of cost issues. By having an extended shelf life, publishers will be able to keep the price at a better saleable constant for a constant period, as opposed to the nutty curve pricing that they run now.

They'll also be better able to stagger release dates, frex, releasing games in March and May, then either releasing a fully patched retail edition, if there's enough demand, or an expansion pack, or simply just make an advertising push when Winter Retail Holiday comes around.

Gameclothes... is an interesting idea. I know I want Dante's coat. But, again, it's sort of niche. It's not going to make enough money to keep the publishers off the developers' backs.

Sean Sands:
Overall, I still strongly contend that the problem is that gamers have clear ideas about what they think they are entitled to. They regularly underestimate the monetary value of the things they take for granted, and it's going to be an unpleasant transition for many as these entitlements and freebies are necessarily transformed into a money making stream.

The search for revenue streams will likely happen exactly as you suggest, but I'm not sure gamers will be all that upset once it becomes reality.

The reason is simple: consumers have choices. Is a demo not worth $30, $20 or even $10? Economic theory tells us we can answer this question by trying to sell demos at those prices. Some gamers will buy, others won't. And some of those who don't will subsequently not bother with the full game either due to not having had a chance to try it out. Time and experimentation will sort out the solutions that generate the most revenue...

...and my guess is that gaming is going to get cheaper for most gamers, not more expensive, for the average player. Historically games have been written for the hardcore and subsidised by the rest of the market. But already that's beginning to change. The average time-to-complete for games with a concept of completion has been dropping for years. This obviously saves money, but the reason developers get away with it is because most players don't care. Indeed, some more casual players probably actively prefer shorter games.

More of this approach is what I expect to see in future. Games which provide somewhere around 10 hours of amazing gameplay for $40, then opportunities to buy substantially more content for players who want to. A kind of price targetting - those who don't mind parting with more money will be encouraged to do so, but without locking other players out from the core game experience.

Personally I thought this article was refreshing to see. And a nice balance to the one-sided articles on in-game advertising.

"Unpopular though the concept may be, we need to be a little less hysterical in our reactions to the ways that companies try to make legitimate money."

This is a great summary to this. Many are hysterical to this. I am involved somewhat in-game advertising as a dev and publisher and it is a useful revenue stream.

Cousin_IT:
Now, like you say L.B.J some games contain marketable products which might be relatively popular. However, the chances of a publisher/developer being able to negotiate a good deal with a third party producer (which is what most movie publishing houses use to produce tie-in merchendise) are slim because, as Ive said, the percieved market appeal of said products are very niche. The costs involved for a company to do it themselves mean that unless they find a philosophers stone, they will lose money trying to do it.

Consequently advertising & developing their own line of product is, currently, not an option the industry as a whole can move into to create a significant alternative avenue for profit. Maybe that will change, but change in regards to this article is irrelavent since its concerned with what the industry can exploit now, not in 10+ years.

I think you misunderstand how the in-game advertising market works. There are in-game ad networks IGA, Massive and Double Fusion who make up probably a cartel for people wanting to advertise in game. In general you have to go through these companies. They do deal with the advertising agencies of the brands and with teh publishers/dev houses. Often you get them advertised in many games at once with 'dynamic' advertising (content which is updateable via the Net that can change on the media in the game; billboards, vending machines, etc)

So from what you say about the film industry they have similiar models about getting advertising into the products.

Additional revenue streams are going to be a fact about the future of games. Micropayments, downloadable content, In-game ads, etc. Really you should be asking yourselves which one do I find most appealing not to hate them all.

Personally I don't like the paying for demos but other have no/little problem with if do right. THat most are BTW. We all here the horror stories about unsuitable in-game ads but most of these are myths or fears not the reality. I will call out to anyone again that has realworld examples of bad advertising/product placement in games to come forward. There are so few (any?!) out there. That is the reality of the hysteria about this and I suppose what the article is getting at.

JohnBaker:

I think you misunderstand how the in-game advertising market works. There are in-game ad networks IGA, Massive and Double Fusion who make up probably a cartel for people wanting to advertise in game. In general you have to go through these companies. They do deal with the advertising agencies of the brands and with teh publishers/dev houses. Often you get them advertised in many games at once with 'dynamic' advertising (content which is updateable via the Net that can change on the media in the game; billboards, vending machines, etc)

So from what you say about the film industry they have similiar models about getting advertising into the products.

Additional revenue streams are going to be a fact about the future of games. Micropayments, downloadable content, In-game ads, etc. Really you should be asking yourselves which one do I find most appealing not to hate them all.

Personally I don't like the paying for demos but other have no/little problem with if do right. THat most are BTW. We all here the horror stories about unsuitable in-game ads but most of these are myths or fears not the reality. I will call out to anyone again that has realworld examples of bad advertising/product placement in games to come forward. There are so few (any?!) out there. That is the reality of the hysteria about this and I suppose what the article is getting at.

Ill readily admit that my knowledge on the subjects of these alternate revanues is at best minimal. However,I still stand by & yet to be convinced otherwise the belief that as yet none of the alternate revanues potentials have proved themselves as genuine & profitable enough alternatives to warrent serious consideration at this time. As I said earlier, I dont see ingame advertising being a real moneymaker because those seeking to advertise their goods have so little to get out of it compared to other mediums. The audience is far smaller, the potential publicity is smaller, & the scope of using products in an identifyable way is smaller.

Currently, as you point out, dynamic advertising using things like billboards is method that is used. Anarchy Online, for example, is one game ive played that has rl advertisements inside the game. However, almost exclusively when I saw them the adverts being shown were for Ringtone companies & noname rappers. Now thankfully these billboards were small enough that they were quite ignorable, but thats exactly the problem; unless its in your face you can ignore it, removing its appeal to someone seeking to advertise their product. But if its all up in your face, the consumer is going to be put off by it &, by extention, the game that it happens in.

There are other ways of using advertisement of course. I know theres at least one MMO that does/will use advertisements in the UI as a way of generating income from those who play the free version of the game. But there again is a difference, its giving you an option: Play for free & have the adverts, or pay the monthly fee & get rid of it. That is not the same as buying a full retail price product then having to deal with the adverts as an extra, rather than alternate, layer.

Now, if, like with alot of DVDs, there were adverts at the beginning of loading a game, before you get into playing it (ie the bit between opening the game & it loading the main menu, whatever its called), then I could be quite happy with it; so long as it isnt Crazy Frog being flogged to me every single time (as has happened to advertising on TV music videochannels :-( ). However, this never seems to be the way advertising is discussed. Its all about being ingame; integrated into the game; synergising advertising with the player experience in an almost subliminal way. As far as im concerned this will never work as a real profitable alternate source of revanue, because the market isnt there for it to make it work that way.

I have no problem with the idea of the industry using alternate sources of revanue. My problem, is that currently the industry doesnt appear to provide anything to justify adding these costs on the consumer. Episodic gaming? Fine, except as Half-Life 2 shows currently the episodes take far to long for the rest of the industry to consider it as a real alternative. Micropayments? If games had the longevity for it then yes. However most games do not, & id imagine for most games the publisher & developer will get more for their product from onee solid payment then breaking it up overtime (correct me if ive misunderstood what you mean by micropayments). Downloadable content again, good in theory. But again, alot of companies fail to provide said content in an attractive mannor that they wouldnt be better off simply selling at retail (see the Oblivion example). Paying for demos would require more than the customary tutorial + first level approach most developers/publishers take when making them. Theres still away to go before Demos can be for the games industry what CD singles are for the music industry both in terms of content & the appeal to consumers(also note that in most cases singles dont make much profit, certainly not for the artist).

As for Dom's point on games getting cheaper; I doubt it. The only reason games will be sold for less is if its more profitable to do so than continue charging the current price. The cost of music CDs is driven down by the retailers not the record labels. Itunes & Tesco/Wal-mart are why you can now buy a new CD for under 10, not EMI, Altantic etc. the cost of new release DVDs has even gone up over the past 10years by about 5 (going by memory on that one I must admit). So games will not get cheaper just because publishers/developers find more ways to make money from them.

Now im all for digital distribution of older games that have passed their shelf-life. I wish I could download games like Pizza Connection 2, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Syndicate etc through sites like Metaboli. But currently, digital distribution is a mess. There is no Itunes, there are a myriad of legitimate download & illegal torrent sites all with a different catalogue of games. Added to this Metaboli's insistence that you have to have a working internet connection to play the games you download puts a real restraint on the freedom you have to use the game in a way downloading music or films (legitimately) doesnt. I use the metaboli example because its the only digital distribution model I have real experience with. Simularly, alot of older games are done by developers & publishers that have sinced been lost to history. Sadly, unlike most movies & music, when they go their games seem to go with them, making future production & distribution seem impossible to happen.

But theres another problem, the technological constraints on a games longevity. You can buy a Music CD made in the 80's will work on a modern CDplayer as well as an old one, same with a DVDplayer because the core technology of the player hasnt changed. By contrast a game made for Windows XP may have real problems trying to run on Vista, & games made for Xbox or PS1 will not work on their next gen decendents (not that they cant). Given the relatively short life of a console or PC operating system (about 5 years average id say), the constant technological drive that pushes gaming technology forward also means that once made games get left behind very fast. A movie made in the 1930s is still something you pay for today if its been recorded onto DVD. By contrast, a game made in the 1980s is a free-ware game today. Games like Asteroid, Elite, Doom etc will not sell in the same way classic movies do. Indeed the availability of free online clones of such games mean theyd probably not sell at all.

 

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