Faster Horses

Faster Horses

Why some games sell and others bomb is still a mystery -- and our hazy understanding of the market leads to poorer quality on your shelves.

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This was a very well done article and I will agree with your statement of how the masses percieve this current console generation. We are what two to three years in now? Yet people still have the same perception that yahtzee and many forum posters here talk about the consoles.

The wii is for kids and the elderly. The PS3 is for techies, while the 360 is meant for a "college" crowd and we here even perpetuate this sterotype along with all the "studies" made for the video game industry. The previous console generation did not have this problem. People loved and respected each console and while the PS2 did the best no one sterotyped any console despite their performance. There were games for everyone from the old timers, to the new kids on the block and offered a game genre of their choice and made everyone happy.

I seriously wonder what really happened this generation that is causing all this madness. Companies are being bought out or merged with others in order to keep up with the cost of production of games. Is their budget for publishing so high that they do not have a sound model that could expect low sales yet still make their business profitable? We are losing Eidos and Lara Croft again and now to Square-enix. Publishers are getting too big and are expecting games to do too well in todays console generation. They are going to self implode just like the housing industry, the expectation that they will constantly profit is a backwards way of business.

EDIT: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.88693
This link is to prove that even our forums propegate this horrible sterotype. "Wii owners are not real gamers" Haha.

Game companies need to take a step back and just trust that big budgets don't equal good reviews and large profits. Also, I think lowering the price tags would increase sales (and profits) in most cases. It's getting increasingly lucrative for independent developers primarily because of the ignorance of major publishers.

I'm still waiting for Boom Blox to drop below $30, Electronic Arts. I'm a very patient man. ;-)

Tenmar:

The wii is for kids and the elderly. The PS3 is for techies, while the 360 is meant for a "college" crowd and we here even perpetuate this sterotype along with all the "studies" made for the video game industry. The previous console generation did not have this problem. People loved and respected each console and while the PS2 did the best no one sterotyped any console despite their performance.

That's interesting - I always was under the impression that the PS2 was for joe-schmoe and frat boys while the Xbox was for core gamers. I think that stereotyping as far as consoles is not nearly as prevalent this time around. But it's just my opinion there.

ckeymel:

Tenmar:

The wii is for kids and the elderly. The PS3 is for techies, while the 360 is meant for a "college" crowd and we here even perpetuate this sterotype along with all the "studies" made for the video game industry. The previous console generation did not have this problem. People loved and respected each console and while the PS2 did the best no one sterotyped any console despite their performance.

That's interesting - I always was under the impression that the PS2 was for joe-schmoe and frat boys while the Xbox was for core gamers. I think that stereotyping as far as consoles is not nearly as prevalent this time around. But it's just my opinion there.

And that is where the sterotypes started that divided the gaming culture. Businesses now had this "information" and published their game consoles on specific game systems to cater to that sterotype. I never saw a divide on console with the exception on multiplayer. People who wanted 4 player multiplayer played on the Gamecube and Xbox. Even then that is a divide that was perpetuated that made video game consoles more like computers. Halo and the ability to "system link"(playstation did this first) was a boon for the Xbox. The major difference is that Xbox owners could system link over a network which was much easier than having the two consoles connected directly like the playstation 1 or 2.

That said, there are really great games that go against the sterotype on all consoles. Why would there be viva pinata on the 360 yet the wii has No More Heroes? The problem is that publishers, and developers are divided on where to release their games. EA didn't have a problem during the previous console generation. They just released the game on all three consoles and it was fine. Now they have to adjust towards the sterotype and that is why on the wii you see these strange EA avatars for their sports lineup.

By the way that is a very adorable avatar.

I've just discovered the escapist and after reading "Faster Horses" I immediately subscribed. What a breath of fresh air: intelligent exposition on an issue that affects the entire gaming community at its core. I look forward to checking in on the escapist regularly!

soxpants:
I've just discovered the escapist and after reading "Faster Horses" I immediately subscribed. What a breath of fresh air: intelligent exposition on an issue that affects the entire gaming community at its core. I look forward to checking in on the escapist regularly!

congrats, welcome to the community, its safer here. dont forget to check out posting guidlines.

also iwanted to say that assasins creed did better because dead space is horror and horror games always do worse than normal, they have a smaller focus group.

I think its because there are those hyped up games that everyone gets excited about so everyone rushes out to buy them.

Like Halo or Gears of war, other lesser known but great games get over looked and it really sucks because those over looked games can be great but don't get as much exposure as big budget games much like films.

If you have a vision you can implement it, just takes a bit of learning and often a lot of work. Well, unless your vision absolutely requires Hollywood-level production values, then you need to have a good business plan to get or at least repay that money. It'll help if you can make a mod instead of a full blown game with an engine from the ground up, of course. I've implemented tons of different concepts so far (mostly mods for Spring like Fibre, Kernel Panic, Light Side, Micro Modules* and THIS*). Making things for your own amusement is something you can do as a hobby.

The market is not unpredictable. As evidence I present Nintendo. They are making MASSIVE amounts of cash by predicting the market. They predicted that users wouldn't find better graphics very important anymore. They predicted that a new control scheme would increase the value to the customer more with less investment than a bigger CPU and GPU would. They increase the value to the customer (which is the ONLY value that matters!) with minimal investments by identifying underdeveloped areas of the product and investing there (I think that's the Blue Ocean Strategy thing) while reducing investment on areas that have overshot the customer (Disruption). It's working, they've gone to first place, sold umpteen million copies of their "five dollar games" (cheaper by dialling back unnecessary overshooting, bigger sellers by turning up the values that were underdeveloped) as some users here called them. However there is nothing magical about Nintendo that makes only them capable of pulling this off. They are only humans. They do have an advantage though which is control over both the hardware and software, no other company could decide "we're going to make the Wii" because the Wii required both hardware and software to be designed according to the new values, with either part missing the system would have failed. Now that the system is there anyone else can get a slice of the pie just by making the right software but it doesn't look like many are going to leave the massive circlejerk of modern reviewer-supported, internet-favourite hardcore gaming, in part because game developers themselves are hardcore gamers and thus out of touch with the customer. Supposedly Miyamoto doesn't play videogames much, maybe that's the reason he hasn't been absorbed into the closed society of hardcore gaming and instead pursues the desires of the everyman because he himself is like the customers Nintendo wants.

If you want the epitome of the hardcore mentality I present Killzone 2, a game that is more of the same in every respect (probably plays good as well) except the graphics which it pushes even further. The hardcore PS3 fans seem really excited about it but noone else even remembers the game for anything but the ridiculous arguments over its scoring. Graphics have overshot the customer, more improvements are "yeah, that's nice to have I guess", not "oh hell yeah, I must have that!".

Or maybe I should present the entire PS3. Sony put so many things into the system that increased the value on paper but the system is currently struggling to get out of last place because the value of the PS3 was the wrong kind of value, it's not value to the customer. When people cite the gigantic feature list of the system to justify its price they think it's a great value. Yeah except it's not to those who don't give a damn about BluRay, installing Linux on the system, future graphics potential, sixaxis motion controls, etc which turned out to be the majority.

We (us here talking, not mankind) don't know everything about the customer but the few things we do know (like graphics not being worth pushing anymore) are still being ignored so don't get your hopes up.

I kinda expect this article to end up on Malstrom's blog soon enough, he's been preaching about the hardcore-customer disconnect for a while now...

*= I need to get around to fixing them up some day, MM was broken by a new Spring version while THIS has a few major balance issues.

Nice

I agree fully with Ward's thesis. Developers need to stop trying to second-guess the market, and put out much, much more original IP before we see some real evolution of the industry. I had the idea in my head, but I just couldn't express it until now!

It was indeed a well thought out article but when indicating a marked loss in profits for any company in 2008 the bitter pill of the market crisis needs to be taken into account. This year's xmas haul was poor for many companies and like the article implies, this is game company bonanza time as well.

Not as many people have the disposable income they used to have meaning it's like as not they didn't buy their normal 3-4 full price new titles at xmas but possibly just one. And if you're only getting one game will you, the consumer, take a chance on they overhyped game you know everyone will be playing or the single player art peice critics tell you is a work of art?

I will admit I was duly impressed with EA for putting out some amazing titles in 2008 like Mirror's Edge and Left 4 Dead. It's just a crying shame many people chose Vegas 2 and GoW2 over innovation because of fear of the unknown. It's almost enough to draw another analogy to Hollywood and movie production.

Spleeni:
Nice

I agree fully with Ward's thesis. Developers need to stop trying to second-guess the market, and put out much, much more original IP before we see some real evolution of the industry. I had the idea in my head, but I just couldn't express it until now!

No. Just... No. What you're saying is that they should appeal to YOU. This whole whining about "new IPs" comes from the hardcore subset of the market. They are stagnating and losing precisely BECAUSE they overvalue the hardcore subset.

Wandrecanada:
It was indeed a well thought out article but when indicating a marked loss in profits for any company in 2008 the bitter pill of the market crisis needs to be taken into account. This year's xmas haul was poor for many companies and like the article implies, this is game company bonanza time as well.

Interesting, I always read how entertainment is supposedly recession-proof. In fact Nintendo is still growing despite claims that the "casuals" will be the first to jump ship in a recession. Malstrom's theory was that a recession (or at least this one) is really just hurting the disrupted industries. Videogaming is disrupted and the disruptor is the Wii. Besides, most of the money that got wasted by the big companies was lost before the recession struck.

KDR_11k:

Spleeni:
Nice

I agree fully with Ward's thesis. Developers need to stop trying to second-guess the market, and put out much, much more original IP before we see some real evolution of the industry. I had the idea in my head, but I just couldn't express it until now!

No. Just... No. What you're saying is that they should appeal to YOU. This whole whining about "new IPs" comes from the hardcore subset of the market. They are stagnating and losing precisely BECAUSE they overvalue the hardcore subset.

Huh? I didn't mention a word about my own tastes. I was serious for the first two lines, I agree with the article.

How did you get that much selfishness out of my post? I mean, I'm grateful that the Internet can harbor so much of my personality, but damn.

I'm still disappointed about the new Banjo's sales. It's a really great game, and a lot of the things that make it great is that it's different to other games (especially on the 360), but it gets over-looked BECAUSE it's different. That's sad news for gamers, and completely our fault. You can't blame company's for making the same game over and over when they're given no indication that something original might be more interesting.

The reasons for this are well explained here:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ViewersAreMorons

Replace "watch TV" by "play videogames" in the quote at the top.
I don't say most users ARE morons (only a majority), a lot of potential players are not open minded, they think a "video-game" is either a FPS , a RPG (if its online it's WoW), or some kind of Sim.

Spleeni:
Huh? I didn't mention a word about my own tastes. I was serious for the first two lines, I agree with the article.

How did you get that much selfishness out of my post? I mean, I'm grateful that the Internet can harbor so much of my personality, but damn.

I mean that the cries for new IPs come mostly from a small segment of the market that is already being catered to heavily and whose limited size is pretty much the reason games have trouble making money.

KDR_11k:

I mean that the cries for new IPs come mostly from a small segment of the market that is already being catered to heavily and whose limited size is pretty much the reason games have trouble making money.

Oh, alright, that makes sense how you got to that conclusion.

...
Though, I dispute it. I could never see new IP's be a bad thing. It's enough that we have a few bits and pieces of creativity from established giants? No, of course not! If a new idea is good, I think it should really only be expanded onto two sequels at most. Instead of having the long, drawn out milking that occurs nowadays. While these new IP's may just be the reason why large companies don't just grow ad nauseum; without a little bit of diversification the industry becomes stale and boring. When the radical part of the market is listened to instead of a developer's own common sense (which may not be a good idea...), it's not surprising that a large amount of people take offence to what one person thinks is fun.

In short: it hurts, but it's necessary. 'sides, all game franchises have to come from somewhere.

I think that gaming itself is still seen largely as a niche community despite the actual volume of people that I see gaming. In terms of college gaming it seems dependent on online competitive games that almost seem to point toward the superiority of the gamer, rather then the actual enjoyment of what could and has been an art in various instances. The very fact that gaming is limited to selected groups of people has them established with specific genres of games. This is totally different from the value that people have established with movies, which is odd. I think that maybe gaming is still to young to establish itself as an art form and that publishers simply will not sacrifice large sums of money because of its inherent instability rather staying with what has sold in the past. The future of gaming I still think can be financial completed through the mod community as well as the licensing of engines help ease the monetary burden that flat lines creativity.

This is one of the best gaming articles I've read in a long time. It actually has a valid point and a real conclusion. Thanks for the read, Christian!

Look, I can tell you in one word exactly why Assassin's Creed sold far, far more than Dead Space.

Price.

Dead Space is selling for around $33 on the PC (in US dollars). Assassin's Creed is selling on the PC for around $15 -- that's less than half the price. It doesn't take a genius to realize that in these "troubled economic times", when big companies like GM are about to go underwater, when unemployment in some CA counties is up to 25%, when the whole world seems to be in a recession, when 57,000 unsold cars stretch for acres at the Port of Baltimore, when stores like Mervins and Gottschalks have already filed for bankruptcy...

I could go on, but I don't think it takes a genius to realize that the price of a game might have something to do with whether or not it really sells (this year, at least).

I think one of the things that add to this that most people may not even think of a problem is that games take a good while longer to complete. Video games can easily take weeks to complete for people who do not play everyday or for more then an hour, which would be most people. I, myself, only really play video games on the week ends. This means I have a rather large back log of games I haven't started yet or started but never finished.

This becomes a deterrent for buying new games.

I'm not saying they should make games shorter or anything, but perhaps make fewer games and attempt to extend the life of games they already have by keeping them in print longer. *shrugs*

Of course, I'm the type of gamer that sort of feels robbed if the cost to play time by hours ratio is more than 2 (or more) to 1. If I pay $30 there better be at least 30 hours of game play.
That's flawed though. Since there are times were you can just be wandering around in a game aimlessly and feel like you're wasting your time. No likes Hollow game play or unnecessary game play extensions.

To make a long story short (Too late!), the game industry is unique. There are many factors that people do not realize that separate it from all the other forms of entertainment.

I hate how EA get credited with publishing l4d when, as far as i am concerned they didnt. I have a boxed copy, no sign of EA anywhere, none on the loading screen either.
What do EA have to do with l4d?

Great article by the way, for me games like Stalker shine out because of their different audiences and non generic gameplay.

 

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