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D.I.C.E. 2013: Shifting to an "Enjoyment-Based Economy"

| 7 Feb 2013 00:30
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Schell Games CEO believes the iPad "scares the hell out of the console industry."

Jesse Schell is the CEO and Founder of Schell Games, Pennsylvania's largest game development studio. You may not have heard of Jesse Schell yet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take heed. Schell spent years with Disney, acting as Creative Director during such success stories as Toontown Online. He has since founded Schell Games, published a book on game design, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, and continued as a professor of entertainment technology and game design at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center. At D.I.C.E. 2010, he gave a highly lauded talk which has reportedly seen more than a million views.

He spoke this year on the new future of gaming, which, he believes, may lie somewhere other than traditional consoles and PCs. "iPad is poised, its sneaking into our homes, and it scares the hell out of the console industry," said Schell, regarding iPad as something that brings games, and even work, to places like bed, where they couldn't easily go before. Even if iPad gaming is the future, he doesn't think that microtransactions will survive in the long term, citing Disney World, where the original business model was based on microtransactions. Around 1980, Disney World moved to the pay-up-front model, which has driven up their sales and profits ever since. Videogames are moving in the opposite direction of theme parks, but he doesn't think that players really want that. Rather, Schell believes that players want to earn their keep by exploring the vast, open world of Skyrim, rather than simply buying the best weapon on Diablo III's real money auction house.

Additionally, he thinks that players follow a plan. "You're playing WoW when you see someone with awesome gear, it becomes a plan in your mind," he said, going on to reference game sales on Xbox 360, where the highest sales correlate to games with a trailer but no demo. Offering a demo allows a player to execute the plan created by the trailer without buying the game, where those games that offered only a trailer created that plan, then forced the player to buy the game to execute it. Once the plan is in your mind, it's hard to get away from it.

He focused a lot on the idea of presenting utopia to the player. "If you can show people the way to utopia. If you can convince them that you really know the way, they will follow you anywhere you want to lead them," he said in his conclusion. The idea that players, and humans in general, are constantly seeking some facsimile of utopia mirrors his earlier sentiment that "we are shifting into an enjoyment-based economy."

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