Letters to the Editor

The Gamemasters


To the editor: I thought your article “Death to the Games Industry” (Issue 8) summarized well what has long been discussed around the industry. Basically, stuff is getting more expensive in the wrong ways. There are many, even the venerable Will Wright himself, who have noted this and are actively pursuing solutions (his being Spore, a procedurally-generated environment with much more programming than asset requirements).

However, while you mentioned the almost-$1bln collected each month for U.S.-based MMORPGs, I feel you missed an opportunity to highlight this as an emerging trend.

Having players pay for a game once is what has turned this into a hit-driven industry. However, online gaming (not just massive online) enables companies to ship less initially and built the game as players pay for it. Even Guild Wars, which lacks the fee, still plans their finances around the eventual cyclic release of new content. Further, services like Steam and GameSpy are being used to release new content to extend the life of what were traditionally one-time purchased that got supported through player-created mods.

Finally, most MMORPGs don’t quickly die off after their initial launch. In fact, to date, only City of Heroes seems to have succumbed to the early hit/steady falloff reality that affects most movies nowadays. Meanwhile, most games either grow, or plateau into a long series of periodic subscription spikes when new expansions or major content is released, all along collecting their fees.

Some publishers are convinced that front-loading is the only way to go. I feel this is because it’s the easiest way to sell a game. Build it, sell it, move on to building the next one. Conversely, building a game, selling it, and then supporting it with periodically-released new content is just too complex for some traditionalists to want to become a part of. I can understand that of course. Basically, an MMORPG stops becoming a game the moment it launches, turning into a Service that requires the same level of commitment to maintenance any sort of subscription service account would.

Some just don’t want to bite that much of a bullet.


To the editor: My bro sent me a link to your site. I read the gaming industry article and the Scratchware Manifesto for the first time. I’d say I’m sheltered to news in the sense that unless someone tells me, I’d never know. So this was fortunate.

While reading the SWM I polished up my old feelings about the subject. A few years back I noticed all the things wrong with games (and still wrong today). It’s the same crap over and over, nothing innovative. And where an improvement is blatantly obvious or explicitly asked for by the gaming community, it’s always being saved for the next release, or there is just not enough time before the deadline.

The SWM did clear one thing for sure, who is responsible. I used to think it was the game developers who are holding things back. As if they are afraid releasing a game with new innovative concepts would be the end. But I know now it’s the Publishers who force this incremental linear regime. And it makes sense, that’s how a Corporate Machine lives.

Quicksilver doesn’t mention Master of Orion 2 at all on their site. It’s like they just want people to forget about it. Did MoO3 suck so bad that QS had to wipe all traces of the predecessor, just to make it seem less pathetic? Quicksilver doesn’t respect the MoO2, I can’t respect Quicksilver. What a shameful way to continue Microprose’s legacy.

How did things get so out of hand? Why did Developers give up the keys?

Thank you for existing so that I may be less ignorant

-Ivan Dossev

To the editor: Regarding “Death to the Game Industry,” I really like the writer’s take on the industry. It’s very true what he is saying but just like all other magazines it seems that he has forgotten to mention Nintendo. Oh sure, he mentions them but only to say that the “Revolution could go the way of the Dreamcast.”

All of the stuff that he complains about, Nintendo has basically been addressing. New genres. New ways to play games. Independent developer help. Cheap development costs.

Sure, Nintendo has it’s fair share of “brands” but they still manage to make each installment of a franchise new and exciting.

We all hate the games industry for ruining games but when someone finally does something about it (Nintendo) we don’t talk about it. I have no idea why either.


-Nathan Smart

To the editor: Allen’s “Casual Fortunes” article was an interesting and accurate overview of the indie development scene. It’s a relief to find some good writing, and I’ll definitely be checking back for more.

-Erik Hermansen

To the editor: I know two examples do not make a trend, but I noticed in your last issue, Greg bashes Doom 3 to exemplify what’s wrong with the industry, while Joe bashes WoW to emphasize his ideas about piracy. We don’t have established criteria for debating the quality of games, and subjectivity plays a big part in any game discussion, but still… I found those examples oddly misplaced:

– id Software and Blizzard are the kind of studios that Greg’s ideal industry would support: free from the kind of scheduling, economic and creative restrictions which publishers impose.

Doom 3 is arguably one of the most surprising departures that a popular game license has ever seen: focused on single-player when the original pretty much invented modern multiplayer, heavy on story elements when the original had the story written on the Readme.txt file.

WoW may well be the least pirated commercial game ever made, considering its sales numbers – simply because its model is not open to piracy for any but the most hardcore hacker communities.
Stating personal tastes is fine, but calling Doom 3 and WoW “bad games” is way out of line, in my opinion. Stirring controversy that way is a common way to increase hits, but it’s also the quickest route to stop being taken seriously.

-Javier Arevalo

To the editor: Can you please change the layout for your web site? It makes reading the content very difficult. I understand that it looks nice and pretty like an actual magazine does, but having columns on a web site is a terrible idea.

Or at least, could you offer a lightweight version that displays like normal web pages do?

The PDF version isn’t any better, because I don’t have a printer.

It’s such a shame, because I love your essays, but I hate reading your site as a result of this.


To the editor: The magazine is absolutely great. It’s about time games got the positive and serious attention they deserve.

ps. I really like the formatting.

-Kourosh Dini, MD

To the editor: I found your website from a link at slashdot.org. I am so happy that you are publishing this magazine online. The articles are not only well-written and free from obnoxious advertising filler, but they are intelligent and original. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a copy of any gaming magazine besides quickly flipping through to look at the flashy pictures. Every issue of every magazine feels like a copy-and-paste excuse to sell me advertising. Not your magazine.

Also, thank you for publishing your work in such an easy to read and use format. The artwork is colorful and tasteful without being distracting or obscuring content. Keep up the good work!

-Drew Yates

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