Death to the Games Industry


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#1 Slaughter

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 09:44 PM

Greg Costikyan is a veteran of the games industry, and he has written some very interesting articles on its current state called "Death to the Games Industry". It looks at the lack of innovation in today’s gaming industry, and what we can do to better it:

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The publishers would like all games to be like sports games. With sports games, all you have to do is improve the graphics incrementally and throw in the new player stats - and the little drones will go out and buy the new version every year. They're basically buying the same game over and over, but the players are wearing different jerseys and have slightly different behind-the-scenes data.

Publishers would love all games to work the same way - and they're trying to make it happen. That's why they look for franchises - not for good games.

.....

The truth is that unless your last name is "Wright" or "Miyamoto," the odds of getting anything innovative published today are nonexistent. In fact, the only thing you can get funded is something that's based on a license or part of a franchise (can you

say "Coasters of Might and Magic?"), and incrementally innovative at best.

These are a few quotes from the first part of his article that you can read in The Escapist. It discusses how things have changed over the year, and what the current problems are.

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...Matrix Games, for instance, still publishes its games in boxed form - but they say they sell far more copies of games like Gary Grigsby's World at War via direct download than they do at retail.

The reason that's happening is simple: Many PC game styles that, in years past, got huge attention from the PC game zines and consumers now have a hard time getting distribution. Retailers don't even like stocking PC games - they take up too much space, and they don't sell as well as console - and have cut way back on the titles they'll stock. As a result, if you're a computer wargamer, a flight sim fan, a fan of 4X space conquest games or of graphic adventures, or even of turn-based fantasy - you're going to have a hard time finding product you like on the shelves. Those gamers are beginning to learn they can find what they want on the net.

These are a few quotes from the second part of his article that you can read in The Escapist. It discusses how we can solve the problems the industry faces.

You can also read the original postings of Greg as "Designer X" in The Scratchware Manifesto. He is currently trying to come up with a solution through ManifestoGames.com.

What are your thoughts on this subject? How important is independent games? (Indie games) Thanks to Gimli for pointing this out!


#2 Snakeman

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 01:47 AM

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What are your thoughts on this subject? How important is independent games?

I personally think that one of the best ways for independent game developers to succeed apart from advertising in the right places, is hosting their own game for download (some have options where you can download it but also get it in CD form later for those of us who like hard copies of games).

If any innovation is going to occur though, in terms of high quality games, it'll come from independents.   These guys aren't in it for the big bucks most of the time (though they do need to eat like any of us), they actually retain their love of games through all these business shananigans taking place.

For any of it to succeed for independents though, much of the innovations will probably have to stem from advertising and distribution capabilities mainly.

#3 Slaughter

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 07:45 AM

There is no doubt that they need to make their games available for download, but doing so themselves is too much trouble. It takes effort to set up a download service, and advertising is something developers are usually not good at (as Greg mentions in his article). Smaller developers needs to make use of services like ManifestoGames.com, TotalGaming.net, GamersGate.com and so on. If everyone is to have their own download service it would be impossible to navigate for gamers.


#4 FullAuto

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 08:30 AM

Greg Costikyan points out that films and books have alternative ways of distributing independently-produced product from that of the mainstream, and that's what games need.  Directly downloading games could well be it, and I hope it is.

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#5 Snakeman

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 09:00 AM

You raise a good point Slaughter that indies will want some kind of support for the business end of things.  Perhaps one thing that might help them along could be a combination of other independents who know a little more, use webhosting and networking services to make it easier to form contacts, provide links to good resources and advertising tips, possible distribution channels etc.

I suppose what I'm describing here is basically a consulting and support service of some kind for this particular group of developers.  Anything that takes many of the business pressures away so they can focus on their work is probably key here.

#6 Mikal

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 01:21 PM

I think I must be a bit out of date. I prefer to ahve an original CD/DVD and manual supplied by the publisher or developer. It does surprise me so very few developers are able to sell their games after publication. I don't understand the loss of potential sales by doing this.

The core problem with the games outside the preferred envelope is at some point the developer will be put under pressure by the publisher to provide a so-called ready to go game which, in reality, still has some way to go before a sensible release. I think there is a serious chicken and egg problem which will ultimately ease out PC games from the general marketplace.

#7 Gimli

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 06:14 PM

When I first read the excerpt from the Scratchware Manifesto a few days ago on a local gaming site I was redirected to ManifestoGames, and from there I searched for the Scratchware Manifesto. And just now I realized why. The beta has become functional a few days ago as mentioned on NMA. So that is actually the news, if I understood it correctly. Although for me this is still not quite a feasible way of buying videogames, I give it my thorough support. The problem with people who live in countries like mine (in the transition from industrial to "tertiary" sector countries) is that we do not have the infrastructure to obtain games via internet yet. Unfortunately, T-COM monopoly here allows them for prices that shoot through the sky, and the only ISP company which is independent from T-COM still has a small service and only here in the capital. I'm afraid that for now these channels of distribution will not work as well as they should, but hopefully they will soon. However, I hope that in 2-3 years the situation will already change.

I will comment on the articles later, as I have some work to catch up on.

#8 Gimli

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 01:00 PM

Update: Another interesting article by Greg

#9 Gimli

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 06:43 PM

Another update and a very interesting article: http://www.manifesto...s.com/node/2056

#10 Slaughter

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 12:44 PM

Interview with Greg of Manifesto Games.


#11 Slaughter

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 09:26 PM

Play This Thing!

New site from Greg :blush:


#12 Unsterblich

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 06:26 AM

Thanks very much for the articles, and the debate, Slaughter.

Always hated sports games... but didnīt quite know why. Now I know, lol.

Btw, Itīs good do see you again, mate ; )

#13 Slaughter

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 08:30 AM

Ditto mate! :blush: What rock have you been hiding under? :wub:


#14 Knan

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 06:15 PM

Ooh. Lots of interesting things hiding out on manifestogames.

Anyone tried Taskforce yet?

#15 FullAuto

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 06:40 PM

Aye, the demo anyway.  It's a bit basic, but a decent game.  Rough edges, but I enjoyed it.

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