Social games 'distracting' from quality content

Shadows of the Damned director Massimo Guarini says gamemakers must maintain focus on content, not business models.

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Gamers worried that shallow social games will take over the industry appear to have a champion in Shadows of the Damned director Massimo Guarini. In a post to his blog today, Guarini urged developers to not get sidetracked by buzzwords like "social," "freemium," and "in-app purchases" and instead maintain their focus on creating excellent content.

Ovosonico has a stated goal of creating "original, unconventional, and artistically crafted" games.

"Excited as little kids, we are literally distracting both users and investors away from the core of our industry, in favor of an obsessive and simplistic analysis of some business development trends," Guarini wrote. "Ultimately, it's all about the content. That's what our customers are paying for."

Guarini said that shallow social games run the risk of undermining the future of the game industry because once the novelty of immediate reward wares off, there won't be anything to keep players around.

And even though Shadows of the Damned proved to not be a stand-out commercial success, Guarini argued that high-quality original content is the secret to lasting success.

"Original, quality content is what will eventually maximize your studio's success rate and sustainability, over time," he continued. "And this is what counts in a business. This is what makes you stand out when talking to investors."

Released to critical acclaim in 20011, Shadows of the Damned told the story of Garcia Hotspur, who goes on a trip to hell to save his true love, Paula. His travelling companion on the road through hell is a foul-mouthed demonic skull named Johnson that can morph into a variety of guns but is also effective as a torch. It was developed at Suda 51's Grasshopper Manufacture studio in conjunction with Resident Evil director Shinji Mikami.

Guarini's new studio, Ovosonico, currently has no announced projects.

Discussion

51 comments
isshiah
isshiah

a lot of people don't have the time they once had, so playing these games is an easy way to fill that gaming need. not for me, though, i don't even have an iphone...or anything beginning with 'i'.

wyan_
wyan_

20011? Wow I better check my stocks with Nashdan and Baker Pharmaceuticals. I'll be swimming in C-Bills.

HSV002
HSV002

Someone buy this man a Beer!

seddighzadeh123
seddighzadeh123

hardcore games > apps/social games... developers are going to go to social games to make quick money, the ones that stick with real games will be left standing at the end

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

He's totally right. It's sad watching so many focus on "social features", as though it helps anyone. There aren't too many benefits that come with gaming being a social norm, quite a few cons actually, so what these "features" are doing to games really isn't worth it.

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

Social games may be a boon for the industry in the longer term. It is making the playing of games a social norm and from that more people may start playing more involved games.

mad_gamer23
mad_gamer23

I think the support for these social games comes from the fact that its demographic is a much more casual audience (and not in the MMO sense!) which is very very large. These are people that really play to just waste time not for long term entertainment (and the fact these games appear on social networks and mobile phones is already a testament to that); kind of like someone flipping through channels not to look for something specific, but just browsing temporarily. And that there is already the big flaw; this demographic is not exactly loyal; they'll move on to the next fad in a heart beat. And then what? Wasted years and resources to cash in on one fat cow? Oh this is going to set such great games waay back.. :(

ash162
ash162

Loved this game. Hoping for a sequel:-)

tjoeb123
tjoeb123

Wait, there is a year called 20011?

Kiaininja
Kiaininja

It's more like social gaming is growing because of the lack of quality games not the other way around.

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

The casual bubble will burst sooner or later and just like the flood of low price poor quality games in the 80s it will probably cause an industry crash. The good thing is that the companies to rise from this crash will be the ones people trust to make epic high quality games: Yay for Bethesda, Boo for Zynga and meh for EA who will survive on their own evil aura till the market is ready for another reaping.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

At this point I'd almost prefer that we have a lot of devs get really distracted so that the current casual gaming bubble pops as quickly as possible so that those folks can move on to pet rocks or whatever fad takes their fancy next.

makenshi1
makenshi1

[quote]And even though Shadows of the Damned proved to not be a stand-out commercial success, Guarini argued that high-quality original content is the secret to lasting success[/quote] the point in mentioning this was? get your act together gamespot. Critical acclaim is what matters!

sieg6529
sieg6529

I somehow don't have faith that quality will be chosen over easy money.

Oldgun
Oldgun

@ Gamespot: "Released to critical acclaim in 20011" O.O

Evenios
Evenios

ill be damned if id let him say those words...haha kidding . anyways maybe but i kind of would like some sort of more social MMO take second life for an example while it has (many) issues it is one of the few examples of a online setting that is more about social interactions then a "game" i wish more experences like that were out there.. but all the rest that do it just arnt really that great. But it can work i think. look at minecraft it can be a "game" but also a social platform for goofing around, building stuff as well! So dont knock the social aspect it just needs to be done better I think.

Rubius02
Rubius02

What a shock! You mean focusing on quality games and not on the current gaming fad posing as "innovation" and "revolutionary" and maximizing short term profit is the better business model? Give this man a Dr Pepper!

FuryX-4
FuryX-4

Spot on Guarini, I really agree with you. This social games is nothing but a cash-in game.

Takeno456
Takeno456

Finally someone in the industry says what needed to be said. I totally agree with this guy. These social games are good for some people but developers need to maintain their focus and create quality content.

Gv0zD
Gv0zD

It's good to have smart people on our side :) The social games..aps will net short term income, but won't create the fan base to sustain demand for long. No social game will be expected as are Mass Effect, StarCraft 2 expansions, Diablo 3 and others. While it's not particularly bad if a developer has side projects that include social or mobile aps, concentration on them is a mistake, even it brings money now, it won't in the long run.

darkassassin911
darkassassin911

Is it just me or has there been a huge wave of developer's giving their opinions on gaming-related subjects. They are also reflecting the opinions of groups of gamers, sort of like leaders of a political party. Like the whole Durall thing, then the Badowski thing, and now this. It is very interesting..... P.S. I am not saying this is bad or anything

DrNecroFiend
DrNecroFiend

The industry has turned against you! Social gaming is a corporate plot! Open your eyes! Wake up Sheeple! Wake up Sheeple!

Sniper-Gamer
Sniper-Gamer

I have never bought into Facebook games, or cell phone/smart phone games. Why? Because they are poorly designed. Games should be something we spend hours upon hours on end on. Sure those games are great for about 5 minutes but then we realize how much they suck. I buy games to support thosse that make them. Those "apps" not games, can go...you know what themselves!

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

I agree with him completely. The social game uprising is completely antithetical to what the majority of us, as the core of the gaming audience, truly want, but unfortunately we are in the minority.

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

Social gaming has potential just look at Playstaion home, but since most people consider facebook games social gaming I'll agree with the article.

Decessus
Decessus

@Red_Mirage I don't think it will sell very well to be honest. I believe that's the same year Diablo III is coming out. :)

Lothos_Delion
Lothos_Delion

Good article and right on. Social games are a blight on the die hard game industry.

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

This is a man who knows what he is talking about, glad i bought Shadows of the Damned and helped support him, i really should get round to finishing it.......

Red_Mirage
Red_Mirage

"Released to critical acclaim in 20011, Shadows of the Damned told the story of Garcia" so its not even released yet?

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

It's nice to see sense still prevails within the industry.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

I don't play any "social" games because they are made 99% of the time PURELY for money. There is never any real heart in the game nor are the games very deep, usually just basic projects to cash in on. Originality or at least a large amount of content is what drives me to buy games. It's 2012, we shouldn't have respected studios making games as advanced as the first gen of gaming.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

anything with social this or that I usually just ignore.. Heck I can still remember a time when multiplayer wasn't a big thing it was all about the single player playability that mattered... But nowadays developers are forgetting about them golden years where us older gamers help them build their billion dollar companies to what they are today...

Banefire76
Banefire76

He's absolutely right. Over the years games have evolved at an impressive rate and the gamers that have experienced this evolution 1st hand have evolved as well. During this process gaming has been labelled for "losers" and "nerds" so the greater population have not evolved with us, so they are way behind in knowing what constitutes a great game, instead they follow the fad of social gaming because gaming has now lost its uncool stigma. But, new gamers are easily impressed by the pretty colours and ultra simple games while an experienced gamer has grown past that years ago and sees past the junk and prefers more worthy titles. But hey, new gamers being sheeple spend thier money on following the business model to gaming, like everything else in the corporate world. So until they catch up and are able to discern what is actually a good game, crappy games are going to sell big and the real gaming artists out there will only sell a modest amount of copies to a more discerning clientele. Dont worry, like Mr. Guarini said, "Original, quality content is what will eventually maximize your studio’s success rate and sustainability, over time" We just have to wait for all the new gamers to catch up and learn a thing or two, and make sure we keep buying copies of those that make the better quality games so we keep seeing them coming.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Well said that man. Seemed to be taking a dig at the sequel mentality that exists at the moment as well, which is good. I mean, every modern franchise did begin as an original IP and eventually players will get bored of them, it'll probably just take longer than the simpler app type games.

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

I'd have bought Shadows of the Damned if there was a PC version. I still would.

supertom221
supertom221

Did I already mention I am buying this? I am so buying this. I love you guys!

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

@barighm I don't think he is blaming the lack of sales for his game on social games.

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

Knew the gamespot personnel were the best! They have time travel and review games thousands of years before they are released. I wonder if the future gamespot staff are cyborgs...

Tzardok
Tzardok

Actually, my friends on Facebook are already posting things like "don't send me game invites, please!!!" and one of my cousins has a statement already up on his profile... "idontplay". I strongly believe that these games are doomed in the long run, this is a thing of the moment. At least I really hope so. Meanwhile I am doing the only thing I can, which is: Not to play social games Not to accept social games invites Not to comment on social games on social websites (even bad publicity is still publicity!!!) Never give developers of social games money. Cheers!

Barighm
Barighm

Although I agree with what the guy says, we're talking about someone whose game didn't sell and is blaming it on social gaming. That's how a corporate bigwig will see it and all they care about is revenue models. Sorry, but that's business for you. Until you remove the businessmen from the CEO chairs and replace them with gamers, that's the way it's gonna be.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

LOL 20011. and "There won't be anything keeping player around." I love how much your editor's suck guys.Keep up the shoddy work :D

Freezezzy
Freezezzy

I agree 100%. After spending a good amount of time on Facebook, I find that most of the games there are nothing but glorified money sinks. Free games with the option to buy everything, rather than earning it, and this is something they remind you of on a near-constant basis. Need an item to heal your character? Buy it! Need some materials to build that house? Buy them! Need some coins to buy that new weapon or tool? Buy them! Want to win the game? Buy it! All this does is cheapen the experience when, instead of playing the game, you can just pay a bunch of money to skip to the end. The sad part is, people do pay for these things, which pretty much guarantees their continued presence in the gaming world. Thank you, Mr Guarini. Thank you for showing me that there's still some sense within the industry.

jimmyzeke13
jimmyzeke13

"Released to critical acclaim in 20011" Looks like I'm 18000 years behind.

drswank
drswank

This. This right here.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

Just like the movie and music biz, at the end of the day, these companies are just trying to make a profit. If it comes from a cheap little game like angry birds, that's what they are going to do. That's why we just have to rely on the creative types to throw us a bone every once in a while.

endorbr
endorbr

Massimo Guarini... You've just stated exactly what I've been railing about for a couple of years now. This idea of social gaming has gotten way more buzz than it deserves and its all pretty much shovelware that eventually gets forgotten about.

jhawk
jhawk

"Excited as little kids, we are literally distracting both users and investors away from the core of our industry, in favor of an obsessive and simplistic analysis of some business development trends," Guarini wrote. "Ultimately, it's all about the content. That's what our customers are paying for." This.^ He nailed it as far I'm concerned. Quality wins over quantity with me every time.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

There's still a difference between something like Angry Birds--which has actual gameplay--and Farmville, which is a tool to spam your friends with. Still, though, "core" games will always be the ones I focus on.