"Without new gameplay, shinier and shinier graphics will reduce and evaporate larger and larger amounts of shareholder value." I think there is a very valuable lesson to be learned here and a warning. We all seem to be so focused on graphics its getting ridicolous. We have seen graphics getting better and better but the gameplay-mechanics are still the same and have been for quite a few years now. We are basicaly playing the same games over and over and over again. Gears of War? When you strip it of its graphics it is basically just DOOM, only it looks better. Where is the next DOOM, the next Dune 2, the next game that will usher in a whole new era of gameplay?
Keynote address at game investor conference suggests the industry is due for a major overhaul.
SAN FRANCISCO--Normally when analysts and investors spout off about the gaming industry, actual gamers are prone to tune them out. But when Stewart Alsop and Gilman Louie, head partners of venture-capital firm Alsop Louie, say the gaming industry is in need of fundamental change, their point of view is a lot harder to ignore.
After all, Louie founded Spectrum Holobyte, designed the hardcore flight simulator Falcon 4.0, and was among the first to bring Tetris to the West. And while Alsop admits he doesn't play games--much less design them--he has a history of notable investment success in the tech sector (riding the success of companies like Tivo, Glu Mobile, and Xfire).
In their keynote address at the Second Annual Game Investors today, Alsop and Louie discussed "The Next Billion Dollar Videogame Opportunity." The pair mentioned a number of sectors commonly seen as the "next big thing" in games, including mobile and casual gaming, massively multiplayer titles, immersive worlds, dedicated game devices (like Nokia's N-Gage), and games for girls.
"We don't think any of these have achieved the status of the next billion-dollar opportunity," Alsop said.
"So what is the real next billion-dollar opportunity?" Louie asked. "I say it's the Internet."
Louie said most publishers think gaming on the Internet boils down to three things in most publisher's minds: casual games, digital distribution, and massively multiplayer games. As far as casual games go, Louie and Alsop said casual games have worked because they've been tailored to the narrowband experience, but they think there's much more potential for Internet gaming with the ever-increasing rate of broadband penetration.
Cable companies have been trying the digital distribution of games for decades, Louie noted, but people haven't wanted to pay just to play 10-year-old games. As for MMOs, "incredibly, there's some traction in that marketplace, but the reality is these are really hardcore gamers who really own their worlds and any newbie that shows up gets killed in 15 seconds," Louie said. "So this has been kind of a bad experience for the general gaming public and the Internet is really not where it should be."
"The Internet is amazing today because of where it's going, not where it's been," Louie said, noting the advancements of voice and video streaming over the Internet, and some further technologies like a Net-based console platform proposed by Sony's Ken Kutaragi, where game processing is handled collectively by a network of consoles instead of exclusively by the player's machine.
"Nobody to this day has leveraged the power of the Net in the context of making the next great video game platform," Louie said.
But Louis and Alsop believe the current model of the game industry isn't ideal for fostering that. Between lengthy development cycles, escalating production costs, huge development teams, closed platforms where distributors control what's available to consumers, the industry's hit-driven nature, and a focus on computer graphics and special effects (the industry's "stars"), they peg the current model as being a lot like the movie industry.
"I contest that the movie model is the absolute worst model you can design your next-generation business on," Louie said. "Television's a very different model."
Creating for television costs less, builds episode by episode, incorporates feedback into future episodes more quickly, doesn't have the same distribution constraints, and features a much broader audience base.
"From the point of view of venture-capital investors, we believe the right way to think about things is in terms of TV, not movies," Alsop said.
"Content really does matter," Louie stressed, "and we have not found a group of developers to date that has said, 'I will start by making the very best Internet-based experience and build this new brand that is much more like a channel.'"
Alsop and Louie then introduced a number of concepts that proved popular in previous pop-culture trends, whether it be games that better incorporate the collection appeal of Pokemon in an online way, or a pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons-like experience, where players somehow run their own games, provide their own guidance, and tell their own stories.
"We basically believe the current video game business is sick," Alsop said. "We're definitively saying that we don't think we're in the next transition cycle; we actually are in a much more fundamental shift. What we're saying is there's a different way of thinking about games that shifts the logic of the game from the device to the network, and it includes all the devices… The process we're talking about still has some significant issues in terms of deployment, but from the point of view of venture-capital investors where we have our eye on the future, we believe that the right way to think about things is to start thinking in terms of television: episodes, large audiences, those audiences interacting with each other, and really looking for innovative and different ways of generating revenue."
"It fundamentally revolves around new gameplay," Louie said in closing. "Without new gameplay, shinier and shinier graphics will reduce and evaporate larger and larger amounts of shareholder value."
Digital distribution won't happen because the gaming companies get advertising by putting their products in retail stores.
There's nothing specific just general internet statements. Nintendo's Connect 24 has something similar to this. Xbox Live is now pretty deep too... Whatever when its time, its time.
Internet is the only big player here..I believe that with the oncoming development of "Web 3.0" we will see some changes in infrastructure that may lead to more secure delivery of online products, and the furtherment of the whole e-commerce industry As far as episodic content..it depends...isn't every sports game just a snapshot of a particular season, and can therefore be considered as an episode? I mean, we're seeing a lot of very lackluster games that just don't cut it in terms of legendary gameplay anymore. I for one believe that TV style gameplay isn't where we need to go (TV is just as heavily advertised and corrupted/horrible as Hollywood). We need to see stuff like Nintendo's Wii, Spore, and the next level of games, i.e. Virtual reality and true reality simulators. Also, the costs will go down a bit, but you have to pay the IT guys to do all of that encryption/security/digital delivery work for you anyway instead of throwing them onto DVDs..and to make a truly flawless (well almost flawless) system you need a LOT of man hours. Just some thoughts.
Sounds good to me most people have the internet and the ones who don't, don't usualy play video games. And if I get games that way I also want patches thay way also. BTW I don't think they even said anything like qiwihead said.
bwgamer said: "I have an idea for the next billion dollar opportunity......MAKE GOOD GAMES AND STOP MAKING CRAP!!!!!!!!!" As well as making me laugh... I think he pretty much nailed it.
Well I didn't have time to read everybodies comments on this, but there were some good points. Especially the concern for the games shops that would suffer from digital distribution. I do like my hard copy of a game, and also like the ritual of going into town to get a new game. But also like the thought of some games being episodic and available instantly via download. I think that both can co-exist quite easilly. Just as TV and Hollywood exist together. What he is saying is that soley thinking in terms of the movie business is missing an opportunity. And I think if they get the pricing and content right for episodic games it could be an interesting option. Look at the tv show Lost. Not sure of the pricing, but I think it's $3-4? per episode for download. If a game was made in the same manor, with much engrossing gameplay and content in every episode, it could work. Plus if you get one episode of a game you think you might love, but it turns out to be brutal, at least it's only cost you $3-4. But if you liked it, then you can carry on buying episodes and watch the plot develop. Ultimately, there will be bad interpretations of episodic gaming, and good ones. And there will always be a market for movie like "all in the box" games. But it is an interesting option for developers.
What media companies must realize is that digital distribution should also involve consumer usage rights retention. If a customer purchases a game that customer should have full access to play that game indefinitely. If it is distributed in a new format in the future the customer should only have to pay for the cost of producing the new medium. For example, if I purchased an audio cassette, I should not have to pay the full retail price for a CD. I have already bought usage rights to those songs which comprises the majority of the cost. It's the same with games. I own hundreds of old NES games and I'm not going to pay full price to download them on the Wii. I shouldn't have to. Sorry Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo... I don't trust you. Give me my hard copy or allow me to make my own.
...D&D and Pokemon like games!? ...Gaming is sick!? they had some obvious points but lost me on those comments.
I think in-game ads are the next billion-dollar opportunity. Studies say in-game ads are 60% more effective than TV and billboard ads. Just image, sony closes a deal with coca-cola, so everytime you turn on your ps3, the coca-cola trademark logo appears, and this ad could take off, say $50 of the ps3 price. Or even better imagine a game like gran turismo, how much ad potential it has. They could get tenths of sponcers and easly give GT5 for free(ad-supported). It would be the beginning of Adware console games. That all not considering the online possibilities. That's a billion dollar market right there.
Episodic content or movie style, I generally follow this one rule: Do I think that after all is said and done, I'll have gotten at least an hour of enjoyment for every dollar I spent on the game? That's the main reason I shy away from MMOs with hefty subscription fees that would require more time than I can spare to get my money's worth. My argument for episodic content is simple: anyone who liked Starcraft probably liked Brood Wars. So long as I get my money's worth out of my content, I don't mind developers revisiting the well.
I dont like the idea at all. First of all it requires credit card usage which kids and teens dont have access to. Sony has there cash card, but that too requires you to go to a store and re-load it.....you might as well pick up the game while you are there. I do like the idea of demo downloads. I have bought a few games that suck, but looked like they would be good. I also rarley play online. Until everyone has the same speed connection and there is no lag, its pretty pointless. I just want to buy my game and play it when I want. I dont want to have to buy another HDD because the 60 or 200 GB one is full, and be swapping out drives. Games and extra content are pretty big, and are getting bigger. A 200GB HDD wont cut it if you are forced to download games. Last but not least Graphics are very important!! I cant play my PSone games any longer because the graphics are horrible, same will be said for PS2 games in a couple years. Eye candy is a must, as is good gameplay and story. Bottom line, there are a few key ingrediants that make up a good game, and graphics is one of them. The Wii will flop once the novelty of there controller subsides. The graphics are very poor. The games I am sure will be fun to an extent, and Mario games will hold them in the fight as usual, but that too is getting old.
Unfortunately some people do not grasp that this is what they said in a "game investor conference". It is not about making good games, it is not about how to give the customer "more bang for their buck" so to speak, it is only about the one subject that interests investors: how to make a new billion $. That is an extra billion sucked out of the pockets of the gamers. In other words if they find a way to sell you low value crap, that IS what they will go with as long as it is profitable for them. The future of gaming should be left in the hand of developers who are gamers themselves and not a bunch of people who just want to find better ways of sucking the money out of your pockets!
I prefer having a hard copy of my game, just for the fact that if I dont like the game or have beaten it and I want to trade it in I can. If you buy games via digital distrabution your stuck with it, you can trade it in or sell it. As far episodic content, I think I agree with a lot of people in that paying 20.00 for 3 hours of fun isn't worth it. Thats just my opinion. Then again I and many other people seem to be snatching up all the downloadable oblivion content so maybe Iam just contradicting my self....
There is another possible advantage to episodic digital distribution. Let's say you buy a 10-15 hour game now for $50-$60, and it's got some major flaws and problems that you can't correct via a patch. Congratulations! You just blew that money on an overhyped crap game! If you're quick, you can trade it in or sell it on eBay before everyone realizes it sucks and it hits the bargain bin, but more likely than not, you're just stuck with a crap game you'll never be able to stomach through. Everybody has done this at one point or another. Now what if it were broken into episodes? You buy the first one that has 4 or 5 hours of gameplay for 10 bucks or so. You get kind of interested in the story, but the controls are wonky and the camera sucks, but its short, so you can at least get through it. So a few months later, they release episode 2 with another 4 or 5 hours of gameplay, and the flaws in the first episode are fixed. You've paid less for almost the same amount of gameplay time, and it isn't a uniformly mediocre experience. Everybody loves it when a full-blown sequel improves over flaws from the first game. You can see that same thing happen alot quicker in episodic games. The real problem is finding a fair price point. Most action/FPS games these days are only about 10-15 hours or so for a $50-$60 game, so Valve's $20 for 4 or 5 hour episodes doesn't seem that far off in terms of hours of gameplay vs. cost. 3 episodes = 12-15 hours = $60, and that's assuming they don't use customer feedback to beef up the length for eps 2 and 3... I think they could go a bit cheaper, though, since they're saving physical publishing costs, but then I don't know how physical publishing costs compare to bandwith costs and the costs of maintaining the servers to distribute the content. Personally, I'm not all gung-ho about episodic content myself, but there were so many negative opinions here, I felt that the people who post comments for the sake of actual discussion might appreciate someone playing the devil's advocate. :)
So this means this guy means that we'll all pay 40$ to play like 5 hours and have to go buy a new EPISODE. I say go with the Wii Revolution, its defenitly better and morea more secure project (CMON, internet = virus, piracy, bad content, problems)
About digital distribution: DL a game that is tied to your CPU by a code of somesort. That way you can burn it on cd/dvd making your own hard copy but you cant spread it illegally to your friends. That way if your harddisk crashes, it is still possible to reinstall the game for free from your own hard copy ..
hart02, you can already attend universities online and get degrees that way. But if you're talking about kids like ages 6-17, they NEED to be in a real classroom for social reasons like teamwork skills which you can't get sitting at your computer by yourself everyday at home. That part of schooling helps youngsters to develop those social and team-based skills so they can function better when they get jobs in the real world... I agree though that digital diz is probably the future for gaming, good or bad, who knows yet...
if only education were to unlock potental of the internet, then schools would be mostly obselete.All you need to go to school for is stuff you cant do on the internet. Digital distribution could play a key role in that reality.
this is, quite frankly, the worst thing ever! episodic content is only good for game companies, because you end up having to wait just to see the next part of the game and have to pay for 5 $20 episodes instead of paying $50 for the whole gme all at once. and personally, i would rather have a game disc and box than have it stored on the hard drive. you have something to show for the money you just paid.
I know a lot of people have an ipod. iTunes is a great example of episodic like content where you can get music, movies(speakin' of the future), and TV. And with some games, unless they can drastically improve upon a game, then I just want an updated story for less money or updated and accurate rosters for sports games(big pun to you ea & 2k).
I want more digital distribution...i don't want flimsy DVDs and CDs anymore. Harddrives and flash drives are the future peeps. I've been using XBox Live and been paying for content, used steam and paid for games there. What they're talking about could really happen. I want a game basically stuck on a little piece of silicon
This whole episodic thing is definitely not the way I would like to see things go. Consider the TV show 24. Probably the best show on TV in the last 20 years. It keeps you coming back for more, more, more. That said though, I refuse to watch this show while it is on TV. Instead, I buy the entire season and can watch them at my leisure. So if I want to watch 10 episodes in 1 day, well I can. Plus I skip the commercials- SWEET. This very concept applies to games as well. A hard copy of a finished game is a must so we can play it as we see fit. Yes I have a PC but you know how many games I have for it? NONE. That's because I don't want to have to constantly upgrade the darn thing to play the latest games. I don't want expansion packs either. But hey, maybe that's just me............
I like the idea of eposodic gaming. It could equate to a steady revenue that may reward with stand along hits, as the company operates. It should be seen as a necessary compliment or component to the industry.
or it revolves around insane controllers. seriously, this guy has some good points but i wouldn't say that the industry is "sick", more going through a bit of a cold spell.
So, basically, these guys are proposing measures how to try and milk even more cash from us gamers. I really don't think they are proposing them in gamers' interest, I mean, one of the dudes says he doesn't even play games! It's people like these that are ruining the game industry. Once the real gaming enthusiasts get to the top positions in the industry (again, like they did in the golden video games' past) thing will start to get on the right track. Gaming companies spend more cash, more time and resources to bring ever shorter and shallower games. And about digital distribution and restricted / company controlled content? Total and utter BS. Just look at the TES IV: Oblivion modding community - people who previously had no 3D modelling / texturing expiriences bring thousands of fantastic mods for PC, thanks to an open system and free distribution. And then, compare that to what - 4 or 5 official, "digitally distributed" "episodic content" mods... LOL!!! All I see is a try to clamp down on piracy by enforcing more control, more sniffing in gamers privacy. 1984, roll on!
Theoretically......well it's all sounds like crap to me. I couldn't stand only being able to play an rpg for a limited number of hours and then having to wait for the next one, even if only a week. What's going to happen to all of the 12 hour game days? If i wanna play, I WANNA PLAY. I don't want anyone else controlling how long i can play at a time. And if all of our games our hooked up to the internet, it's only a matter of time before some kind of virus deletes all of our hard earned data. I mean, i'm already wasting enough time just to play the game in the first place so i'm not going to put all those hours in harms way. I'm especially thinking about rpg's here. They would be effected the most by episodic content. If your refering to episodic content for an fps or somthing similar, it's not as big of a deal because they aren't as story driven. I mean, I would not mind at all to pick up halo and skip all the story scenes because i would still enjoy playing the game. Rpgs on the other hand ARE in and of themselves STORIES and if i play one i don't want gaping holes in the story or long waits in between gameplay because the story would start to fall apart. There's nothing i hate more than (ridiculously) rich people complaining that they want more. GGGAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! /rant
If they keep the cost of each "episode" within reason for the content provided then I could support it. Since they want to make money so they can eat and all, I bet that they won't hit below $15 a pop.
I personally think that episodic content might be a good idea.... most of us aren't going to spend $50 on a game unless they think it's a good one. I would be more willing to spend $10 or $20 on a short game to "give it a shot". If i like it, I would buy more eps. If not only a little money was wasted.
Did anyone notice that those two investor dudes said a lot of words but didn't actually say anything? They threw around a few buzzwords--community, Internet, digital distribution, episodic content--but didn't say one concrete thing about them. They don't have any idea what the next big thing is. Considering how pervasive the Net is, and how much faster it will soon become, it's not exactly rocket science to figure out that the Net will have a big role in all entertainment, games included. The only way that digitial distribution is going to change the industry is if developers like Valve are able to cut out the publishers and thus make more money for themselves. This might enable them to take more risks with game design, which would be good for the industry. I would like to see Microsoft use Live Arcade to support small developers taking risks with interesting game designs for small-scale games. Geometry Wars is a good example. Episodic storytelling works for some stories but not for others. Personally, I think Half-Life is more like a movie than a tv show, which is why I'm on the fence about even playing Episode 1. I want a big experience when playing Half-Life, like a blockbuster movie. I don't want to play a few levels and then wait 6-9 months for the next few hours of story. Half-Life 2 wouldn't have been nearly as fun and memorable if it had been broken up into four episodes released over a year and a half. If their plan is to have a few episodes in between full games, that would be fine and would be a nice way to keep me interested in the franchise while they're working on the next big storyline. But if Half-Life becomes all episodic, I'm going to lose interest very quickly. The added content model is an interesting one, and I'm not sure why people are so upset by it. Stuff like the recent GRAW add-on is great for people who love the game and have been playing it for months but would like something new. $15 might be a bit much, $10 might have been a better price point; but I think the idea is a good one. It's not like you have to buy it if you're happy with the game as it is. But for the hardcore fans, it's not a bad deal at all. It's not like they haven't already gotten their money's worth out of the base game. This is just the devs giving you the opportunity to extend the game if you want to.
I personally like having a hard copy myself. If something gets screwed up with your account you have to wait day or even weeks sometimes just to get a response for more info, then the cycle repeats.
So they don't think massively multiplayer titles are billion dollar opportunities? WoW--6.5mil subscribers x $15 x 12 months= $1.17 BILLION dollars per year. and WoW is still growing. Add the 6.5 x $40 (for the game itself)=$260mil. And that is just one game. Add in the other MMOs. Can anyone name another single game that brought in over $1Bil by itself?
People are taking the term "episodic" a little too literally. When applied to games, it doesn't necessarily refer to little snippets of games that will last 4 to 5 hours and be over with; it more likely refers to games like Neverwinter Nights, as said already. They're saying that the future of gaming lies in extendability, community content, and modding. Being able to make games our own, like in Warcraft III and Starcraft; just about anything can be done with the map builders, if you know how. Being able to add in content as we see fit to make it more interesting, to refresh the gameplay with something new, to bring back some old, forgotten element of gameplay that someone deemed missing. This is what the article means by "episodic gameplay"; something that can be added to. A TV show adds something new with every new episode, building on what already exists. If games were the same way, they would live longer and make more money. Simple, no?
why do i care if the investor losses money? i paid money for this game and i want to play the crap out of it, i don't want an epesodic thing that am going to wait months just to know what will happen next, and i don't want to play games just if i have intenet avilible on my PC, heck, i don't have such a big hard drive and am not buying one any time soon, i think many people feel the same, if the gaming industry become like this, we "the gamers" are the only ones who is losing, Microsoft and Sony become like more billion in profit where we have to suffer just to think about one epesodic game, let 10 or 15 games alone. guys just think, if u say that they are true because the gaming industry is losing money, why are u paying 50 $ (here in norway up 80 $) if the devoloper still loses money?
screw internet distribution... if its the case.. than make it so the consumer can make a back-up copy of it's investement. And we know it will never be the case. Money for virtual...
I would agree with Alsop and Louie that the internet is going to get bigger and better for gaming in the future. They're also correct when they say we need more gender-inclusive games out there, not just something that's directly going to appeal to one type of person, or one gender. As if the ongoing success of The Sims (and Sims 2) wasn't enough to prove that. I do think the internet is going to play a huge part in the future, and it's coming along very quickly already. Great read!
Massive multiplayers bring in alot of cash, but I don't see a big growth opportunity there. Let's face it, most gamers won't pay a monthly fee, on top of the game cost, to access it online. It's the MMO nerds who will continue to pay whatever they're charged because they're hardcore into their own particular game.They're a minority in the overall gaming market though. Make online access free and fill the games with ads and it' will grow like crazy.
These guys are right. Episodic content will have to replace what we have now eventually, because if things continue like they are now, the industry will crash all over again inside of the next ten years.
Let me put it pure and simple for you two game investors: Don't invest in the Internet. MMO games are popular now and only now because it's just a trend. Sorry, pal. You guys are just trying to influence a monopoly over the gaming industry exclusively to the Internet. On top of that, it ain't gunna work. For one, not every gamer is an Internet gaming, MMORPG playing junkhead like you think. I'm not even one, myself. Secondly, MMO games aren't going to be popular forever. Yes, people like me do want better content and less flashiness in our games. But World of Warcraft and various other MMO games already established their own foundation, and now it's time to move on to something else different in the future. Internet gaming isn't the future. It's now...... and soon, unfortunately, it'll be in the past. Old news. History. Gone like the way of the 8-bit games. Pure and simple, don't invest everything into the internet and expect it to be the future of gaming.
I can deal with the tv model so long as it's priced cheaply. Like Umbrae above, I rather liked NWN approach. Let us make some games.
Avalanche Studios co-founder says developer's ambition is for action, not moments that make players cry; steampunk-style game on hold. Full Story
- Posted May 15, 2013 6:33 am PT
4A Games creative director Andrew Prokhorov thanks Jason Rubin for telling the studio's story, but says, "We deserve the ratings we get." Full Story
- Posted May 16, 2013 12:44 pm PT