As a veteran of the PC gaming industry, what are your thoughts on DRM and the fan outcry we’ve seen with PC game launches like Diablo III and SimCity at launch?
There are right and wrong ways to solve the problem, for sure. Customers have a right to expect that products they’ve purchased perform as advertised. That being said, developers and publishers face extinction if they can’t solve the piracy issue while at the same time addressing the demands gamers make regarding connected and accessible games (I see these two things going together). Being in China all I see are companies who have solved these issues and customers who are happy with the results. Western developers have some obstacles to overcome before they get there. Not sure I see how incendiary media coverage or player reactions are warranted when things don’t work as expected.
Do gamers or the media think EA or Blizzard wanted things to go so badly at launch? Do they think all the screaming and gnashing of teeth actually helped resolve those issues more quickly? There’s got to be a balance to the relationship. Just because you’ve given a restaurant your business doesn’t entitle you to throwing molten cheese fries in your waiter’s face if your margarita comes out frozen instead of on the rocks. People need to relax a little and stop turning everything into World War III – Gamers vs. The Man. There are no winners in that scenario.
What are your thoughts on what Sony has shown with PS4?
I was hoping for innovation in control input. Didn’t see anything meaningful, so “meh.” It’s nice that they’re moving towards what looks like more developer-friendly hardware and indie friendly distribution. Remains to be seen if the appearance matches reality. Overall, I think this generation of consoles will struggle painfully against the momentum of mobile/online games we’re seeing globally.
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What impact do you feel the advancing gaming power of tablets will have on the games business moving forward, even as next gen consoles enter the market?
We’re seeing a lot of blurring between categories as tablets become more like consoles and consoles began to flaunt more and more always-connected and social features. The distinction between “tablet” and “phone” is also blurring as we’re seeing mini-tablets and mega-phones gaining in popularity simultaneously. Ultimately, people are going to choose based on power, size and convenience – and I think we’re going to see devices emerging which change their form, function and interface depending on where or for what they’re being used. More than anything it’s interface that’s going to drive the most significant change – things like Oculus Rift will radically change people’s demands and expectations – that’s where the real revolution is going to start.