@eurogamer: David Braben argues that pre-owned sales are killing single player games

Why is it that every developer makes this argument in terms that are factually correct, and still comes off like it burns their ass that there is cash coming out of peoples' wallets that isn't going to them? I agree with the guy but it sounds like he should quit making games and go into identity theft.
 

RpgN

Junior Member
Trouble is, your argument is stupid. Its stupid because you are personalizing a matter of business as some kind of assault on your rights.

I hate to break it to you, but for the most part gamers don't directly fund developers.

You need to have a product to sell before the actual sales can be factored in. Meaning that the question becomes how can developers support themselves, their families and employees over the time required to make something.

You need somebody to believe sufficiently in your idea to invest a large lump of capital into it. And because this isn't a humanitarian endeavour its not unreasonably that these backers expect a positive return on their investment.

If market figures show that single-player only games return less on average than those with a multiplayer component, given an investor having a choice between one or the other, which one do you think they will decide to back?

Remember we're talking about large sums of money here, so there's no room for sentiment especially if the backer specializes in the field (i.e. is a large publisher) and relies on hitting the numbers for its own survival. Its that simple.

This need to justify production budget affects every aspect of the development process, edgy ideas get cut, "safe" and/or materialistic stuff gets shoe-horned in, and there's nothing the makers can do as they are beholden to their backers far more dependently than their audience.

Because if they can't afford to make the product, there's no audience to disappoint.

What this means to the end user is that the range of products given the opportunity to succeed/fail is already shaped by market trends, and the effect compounds itself over time.

When you have a phenomenon like used-game sales that affects certain types of game more than another, the effect migrates back up the chain and only manifests itself in what gets greenlit in the next commissioning cycle. You only feel the result after the die is cast.

An example of this is the "B-tier" game, which without fanfare or explanation, practically died out over the course of this generation.

This is very bad thing because there is a world of difference between a micro-budget title and a full-on AAA blockbuster. The B-tier was important because it existed between these two extremes and allow teams to elevate themselves through ingeneuity and innovation even if the production values weren't all there.

Creators need space to succeed or fail.

Without the mid-point you have two almost completely separate industries, and never the twain shall meet because there's no way to fund the transition. You can't expand from 2 guys in a bedroom to a team of 60 in an office without growing pains.

And here's the thing: Its all very well saying "games are too expensive, I'll wait for BOMBA or second hand", and "4 hours for $60 dollars, fuck you!", but the very real consequence is that you are only fucking yourself over in the long run.

If these things stop making money, they will stop being made. Period.

This is because the money men only care about money, but the sad fact is that as developers and gamers we need these guys support or its all over.

Its easy to point your finger but honestly how many Gaffers would get a second mortgage on their house to support a game based purely on its artistic worth?
Thank you for writing a detailed reply. I read it more than once to try and give an appropriate reply back. As detailed as it was, you are still coming with the same message, coming from a passionate fan who's trying to sound as a businessman, and backing every business decision being made at you.

Now, even when you try and think logically about all that has been happening around you, even you are being emotionally controlled and reminded that these people have kids and wifes/husbands. Isn't that the same with other forms of entertainment or other job opportunities? Why do you let it distract your better judgement on what makes a product?

If things are so difficult to maintain in this climate that they themselves as the whole industry have slowly created, isn't it their job to find the best way to make their budget work? You can say that they have been doing that, they have been trying to find new solutions to create a more stable system. It might be working for some and it's not working for many.

All that's happening around you is a cause and effect. Most of the time, the cause is being affected by the providers. Whatever decision they make, they change the industry, it might bite them back or it might be working well for them. Consumers only react to such changes and adapt to it. When you feed people and make them believe they need something, they will. And now, that's all they expect. This is how market changes, it starts by one company and then it catches on. Just like how 3D is being thrown at your throat until you like it at the moment.

Your kind is the typical consumer that has been fed for a long time and can't think for yourself. You think how to support your A company, how to keep them alive and how to back them up regardless. You're just a puppet when you think you know what you're doing. I was like that too, supporting any company that is creative, small and passionate without a question. I'd double and triple dip on some games. This is coming from someone who owns over 500 games with at least 50% not played yet.

And I'm definitely not pointing fingers out and blaming companies. It's not one or the other, why does it have to be so extreme? I'm just saying that people need to remain neutral, think for themselves and what THEY need. Don't support a company just to support them with a game you don't care about. Think logically about what's happening and decide wether you're okay with it or not. Be open-minded about all that's happening around you. Some of them DO take advantage of consumers and they don't even try to hide that fact. Some of them think more for the consumers, and some of them might be more deserving.

Who is complaining and blaiming gamers at the moment? Who is making decisions that can change the whole industry and point fingers when it doesn't work favourably? How can you say consumers are the ones who're blaiming when that's all they hear from companies lately? It only comes to attention with the problems presented at us and how it's being talked about.

Consumers have jobs and families too. It's becoming more difficult in this climate to think about entertainment goods without any responsibilities. You can't just throw money to feed other people, make them drive in fancy cars and give them a bonus. Many companies choose to ignore this and they don't try to adjust themselves in such an opportunity. They'd rather push their agendas with what they think is going to catch on.

The bottom-line? Consumers/gamers/fans need to be more encouraged to think for themselves regardless of the outcome (DLC's, online pass etc. are here to stay). They need to be more intelligent and accepting of this reality. Companies don't think about you (as you pointed out), they have their own meetings, groups and families. We need to feel the same way as well. This industry is young in comparison to other industries and it's getting bigger and bigger by the minute. We need to grow with it and not be held back by what companies think is best for us.
 
What's really funny is that the more this is done the deeper they're digging their grave.
I've got a pretty good feeling that bad single player games are killing bad single player games.
 
The best defense against a LOT of problems in the game industry is making games people want to keep.

If the mentality was to make every game "evergreen" wouldn't these be some of the results?

* Customers would feel games had great value for the price because they'd be playing a game they bought years on.

* Franchises would not have yearly iterative entries (where iteration isn't a good thing), thus avoiding franchise fatigue and running out of ideas quickly.

* Increased perception that games were not disposable and offered a rich experience would encourage customers to be more generous towards trying new games, with less fear of being ripped off yet again.

* Developers would not have their original ideas and suggestions squashed again and again, as they were ordered to turn around and just start working on Gundeath Terror Fighter V, the only IP they'd worked on uninterrupted for the last eight years straight.

Oh yeah, and people wouldn't as often sell games a week after beating them.

Of course the problem always seems to come back to the suits at the top of so many publishers, who are still Toaster Men that believe they're in the packaged goods industry. Just invent a bar of soap or a toaster, mass produce it as cheaply and quickly as possible, and next year put a new scent on it or a new LED light, and stamp "new and improved" on the box.
I was thinking about this, and the best solution in my eyes would be for the next generation to be more open and allow much more user created content on the systems. As in created on PC ala UT3 on PS3. I know there are plenty of hurdles to get around, but if modding became a mainstream feature instead of being relegated to a minority of PC games, surely people would not want to sell their games off and the content to make that happen would cost the dev's nothing other than paying for the development of an SKU on the consumer end. Surely everybody would win?

Saying that, even if second hand sales were drastically reduced somehow, I'm sure people like Braben would find something else to winge about and blame the consumers for.
 
Why you linked to Eurogamer when the original interview was in Gamasutra?

Anyway i think the most ridiculous of his points is that the used market is keeping game prices high.I bet my left arm that if there wasn't a used market the prices would still remain high,and most likely they would have rised even higher than they are now.
 
Why you linked to Eurogamer when the original interview was in Gamasutra?

Anyway i think the most ridiculous of his points is that the used market is keeping game prices high.I bet my left arm that if there wasn't a used market the prices would still remain high,and most likely they would have rised even higher than they are now.
Yeah that annoyed me too. It's not that publishers want to make as much money from gamers as possible it's the used games market! Bullshit.
 

Clear

This post contains disingenuous arguments meant to disguise my fanboyism. Reader beware!
RpgN said:
Your kind is the typical consumer that has been fed for a long time and can't think for yourself. You think how to support your A company, how to keep them alive and how to back them up regardless. You're just a puppet when you think you know what you're doing. I was like that too, supporting any company that is creative, small and passionate without a question. I'd double and triple dip on some games. This is coming from someone who owns over 500 games with at least 50% not played yet.
Nope. I'm a former developer with over 20 years experience in the industry. I've pitched games to big companies at a board-room level and as a result I have a reasonable amount of first-hand experience of how the commissioning process works and the kind of mentality you have to deal with.

This is not to claim I'm any sort of big-shot, because in all instances I was present as a salaried employee of a studio, there cap-in-hand to try and sell these guys on an idea that hopefully would secure my job and the jobs of my team-mates for the short-term.

Having a good idea is simply not enough, you need to be able to make a case for your project being a viable business venture. The plain fact of the matter is that if your thing falls into the high-risk area of the venn-diagram, most of the time the producer will either demand you to modify it so it falls into a safer zone, or simply show you the door.

This can happen at virtually any point during production; months or years of effort can get flushed down the drain purely based on the outcome of a single meeting/evaluation. With the rationale being based on external events like the market performance of the publishers last title in a similar genre.

Used-sales factor into this because as a general phenomenon it shortens the viable shelf-life of a product to its publisher; without an eye-catching IP or branding to keep you afloat after the first week or two, you're simply gone. How do you compete with an older, but heavily advertized and successful AAA game that's now floating around in substantial quantity in the used-chain at half the price of your product?

Why do you think unscrupulous retailers like GAME are so keen to offer "special" trade-in prices on big new games, but will give you pennies for lower profile stuff? This is the reliance on churn Braben is talking about.

The money in used-sales is just as hit-driven as the "new" market. They milk the big titles for all their worth for as long as they can, and by sustaining that they starve niche and lesser promoted new titles of any chance to make their money back.

Do I buy Vanquish new, or buy a used copy of Gears2 for half the price? Especially when you're thinking that one of these titles is going to get heavily discounted when it fails...

The upshot of this is the next time SEGA gets offered a project like Vanquish, they'll look at the ledger to see how it reviewed and how it subsequently sold, and drop it like a hot potato because its simply not worth the risk.

This is the reality.

Yet gamers apparently expect that the solution is that publishers double-down on their losses by selling these risky titles at a reduced price. This might work in some cases, but if it so happens that the volume increase doesn't offest the reduced return per-unit they are even more screwed. Not to mention that in so doing this price reduction they are effectively devaluing the product as a retail proposition to retailers (lower RRP = lower margin for a product occupying the same amount of shopfloor space) and setting a trend that may not be sustainable across their entire product portfolio. i.e. not all games have the same development requirements and budget.

All of which brings us back around to the logic that some types of game are simply too risky to back because of production cost versus perceived market conditions and response.

Instead they'll back the uninspired title that has more inbuilt revenue streams. Horse armour and online passes ftw. Yay.
 
Nope. I'm a former developer with over 20 years experience in the industry. I've pitched games to big companies at a board-room level and as a result I have a reasonable amount of first-hand experience of how the commissioning process works and the kind of mentality you have to deal with.

This is not to claim I'm any sort of big-shot, because in all instances I was present as a salaried employee of a studio, there cap-in-hand to try and sell these guys on an idea that hopefully would secure my job and the jobs of my team-mates for the short-term.

Having a good idea is simply not enough, you need to be able to make a case for your project being a viable business venture. The plain fact of the matter is that if your thing falls into the high-risk area of the venn-diagram, most of the time the producer will either demand you to modify it so it falls into a safer zone, or simply show you the door.

This can happen at virtually any point during production; months or years of effort can get flushed down the drain purely based on the outcome of a single meeting/evaluation. With the rationale being based on external events like the market performance of the publishers last title in a similar genre.

Used-sales factor into this because as a general phenomenon it shortens the viable shelf-life of a product to its publisher; without an eye-catching IP or branding to keep you afloat after the first week or two, you're simply gone. How do you compete with an older, but heavily advertized and successful AAA game that's now floating around in substantial quantity in the used-chain at half the price of your product?

Why do you think unscrupulous retailers like GAME are so keen to offer "special" trade-in prices on big new games, but will give you pennies for lower profile stuff? This is the reliance on churn Braben is talking about.

The money in used-sales is just as hit-driven as the "new" market. They milk the big titles for all their worth for as long as they can, and by sustaining that they starve niche and lesser promoted new titles of any chance to make their money back.

Do I buy Vanquish new, or buy a used copy of Gears2 for half the price? Especially when you're thinking that one of these titles is going to get heavily discounted when it fails...

The upshot of this is the next time SEGA gets offered a project like Vanquish, they'll look at the ledger to see how it reviewed and how it subsequently sold, and drop it like a hot potato because its simply not worth the risk.

This is the reality.

Yet gamers apparently expect that the solution is that publishers double-down on their losses by selling these risky titles at a reduced price. This might work in some cases, but if it so happens that the volume increase doesn't offest the reduced return per-unit they are even more screwed. Not to mention that in so doing this price reduction they are effectively devaluing the product as a retail proposition to retailers (lower RRP = lower margin for a product occupying the same amount of shopfloor space) and setting a trend that may not be sustainable across their entire product portfolio. i.e. not all games have the same development requirements and budget.

All of which brings us back around to the logic that some types of game are simply too risky to back because of production cost versus perceived market conditions and response.

Instead they'll back the uninspired title that has more inbuilt revenue streams. Horse armour and online passes ftw. Yay.
Why do you think Vanquish is even discounted in the first place?
It's not the retailers' fault if the publishers stuffs the channels and refuse to buy back unsold stock.
It's not the used market's fault if the people doing the market research are so shitty that the publishers can't come up with a reasonable expectation of what to sell leading to project managers not being able to manage the project on a decent budget.
Stop blaming the used market for every ill of the industry!
 
oh man, if only they could do something to make people keep their games like free post release DLC...


I agree with the dude in the OP that pre-owned is a problem, but as F. Master eloquently puts it the tools were available to the developers this generation to provide consumers with a reason to keep their product longer and also to give late buyers a reason to purchase (free added content throughout the lifecycle of the product), but they fucked up.
 

RpgN

Junior Member
Nope. I'm a former developer with over 20 years experience in the industry. I've pitched games to big companies at a board-room level and as a result I have a reasonable amount of first-hand experience of how the commissioning process works and the kind of mentality you have to deal with.

This is not to claim I'm any sort of big-shot, because in all instances I was present as a salaried employee of a studio, there cap-in-hand to try and sell these guys on an idea that hopefully would secure my job and the jobs of my team-mates for the short-term.

Having a good idea is simply not enough, you need to be able to make a case for your project being a viable business venture. The plain fact of the matter is that if your thing falls into the high-risk area of the venn-diagram, most of the time the producer will either demand you to modify it so it falls into a safer zone, or simply show you the door.

This can happen at virtually any point during production; months or years of effort can get flushed down the drain purely based on the outcome of a single meeting/evaluation. With the rationale being based on external events like the market performance of the publishers last title in a similar genre.

Used-sales factor into this because as a general phenomenon it shortens the viable shelf-life of a product to its publisher; without an eye-catching IP or branding to keep you afloat after the first week or two, you're simply gone. How do you compete with an older, but heavily advertized and successful AAA game that's now floating around in substantial quantity in the used-chain at half the price of your product?

Why do you think unscrupulous retailers like GAME are so keen to offer "special" trade-in prices on big new games, but will give you pennies for lower profile stuff? This is the reliance on churn Braben is talking about.

The money in used-sales is just as hit-driven as the "new" market. They milk the big titles for all their worth for as long as they can, and by sustaining that they starve niche and lesser promoted new titles of any chance to make their money back.

Do I buy Vanquish new, or buy a used copy of Gears2 for half the price? Especially when you're thinking that one of these titles is going to get heavily discounted when it fails...

The upshot of this is the next time SEGA gets offered a project like Vanquish, they'll look at the ledger to see how it reviewed and how it subsequently sold, and drop it like a hot potato because its simply not worth the risk.

This is the reality.

Yet gamers apparently expect that the solution is that publishers double-down on their losses by selling these risky titles at a reduced price. This might work in some cases, but if it so happens that the volume increase doesn't offest the reduced return per-unit they are even more screwed. Not to mention that in so doing this price reduction they are effectively devaluing the product as a retail proposition to retailers (lower RRP = lower margin for a product occupying the same amount of shopfloor space) and setting a trend that may not be sustainable across their entire product portfolio. i.e. not all games have the same development requirements and budget.

All of which brings us back around to the logic that some types of game are simply too risky to back because of production cost versus perceived market conditions and response.

Instead they'll back the uninspired title that has more inbuilt revenue streams. Horse armour and online passes ftw. Yay.
This makes more sense that you used to be a developer, I'm sorry to have assumed your position too quickly.

What you have written makes sense, it is a problem at the moment for lesser games. Though, I'm not one of the people claiming that games should be cheaper (it would be nice of course), but I do want them to retain the value we expect of them at least. I know your reply can apply to this claim as well for lesser games. The only possible solution that can be applied at the moment is, offering games like Vanguish as digital downloads only. New problems and advantages can come out of it, but it might be a more safe bet. These kind of games are niche and they'd still be able to reach their audience. It might be easier said than done since it's still a fairly new option.

You're talking specifically about niche games and indie developers, I'm looking at the industry as a whole. Those niche developers might not have it so good, but that still doesn't take away how other games are milked to death, more control taking away from consumers etc. I honestly think they can encourage buying games new instead of used by offering something in return. Like having a DLC pass that grants you access to future DLC's of a new game you buy. Or give a code for a full soundrack they can DL from the store. If you buy 5 games from the same company, get rewarded for it? The options are endless.

Used games have been here since the beginning, it's an essential part of the industry. I can't deny that it has increased and retailers are taking advantage of it. It might have increased as a response to another problem. It might sound cheesy and typical, but improving relation with chains or work things out, it might help somewhat. I've noticed this about the gaming industry against retailers, they don't have a good relation as they should. Maybe this applies for the gaming industry as a whole, every company is out for themselves. And they only copy each other in practices that are quick and hurt the consumers (when you look at it from one perspective). I don't think the used market will ever disappear, and it really shouldn't.

Surely there are different ways they can try to tackle this problem, but they're afraid of the possibilities and how longer it takes to find them. I'm sure they can find ways that can work for them without hurting the consumers the way they're doing lately. Can you agree that they're taking it safe and the easy way out of this?
 
I think I've stopped caring about the games industry's stupid whining. I'll buy the good games used or new, discounted or not, or maybe not at all. Fuck off if it doesn't suit you. You're not entitled to my money, games developers/publishers.
 

luxarific

Nork unification denier
For every multi-platinum Skyrim there are a bunch of Syndicates. Which leads into what some devs have been saying for awhile: You either make AAA blockbusters or you make small stuff, there isn't a viable market in between.
I'm playing Syndicate right now and I can tell you that it would have sold much better if they had just released it a few months after ME3 (e.g., that slow period you usually get in April/May/June). I'll never understand publishers that send their games to die by releasing them at the same time as a Mass Effect or Halo or [Insert Other Huge Game Franchise Here]. The sp of Syndicate is a tunnel for sure, but the gameplay is pretty damn entertaining. It's unfortunate that the game died on arrival because ME3 sucked all the air out of the room.
 
Stop forcing your small game into a $60 boxed product. If you are looking for a safe way to make a game it is certainly not that. $60 boxed games are the largest and riskiest bet in the industry. When they win, they win big; but when they lose, they lose it all.

iOS/Android
XBLA
Steam
PSN
Handhelds

Any of those are much less risky if a safe return is one of your priorities.
 

Pie and Beans

Look for me on the local news, I'll be the guy arrested for trying to burn down a Nintendo exec's house.
There will come a time when Eurogamer and co stop scraping the veritable wordshit straight off the tongues of Braben, Molyneux, and the others of that ilk for some terrible internet videogame article.

Will I live to see that day? I can but hope.
 

Clear

This post contains disingenuous arguments meant to disguise my fanboyism. Reader beware!
RpgN said:
Surely there are different ways they can try to tackle this problem, but they're afraid of the possibilities and how longer it takes to find them. I'm sure they can find ways that can work for them without hurting the consumers the way they're doing lately. Can you agree that they're taking it safe and the easy way out of this?
Essentially there's a power-struggle going on between publishing and traditional retail that is only going to be resolved when retail is largely cut out of the equation.

Both these groups care exclusively about the bottom-line, they exist solely to make money by servicing a need in the market.

They are as bad as each other.

Development is stuck between a rock and hard place because ultimately they depend on both to get their work to the audience.

For all the smack that gets talked about developers they are the ones getting the worst of it because thanks to this ongoing "battle" breakout opportunities are fewer and they are more likely than ever to have the nature of their work dictated to them by publishing.

What's ironic is that the amount of work required to put together a competitive product is greater than ever, and yet in spite of games being (when adjusted for inflation) cheaper than ever, the market is less forgiving and more harshly judgemental than it ever was.

Devs flock to iOS not just because its the "hot new thing", they do so because its one of the few outlets available without a publisher or platform-holders backing. Its also relatively low-cost, and potentially very high-return; on the face of it, it seems like a no-brainer.

Unfortunately when they get there they find a situation where the established pricing structure pretty much requires massive unit sales to cover costs, meaning that once again mass market interest becomes the primary driver for successful product design. The big players hog the charts through price-bombing at any time of perceived peak interest...

Yeesh. Its the same situation all over again. Established successes, licensed brands and franchises that are keyed to a mass-market non-gamer buyer rule the roost because undiscriminating audiences' money is as good as anyone elses.

The point I'm getting at, and I highly doubt you'll like it, is this:

If you like the idea of decent-budgeted, but slightly left-of-centre and gamer focussed titles in the future, you really ought to start considering buying them now, new, not used.

Waiting for them to hit the discount racks isn't helping. Buying them used isn't helping. Neither of these things will cause their price to drop or you get a better deal in the future.

All that will happen is that they will stop being produced. They will go away. And without that outlet, their developers will go away too, probably to areas less creative or ambitious but more likely to provide a sustainable livelihood through nickel-and-diming rubes like your average Facebook shit-fest.

Noone's forcing you to do anything. But don't assume that your choices won't have consequences for what's going to happen further down the line.

Support the games market you want in the future.
 
Essentially there's a power-struggle going on between publishing and traditional retail that is only going to be resolved when retail is largely cut out of the equation.
How is that any good if the retail is cut of the equation, the retailers (big and small) do more to actually service the customers this days than the publishers ever try to.

Both these groups care exclusively about the bottom-line, they exist solely to make money by servicing a need in the market.

They are as bad as each other.
With the added bonus that publishers never have to care about what to with unsold copies of stuffs the customers don't want to buy.

Development is stuck between a rock and hard place because ultimately they depend on both to get their work to the audience.

For all the smack that gets talked about developers they are the ones getting the worst of it because thanks to this ongoing "battle" breakout opportunities are fewer and they are more likely than ever to have the nature of their work dictated to them by publishing.
Actually you're wrong, the one who get the worst of it are the customers, but since most don't actually care I guess they're not aware of that.
After them, devs certainly seems to get it harsh though.

What's ironic is that the amount of work required to put together a competitive product is greater than ever, and yet in spite of games being (when adjusted for inflation) cheaper than ever, the market is less forgiving and more harshly judgemental than it ever was.

Devs flock to iOS not just because its the "hot new thing", they do so because its one of the few outlets available without a publisher or platform-holders backing. Its also relatively low-cost, and potentially very high-return; on the face of it, it seems like a no-brainer.

Unfortunately when they get there they find a situation where the established pricing structure pretty much requires massive unit sales to cover costs, meaning that once again mass market interest becomes the primary driver for successful product design. The big players hog the charts through price-bombing at any time of perceived peak interest...

Yeesh. Its the same situation all over again. Established successes, licensed brands and franchises that are keyed to a mass-market non-gamer buyer rule the roost because undiscriminating audiences' money is as good as anyone elses.

The point I'm getting at, and I highly doubt you'll like it, is this:

If you like the idea of decent-budgeted, but slightly left-of-centre and gamer focussed titles in the future, you really ought to start considering buying them now, new, not used.

Waiting for them to hit the discount racks isn't helping. Buying them used isn't helping. Neither of these things will cause their price to drop or you get a better deal in the future.

All that will happen is that they will stop being produced. They will go away. And without that outlet, their developers will go away too, probably to areas less creative or ambitious but more likely to provide a sustainable livelihood through nickel-and-diming rubes like your average Facebook shit-fest.

Noone's forcing you to do anything. But don't assume that your choices won't have consequences for what's going to happen further down the line.

Support the games market you want in the future.
If these games disappear we'll be left with pretty much a dead market, I mean it's leading to a massive contractiong of the demand which will lead to a massive contraction of the offer.
devs&pubs had a choice this gen, they chosed to go bigger and more expensive it certainly backfired.
Again I'm not sure anyone was willing to pay 60 to 70 bucks for stuffs like the Watchmen game at any time in the gaming history.
 
If people are going to want cheaper b title games they are going to be developed outside of america and japan. The amount of fat that can be cut from the cost to develop a decent length AA/B level games is rising with the level of graphics and its more risk than worth it because of a small amount used games sales.

Not everyone can make a skyrim and should be a skyrim. using that argument only hurts the industry.
 

Clear

This post contains disingenuous arguments meant to disguise my fanboyism. Reader beware!
Mael said:
Actually you're wrong, the one who get the worst of it are the customers, but since most don't actually care I guess they're not aware of that.
Customers have never gotten better value for money than they do today in my opinion, and I've been gaming since the 70's.
 
There are other solutions to make games that people want to keep playing or hold on to and not trade back right after they beat it. For example (lets say we're talking about a traditional linear style shooter):

-new game +
-co-op, or a separate co-op campaign
-some kind of random level/mission generator, or at least randomize enemy placement in the campaign
-a simple level/mission editor, especially one where you could upload your levels/missions to a community and let other people download them
-a steady flow of quality, smartly priced DLC
 
Games are way overpriced right now, the market is clearly screaming that at the top of its lungs, and yet everyone is ignoring the clear signs this is true.

There's too much supply right now. Everyone is making the same games over and over with minor differences, and these differences aren't worth 60 dollars on their own.



further, Pre-Order DLC. I think this is a lot more of a problem than I think people give credit to. Pre-Order exclusive DLC instantly devalues a product the minute it's released. Seriously... game companies are devaluing their product before it even hits the shelves, because a person who buys the game the day of release (without a pre-order) gets a lesser product than the guy who bought the game the day before.
 
I think there are some good points in this thread, but I think there are some false assumptions that should be considered.

The most important to consider is this: Publishers have not actually focused on making a profit this generation. This may sound absurd, but it isn't; they are instead focusing on raising the barriers of entry to eliminate insurgent competition. The poster Clear correctly points out that the "B" game has vanished and that this has effectively made it impossible for small publishers to turn in to big publishers, as it's incredibly challenging to jump from small projects to huge, "AAA" projects with no steps in between. This is a deliberately manufactured problem by the big publishers, as they benefit hugely from this situation. Of course, EA would like to be making money, but it has not been their main goal; their main goal has been raising the barriers of entry such that the only realistic competition to them on consoles are Ubisoft, Take 2, and ActivisionBlizzard.

This is important to recognize, because it shifts the burden of "blame" for the circumstances we find ourselves in. The disappearance of the "B" game is not solely or even primarily a consequence of Gamestop or used game sales; it is a deliberate push by the big publishers to push out the small guys. They accomplished this task by spending extreme amounts of money, constantly raising the expectations for what a "AAA" game or even "AA" game is, and through this make it impossible for the small or middle guys to keep up with the constantly ramping production costs.

And this gets to another problem, which Clear implied but which he did not explicate; that this problem with single player games is only a problem if you want to remain at the higher end of production budgets. Because it's obviously possible to make highly successful single player games with great independance and ambition; the Terrarria team did it. The Scribblenauts team did it. Angry Birds is a single player sensation. But these teams, of course, accomplished these feats on much smaller budgets than one would expect from a "AAA" game.

And this is the part that rubs many people the wrong way, whether they consciously recognize it or not. If Braben wants to make a game, he has choices. He can make a huge budget, "AAA" affair that has multiplayer components; or he can make a single player game of his choosing with a much lower budget. The only thing he cannot do is make an independent single player game with a huge budget. That's the hidden subtext here: Braben doesn't just want to make his single player game, he wants to make his single player game with a massive, "epic story" budget, and that's where the problem lies. His position garners a lot less sympathy when one realizes this.
 
I stopped buying single player games new/full price when they started taking off pieces of content to put on preorder for this chain, that chain, that digial servive the other digital service, then the dlc shit etc...

There's no way I EVER pay full price/new for an incomplete game.

Seriously, publishers can go and fuck off. Either you give me a complete experience on the disc without chunks taken off or you can kiss my sale goodbye.

Seriously, their policies are cheapening their own product. All those shiny games on the store? they're all missing chunks. But hey, congrats on the short term monetization...
 
There are other solutions to make games that people want to keep playing or hold on to and not trade back right after they beat it. For example (lets say we're talking about a traditional linear style shooter):

-new game +
-co-op, or a separate co-op campaign
-some kind of random level/mission generator, or at least randomize enemy placement in the campaign
-a simple level/mission editor, especially one where you could upload your levels/missions to a community and let other people download them
-a steady flow of quality, smartly priced DLC
I love all of these ideas.

If publishers don't want us to treat their games as quickly expendable they should stop making quickly expendable games. And that *doesn't* have to be a throwaway multiplayer mode with unlocks. There are other ways.
 
The most important to consider is this: Publishers have not actually focused on making a profit this generation. This may sound absurd, but it isn't; they are instead focusing on raising the barriers of entry to eliminate insurgent competition. The poster Clear correctly points out that the "B" game has vanished and that this has effectively made it impossible for small publishers to turn in to big publishers, as it's incredibly challenging to jump from small projects to huge, "AAA" projects with no steps in between. This is a deliberately manufactured problem by the big publishers, as they benefit hugely from this situation. Of course, EA would like to be making money, but it has not been their main goal; their main goal has been raising the barriers of entry such that the only realistic competition to them on consoles are Ubisoft, Take 2, and ActivisionBlizzard.

This is important to recognize, because it shifts the burden of "blame" for the circumstances we find ourselves in. The disappearance of the "B" game is not solely or even primarily a consequence of Gamestop or used game sales; it is a deliberate push by the big publishers to push out the small guys. They accomplished this task by spending extreme amounts of money, constantly raising the expectations for what a "AAA" game or even "AA" game is, and through this make it impossible for the small or middle guys to keep up with the constantly ramping production costs.
Woah, I had no idea O_O

Can I ask then if this is the case then why does EA in particular seem to keep backing these AAA bombas like shadows of the damned, alice madness returns and syndicate? I'm assuming it somehow works out with all those being EA partners games =/

Or even others like 2K with the darkness 2 and spec ops the line?
 
Woah, I had no idea O_O

Can I ask then if this is the case then why does EA in particular seem to keep backing these AAA bombas like shadows of the damned, alice madness returns and syndicate? I'm assuming it somehow works out with all those being EA partners games =/

Or even others like 2K with the darkness 2 and spec ops the line?
As you make note, the "backing" given these games is quite weak in several cases. Syndicate was clearly sent to die, for example, once it became clear that it was not going to be a hit as it approached release. Most were EA Partner games which require dramatically lower investment, and EA now seems to be cutting back on this program and focusing more on internal development.

But generally, the answer is that no system is perfect and no publisher can reasonably expect every project they greenlight to be a big hit. That's simply an obvious truth in what is fundamentally a creative medium. You can expect every musical artist to produce a blockbuster record every single time (almost all eventually fade away, in fact), you can't expect every movie made by Spielberg or Lucas to be a gigantic blockbuster, and so forth. Creativity is fundamentally disorderly and not easy to control through traditional business mechanisms. You can't pre-package creative output like you can, lets say, a PC component, which has quantifiable value and yield.

And this is the fundamental problem not only that EA faces, but that all major publishers face in any creative medium; in theory, a truly competitive market for games or movies or music would see "publishers" rise and fall in rapid succession, as you cannot expect any specific publisher to be able to sign every great new artist or new developer or new director with an eye for profitable film making. It just isn't possible, because "talent" is far more subjective in these fields than it is in, say, CPU manufacturing. Major publishers/studios/etc handle this problem by raising the barriers to entry -- that is, they make it extremely difficult to break in to the market. If you're an outsider looking to make a hit movie, for example, then step 1 in the process is "have three hundred million dollars ready to produce the movie." If there are 10,000 people out there with good ideas for a movie that could possibly compete with Avatar, then perhaps only 1 of those people has the sort of money needed to actually create that movie. Or perhaps 0 of them do. This is how the same 5 or so movie studios (Paramount, Fox, Universal, etc) the same 3 music labels (Sony BMG, EMI Universal, and UMG) and the same 4 major game publishers (Ubisoft, Take 2, EA, Activision) control something like 90% of the market place: they make it so expensive to be successful that no one else can reasonably compete.

Another way to think of this concept: EA does not necessarily have the most talent (they can be good, of course), but they absolutely do have the most money, by definition. As such, it is in their best interest to redefine the marketplace so that the market is primarily defined by production values, rather than necessarily about having great, creative game ideas. If it's simply a competition of talent, then EA has to not only compete with Activision/Ubisoft/Take 2, but also with every little guy who has a great game idea.

If the competition is instead one largely or primarily based on production values, then the only real competition EA has is those other 3 companies, and the thousands of little guys with good ideas but little money become mostly meaningless. Again, this strategy is not unique to game development, can be readily observed in other creative media, and is known in economics as "raising the barriers to entry," which simply means, "making it harder for little guys to break in." I hope this isn't too long or boring: I'm just trying to express the idea as clearly as I can.
 
As you make note, the "backing" given these games is quite weak in several cases. Syndicate was clearly sent to die, for example, once it became clear that it was not going to be a hit as it approached release. Most were EA Partner games which require dramatically lower investment, and EA now seems to be cutting back on this program and focusing more on internal development. [...]
Opiate: Depressingly Realistic

So this seen like a horrible development for this and every other media. Yes, it gives this industries constant variables, but on the other hand seen to kill true innovation and gives some companies to much control. =/
 

Clear

This post contains disingenuous arguments meant to disguise my fanboyism. Reader beware!
Opiate said:
The most important to consider is this: Publishers have not actually focused on making a profit this generation. This may sound absurd, but it isn't; they are instead focusing on raising the barriers of entry to eliminate insurgent competition. The poster Clear correctly points out that the "B" game has vanished and that this has effectively made it impossible for small publishers to turn in to big publishers, as it's incredibly challenging to jump from small projects to huge, "AAA" projects with no steps in between. This is a deliberately manufactured problem by the big publishers, as they benefit hugely from this situation. Of course, EA would like to be making money, but it has not been their main goal; their main goal has been raising the barriers of entry such that the only realistic competition to them on consoles are Ubisoft, Take 2, and ActivisionBlizzard.
That's an interesting perspective, although I must admit to the belief that publishers are above all else interested in profit. This is especially critical given the massive rise in AAA budgets this gen and the move from SD to HD as a general standard.

Other than that I'd just add that the product gulf is particularly hard on developers as opposed to publishers. Its easy to underestimate how massively things can change when a developers head-count rises rapidly in a short space of time - many small teams simply don't have the man-management expertise to survive rapid expansion and the changes in interpersonal dynamics that it brings.

Opiate said:
This is important to recognize, because it shifts the burden of "blame" for the circumstances we find ourselves in. The disappearance of the "B" game is not solely or even primarily a consequence of Gamestop or used game sales; it is a deliberate push by the big publishers to push out the small guys. They accomplished this task by spending extreme amounts of money, constantly raising the expectations for what a "AAA" game or even "AA" game is, and through this make it impossible for the small or middle guys to keep up with the constantly ramping production costs.
I disagree with this completely. The audience and the technology drives expectations, and a constant pressure to exceed and surpass what has gone before is what drives the uptake of new platforms. Someone will always blaze a trail, and if you aren't seen to be at least trying to match them, how can you be seen to be competitive?

Expectations in terms of content are again market and technology driven; the rush to add an online component to everything is only possible when backed by services like XBL and PSN. Early market-leading products essentially enshrine what is expected within a genre. I mean people bemoan how everyone is now cloning CoD's techniques for incentivising long-term online play, yet its undeniable that the enthusiast press will punish you at review for not including comparable functionality.

There are also expectations in terms of form to consider, and how that squares with forecasted sales and production.

Probably the most pertinent example of this is the sad fate of the "survival horror" genre. This has always been relatively niche (due to not everyone being equally excited by scary games), isn't particularly amenable to multi-player bolt-ons and in fact works best when presented as a short, cinematic single-player experience.

Its a pretty expensive thing to do right because you need good quality 3D visuals to get the horror vibe, and people's expectations have been set high due to the glossy Res Evil and Silent Hill titles of previous generations.

So, you have a high cost, relatively niche product, that falls squarely into the high-risk of resale (i.e. no tail) bracket of the market... and people wonder why noone is making these games, or if they do, why they push it more towards an action-horror sort of experience (bigger demographic/justify multiplayer)

On the other hand, if you do it slightly on the cheap with an untried developer (*cough* SH:Downpour *cough*), you get a beating at review because its not glossy enough and therefore represents poor value.

Until people become able to look past superficial aspects like production values and judge games on entertainment value above all else (like movies and music), the pressure will be constantly there to embellish and "embiggen" on what has gone before.

This mentality is just pushing certain types of game to the wall because their form dictates that you they cannot match big sellers (in other genres) on arbitrary metrics like completion time or online feature-set, and you can't price them lower because the economics of production dictate that you need to charge full price to cover the expense of producing many detailed (but quickly burned-through in game time) assets.
 
They won't lower prices. Whenever they find a way of increasing profit (Direct Download for instance) the saving is never passed onto the consumer. We've always shown we're willing to pay £40 a game, so why would they think that that's going to change?
 
You take away my right of resale or artificially cripple it with bullshit online passes "free day 1 dlc" like catwoman? Guess what? I'm never supporting your company besides a 5$ steam sale or 5-10$ used copy.
 
Games are way overpriced right now, the market is clearly screaming that at the top of its lungs, and yet everyone is ignoring the clear signs this is true.

There's too much supply right now. Everyone is making the same games over and over with minor differences, and these differences aren't worth 60 dollars on their own.



further, Pre-Order DLC. I think this is a lot more of a problem than I think people give credit to. Pre-Order exclusive DLC instantly devalues a product the minute it's released. Seriously... game companies are devaluing their product before it even hits the shelves, because a person who buys the game the day of release (without a pre-order) gets a lesser product than the guy who bought the game the day before.
This.

If I'm not interested in a game but it gets amazing reviews/word of mouth? Don't buy it at 60$ because odds are there were parts of the game ripped out for pre order dlc/day 1 dlc/online pass so I might as well wait until it bombas to 10.
 
So taking his argument to its logical extension ...

If used games are killing single player campaigns, and assuming that customers' legal rights to resell remain intact, then at some point in the future no-one will be making single player games, or very few people at all.

In a multiplayer-only landscape, some big games are going to attract the lions' share of the customer base. Your Call of Duty games, Halos, FIFAs, Gears of Wars, WoW etc. Anything that is not a MMO or lacks persistent Pavlovian rewards and is not published by EA/Acti/Ubi/MS etc will be unable to compete.

At that point, developers will start complaining that multiplayer games are killing game sales and where do they go from that painted-in corner? Do they go to the arcades and make each game 20c per play session (or more if theyre arrogant like EA)? Do they try and ban people from not buying games? Or (serious suggestion here) do they release mandatory map packs on a more frequent basis (say 6 monthly) and make you rebuy the original game again in order to keep playing. If you don't pay up you get told that youre worse than a pirate and they send around Peter Molyneaux to verbally abuse you for killing the entire Games Industry singlehandedly.

And charge you for the privilege.
 
Honestly, even if true I don't care.


Make good single player games and I'll buy them full price.

Push out some the crap that I'm starting to see at retail and I'll buy it at bomba price or used, if at all.
 
Games are way overpriced right now, the market is clearly screaming that at the top of its lungs, and yet everyone is ignoring the clear signs this is true.

There's too much supply right now. Everyone is making the same games over and over with minor differences, and these differences aren't worth 60 dollars on their own.



further, Pre-Order DLC. I think this is a lot more of a problem than I think people give credit to. Pre-Order exclusive DLC instantly devalues a product the minute it's released. Seriously... game companies are devaluing their product before it even hits the shelves, because a person who buys the game the day of release (without a pre-order) gets a lesser product than the guy who bought the game the day before.
Or the guy who waits a year for the GOTY edition.
 
Yeah, but would those games be selling if it wasn't for the used-games market?

Probably not.
The argument against this would be that without used games, those games would have their prices reduced due to lack of demand, and then people would be buying them for the same price they would have paid if they were used, but that money would actually go to the dev.

I can definitely agree that there are a lot of crappy games, and games are overpriced. I guess I'd just like to see things move in a direction where publishers get a more accurate read of how much people are willing to pay, and charge them that, rather than encourage people to go the used game route by charging too much.
 

jetjevons

Bish loves my games!
What the boxed copy full price console market is going through right now reminds me of the full price boxed copy PC games market circa 2000. Not so much in terms of the impact of used game sales (piracy, hardware standard complexity and the rise of HD consoles were the cause of that decline) but publishers just fled in droves when faced with the challenge of go bigger, adapt or die.
 
if publishers wean themselves off retail, broadband gets a bit better on average, then the problem solves itself. the first step is for the console maker to put all games online day 1. publishers only favor retail and handicap digital right now because that's where most of their revenue comes from. the console makers can take a bigger piece of the pie by setting policies that make it more appealing to sell digital copies which gives them an interest in it. so long term it's a non problem. i don't see anyone complaining about the inability to resell games on Steam. people love the prices on Steam (in some countries anyway) and they are set by publishers who have more price flexibility. game retail is dying a slow death like every other retailer selling a product that can be delivered digitally
 

NervousXtian

Thought Emoji Movie was good. Take that as you will.
People these days are spoiled.

Back when I was a kid you bought games for $40 or more for the NES in the late 80's and the only clue if was good was a friend told you it was or you thought it looked cool from the back of the box.

$40 in 1989 = $73 now.

Gaming is cheaper than ever these days when inflation is accounted for, also games honestly are the same length they always were.

I think it's more the ADHD mentality of gamers these days, we have so many choices and such huge libraries of games, that most gamers don't keep games to replay them. Thus the whole Redbox arguments.

Back in the day we kept our games and played the shit out of them. They weren't any longer, we just kept playing them even if we beat them.. fuck I beat SMB well over 100 times... just because it was the only game I had for a long time other than Duck Hunt.
 

Burai

shitonmychest57
The argument against this would be that without used games, those games would have their prices reduced due to lack of demand, and then people would be buying them for the same price they would have paid if they were used, but that money would actually go to the dev.

I can definitely agree that there are a lot of crappy games, and games are overpriced. I guess I'd just like to see things move in a direction where publishers get a more accurate read of how much people are willing to pay, and charge them that, rather than encourage people to go the used game route by charging too much.
The problem with this argument is that it suggests a game like Syndicate sold poorly because there were thousands of copies in the pre-owned channel.

That just isn't the case. As with piracy, where the most pirated titles tend to be the ones that sell the most too, in order to have a problem with used, you need to have sold a ton of games in the first place.

The fact is, people just don't want these games in enough volume to make them viable.

if publishers wean themselves off retail, broadband gets a bit better on average, then the problem solves itself. the first step is for the console maker to put all games online day 1. publishers only favor retail and handicap digital right now because that's where most of their revenue comes from. the console makers can take a bigger piece of the pie by setting policies that make it more appealing to sell digital copies which gives them an interest in it. so long term it's a non problem. i don't see anyone complaining about the inability to resell games on Steam. people love the prices on Steam (in some countries anyway) and they are set by publishers who have more price flexibility. game retail is dying a slow death like every other retailer selling a product that can be delivered digitally
People love Steam because games release at a cheap price and just get cheaper over their life. If I take a punt on a game at $10, I'm not going to be too upset if it's crap.

This doesn't apply with consoles because the games start off at RRP and stay there. Consumers don't want to pay $60 for something they can't sell on and they certainly don't want to risk $60 on a title they aren't sure about if they know they can't get any of that back through trading.

People these days are spoiled.

Back when I was a kid you bought games for $40 or more for the NES in the late 80's and the only clue if was good was a friend told you it was or you thought it looked cool from the back of the box.

$40 in 1989 = $73 now.

Gaming is cheaper than ever these days when inflation is accounted for, also games honestly are the same length they always were.

I think it's more the ADHD mentality of gamers these days, we have so many choices and such huge libraries of games, that most gamers don't keep games to replay them. Thus the whole Redbox arguments.

Back in the day we kept our games and played the shit out of them. They weren't any longer, we just kept playing them even if we beat them.. fuck I beat SMB well over 100 times... just because it was the only game I had for a long time other than Duck Hunt.
So what you're saying is that people should buy less games and just hold on to their few AAA titles (which SMB was back in the day) and play them to death?

That's basically exactly how the market still works. GAFers and their crazy consumption and backlogs are not indicative of the market as a whole.
 
That's an interesting perspective, although I must admit to the belief that publishers are above all else interested in profit. This is especially critical given the massive rise in AAA budgets this gen and the move from SD to HD as a general standard.
What I'm describing is not fringe economic theory; it's quite literally in principles of micro. Arguing against it is arguing against fairly fundamental business theory regarding monopolistic competition.

Other than that I'd just add that the product gulf is particularly hard on developers as opposed to publishers. Its easy to underestimate how massively things can change when a developers head-count rises rapidly in a short space of time - many small teams simply don't have the man-management expertise to survive rapid expansion and the changes in interpersonal dynamics that it brings.
Absolutely, I agree. This only compounds the existing problem.

I disagree with this completely. The audience and the technology drives expectations,
Where did you learn this? This is absolutely wrong in anything but the very short term. Supply drives expectations and output long term.

and a constant pressure to exceed and surpass what has gone before is what drives the uptake of new platforms. Someone will always blaze a trail, and if you aren't seen to be at least trying to match them, how can you be seen to be competitive?
The Wii? The DS? iOS games? Facebook games? The two "technically powerful" systems on the market today (PS3, 360) are quite literally the least popular systems amongst those which are reasonably competitive. Even the PSP has sold more units, if not more software, let alone the PC, Wii, DS, and iPhone.

Expectations in terms of content are again market and technology driven;
They are not. This is clearly wrong and I'm not sure where you're learning your economics. Even detaching this from economic theory for a moment, it should be very obvious that the market is not pushing for better technology, as the DS and Wii exemplify, and even as the PC exemplifies: most of the explosively popular games on the platform in recent years (Farmville, League of Legends, Words with Friends, the Sims) are hardly technological behemoths. You're simply asserting this when very basic economic theory and actual evidence strongly refute your position. The preponderance of actual, available evidence suggests that the market would have been perfectly fine with PS2 (or Wii-like) graphics for another generation, and yet the major publishers pushed extremely hard for the PS3/360 even as the Wii's success became blindingly evident, and even as the DS, Facebook gaming and iOS continued to explode in popularity.

Until people become able to look past superficial aspects like production values and judge games on entertainment value above all else (like movies and music), the pressure will be constantly there to embellish and "embiggen" on what has gone before.
Almost everybody can, as far as I can tell. The popular systems of today are not technological behemoths, while the two systems which are tech-focused are comparatively unpopular, and one of those two (The PS3) is the worst financial disaster in gaming history.

Your entire argument rests on the understanding that graphics and presentation must improve because the gaming marketplace demands it, when it is self evident that it does not, even (once again) putting aside basic economic theory which states that long term market trends are dictated by supply side choices.
 

Clear

This post contains disingenuous arguments meant to disguise my fanboyism. Reader beware!
Opiate said:
Lots of good stuff...
I'm not going to debate you on general economic theory, you seem to have a very good handle on it :D

However in my defence I'd point out that my argument has been centred upon the production of software for HD platforms, and how that relates to the other sectors of the industry. Not a global theory covering the manifold directions gaming has spidered into over the last few years.

So yeah, my point is a simplification but I believe its extremely pertinent and accurate one for the area in question.

Opiate said:
Your entire argument rests on the understanding that graphics and presentation must improve because the gaming marketplace demands it, when it is self evident that it does not, even (once again) putting aside basic economic theory which states that long term market trends are dictated by supply side choices.
Again its a matter of perspective. As a content-provider you simply deal with the technologies that are available to you. Refusing to deal with the additional challenge of moving from an SD to HD standard is like fighting the tide of history. You simply go where the money is presumed to be.

Which brings up the subject of Wii, a huge topic in itself which is why I'd hoped to avoid it if at all possible.

As you correctly pointed out Wii demonstrates that you don't need to reinvent the wheel graphically to create a market leading product. I totally agree.

However you can counter with the view that Wii's success was largely the product of it creating a new market, one that specifically responded to the novelty and accessibility of its user interface. Furthermore its equally arguable that the way it differed technologically from its competition essentially consigned it to become obsolete sooner than they did, and prevented it from enjoying the full benefit of third-party software franchises.

Despite it being cheaper to develop for, Wii saw no benefit in terms of third-party software support. Furthermore being unable to create a technologically competitive version of leading multi-platform franchises like CoD or GTA essentially prevented it from growing its user-base beyond what Nintendo themselves were offering.

Which gets back to my point that if you look at things on a product scale, once a certain technological standard has been set for that genre, you simply can't put that genie back in the bottle.