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Originally posted by UnSub This special message OP was brought to you by an NCsoft employee.I agree that it's a nice ideal, but either players have to accept less features with their independent "AAA" titles or independent studios already need to be rolling around in cash for it to happen. Both are pretty unlikely.
I think accepting less features is pretty doable as long as the ones implemented are solid enough. Think of many of the super-ultra-costly MMOs currently out there such as Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, hell, even Star Trek, and of how many "features" they do wrong or weakly. Considering the feature list for each of them is pretty big (and the amount of flak generated), we can safely assume that what people are looking for is not quantity but quality.
Besides, most MMO features are based upon three organizing bases: combat, crafting, and to a lesser extent exploring. Develop solid systems for each of these and you can then add whatever ramifications you want (an auction house to sell your stuff, a lair or dungeon for group content, small quests in faraway lands, etc. etc.), and as long as they're fun, free of major bugs, and 'desirable', you're good to go. I don't want 1000 worlds and zones to explore if they're all gonna look similar just because each one costs a million dollars to produce and the developers have to do them in double time because they have to release the damn game in one year and they PROMISED 1000 worlds. If I have 10 zones that are large, deep, and full of great content I'm all for it. You can always expand in time. That's what MMOs live upon anyway, right?
I think the gaming community can easily 'adjust downwards' if development quality is at stake. Most people already do when they buy retro games and Xbox Live Arcade oldies, so I see no problem with that if translated to MMOs.
Originally posted by UnSub This special message OP was brought to you by an NCsoft employee.
None of my columns here are cleared with my current employer, nor are endorsed by them. I list my employment status so that you can be aware of possible conflicts of interest, but do not speak as a company representative here.
Thanks for reading!
Originally posted by tapeworm00 Originally posted by UnSub This special message OP was brought to you by an NCsoft employee.I agree that it's a nice ideal, but either players have to accept less features with their independent "AAA" titles or independent studios already need to be rolling around in cash for it to happen. Both are pretty unlikely.
and most important take less than 15$/month.....like a "paid in development" or if go call it pay for beta - Id do that if the core game works and is fun. where mortal online right now lacks....ofc it aint released yet. but does seem they wanted too much in one go. and wouldnt pay anything for it in current state.
hm guess derail to troll abit :P
EVE did it, Darkfall seems ok successful....so can be done. not that Id support the way Darkfall over hyped their game, to make it sell.
Originally posted by randelreiss STOP BLAMING PUBLISHERSPublishers are good for our industry. They risk huge amounts of cash on high risk games.BLAME THE FOUNDERSEvery acquired developer has 2 to 6 founders who each made around $1,000,000, each, at the time of acquisition. They signed documents with the acquiring publisher that clearly stated in legalese "I, the developer's founder, assure the publishers, that these hard working 50 people who work for me will be happy to just have average paying jobs and you can fire them any old time you want and I won't care cuz I got this money."Randel Reiss, Game Industry-vet
Risk my ass. Call of Duty wasn't high risk. Grand Theft Auto is no longer high risk. Starcraft 2 is definitely not high risk; just look at the screenshots. Let's get real, the publishers might've gone for the 'high risks' in the past (oh, the very day), but they no longer do that, and they invest millions in shit like sports games because they safely generate massive amounts of cash each year, not because they're pushing the limits of gaming. It's rare nowadays to find innovative games, and that's no arcane knowledge.
The simple solution is what others have already posted about: indie games. It's noticeable how they've grown lately even in the face of all the corporate giants, and sometimes even within them (like those cool little games in Xbox Live Arcade). You say "our industry"; it's obvious publishers are good for you, Mr. Industry Vet, but not for the rest of us who want to buy a fun, perhaps meaningful game, and who are essentially outside your industry, because games get increasingly cut and shafted from the forced part of publishers just to get a release date and the "predicted" flow of cash going, in detriment to our (yeah, our) enjoyment.
Speaking as one of those jaded developers: excellent article. Thank you for telling it like it is.
F'n Scott Jennings delivers! This guy has the right frame of mind... Unfotunately it's the gamers that are their own worst enemies, demanding AAA graphics, musical scores, content, innovation, originality etc etc... All the while spending the same $50 on games they spent 10 even 15 years ago... $60 if you are a console gamer.
They will bitch when an indy tries to sell a game for the same $50 or charge the same monthly fee as a major publisher, and then pick apart every little aspect of the indy game all the while enjoying the slow morphine drip of their beloved (and sometimes hated) BIG title...
As a seasoned gamer I remember 8 bit graphics and sound and graph paper maps I made while playing C64 games, so for me it was always about the game play and not so much about the flash... It's the flea on crystal meth ADHD gamers that discourage indy developers... It is so easy to point fingers and say fail, clone, lame, cheezy but in essense indy developers should be encouraged rather than berated...
What are your other Hobbies?
Gaming is Dirt Cheap compared to this...
Have to wonder how accurate this information is and how much spin is on it as well.
First off all reports that have come out from Activision/Blizzard have listed a profit, and one of the few gaming companies to do so through the terrible economy of last year. These are from actual number sheets released since they are a traded company.
They supposedly let go of the people they did due to breach of contract. It doesn't matter how good you are at your job if you break your contract you get fired. They still have everyone else there and have even said Infinity Ward is currently working on 2 map packs to be released for MW2 in 2010. They also today released a report saying all the expansions they are doing with the CoD franchise in the coming years.
I can understand one developer being upset over other developers being fired and thus fearing for his own job. But there seems to be an extreme amount of spin on this article over what actually happened and the actual current state of activision/blizzard.
And just to be clear to anyone who will accuse me of the standard retorts. I am not a fanboy of activision/blizzard. I also thoroughly enjoy MW2 and play several times a week, and as such I highly appreciate Inifinity Ward and the work they did.
I've been saying it for years... don't blame the goddamned publishers, and don't blame the devs.
Every time you pre-purchase a fucking video game because you need to be one of the million other people that are going to have it that same day, you send a message to publishers that you're a mindless zombie who doesn't give a shit about quality or even quantity... just the child-like dream of having that awesome package at any cost.
EA, Atari, and Activision are three of the most blatant, bloodsucking THUGS of the videogame industry. Their Borg-like assimilation of EVERY fucking dev. company and IP is legendary. You people really need to take a step back and see the forest through the goddamned trees. It's not PC's vs. Consoles... it's Publishers vs. Consumers.
The ironic thing though... is they're not pushers of some addictive drug, or life-changing appliance. They're slave masters who whip their devs into submission after they sign their souls away to meet the deadline as quick as possible. Quality doesn't need to be a factor, because they'll "get it right" with the sequel the following year at full price. The worst part is... Every one of you know this and still in zealot fashion pre-purchase that game and send a message straight to the top saying "I have disposable income, spoon-feed me shit and I'll eat it up."
*shrugs* Bon Appétit and thanks a fucking lot for ruining my games, assholes.
"There is only one thing of which I am certain, and that's nothing is certain."
i stopped reading when you seperated Activision and Blizard and Atari from Cryptic, in BOTH cases the publishes bought out the developers, their one house.
hell the official name is Activision hyphund Blizard
Its true, the lure of easy money has a very strong appeal.
And smaller, Indy funded games may be the genre's only real salvation.
I think MMORPG's are heading towards a meltdown, with games costing upwards of a $100M.
Eventually they'll just become too expensive to be interesting to the big publishers and with any luck they'll flee the market making room for the small guy once again.
"Winning" at EVE Online since May, 2007!
In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™ "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon
Great article, and I especialy like the comparison with the muisic industry.
There is a BIG sea-change that is just beginning to happen these days.... and it stretches across many industries... not just gaming. It's too early to tell just how this change will go down in the end...but there are some encouraging possibilties.
What this article really touches at it's core is the relationship between content producers (i.e. developers, muisicians, artists, etc) and content distributers. Under the old paradigm, the content distributers enjoyed pretty much all the power in that relationship....and thus ate the lion's share of the proffits. The reason for that was because distributing on a mass scale (and pretty much that was the only way to distribute) took HUGE amounts of capital, connections and business relationships. Those were things that publishers had...and the artists didn't... and thus they pretty much owned all the power in the relationship. It took an incredibly well established and successfull artist to gain even a small portion of the power in that relationship.
The distributors/publishers MAY understand well the business of distributing on a mass scale but they are usualy pretty clueless about the content they are distributing, what it takes to create it and what it's appeal to the public really is. At thier best, publishers/distributers realize the limitations of thier knowledge and expertiese and stick to doing what they know best... the actual nuts and bolts of mass distribution...they let the artists/content creators control the creation of the product, listen to them, support them and minimaly interfere with that process. However is a very publisher/distributer that actualy recognizes that reality. Far too often, the publisher thinks that it is what THEY do/know that gives the product it's appeal/value.... they think that they understand the art and it's appeal better then the artists themselves. In fact, many go so far as to think that the artist is largely irrelevant.... and that they can take a turd, wrap it in tinfoil and with the right marketing and packaging turn it into a best seller. The milli-vanilli syndrome if you will. Thus you often see massive interference by them in the creation of the actual content....much to the detriment of that content.
Along comes a little invention called the Internet.....and with it a vast potential sea-change in the dynamic of how distribution of content (and even mass distribution) can work. We are only in the very early stages of working with this new model of distribution. With the internet....it takes only a miniscule amount of money to start distribution on a small scale...... whereas before in order to get a printer/cd producer, etc to even do a single run of your product...you often had to agree to a minimum order of thousands of copies....and doing a mass distribution cost huge amounts of capital up-front. With the internet....there really is no "minimum scale" and even distrubiting on a mass scale costs fractions of what it did under the old model. This makes the publishers/distributers largely obsolete...and they know it..... and they are fighting tooth and nail against it. More then half of the real push behind DRM and digital IP/Copyright enforcement and things like the DMCA is NOT about combating piracy....it's about the content distributers desperately struggling to maintain THIER strangle-hold over the METHODS of DISTRIBUTION. It's NOT that pirates that are thier real targets.... it's the artists/content producers that can SELF-PUBLISH for little expense that are solidly in thier cross-hairs....because it is those people who are a direct threat to thier business model.
Essentialy the old publishing houses want to push the bar artificialy higher for distributing content.... to force people to continue to have to go through them to distribute thier products.... and to strangle any method of distribution that circumvents that. Thus you see things like... "You must encode your content with X licensed DRM technology if you want it to play on peoples home machines"... and of course it is the publisher who holds and can afford to pay the licensing fee's for that technology. That's a large part of thier real game/goals.
The other dynamic that you see happening today is publishers trying to push the idea that in order to have a successfull/good product...you have to have massively lavish/expensive production values.... that you have to have thousands upon thousands of people working on a title for it to be "any good".... and thus requiring HUGE startup costs. Which, of course, you need to rely on the Publisher for providing (thus maintaining thier relevance). This perception is patently false. While there is no denying that lavish production values certainly have thier own appeal..... ultimately that's only one aspect of ther overall appeal of the end product to the consumer... and in many cases and genres a VERY small and unimportant aspect at that as well.
For a personal example....my favorate computer game of all time...and one which STILL occupies the majority of my play time is a strategy title (Advanced Tactics - WWII) which is essentialy the work of a single person. While there are big budget games that I certainly do like....for all the millions spent on them and staff of thousands that it took to produce them.... I still play and enjoy that single person title more then any of them.
Look at it another way.....would Chess be that much less enjoyable of a game if played on a peice of card-board with the squares marked with markers...and bottle tops for peices. Yeah....a gold and silver set with percision machined peices might look quite nice....but for most players 99.9 percent of the value of the game comes from something OTHER then it's presentation.
I think as players it really behooves us to TRY TO UNDERSTAND what it is that really appeals to us about the games that we enjoy playing. I would hazard that for alot of us that lavish production values (i.e. "eye candy") while not nothing...is fairly far down the list on the entertainment factor. We should also be alot more self-aware and critical of the effect that advertising and marketing have on us.... X add IS designed to appeal to that "OOOH I gotta have it!" gut reaction in us...but remember a cool add does not make a cool game....and in fact what the add could really be selling is simply a turd warped in tinfoil....and no matter how fancy the package...a turd is still a turd.
Furthermore, it behooves us to actively seek out, support and try less well known, advertised, independantly produced games. Not only are we benefiting ourselves by weakening the stranglehold/monopoly that those big corporate publishers have over the content that is available to us (and since when is more choices not good for a consumer) but just like me with Advanced Tactics... we may just find some really awesome/fun games in places where we weren't really expecting them.
Originally posted by SnarlingWolf Have to wonder how accurate this information is and how much spin is on it as well. First off all reports that have come out from Activision/Blizzard have listed a profit, and one of the few gaming companies to do so through the terrible economy of last year. These are from actual number sheets released since they are a traded company.
Not sure why but there was a link to the "not able to make a profit" line that was lost in my article:
Interesting read... I know they got to do something, I'm not sure if self publishing is gonna be enough.
Godspeed my fellow gamer
As I understand the situation, from Activision's point of view there were 2 terminations of employment due to contractual infringements, or if it is to be believed inappropriate behaviour.
I think Scot is right though, but if the "little guys" banded together into a co-operative they may well be able to share assets, lower overall costs & increase their credit potential.
Originally posted by Lansid Every time you pre-purchase a fucking video game because you need to be one of the million other people that are going to have it that same day, you send a message to publishers that you're a mindless zombie who doesn't give a shit about quality or even quantity... just the child-like dream of having that awesome package at any cost.
Half-right as far as I'm concerned. Pre-purchasing does not support long-term success of a tille or engaging entertainment over-time, but prolonged subscriptions to a title do. One has to resign to the fact that there are different entertainment expectations for different folks, and even though I will disagree with one position over another about the entertainment value of one title over another, and what I do or dont appreciate, it still stands that there is a profit to be made on the most mediocre of games.
So, if the position is that publishers that take away from the developers ultimate launch vision and risk running into the market repeatedly with said mediocre products for a money-grab, then there are certainly other just as effective means to publish a quality product without having to get on ones knees in front of one of the top 5 publishing houses.
Surprised no one has actually said this yet...
IW is the spin off of the Medal of Honor team, they walked out on the wholely owned EA studio because they wanted to do things differently to the publisher parent. The year after Call of Duty 1 came out, published by Activision, they were brought 100% by Activision and have been (from our perspective), happily working with the new publisher parent, until now.
The two who have been fired were probably trying to do exactly the same thing, walk out with most of the studio following.
They will go on and set up another independant studio, churn out a single title with a new publisher and then get brought out again, the cycle will continue.
Great read. And great discussion.
Also. Thanks for pointing the fact about greedy founders.
I mean after all they are the ones that signed the deal with the devil (I am looking at you Bioware)
A lot of things about this particular situation don't add up.
When a publisher cuts from a studio for financial reasons, they almost always cut from the bottom, not the top. Finding senior level talent is hard, finding junior worker bees is a lot easier. This is further supported by the whole 'insubordination' bit in the SEC filing - any sort of insubordination or trouble making would have to result in the loss of employment.
While yes, it is usually a question of money, it just doesn't make any sense that they would start with the CEO and CTO of the studio, who also happen to be the studio heads, and yet not announce other things like "Infinity Ward lays off 30% of their work force". I've worked for an ATVI studio; the studio heads are pretty damn close to ATVI corporate, and they'd need to do some serious stuff to get fired.
The rumor I've heard most circulated is that the heads of IW were planning on leaving and starting a new studio, and attempting to woo other key talent from IW to join them. ATVI heard about it and beat them to the punch. Whether there is any credence to this is anybody's guess. However, it flies in the face of corporate culture to start cutting the most senior of senior management simply for financial reasons, especially when not accompanied by massive other layoffs.
you made a point near the end, that I think deserves its own write up, about the game coming out in 2012 with 2hours of content, I see this more and more in new games, it seems gone are the days of 100 hours of play time, I know games like Dragon Age have a pretty solid amount of game time, I have played them, but had I not paced myself I could have been through the game pretty fast, I do like the little minnie adventure packs for 5 bucks or so, I dunno if this just stems from greed of the gaming compaines now, or the trend for everything to be wham bam done.. limits from the consoles themselves, I know console games outsell pc games, but your still looking at a hefty pc market, I am pc gamer, because I can do so much more with my pc than a console can, Even the new Force Unleashed game at best had 8 hours of play time for 60 bucks.. Would be intrested in what drives this other than greed and getting more games out with less play time, which really is sad..
This one is wise, yes.
"Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."
Kickstarter 2 / Naysayers 0
Very interesting article. However as an experienced MMOG player, who have seen several indy MMOG games, I am doubtful if we can put the future of games in the hands of companies like Starvault, Adventurine or whatever those other companies were called that created barely playable games like Mourning and Dark and Light.
To my knowledge the only indy company to produce an MMOG with any kind of quality is CCP (Eve). All other indy MMOG has been garbage and judging by Mortal Onlines open beta another garbage, incomplete game from an indy company is on its way.
So the choice seems to be between simple, massproduced games which are driven by money grabbing people in suits or buggy, barely playable junk coming from underfinanced and underdeveloped indy companies. The future of MMOGs is bleak indeed...
I think as someone else stated you have to put blame on the developers also. the publisher is a money generator they do not care about anything but profit...they are not game developers or artists....they are a business to make money. the developers should hold out for a better contract if they think they have a good idea for a game. Blizzard did it...they pretty much retain control of release dates, number of games, and information released. From what I read they held out for less money from Activision for more control of their own house.
Why should I throw money to a crappy independant company in hopes that they will take my money and make a great game. I am not getting paid back when the game is good. Instead I paid X number of years for crap for the hope of having something good in the future. At least if I gamble in Vegas I get a better chance of fun and profit now.
Originally posted by Yamota Very interesting article. However as an experienced MMOG player, who have seen several indy MMOG games, I am doubtful if we can put the future of games in the hands of companies like Starvault, Adventurine or whatever those other companies were called that created barely playable games like Mourning and Dark and Light.To my knowledge the only indy company to produce an MMOG with any kind of quality is CCP (Eve). All other indy MMOG has been garbage and judging by Mortal Onlines open beta another garbage, incomplete game from an indy company is on its way.So the choice seems to be between simple, massproduced games which are driven by money grabbing people in suits or buggy, barely playable junk coming from underfinanced and underdeveloped indy companies. The future of MMOGs is bleak indeed...
Little remembered fact, Turbine was an indie company when it made and released Asheron's Call. It signed on Microsoft as a publisher when they were close to release but Microsoft literally only published the game and hosted the servers.
And yes CCP was too. It shows it can be done, and done successfully. I think the current Indie devs overshoot their product. Instead of release extremely stable, well honed game and slowly expanding on it as they get subscribers (what both Turbine and CCP did with their products). Instead we get indie companies trying to compete directly with the top MMOs at their launch, which is never going to happen. As a result the games aren't even close to stable and they're full of bugs and missed promises.
Originally posted by wgc01 you made a point near the end, that I think deserves its own write up, about the game coming out in 2012 with 2hours of content, I see this more and more in new games, it seems gone are the days of 100 hours of play time, I know games like Dragon Age have a pretty solid amount of game time, I have played them, but had I not paced myself I could have been through the game pretty fast, I do like the little minnie adventure packs for 5 bucks or so, I dunno if this just stems from greed of the gaming compaines now, or the trend for everything to be wham bam done.. limits from the consoles themselves, I know console games outsell pc games, but your still looking at a hefty pc market, I am pc gamer, because I can do so much more with my pc than a console can, Even the new Force Unleashed game at best had 8 hours of play time for 60 bucks.. Would be intrested in what drives this other than greed and getting more games out with less play time, which really is sad..
Free market...stop being lemmings and do not buy the games. That is the answer...instead people buy games because "Star Trek, Star Wars, Call of Duty, or some supposedly great developer is in the title. As someone else said stop pre-ordering games you know nothing about. Let the game publisher prove the game first to us instead of assuming we will spend the money first and bitch later with no power to effect the company because they know the lemmings will buy the next one.
One of the few articles I've read by Jennings recently that didn't have some not-so-subtle hidden message or bias or subliminal *play EVE/Aion* flashing images... In short, I liked it. Good journalism free of personal bias and the kind I'd like to see more of on MMORPG.com.
I really enjoyed the comparisons made to the recording industry; he's exactly right. The big boys get to become (or have to become, depending on how you view it) publishers themselves; the smaller studios don't have that luxury.
Then you have the small, indie studios without a large company publishing or backing them - look at Icarus, makers of Fallen Earth. It's a small game that I would say is far better in quality than any other "AAA" (whatever that's supposed to mean nowadays) game released in '09; and is far and away better and more engaging than Aion which is another "me too" themepark grind at best, a security nightmare and hacker's haven at worst.
So there are smaller companies out there still publishing good games. It still pays to keep an eye on the big boys, SoE and Blizzard, of course - just because they're big, doesn't mean they're bad. In a lot of ways I am most interested in what the huge self-publishing companies come up with and what the smaller guys (like Icarus) come up with.
The companies that "latch on" to a large publisher ala Atari and Turbine? Not so much. Atari absolutely destroyed DDO with a lack of support and advertising, in my opinion. That game could still be sub-based if it had proper backing, instead, it's a freakshow F2P nightmare game that doesn't remotely remind me of the D&D games my friends and I had around tables. (Maybe I should start charging players in my tabletop games for magic items and new races... Hey David, you want to play a drow? That will be $5. Also, if you want a magic Longsword +2, that will be $10. I take cash or checks.)
I somehow doubt that would go over well with my tabletop players.
Good journalism, Jennings. Good writing.