July 29, 2005

Death to the games industry

A few weeks ago, Greg Costikyan gave a fantastic presentation on the video games industry, and why now is such a godawful time to be a games developer. (And more positively, what could be done about it.)

He's now made the presentation available online, and it's a great read; if you've been a games developer in the past, or you aspire to be one in the future (are you out there, Dan?), you should take a look at this. If you're a games player who sometimes wonders why games are basically all the same these days, and why there are no blockbuster films that don't have a tie-in game, this presentation has the answers.

- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Jedi Knight is still the greatest first person shooter… wow I can't believe i've been editing games for over 7 years.

    29 Jul 2005, 15:44

  2. You won’t sell a pitch unless the marketing weasels know how to sell the game

    Or the marketing weasels won't be able to sell the game if it isn't any good or if there isn't a market for it….

    What do we want? A market that serves creative vision instead of suppressing it.

    Eh? You can't dictate what the market should want (unless you're Microsoft) – I think. Maybe we should ask the Economics Dept?

    Changing consumer behavior is hard.

    Changing any kind of behaviour is hard. Very hard.

    But – I love slide 43 (brickbats) and it's actually a really interesting model demonstrating how t'interweb has changed marketing, communications, distribution etc.

    I'm slowly getting to grips with the meme concept.

    29 Jul 2005, 15:48

  3. Nice,

    I read it and indeed there is truth in what he says, though I think its slightly overexaggerated in places and his revolutionairy sloganizing feels a touch embarassing. He is a bit guilty of hubris.

    29 Jul 2005, 20:55

  4. Steven Carpenter

    I thought the tone was spot-on, having seen the most creative sections of the UK games industry get quickly swallowed up and stifled by the big publishing houses. The writing was on the wall when Sony bought Psygnosis; since then we've seen development house after development house eaten up. I really believe the way forwards is something like the model Greg suggests, where development houses can get products to market without the restrictions placed on them by shareholder-driven conglomerates like EA, thus reducing the need to 'play it safe'. There are a number of emerging development communities (like the Blitz one), examples of the way the internet could act as a catalyst for change. Initiatives like Sony's Net Yaroze might also work if they were made more accessible to end-users.

    Furthermore, I just don't buy the 'more is better' philosophy in gaming, whether it's bytes, time-to-complete or polygons. All those things can certainly add to the experience, but more commonly opportunities get wasted due to time and budget constraints. I was completely amazed when Namco released Katari Damancy at a time when originality had even appeared to have escaped the Japanese (another story of course – many fine examples of originality in gaming pass us by in the West, another symptom of the the publishing houses deciding 'what's best' for us, and regional lockout protection for the console makers). The industry needs to regain these elements – innovation, creativity and originality, but most of all, it needs to rediscover the most elusive element of all, gameplay.

    29 Jul 2005, 23:19

  5. If you are interested in reading more on these issues you might try _Difficult Questions About Video Games

    I'm reading it at the minute and its an inspiring, frustrating and difficult read. A good snapshot of smart people involved with video games and what they think about them today.

    01 Aug 2005, 15:21

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