Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ominous Trends

Look at all the innovation at E3!
This article on talks about some ominous trends in videogaming. It's an amusing read, but there's some key points that are worth thinking about.

First, there's not a lot of variation going on... unless you count different flavors of shooter, that is. Innovation is being confined to the creation of better textures or particle systems, not game designs. Why? It's an obvious consequence of higher development costs and lower average sales... while the sequel generates the most reliable revenue. Publishers are getting the message: Better make a sequel to something you know is a success, otherwise you have a high risk of not getting your investment back. And when development takes 2-3 years or more, and the investment is tens of millions of dollars (or more!), you don't like to take chances.

On the flip side, when a manufacturer is pushing hardware sales, they may get innovative as all heck in order to get you to buy more hardware. Even if it means a crappy game, as in Star Wars Kinect. Sure, you can wave your arms around to control your light saber... but you can't walk around.

Too many games are coming with DRM still that requires a constant internet connection, which just makes things annoying. More games are relying on downloadable content (DLC) to make a profit, but all too often they're leaving out stuff that really should have been in the game in the first place, then charging you for it. Or offering DLC that unbalances the game play, leaving you frustrated if you didn't buy in and the guys with the DLC are kicking your butt.

These are all teething pains of the transition to new business models for the game industry. The big publishers are still feeling their way to a new business, and they're stepping on our toes as they stumble around. Meanwhile, smaller developers on new platforms are being innovative and interesting... but they're having a hard time finding their audience and making a profit, too.

We can help by spreading the word about games we like on Facebook and Twitter and other social media. Especially if the game comes from a small developer. It's not like Zynga really needs me to say how much I'm enjoying Empires and Allies when it's already got 10 million players. I'd rather mention Hexalex on the iPhone as an example of a neat word game with some nice features, well worth your $2.99. Take the time to post on Facebook about a game you're enjoying; the developers will appreciate it.

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