Game talkGDC Prime 2007: What We Are Missing

 Posted by (Visited 10133 times)  Game talk
Dec 062007
 

Here’s revised slides for my GDC Prime talk yesterday. I went through them and added in a lot of the verbal comments I made, because the slides were mostly pictures. Special thanks to Lum, from whom I ganked a bunch of pictures; and Chris Bateman for the data from his book; and apologies to Gene and Jane and Jade, whom I made examples of without their permission (Jesse gave me permission, no apologies for him). And of course, the GDCPrime folks for having me.

So here they are, in a multiplicity of formats:

Edit: there’s an error on the slide about Halo’s September sales; that’s actually its October sales, without the collector’s edition (which adds an extra 30,000 units or so).

My point stands, nonetheless… the views of the Harry Potter parody video that are on the next slide were a total after four days. :)

  36 Responses to “GDC Prime 2007: What We Are Missing”

  1. If I might ask one humble question…

    On more than one occasion I have heard you mention 3D as an up and coming feature for Flash. Are you hearing Adobe is shooting for such an adaptation or others such as Papervision3D?

    Thanks for the slides.

  2. Great talk. That must have made quite a lot of people uncomfortable :) It gives a lot to think about….

  3. On more than one occasion I have heard you mention 3D as an up and coming feature for Flash. Are you hearing Adobe is shooting for such an adaptation or others such as Papervision3D?

    Adobe showed polygon transforms at a recent conference — the video is up on the Net somewhere. It’s a long way from being a 3d engine — it’s basically X, Y, and Z support. There’s also Papervision of course, which is coming along really well, near as I can tell.

  4. Just to be picky, September sales numbers for Halo 3 were 3.3 million. It isn’t a musical, but it is, a comic, 4 novels, a short film series, a track for guitar hero, played for a (cable) TV audience, parodied in the mainstream, and referenced in pop culture.

    Actually I think in a lot of ways Halo would be a good argument for your position. When the original game launched with no online connectivity, a website was launched creating a social network of Halo players. The game also included some very sophisticated customization options for the time. Halo 2 was launched with the help of the I Love Bees ARG, and included a consistent player profile with statistical information attached and connected to the community site. Halo 2 also added multiplayer, and included more robust gameptype editing. Halo 3 was released with a smaller ARG, and coincided with a large number of cross media releases. The site’s community features were further extended with user generated content, including screenshots, films, user maps, and gametypes, all shareable through the website or in-game. Halo 3 also introduced even more persistence for users with gated content and an indicator of in-game time/accomplishments.

    A common theme here is with each iteration of the game the community features were fleshed out and user interaction and content generation was increased. Each release has also had an increase of the cross media content available. Admittedly this does point to consoles being a viable option, but the thought exercise to pose is what kind of numbers would Halo 3 have had if it was on a platform as ubiquitous as flash. What would be really interesting is if you could dig up numbers on some of the unofficial flash games/ads that use Halo content.

    Anyway, interesting stuff, it seems like the slides are a bit skewed towards your audience in this case. I do disagree on your view of content, but I’m willing to accept that the current model of content delivery is likely due for a shakeup.

  5. I really liked your slides and I totally agree with all your major points. In fact, like yourself, I’ve built a company around my beliefs.

    J#

  6. It isn’t a musical, but it is, a comic, 4 novels, a short film series, a track for guitar hero, played for a (cable) TV audience, parodied in the mainstream, and referenced in pop culture.

    Am I the only one feeling that MS pushed artificially all of that? Maybe it’s because I’m European… But Halo doesn’t seem as huge as all of this transmedia thing seems to point out. Especially when looking at numbers…

    Thanks for the slides Raph. With Jonathan Blow’s ones, my head is about to explode. Happy.

  7. I think Halo is slowing moving towards being something like what Raph is talking about, but it still hasn’t truly broken out of that core gamer side of things. Most references and parodies and remixes that I’ve seen live firmly in either the Microsoft pushed or the hardcore gamer world that doesn’t truly create the transmedia idea that Raph is talking about. I do think its moving closer and could with time, break that barrier.

    Really enjoyed the slides and the presentation, Raph. Though for me I keep feeling like I really agree with the things you put up and evangelize regarding communities and online worlds, I’m not sure what to do or where to go with that information. At this point the information sort of exists in a vacuum in my head where it informs me when I look at information being released about various online worlds, but beyond that doesn’t have much effect on anything else I see.

    Though I did notice this about page, and how much it has in common with what your presentation said (and what you’ve said in the past): http://www.smithandtinker.com/

  8. Just to be picky, September sales numbers for Halo 3 were 3.3 million. It isn’t a musical, but it is, a comic, 4 novels, a short film series, a track for guitar hero, played for a (cable) TV audience, parodied in the mainstream, and referenced in pop culture.

    To tackle those one at a time —

    1) That means that Halo sold 10x more in month 1 than it did in month two; a clear example of the blockbuster thing I reference elsewhere. Very much not like a TV show.

    2) By the short film series, I presume you mean Red vs Blue. It’s an interesting example of the limitations that the IP has for transmedia. For one, there’s no women in it. It’s aimed squarely at geek culture, like the comic, the novels, and yes, the track in Guitar Hero.

    Don’t get me wrong — Halo is one of the most successful IPs we have, I am not knocking it. But compare to something like Buffy, which drew that many people month after month on a recurring basis, and managed to go cross-cultural and certainly hit both genders.

  9. Eyes opening, very good analysis (where do you get all the data!), thank! ;)

  10. Yikes! I guess I’ll have to sit at the back next time I go to Mike Morhaime or Rob Pardo session at GDC.

    It could just as easily be Andrew Gower on that slide. He was making DeviousMUD (followed by Runescape) out of his house in 1998. Although I’ve never met him, his story has certainly been a source of inspiration.

    I was attracted to the idea of doing a web based MMO in an attempt to recapture the niave, organic creative fun that making a game on my Commodore 64 was at age 13. The days of Richard Garriott making the early Ultima games as an expression of one person’s creativity are long over. The web seemed to offer the last opportunity for a game designer to have that experience with a chance at success – and those days are almost over too.

  11. I was actually talking about the Neil Blomkamp shorts, granted they were web and Xbox Live only releases, the parody that is most mainstream is probably the skit on MadTV, and the pop culture references are fairly numerous in particular in sitcoms. When I said played for a TV audience I was referring to the MLG series on USA networks.

    The reduction in units sold doesn’t seem too far out of line for a movie, from what I can dig up(also remember that NPD numbers are broken up by region). It will be interesting to see how the holiday season shakes out.

    As for how much the other items are “pushed” none of the items I mentioned has done poorly, the last two novels were on the NYT best seller list. Push seems to imply that they are nothing more than a marketing effort, but they seem to be standing on their own.

    I think my post sounded too defensive, it wasn’t meant that way, I think I kind of bristled at the misquoted number. As for months and months, the Halo series has been around for roughly six years, even as I type this there are over 8,000 people playing Halo 2, over 200,000 playing Halo 3, and those are just people playing competitive matchmaking with each other.

    Anyway, I’m probably not the right person to talk about this, I should have just kept it to the number correction, your slides had me start thinking about how much content there is available for Halo outside of the game itself.

    Film shorts strung together

    MadTV

    MLG Schedule Information

    Players Metric Source

    Article on the Novel

    Other Interesting Links

    Halo Kubrick

    Cute Halo flash Drive

    TV Show reference

    Robot Chicken

  12. On the misquoted figure, the issue is that I posted the Oct figure instead of the Sept figure… I need to fix that. :P It’s a date correction, not a number correction.

    Getting onto the NYT bestseller list isn’t a hard as it used to be. :( The book industry just isn’t that large in number of units moved.

  13. Not meaning it’s a glowing review of the book, merely that making the list implies at least profitability. Also minor though it is, the NPD numbers for North America has Halo 3 selling in the neighborhood of 430k can’t seem to find worldwide numbers though.

    Gamespot’s breakdown of NPD October Numbers

  14. [...] one of the many excellent slides from Raph Koster’s GDC Prime 2007 presentation. It really is rather good if you’re interested in convergent transmedia entertainment [...]

  15. [...] Raph’s Website – GDC Prime 2007: What We Are Missing GDCPrime 2007 lecture notes. “How much is content worth in the digital age? Zero. Games are services now.” (tags: gaming worldvsplatform platform entertainment web transmedia flash convergence casualgaming behaviours virtualworlds narrativeenvironments narrativeobjects storytelling ***** presentation) Filed in delicious [...]

  16. Hmm, what’s this then…?

    1 360 HALO 3 Sep’07 394,548

    Oh wait, I see… I missed the collectors’ ed, no wonder.

    65 360 HALO 3 COLLECTORS ED Sep’07 30,110

  17. I feel like I’m only half getting your points here without the audio to go along. A few things I don’t understand – and maybe its just me being dense.

    -Why do you have runescape on both MMO graphs with radically different numbers?

    -Where do you get the only 6x better at making content? I don’t neccesarilly disagree, but I’m curious what that number is actually based on.

    -I don’t understand the “AAA game estimates from developers” slide at all.

    -I wonder if you feel like all game companies need to lay down their practices and embrace this web revolution, or if you see it more as a compatability of making games that can fit into more of the games-as-service related businesses. or “new publishers” exmaples you give.

    -I’ve always felt like you’re branding metaplace as a platform rather than a game, and that you’re opening up developement to everyone on that platform. But it seems like your point is that metaplace is the “first” of a new era of games that follow the other points in your overall presentation. Am I totally missing the point here?

    I really feel like I’m just being dense here in regards to seeing the overall flow of the presentation. I feel like I understand most of each of your individual points, but I’m not getting the bridging points and thesis at all.

    And maybe thats just how its gotta be til I go to GDC, hunt you down, and buy you 6 beers.

    On a completely seperate not, I feel compelled to let you know that I used the phrase “Well if you accept the Kosterian view of online worlds…” in a conversation today.

  18. -Why do you have runescape on both MMO graphs with radically different numbers?

    Because the first graph is a) older numbers (notice the numbers for WoW) and b) uses “Runescape subscribers” rather than monthly uniques.

    -Where do you get the only 6x better at making content? I don’t neccesarilly disagree, but I’m curious what that number is actually based on.

    150 times more data for only 22 times the cost means 6.8 times more efficient.

    -I don’t understand the “AAA game estimates from developers” slide at all.

    In 2004 a bunch of devs from various studios were asked for the ballpark estimate on a AAA game cost. In 2007 they were asked again. The points there are the estimates, varying on the low end from “engine re-used, licensed product” all the way up to “new IP, new engine.”

    -I wonder if you feel like all game companies need to lay down their practices and embrace this web revolution, or if you see it more as a compatability of making games that can fit into more of the games-as-service related businesses. or “new publishers” exmaples you give.

    No. I do think they all should diversify at the minimum, however.

    -I’ve always felt like you’re branding metaplace as a platform rather than a game, and that you’re opening up development to everyone on that platform. But it seems like your point is that metaplace is the “first” of a new era of games that follow the other points in your overall presentation. Am I totally missing the point here?

    No, I am not making claims that grand for Metaplace. :) I do think it is inspired by and following the precepts I laid out, but it is far from being the only possible answer.

  19. Thanks for posting this. Blows my mind. One question: who are you quoting in slides 21 and 22 about the writers’ strike?

  20. [...] Koster has posted his GDC Prime 2007 talk in JPG and PPT formats. If you are interested in the industry as a business these are worth a look. [...]

  21. Thanks for posting this. Blows my mind. One question: who are you quoting in slides 21 and 22 about the writers’ strike?

    TIME Magazine, as it says in the slide background. :)

  22. Generally a very good selection of slides (I wasn’t present for the actual talk). I think that your presentation of information proves your point very well, but I do have a few comments/concerns about the way the material was presented.

    1. In the slide listing the major MMOG publishers and the titles they’ve released this past year, you made a rather skewed list of publishers ranging from brand new entrants into the market (Midway) to leaving out some of the biggest players in the entire scene (Sony Online Entertainment). When it comes to producing MMOGs of all shapes and sizes, SOE has the best track record out of any of the publishers. NCsoft also produced a free-to-play game by the name of Dungeon Runners, putting their list up to 2…not one.

    On top of that, Vivendi may not have released a MMOG during the last year, but they did release the expansion to World of Warcraft, which sold (I think) something like 1.5 million copies in just a few days. When you’re looking at these subscription based games, you can’t simply overlook the ability for them to generate $$ with expansion pack sales.

    2. Which brings me to my second point. Although people love to compare Runescape to World of Warcraft, it seems like a difficult sell. Until I see some concrete numbers to back up Runescape’s “estimated subscribers” I have a hard time believing that a large portion of the crowd that plays Runescape (Tweens and Teens) is paying the relatively small subscription fee to get a few extra options for their characters.

    I’ve played the game, and I had absolutely no desire to spend money for such a small update.

    3. As a final point, I think that most of the publishers ARE diversifying to some extent. SOE is trying out FreeRealms and The Agency, while a number of other developers are also taking a serious look at free to play or browser-based games.

    Again, thanks for the slides.

  23. Fair points, Cody.

    you made a rather skewed list of publishers ranging from brand new entrants into the market (Midway) to leaving out some of the biggest players in the entire scene (Sony Online Entertainment).

    I don’t think SOE actually released a new MMO in the last year, did they?

    NCsoft also produced a free-to-play game by the name of Dungeon Runners, putting their list up to 2…not one.

    Excellent point.

    Vivendi may not have released a MMOG during the last year, but they did release the expansion to World of Warcraft, which sold (I think) something like 1.5 million copies in just a few days.

    Comparing expansions is much harder than comparing new world launches, alas. Not everyone even uses that business model.

    When you’re looking at these subscription based games, you can’t simply overlook the ability for them to generate $$ with expansion pack sales.

    I can if I am not comparing revenue. ;)

    Although people love to compare Runescape to World of Warcraft, it seems like a difficult sell. Until I see some concrete numbers to back up Runescape’s “estimated subscribers” I have a hard time believing that a large portion of the crowd that plays Runescape (Tweens and Teens) is paying the relatively small subscription fee to get a few extra options for their characters.

    Last numbers I saw had Runescape with 800,000 paying subscribers, paying more like $5 a month instead of $15. That was a couple of years ago — then they had multiple millions of active users.

    That said, the point again was not revenue, but active users, eyeballs, market penetration. if you have millions of users and you aren’t extracting at least a buck a head via some channel, you’re not trying hard enough.

    As a final point, I think that most of the publishers ARE diversifying to some extent. SOE is trying out FreeRealms and The Agency, while a number of other developers are also taking a serious look at free to play or browser-based games.

    All the smart ones definitely are.

  24. Nice job on the last-minute PPT, Raph. I enjoyed the read.

  25. [...] is not king online, as it turns out.  Communication is.  Raph Koster has a big recent presentation up on his blog telling the gaming world that their lunch is being eaten by the web.  [...]

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  27. [...] these people are so naive, or whether they are trying to mislead. Look at the graphs for example on Raph Koster’s website, or the market share graph on VOIG MMOGdata. Raph shows WoW as one among many players between Club [...]

  28. [...] Worth reading if you have somehow missed the joyous discussion about where online games are going. Asynchronous games: The ever delightful Ian Bogost has a detailed discussion about the history of [...]

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  30. [...] that I actually have time to sit down and write a post. First thing I want to talk about is this post by Raph Koster and this response by Tobold. I’ve written stuff about MMO figures in the past [...]

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  32. [...] Koster posted an interesting article up on his blog recently, along with a collection of slides he used at his session at GDC Prime. At [...]

  33. [...] Koster posted an interesting article up on his blog recently, along with a collection of slides he used at his session at GDC Prime. At [...]

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