The cost of games

 Posted by (Visited 1498 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Jan 172018
 

Yesterday I was in Anaheim giving a talk called “Industry Lifecycles.” It was intended to be a brief summary of the blog post of the same title, with a dash of material from my recent post on game economics.

Now, that latter post resonated quite a lot. There was lengthy discussion on more Internet forums than I can count, but it came accompanied by skepticism regarding the data and conclusions. If you recall, the post was originally replies to various comment threads on different sites, glued together into a sort of Q&A format. It wasn’t based on solid research.

As many pointed out, getting hard data on game costs is difficult. When I did my talk “Moore’s Wall” in 2005, I did some basic research using mostly publicly available data on costs, and extrapolated out an exponential curve for game costs, and warned that the trendlines looked somewhat inescapable to me. But much has changed, not least of which is the advent of at least two whole new business models in the intervening time.

So the Casual Connect talk ended up being an updated Moore’s Wall. Using industry contacts and a bunch of web research, I assembled a data set of over 250 games covering the last several decades. This post is going to show you what I found, and in rather more detail than the talk since the talk was only 25 minutes. (You can follow this link to see the full slides, but this post is really a deeper dive on the same data.)

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Some current game economics

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Nov 272017
 

Recently I was over on The Ancient Gaming Noob blog, where a discussion broke out on all the recent discussions about lootboxes, game development costs, game pricing, microtransactions, and all the rest. In particular, it was prompted by this video:

Despite the title of that video, games are indeed plenty expensive to make, and more specifically, they’re definitely too expensive to make without the revenue brought in by all this upsell stuff.

But the reasons why are complicated, and worth explaining in more detail. So I did, in comments on that blog, and the replies there suggested that I needed to make a blog post of it.

So here it is, basically a fix-up post, and not up to my usual essay standards, being as it is cobbled together from several impromptu comments. Bold text is comments I was asked or replied to.

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Jun 232017
 

Five years ago, I was asked to put together a list of the best articles on the website. I did, and it’s been linked as “recommended posts” up on the menu under the Blog section for a few years now.

Just the other day, I was asked by Jordan Amaro (@JordanAMAR0) whether I was ever going to update it. Probably at some point, but in the meantime here’s a list of the ones I think are best from the last five years.

Looking over the list, the things that jump out at me are: a lot more posts about the game business and trends, about general topics like creativity, and about the intersection of the virtual with the real — the way tropes from online worlds are impinging upon our daily lives. I also note quite a lot of looking backward in these: game histories, postmortems, etc. Of course, this was also the period that encompassed the Great Formalism Wars of 2012, which seem overblown given hindsight. And lastly… despite my feeling I am hardly posting anything, this is a pretty nice list for five years!

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Recent videos & interviews

 Posted by (Visited 1265 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Apr 102017
 

I tweeted about these, but neglected to mention them here on the blog, so here’s a roundup!

First up is my favorite, this video by Zoyander Street of Critical Distance, for First Person Scholar. He was in town and came by my house to talk games; we ended up in my loft, where I keep the boardgame collection and do boardgame design, talking about abstract games and their rich history. You can just barely see the arcade machine off to the left there; it’s got a huge chunk of videogaming history emulated on it.

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May 022016
 

ChDzrYSW4AE9pVn.jpg largeI just got back from a week in Helsinki, Finland. I was there to run some game design workshops at Next Games, and do a lecture for them as part of an event they were hosting.

The request was for a talk of a similar shape to the one I gave at GDC: looking back over the history of games over the last couple of decades, identifying some cycles and trends, and discussing the ways in which those cycles were carrying us back again towards familiar territory. In particular, a huge topic of discussion all week, with many separate people from many different companies, was the way in which mobile gaming is discovering that the games need to be more social, more like games as a service; and more and more they find they must draw lessons from MMOs.

This isn’t that dissimilar to what I have been saying about social VR, either, and of course mobile is going to collide with AR given enough technological advances and time. So that was the skeleton of the talk.

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