October 19, 2008

Fishing in the big pond

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2 comments:

Donbot said...

Some comments on your interesting post:

1. You say "All those factors together might shrink the 900 Million bar to a dimension somewhat comparable to the consoles. That's what some people refer to when they say the PC Platform was dead". In my mind the small number is not the main reason for this statement. It's mainly two things: The first point is the huge problem with piracy that you have on the PC that not only kills PC sells but leads some publishers to not release their games on the PC in the first place to not hurt their console sales.
The second point is the huge diversity of the PC base. By this i not only mean the huge spectrum of pc hardware that you find and have to support, but the large differences between players (and therefore higher costs for the marketing).

2. The reason most console games are rather conservative in their design is mostly the associated development costs and the risk of not getting your money back with a more "risky" design/implementation. But there are some smaller/more experimental games on consoles (braid, pixeljunk, last guy) that obviously have a lot lower development cost than your average AAA title and can THEREFORE allow themselves a more experimental design. So the risk in your game design normally is anti proportional to the development costs (and therefore proportional to the financial risk).
On the consoles you have the additional risk of not getting on the platform in the first place (because the platform-holder doesn't like your design/game) and the license costs that you have to pay (in advance).
In my mind its the same on the PC platform, too. Titles with high development costs are normally quite conservative in their design as well (otherwise you simply would net get money for developing the title). So i don't see a major difference between different platforms here.

Julien

Krystian Majewski said...

Thanks for your feedback Julien. Concerning the two points you've raised:

1. Yes, you are right. I did some oversimplification there. But I've also mentioned the DRM problem you pointed out.
However, I disagree that the diversity is a problem for marketing. The channels of reaching the players of conservative titles are basically the same (gamings sites, magazines, etc.) so from a marketing point of view, there is little difference. In fact, I would even go so far and suspect that most console players also have a PC and vice versa. So the diversity is not a reason why the PC is pronounced dead.

2. What I did in my article is to think exactly the other way around: why do you have such high development costs in the first place? Well because if somebody paid half a thousand dollars for a PS3 (and three times that much for a descent HDTV), they want to see a game that makes their eyeballs explode.
Or to be more down to earth: players who bought a console did so because the games that were already out for that console were appealing to them. Those players will want to play more games with similar themes, level of quality and amount of content then they are used to. That's why bringing out Wii Sports on a XBox 360 would be a bad idea (controller issues aside).

The titles you've mentioned are the downloadable Titles for the X-Box. Yes they are popular but they are also much cheaper so they can get away with more crazy ideas because the "standart" is not well established yet. However, rarely anybody will buy a X-Box because of Braid. And even though those games do differ from the AAA Titles, they are still somewhat conservative. I mean even Braid is at its core a jump & run and you can enjoy it as such without having to understand its intellectual undertone. I believe Penny Arcade made a post about this specific topic just recently.

It is true that AAA PC Titles are often quite conservative. In such cases they are simply addressing the same crowd a console game would, maybe even going for a cross-platform release. However, here the similarity breaks down. The most successful X-Box 360 game is Halo 3 - not only a conservative shooter but even the second sequel of one! The most successful PC game is Sims - a quite unique and original concept. So my point is: what little people realize is that to be successful on the PC, you need to explore the full spectrum of the audience in your huge 900 Million bar. If it means making flash games (and it probably does) - so be it.