It seems to be a theme for this year. I’ve done more on other people’s sites than I’ve done on my own. This continues to be true. Over a week ago I was invited to do the Chronoludic podcast with Chris Green, Mike Dunbar and Seb Wupper. The topic at hand was the question ‘what is a game worth?’ The focus of this particular question was the issue of economics and us as game purchasers. WE didn’t reach any ground breaking conclusions or earth shattering revelations. In fact it seems more of a review of the facts, but if anything it does show that these issues are not simple and that they are in fact many inter connected issues. From the personal, like present size of your wallet, what you want to buy, to the pile of shame on your table or on Steam to the corporate like how to make back your enormous production budget, fighting the used game beast, setting price in a competitive market and determining what market to go after.
Personally I think we’ve reached a point where companies don’t have to make every single game the big AAA blockbuster that has to sell multiple millions of copies to succeed. We see a few tentative steps being taken and thankfully being rewarded. There is a thriving indie scene with some mega successes like Braid and Minecraft. Double Fine and THQ are started what seems to be the indie department of a major studio like Miramax or Searchlight in the downloadable game market. We do see real changes being made, very very slowly and I think it’s that slowness of movement rather than stagnation that causes these conversations to come up. It’s frustration, hell I’m frustrated with what in my point of view seems like a very obvious way to come at the market that will reward the boldness and forthrightness of he approach. But then I’m a broke critic working at a third rate blog, not in charge of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs across multiple countries, so I really don’t have a right to dictate terms.
And then on the other hand we see the same corporations seem to make some head way and then pull their hand back sharply with onlyÂ the CEO yelling “psych” missing to complete the picture. Note, if you weren’t going to do it if you got a poor initial reaction from people that mostly don’t matter or something that had little to no purpose than you shouldn’t have done it in the first place. If you are going to try something new then you have to go in whole hog as the saying goes. An audience can always tell when the person on stage is only going so far that they can pull back if they have to, just in case. Those are the worst performers. It’s the one who jump in with both feet thinking they’re right and hoping the audience agrees that succeed. But EA, Ubisoft, Activision and the rest only seem willing to do it with the safe bets, safe bets that lose them money more often than not I’ve noticed. I’m rambling and we touch on most of this in the podcast and are at least somewhat entertaining.
You can find it here at Chronoludic’s website.
The other thing I did was last week’s TWIVGB. Ben is off at GDC again this year and asked for me to step into the writer/gather shoes. I took over when he went to GDC last year so that means I’ve been working on and off at Critical-Distance in a more or less official capacity for a year now. (Though in checking the dates, apparently GDC is a week earlier this year, so it will be next TWIVGB that will be the one year anniversary.) So, go me.Â I’ve gotten better at it, but I think I’ve said than many times before and the only difference this week is that this last week is when I finally think I’ve reached my limit. My RSS feed has grown and with it how many posts I read. Well I think it’s finally at the size where it is unmanageable. I can only get it down to around 20-25 unread posts before I wake up the next day to find it’s jumped to around 50 or some number. There was a time where I could empty the whole damn thing and still have time to do something else. And that wasn’t too long ago. Hell I was able to do that back in October. Now I’m struggling to keep up. There is just so much being written and of course this is only my RSS feed. I still read links I get sent sent or are linked on twitter from around the web that aren’t in my feed and I read them too. I haven’t gamed, read the book that’s been staring at me since last summer to finish it, and I finally managed to watch a movie last weekend for the first time in weeks and came back to find my RSS feed had grown by another 15 or so.
Am I saying anything? No. I’m venting. Could I do as Ben suggest and just click set all as read? Yes I could, but then I’d be missing something, something good. I don’t rely on TWIVGB, because I’m often creating it. It’s the sysiphysian task of chosen and it’s just recently I can no longer get to the top before the bolder rolls back down. (Yes I know the myth and where that analogy goes off it.)