In an exclusive interview, games industry veterans Ian Bogost, Gordon Walton and Valerie Massey talk trends in gaming.
A larger audience with greater demands
With the industry in such an exciting yet challenging period, it is evident with some of the difficulties experienced by large titles in the past year, that the blockbuster production mentality could be less of a focus. Walton spoke of the potential that moving away from this idea could bring, “The market is always changing and one of the challenges that we see in today’s market is everybody wants to be, name the three biggest games of last year, that’s the goal, the golden hoop you want to reach for and grasp, and I don’t think the future market looks a lot like that. I think those things will still exist, but I think the market looks lot more like a lot of a more diverse fractured market, where you can make a well performing game within a particular market segment, platform, category you can actually make something that makes sense: it makes money for the people who make it, it makes the customers happy, but to say every customer must like it so we can sell a gazillion of it may not work out. Because I think our audience is much more fractured and diverse than it used to be and, in fact, all of our distribution methods, capital and everything are saying it’s not everything coming together, it is everything moving apart.”
The shining example of the golden ring that everyone was chasing in the MMO sphere has been WoW, Walton went on to assert the problematic nature of that approach, “WoW was in a particular time and place and market evolution and I think it’s difficult to say “Oh I can replicate that success” every day because you can’t. A lot of people have tried, today is today not 2004, so you have to look at today and look at the audience, as there is not just one audience there’re a whole bunch of audiences looking for different things.”
Walton also detailed the issues with revenue when developing games and how producers are only just coming to terms with the changing market model as customer desires fracture the means of satisfying them, “The audiences are out there but it’s hard to aggregate up “I see 10 million are going to pay me something.” Even the big social games, “Oh look there’s 100 million playing,” but what do they say on the backend?
Well only 1 to 3% of those people actually pay. This is a challenge that the overall business has, how do we react to an emerging market that is, they all want high quality entertainment on their terms, on their platform catering to their particular desires and things that make them happy. So, I think that’s the challenge for the overall business and I don’t see the singularity coming out of this where everyone will have one platform and it will all be wonderful, I see a lot of competing platforms and I see even more of that happening as we move forward so the challenge to game makers is how can I build an awesome game on every platform that I choose to be on?”