« Name matters | Main | Disengaging »

Monday, February 16, 2004

Comments

Scot Le May

I think that the celebrity issue is a complex one. I do not ever believe that the game industry will have hollywood type celebrities. I do however believe that the industry does and will produce celebrities. Of course it will be a different type of star power. More of the, "I know who he is", word of mouth fame. Rather than the hollywood style, where actors get paid for appearing places. So no I don't think we will ever have the hollywood system of celebrities. Rather I believe celebrity status will be achieved based on what you do, rather than whom you are.

I do also believe, like Scott said, that as gamers become professionals, the industry will slowly become more widely accepted. Not only as an artform, but as a form of entertainment.

As for the issue of a successfull episodic type game series. Where you get small chapters for low cost over a period of time. I think the idea will permeate more when high speed access to the internet goes down in cost and becomes much more widely available. Than it will be much easier to distribute these small types of true episode natured games to the consumer. When content on demand systems are more mainstream.

Charybdis

I'm very, very sceptical about that kind of game. I'm really not sure about the number of people who will keep tuning in for their next instalment and pay money for the priviledge. AGON, http://www.agongame.com/ - which has one of the worst demos on the planet and instantly switched off any interest I may have had in the game, seems to be one of the most professional on the go right now.

Scott Miller

-- "I do however believe that the industry does and will produce celebrities. Of course it will be a different type of star power. More of the, "I know who he is", word of mouth fame."

Agree. I think that star game designers will eventually be about as common and well known as star movie directors.

How many movie directors does the average person know? 10 to 20 tops, and from the entire history of the industry. And keep in mind that the movie industry has been around for 80+ years.

How many individual game designers can the average Jane or Joe plucked off the street name? On average, less than one, I bet. Sure, a hardcore guy might be able to name 6-12 people, but we're talking one-in-a-thousand people with this much industry knowledge. The average guy might be hard pressed to name a dozen games, let alone people.

We're a faceless industry. Celebrities will be few and far between.

Paul Jenkins

I think another divide between movie and game celebrities is a cost versus reward issue. It's often in the best interest of the movie industry to sponsor visibility for their directors... Quentin Tarentino, for example, was heavily touted enough after Pulp Fiction's success that the studio managed a cult following for every movie he would make in the future. In this sense, it's worth a capital outlay to run image management and PR for Tarentino.

The same can't really be said of games designers. Most publishers can't grok the concept of building a fan base for a designer (who might go to another publisher if they did so), and so they aren't willing to push for the limelight... beyond that, how many designers would want that sort of publicity? If a publisher were to approach you with a list of things you could and couldn't say, hire people to tell you how to dress, or teach you how to "spin" questions, most designers would laugh. Even if a designer were to accept that kind of management, it's unlikely that they'd be able to continue producing quality games.

I think the Japanese and Korean markets are the most accepting of the concept of game designers as celebrities, and even in those areas there's a lot of resistance.

J.

I have only one link to offer this thread:

http://www.thief3.org/

I think that says enough.

Brant Bassart

Scott, I have to say I disagree with you on the "Tomb Raider name blunder." Honestly, I probably would have gotten into the Max Payne games if I knew what they were about. I never did buy the game because the title was some guy I never heard of. I'm not saying that I disagree with your naming convention strategy. On the contrary, I think you have a good plan set up. But I think citing games that were titled with a different strategy as 'bad naming' is going too far.

Sure, Beyond Good and Evil is a terrible name. But I bought the original Tomb Raider because I thought tomb raiding would be fun. If it was called Lara Croft (or some cooler name) I don't know what I would've done.

And what? Now developers with that license are doomed to create games about tombs? No way. Are you seriously saying that you couldn't release a Lara Croft game called 'Lara Croft' and it wouldn't sell (let's skip jokes about the last release :)? I don't think that IP is tied down at all.

Great blog btw - very insightful. I enjoy reading it.

Mike

Great discussion.

I've been in the computer games business for 25 years now (on the business and marketing side, mostly). I think there are some lessons to be learned from other media such as films, books, or the music industry, but there are also so many significant differences that most comparisons are "apples and kumquats."

A couple of examples:
1. Obsolescence - The new projectors in your neighborhood theater can run one of Thomas Edison's first films - the size of frames, sprocket hole spacing, etc., is still the same. A 65 year old film such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, or Snow White fits on your TV screen and can still compete with a new film. The rate of change in the video games business has been so rapid that 5 or 10 year old games are hopelessly outdated, and generally won't run on your latest system.

2. Distribution Channels - You can find thousands of films at your local video store, thousands of record albums at the music store, tens of thousands of books at the book store. Lower budget, independent, or niche-audience titles can be found and purchased. There is no equivalent in video games. Try finding a game that received rave reviews one year ago but didn't sell well - you won't be able to.

A big-budget Hollywood film these days might cost $150 million, but it's possible to do a film for 5% of that price (or even less), have it taken seriously, and make money on it. A big-budget game for the PS2 might cost $15 million - there's no way you could do a game for 5% of that and have anyone look twice at it. The ratio between a "big budget" game and a "meets minimum market requirements" game is at most 5 to 1. This very high cost to reach market is one of the leading causes of the conservatism that leads to "sequel-itis."

I think the main reason, though, that there are so many sequels compared to innovative new games is that that's what the typical game consumer wants [keep in mind that you who are reading this are not typical]. It's extremely difficult to get consumers to seriously consider innovative games. And I think the time commitment risk is more important for most than the financial risk. If you're going to be investing 30 to 100 hours of your life, you don't want to look back and say "that was waste of time." If you're only going to be playing 5 games over the next year, there is a significant risk associated with buying the innovative title.

Scot Le May

Sorry for bringing up and old thread but....


Mike just a FYI, in a recent interview Gabe Newell stated that the cost of development so far for HL2 and its supporting technology has cost them around 40 million dollars. Meanwhile, mod developers can create total conversions within the source for free. Counter-Strike for instance up until beta .5 cost 0 dollars to make, heh.

It is all the same in many ways. The only real difference currently is development time. Which is all related to cost of production. Where as the major cost factors in movies can be the actors and whatnot. In the industry indy studios can develop decent games for as low cost as in the movie industry. Especially garage game companies, who are working a main job and developing their projects on the side. Although in the end time is money. But when it is ones passion in life he is creating.....

worldofwarcraft

I think Greg said is true, let the heros stay in their world. The stars can play different characters in different movies, but the heros in the game can't. They will behave different in different world, and that's not the heros we like before. I don't want to hear the following talking: "Do you like Squall?" "Which Suall? in VIII or XIII?"

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Recent reads

  • : The Little Book That Beats the Market

    The Little Book That Beats the Market
    I've totally revised my investment strategy on this once-in-a-lifetime investment book. Very quick read, as it gets right to the point. (*****)

  • : The One Percent Doctrine

    The One Percent Doctrine
    Superb book on the policies that lead us to the current Iraq war. Two words: Blame Cheney! (Well, and Bush too, but he's not the linchpin.) (*****)

  • : Brands & Gaming

    Brands & Gaming
    Mostly inconsequential book that doesn't really explain HOW to make a successful game brand. Instead, it focuses on marketing for game brands. (***)

  • : Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected

    Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected
    Truly wonderful book, mostly dealing with history, by one of my all-time favorite writers. The final chapters, written in 1995, give a clear reason why America should not be in Iraq, if you read the underlying message. (*****)

  • : Myth & the Movies

    Myth & the Movies
    Great study of a wide range of hit movies, using The Hero's Journey as a measuring stick. Very useful for game developers. (****)

  • : Kitchen Confidential

    Kitchen Confidential
    This chef is clearly in love with his writing, but the fact that he's a non-innovative, hack chef makes this book less insightful than I was hoping. Still, a fun read. (***)

  • : See No Evil

    See No Evil
    I do not list 2-star or lower books here, and this book almost didn't make the cut. A somewhat unexciting behind-the-scenes look at the life of a CIA field agent working against terrorism. The book's title is spot on. (***)

  • : The Discoverers

    The Discoverers
    Love books like this, that offer deep insights into the growth of science throughout history, and giving a foundation of context that makes it all the more incredible that certain people were able to rise above their time. (*****)

  • : Disney War

    Disney War
    I started reading this and simply could not stop. A brilliant behind-the-scenes account of the mistakes even renowned CEOs make, and the steps they'll take to control their empire, even against the good of shareholders. (*****)

  • : The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health

    The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
    Do not read this book if you prefer to believe that the government actually gives a poop about your well being. (*****)

  • : From Reel to Deal

    From Reel to Deal
    Subtitled, "Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film." And much of it applied to the game industry. A revealing look at the true machinery of movie making. (****)

  • : The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

    The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
    The building of world's most technological structure for its time, against pitfalls, deaths and political intrigue. An amazing tale, told amazingly well. (*****)

  • Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?

    Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?
    My first book by Feymann will not be my last. A champion of common sense and insightful thought, Feymann's story-telling about life's events is riveting. (*****)

  • : Marketing Warfare

    Marketing Warfare
    A revised re-release of one of the all-time best marketing books. Only bother reading this is you care about running a successful company. (*****)

  • : YOU: The Owner's Manual

    YOU: The Owner's Manual
    Another good overview of way to protect your health in the long run. It's all about prevention, rather than hoping medicine can fix us when we're broken (i.e. heart disease or cancer). (****)

  • : The Universe in a Single Atom

    The Universe in a Single Atom
    Perfectly subtitled, "The Convergence of Science and Spirituality." Buddhism meets relativity, and believe it or not, there's a lot of common ground. (****)

  • : See Spot Live Longer

    See Spot Live Longer
    Feeding your dog at least 65% protein? Most likely not, as all dry dog foods (and most canned, too) absolutely suck and have less than 30% protein. And that is seriously hurting your dog's health in the long run. (****)

  • : 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free

    17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free
    Anyone who needs motivation to make something of their life -- we only get one chance, after all! -- MUST read this book. (*****)

  • : Ultrametabolism

    Ultrametabolism
    Perfect follow up to Ultraprevention. Health is at least 80% diet related--nearly all of us have the potential to live to at least 90, if we just eat better. (****)

  • : How to Tell a Story

    How to Tell a Story
    Great overview of story creation, especially from the point of view of making a compelling stories, with essential hooks. (****)

All-Time Best