Saving the Industry: My Theories and Solutions *Updated* - Shotgun65 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Saving the Industry: My Theories and Solutions *Updated*

Videogame Industry... it has suffered a lot since the cold years of the "Videogame Crash", financially destroying various companies. The case of this era is particularly different, yet we're seeing somewhat the similar results as of the past few months. We lost THQ and Visceral Montreal, 2 companies that, personally, had a lot of talent and potential. All because there's no money to keep them alive. And why is that? Not selling enough and being in debt is probably the main cause. Are they to blame? Well, they probably weren't selling as good as they should have been for a reason.

But their conundrum isn't the whole "lacking creativity" or that they aren't experienced. I can probably name 5 good reasons to why this whole situation affected them a lot, my first guess being that they were probably forcing in ideas or trying to strive away from their main vision to make some room for a broader audience. I'm not going to lie, this sort of thing does affect developers emotionally and, more than likely/possibly, financially.

No one works for free anymore. Money is needed for every action taken to make a game.

In the industry, money talks in languages that one probably could not even comprehend. Well, it does in every business anyways. But the fact that if the money doesn't talk loud like it should, or it doesn't talk or it's not there, there won't be any reason to even continue with the creativity dance that developers call "Videogame Development". I sit and wonder, every night while reading my books about videogame development and Team Leadership... is there a solution to the "Industry Conundrum"?

The Videogame Industry in itself is hardly failing as a whole, but it is in different segments and divisions. I came with a theory that maybe the industry is hiring the wrong people for the right/wrong reasons. Then again, after doing background checks on almost every developer I've come to hear about in many companies, it's hard for me to say such thing. Don't get me wrong, I did think of this at first, and maybe because I felt that most of the games I come across with are very similar, or that they have similar plots/cliches. Can you blame me for being slightly paranoid?

But alas, it is not the reason. Many have stated that it is just hard to create a game and release it on a console nowadays, Indie and AAA wise. And this is true, it is really hard to do so because of several restrictions & policies. Another theory I came up with was the fact that the games were rushed, and needed an inspiration to cover a hole/plot hole in the game, hence making some devs imitate mechanics/plots from other games. And this is a successful method too.

My first guess was the whole "Mass Effect 3" conspiracy/situation. I've read about the leaked original ending, and compared it with the ending that we have now. It is almost the same, yet a lot of things are unmentioned in the original leak that we have seen in the final product. This leak was spotted around November of 2011, and the game was to be released in March 9, 2012. Not a lot of time to redo everything and test it, right? Quite the rush that they had to do, just so fans would complain and force them to patch the ending later. 

Patching a game takes time to develop and a lot of time to certificate, revise & approve.

And that alone makes me think: why is the industry going through all this problem? Why are we facing these unnecessary rushes that fail to deliver a quality game? Maybe it is because of Deadlines and how they have their money organization done, which would make me think that the product itself does not matter. What matters is that there's something out for us, and that no matter how it comes out, the consumer will always purchase it, then criticize it. They make a lot of money alone in the first day release, but not enough to support the Developing company.

My other theory was lack of creativity, hence making games probably stale, a cheap copy and a game that was not given enough effort. My first clue probably was that there were a lot of games that were REALLY similar to each other in terms of plot twists, surprise twists and gameplay, This makes me worry a lot because back when I used to own a N64 or a Gamecube, it was somewhat difficult to play a game with similar mechanics that weren't from the same franchise, let alone genre. One thing was Medal of Honor, Battlefield and Call of Duty but another was playing games like Eternal Darkness, P.N 03 and Fire Emblem. They may be different genres, but we hardly would get the same genre or a hybrid with the same genre released one after another. Then again, maybe it is me.

The only reason why I probably won't support much that theory is the fact that there is a target audience for everything and that I wasn't mainly interested in many action shooters. Again, that is just probably me being a little paranoid.

My last theory, which in the end seems to be the strongest of them all, is the whole "Don't fix what isn't broken" deal. This is probably one of the most effective and true philosophical sayings I've ever heard, but at what price. We all know the meaning of Insanity, but for those who don't, it's "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Well, that's what I've heard say and it speaks a lot of truth. I'm not here to say things like "Call of Duty is the definition of Insanity" or anything. But the fact that the industry seems to be creating more games for a broader audience with mechanics and formula that are proven to work now for money. It means that there is the possibility of a lack of other genre titles in the future, leaving scarce variety in games. We probably won't see many Horror games, let alone strategy games. This probably affects more those who are fans of other genres than Adventure/Shooters/Action gamers.

We need more variety. Just like food.

We could solve the variety problem with the Indies, that goes without saying. But if the industry fails to succeed, Indies are the new AAA and there's the possibility of downfall for them and the possibility that they will take advantage of us like some AAA companies are. I might be wrong, it's just a theory. But my hypothesis and solution to the matter are definitively the answer to saving it. 

Let's recap: without money, there's not much to do in the business, right? That money is YOUR hard earned cash, which means that the fate of these companies are in your hands. Dollar by dollar, it decreases the Industry Conundrum, and saves the positions of employees and developers. Indies and Gamers made one thing clear to me: AAA companies are being greedy, which I will say, without any regrets, that this could be true, yet it is a serious business. There are awesome and creative developers in the AAA companies, as well as indies which I admire and respect for their determination. 

So my solution is quite simple. Many speak of revolutionizing the industry and games, that we need more game successes than just another game. With time and dedication, this will happen. However, that isn't my solution. Without your voice, without the community's strong, logical and informed voice, you CAN make that happen. I will say that you can't say much of what SHOULD be the next game, or what SHOULD be(that's entirely up to the devs), but you can tell them that we could use some variety. Sure, this probably sounds like a personal matter than everything, but in the end it's for the best. Why? Think of 5 years into the future, where most games will probably be the same gameplay/mechanics with different stories. While it could be fun to play different stories, one could get tired of playing shooters after a while. I sometimes need my creative gaming, or feel adventurous like Skyrim. 

Revolutionizing the Gamers is probably the next step that the Videogame Industry and the gamers probably didn't acknowledge. And how SHOULD we revolutionize the gamers? Many would say that gamers are different from one another, and that most of them are very well informed about the games and industry, etc. The Industry Conundrum lies within your needs. But sometimes monotone needs get tiring, like eating the same food after a long time consecutively. Like how gamers are tired of playing the same game for hours every day of the year, and at one point, you just can't take it. So how do we revolutionize ourselves as gamers? Easy: just like how games are being broaden for wider audience, the audience MUST broaden themselves to wider genres/experiences. 

 

Another solution I came up with is that maybe developers should start reducing the numbers in their team. Also maybe to stop getting publishers that could cause an epidemic on them. Not saying like "Hey, don't get a publisher" but if they can handle themselves from the beginning, they could easily avoid any financial problems that they could have with a publisher. That's just me, I guess. A lot happens within a developing team and sometimes they do need the funding help, and Kickstarter probably could not help fund more than $10 million on a game... then again, it could actually...

I'm not here to FORCE you to like something you might not like, but as an experiment and the sake of the industry in it's entirety, try new genres and experiences. You'd be surprised of what you'll find in the end. "But Mike, what about game prices? Wouldn't reducing that can save the industry?" I could totally say yes, it could. But development isn't cheap, let alone if it's a really big development team. Not to mention funds, taxes, bills to pay of a rented/owning developing building/office/apartment/etc. I probably have yet to understand the %age of what does a developing company needs to give to it's publisher for each sale to pay off that debt, but if I were to know, I could come up with a financial solution, but gamers also need to be revolutionized in order to keep the industry's variety in balance. 

While I might be skeptical about my solution because it sounds more like something that wouldn't work, it is something I gave a lot of thought, since Publishers and developers study their audience through search and surveys. And if Action is what you tell them, we'll get action until we say otherwise. Instead of saying "I would want a sequel of (insert game)", try saying "we could use a game that could have (insert wishes here)". Too many sequels also milk out a franchise. Let's not start something that would end up being a criticized issue in the near future. We could use sequels, but right now... sequels seem to be part of this Industry Conundrum. At least, in my eyes. 

So to gamers: Let's get our variety!

 

So, what are your thoughts? Do you feel that you have another solution for this? Do you know something that could be support/destroy my solution and make it a better solution? 

 

I mean, hey... I'm just 1 guy. I can't be right all the time.

 

PS: Please note that I was blogging around 3-4AM where I'm at, so it's one of those blogs that could start a very interesting topic, as well as learn something new...

 

**UPDATE**

So just recently, I found out about that a lot of developers are planning to Crowdfund their projects, making me think that the sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo will be much more active than we'd thought. So another solution is, probably will even happen, that most Development Teams get Crowdfunded. Then again, it is not quite simple.

Like I have stated earlier in this blog, Videogame Development is quite expensive, and it would require a lot of backers to just pay for advertisement only, and Advertisement alone is quite expensive. Think of it like this: to just get an Advertisement Ad on a newspaper can go up to higher than $1k, and commercials are FAR from cheap. Online Trailers COULD be cheap, however not everyone has the capability to even connect online. I'm not sure how much is the cost to make the Game Cases, since that material seems to be really cheap, but in large quantities, it could be a lot of money. 

We'll be hearing a lot from Developers Kickstarting their games here.

The Industry Conundrum seems to be slowly and slowly solving itself, without any recoil consequences. And while this solution seems to be 50/50 chance of success, it could mean that maybe we can see no creative restrictions in our future games(IF crowdfunding big games is successful). But then again, who's to say that they would release TV Commercials if they probably plan to make a lot of Digital Sales? They could also save a lot of money by just releasing trailers online, but again not everyone has online so I'm not too sure how this will work.

But there's also the fact that there will be people that want to back a project that do not own a credit card. And this case includes me, as my recent credit card was just cut, due to the fact that I have no job and no money to put money in there. So... is there a solution to this situation? Yes, there's possibly one: Kickstarter Pre-Paid Cards!

 

MAKE IT HAPPEN!

If this becomes more than successful, we can count on better games, as well as an improved industry. Not that I dislike many Publisher Funded games(Mass Effect, Sports games, etc.), but it does mean that we probably can get developers to work with slightly less stress, no deadlines and better time to dedicate it to polish, test for bugs/glitches, non-restrictive games, etc. 44% of the developers that were asked in a survey PLAN to do the whole Crowdfunding, and you know what? This is also a great solution in their part. We probably can get cheaper games too.

Still... gamers also could be revolutionized as well.

 

MAKE IT HAPPEN, DEVS!

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