The Coffee Break. 7 October 2013
Hello folks and welcome to the coffee break: hopefully this little read of the day did not get you fired, or sent to the “dog house.” That would be a very unpleasant experience, similar to how I felt when I discovered that the news article I got all worked up about, was a satire. Coming back to a more serious note however, the US government is still in a shutdown stage, though Pentagon workers have been ordered back. Now one has to assume that this is for security reasons, and for the sake of protecting sensitive information from falling into hostile hands who can – and will more often than not – pay handsomely to compensate the worker. Now the article was only briefly glanced over, so the exactly details are unknown. However if you folks would like, here is the link to the story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/u-s-government-shutdown-pentagon-workers-ordered-back-to-jobs-1.1913914
Now this past week a famous writer by the name of Tom Clancy has passed away at the age of 66; which has led me to investigate the age of my favourite writer Dan Abnett, who sits at the age of 47. This in turn has led to a sort of panic as there is a fear that Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghost series might not reach its’ conclusion should this writer meet his untimely demise. Therefore this past weekend, all Dan Abnett books available on the market was immediately purchased, with ones not in stock ordered and paid for in the process – if the titles were not already owned of course. While this panic of mine is somewhat unfounded and irrational, I do enjoy Mr. Abnett’s works, and it would pain me to see him die before he finishes the Gaunt’s Ghost series. Even if he manages to finish the series, I do expect his other works such as the book ‘Embedded’ will be just as good as the Gaunt’s Ghost novels set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Folks, if you have a favourite author of whom you enjoy their work, do make sure to actively keep up with their books and short stories, for life is limited by biology, and ultimately we must all meet the maker sooner or later. Same goes for family, friends, and even pets – though pets are expendable (humor intended).
Sony Computer Entertainment America’s VP of publisher and developer relations – Adam Boyes – has come out stating that console exclusivity is ultimately damaging to the market as a whole. The gamasutra.com article goes on to talk about how Mr. Boyes explains how damaging console exclusivity can be, and for the most part he is correct on this matter. Now according to Totalbiscuit in his video ‘The Content Patch’ dated for October 7th, console sales have been steady, though it has also been declining due to a lack of interest – one might presume. Totalbiscuit goes on to explain that North America is not like Japan, and a single release of a title will not drive sales of a particular device like it does over in Japan – further supporting Mr. Boyes’s comments made in the article.
Well the Sony VP of SCEA would not be entirely wrong on this matter: keeping a game limited to one console may in fact damage the publisher and developer of that game in the long run as consumers here in North America are less likely to rush out and immediately buy the console the game is on just to play that one title. The culture here is different when it comes to buying games and consoles, and we see that when we compare Japan to the Western markets – though I cannot say the same for Europe, so do not quote me on that. Point is that if the console market wants to see growth, they need to focus on long-term gains, rather than sudden spikes in sales. The reason why the PC market is doing well is because older titles are still available for sale, giving gamers with less powerful rigs the chance to enjoy their equipment, and to also game on a budget so to speak.
Now could the mobile device market be cutting into the sales margins? maybe. Could the social games also be doing the same thing? Quite possibly, yes. However Adam Boyes has the right idea: open up the platform, and have games available on all platforms. That way the market – and yes there is a hint of free market economics here – will determine which devices will remain popular, and which will fade into the pages of history. After all consumers know what they want, and companies that want to make money need to understand this.
Yet there is an interesting dilemma on this; there is still some people who are willing to look at a console based on the number of exclusives available to that system. Whenever one speaks with a Playstation 3 user – and this is really from personal experience, thus it is not reflective of PS 3 users as a whole – their comments would be that their system is superior to Xbox because there are so many exclusives on their system. The odd dilemma continues as some developers would be more than happy to develop just for that one console, as they are able to break even, and eventually release a sequel. The truth is today there are very few games that can make spikes of sales on release day apart from Call of Duty or Battlefield, and even those two titles are seeing a drop in sales.
Ultimately Boyes can see that if a developer is limited to which device they can publish for, that can potentially hurt them in the long run as users might not be entirely interested in buying a Nintendo DS for the latest game, or switch over from a familiar system like the Xbox to a smaller controller, and possibly more expensive Playstation 3. Think of how much money a developer will lose out on if they were forbidden to develop for Xbox, Playstation, and/or PC? Given the status of the economy, developers will be looking all over the place to make money and stay afloat. Now if a developer wants to be exclusive, and are given incentive to do so, let them. The rest of the games industry should be free to develop all over the place, and stay alive to make sequels and original IPs. The benefits to everyone then would be numerous, and in the case of some long forgotten titles, new life will be given to these derelict “space craft” so to speak. The article link is located below this paragraph.
Well that concludes this edition of the coffee break; thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.