This Week In The Business: Place Your Bets

Illustration for article titled This Week In The Business: Place Your Bets

QUOTE | “For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.” - A recently approved Activision patent details one of several techniques for encouraging microtransaction purchases that the publisher now owns exclusive rights to.

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QUOTE | “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.” - EA Worldwide Studios executive vice president Patrick Söderlund explains why Visceral Games’ long-awaited Star Wars title won’t be arriving anytime soon, in a statement which incidentally also announced Visceral Games will be shut down entirely.

QUOTE | “Until we have hard data that the presence of loot boxes in a given title is negatively affecting sales and profitability, rather than just being a thing people talk about on the internet, we should not worry about messaging issues.” - The Outsiders CEO Ben Cousins is just one of several developers weighing in on the hot topic of loot boxes.

QUOTE | “In February 2016 I had a mental breakdown at work & Sony PlayStation HR became involved. When I told them about the harassment they ended the call and fired me the next day.” - Former Naughty Dog environment artist and level designer David Ballard accuses Sony of firing him after he reported being sexually harassed by one of the studio’s leads.

QUOTE | “Like it or not, the hammer is going to fall very hard - and I’m going to do everything I can to enable that to happen sooner than later.” In a wave of games industry responses to the #MeToo campaign, former IGDA executive director Kate Edwards warns sexual harassers that they will be called to account for their actions.

QUOTE | “I cannot afford to, and I don’t want to, take the same amount of risk and stress. If you’re thinking about sustainability and running a business, for me, I would just rather do something else.” - William Chyr, who has spent the past five years making his first game, Manifold Garden, explains why he’s thinking of leaving the industry once it’s done.

QUOTE | “We have a ‘no dead monkeys’ policy at our studio, and we’ve let a corpse go already. This is actually our second baby.” - Ignited Artists co-founder Scott Foe describes his company’s mindset by bringing up the tendency of some animal mothers to cling to ill babies even after they die.

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STAT | 665 million - Number of people who watch gaming content on YouTube, Twitch, or a similar service, according to research firm Superdata.

STAT | $5.5 billion - Estimated net worth of Valve founder Gabe Newell, number 97 on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America.

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STAT | 5 - Number of times Harmonix has laid employees off in the last four years. This week saw the company drop 14 people a month after it shipped DropMix, a music mixing collaboration with Hasbro.

QUOTE | “Anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.” - Apple CEO Tim Cook says augmented reality tech is still too early to deliver a good experience, says Apple doesn’t “give a rat’s about being first.”

DISCUSSION

conwaycostigan
ConwayCostigan

Industry veteran here. I’ve been making games since the early 90's. But I’m also a die-hard gamer so I get the negative feedback towards loot crates, DLC and micro-transactions in general.

But let me put things in perspective for a moment.

New video games have cost around $60 for decades.

Meanwhile the cost of game development has skyrocketed.

Back in the 90's, we’d launch a new console title for 1-2 million. Sometimes less.

Back in 2008, we launched new titles for around 20 million. A really high-end AAA title might cost as much as 40 million.

In 2017, there are now AAA titles with budgets in excess of 60 million, and that’s for development alone. Add in marketing and PR and you are well in excess of 100 million.

And in all that time, the base cost of a new game has stayed the same.

So you have two choices

1: Start paying $100 or more for a new game.

2: Keep paying $60 [or less with sales] and get used to having optional paid DLC and loot crates in your games.

Of course, there is a third option. The studios making these games can just go out of business. Many of them already have. As both a developer and a gamer, I’d like to avoid this one.