This Week In The Business: What Does The West Know, Anyway?

Illustration for article titled This Week In The Business: What Does The West Know, Anyway?

QUOTE | “I think wherever the Western market gravitates toward is what everyone will try to gravitate towards and create, and that will become the next red ocean. So I want to do something that’s not in there” - Nier: Automata director Yoko Taro tried appealing to Western audiences before. It didn’t work, so he doesn’t bother now.

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STAT | $6 billion - Revenue to date from Grand Theft Auto V, enough that MarketWatch argues it is the “most financially successful media title of all time.”

QUOTE | “I take a long time to do things, but I try to do a really good job when they finally come in. My motto on Spore was, ‘overdeliver late.’ It drives producers mad, but it means cool stuff comes.” - Chris Hecker explains why it took eight years of full-time development to get his new game SpyParty into Early Access on Steam.

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STAT | 24.7% - The year-over-year decline of game software sales in the UK for March. Last month was bolstered by Far Cry 5, but couldn’t measure up to the March 2017 launch of the Switch and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Mass Effect Andromeda.

QUOTE | “I was surprised that Valve allowed it to operate for almost three years. I knew at some point they would shut it down.” - SteamSpy creator Sergey Galyonkin talks about recent changes to Steam that put an end to his unauthorized sales-tracking website.

QUOTE | “Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services.” - FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection acting director Thomas B. Pahl, in a warning to companies (apparently including Nintendo and Sony) whose warranties illegally require customers to use specified parts or service providers.

QUOTE | “In our puzzle event, we used the phrase ‘random provision’ to suggest the items would be provided at random, and that the odds of obtaining each puzzle piece were different. However, the FTC interpreted the phrase as suggesting equal odds.” - Nexon explains why it had to pay a ₩944.5 million ($888,000) fine to the Korean Fair Trade Commission for misleading loot box practices in its game Sudden Attack.

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STAT | 54% - European gamers who said cross-platform play would not be an important factor in their decision to purchase a console.

QUOTE | “The great secret is that the player is always going to be on the railroad. There’s always going to be only so much freedom that you can offer, but the important thing is that if you do pose a question, give the player room to answer it.” Former Failbetter writer Cash DeCuir talks about how to make sure player choices in narrative games are meaningful.

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QUOTE | “The most obvious advice is, of course: don’t crunch. While this might seem glib, when you’re faced with crunch you should really think if it is worth the risk.” - Rovio London product lead Will Luton talks about his own experience with occupational burnout, and how developers can spot and address it in their own ranks.

QUOTE | “They’re not framing it as an amazing opportunity. They’re framing it as, ‘Holy crap, I have five programmers to pay, and I have a money problem.’ Never mind the extra layer of building a business, growing a studio, and so on.” - Execution Labs co-founder Jason Della Rocca explains why many indie developers struggle to secure funding from investors.

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DISCUSSION

The biggest problem I have with Japanese games these days is simply the UX. I’m primarily a PC games, but this console generation I switched from Microsoft to Sony and got a 3DS and Switch. I’ve gotten to play my first Zelda, Monster Hunter, Yakuza, Persona, Tails, Trails, Ys, Sword Art, and Final Fantasy game, as well as Ni No Kuni 2 and Nier: Automata. For me, most of these games suffer from overly-complicated UIs and systems.

I think a lot of these games could be improved by taking a critical look at the number of actions a player needs to take in order to do common actions like save, load, open the map, open the inventory, open the quest menu. In general, none of those actions should take more than 1-2 actions.

I also think they should remove the double-checks. For example, when I want to save a game, I should simply have to click a Save button. If a game would really benefit from allowing multiple save slots, then I should just have to click once on the slot I want to save and then be automatically returned to the game. I should never be asked if I’m sure I want to save, nor should I have to manually click my way back out of a series of nested menu layers.

This post is already long enough, so I won’t really get into the systems problem, but I think a good rule of thumb would be that you should never have more than 5 minutes of tutorial screens to read through. Show, don’t tell, and if it’s too complicated to show, reconsider whether that additional system is really adding value to the game.