« Where did all the schwag go ? | Main | Open source for game developers ? »

August 31, 2004

Who'd want to work in gaming ?

Today Acclaim closed its doors for good. Acclaim weren't the first games company to fold and they won't be the last. They are however one of the biggest to fold so it sends a shudder through the industry.

Games companies are nothing special, just as likely to fold as any other company I guess - but it makes me wonder where it will end. Computer Gaming should be a profitable business - but it's also a hit and miss business. Titles that have no right to succeed (in the eyes of critics) often do well, and critically acclaimed (no pun intended) titles often fail miserably. This makes it more like gambling for many companies, not a great way to run a business (however the Film industry are experts at it...)

Are games too expensive to buy ? yes, I think they are - Personally I think they should cost about the same as a special-edition DVD movie, not the price of a box-set of movies. DVD found a great price-point with the public, we should take note of that. A few years back there were some US$20 games released that sold amazingly well - people didn't seem to mind if the game wasnt perfect, all they wanted was $20 worth of entertainment out of it.

Are games too expensive to make ? I don't know. Most game developers complain about not getting paid enough, and yet the budgets skyrocket. Perhaps the goals are too high for the current marketplace ? Or perhaps the non-development costs are killing us (licensing, advertising, etc) ?

Personally I'm always grateful to have a job and get paid a wage. I enjoy my work (more than I can say for many people I know) and the hours are actually reasonable when averaged over a year. I know there are people who will disagree, but thats true of any job out there. I just cross my fingers and hope that the industry survives (interestingly, I think that if the big industry fails then small startups will be able to compete again, and the industry will restart).

I send my best wishes to the people who have lost their jobs at Acclaim and hope that they can find work elsewhere, or that they can find another industry to work in. Meanwhile the rest of us will do what we can to avoid the same fate.

Posted by Zaph at August 31, 2004 02:28 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I see gaming going the same way as film. A couple of very large studios putting out remakes of successful titles, maybe updating graphics (Doom3 anybody?).

Now this works well for the masses, but it really doesn't stretch the boundaries of the art. And this is where independent studios will always flourish. This will require greater acceptance of product that isn't mainstream, but the occasional hit will be enough to keep them interested. With the internet there is now a (relatively) free distribution medium to help keep costs down.

Are games too expensive ? I dunno. I don't think they are, but I tend to be a bit choosy about how I put down my $$$. Doom3 looks like 20+ hours of entertainment, and at $90 that's $5/hour. Maybe a touch expensive, but not too bad.

However, if I compare that to HalfLife (Counterstrike) or BF1942 or BF-Vietnam or even Neverwinter Nights. I've got thousands of hours of entertainment out of those at a cost of $350. And FPS games are probably the "weakest" in terms of ROI. I still know people playing Warcraft II against each other. RTS seems to have a longevity much greater than the FPS games.

I think all human based activities are expensive. I also think that most software development activities are far too inefficient and the general level of skill in the software industry is too low to make a good judgement about games in particular.

Personally I think that games are going for the "wow" factor of graphics far over gameplay. I still find Counterstrike the most compelling game, even if the graphics suck (relatively speaking). It had great balance, and was a well thought out game. On the other side, HOMM (can't remember the number, I think it was 3) was a thoroughly compelling game that I had to delete from my computer or spend too much time playing it.

Graphics are nice to get sucked into playing, but if it doesn't have good gameplay, then you're screwed. Longevity is sunk and that's where the value in games comes in.

PS: Your comment entry is screwed Zaph, sorry everybody who is reading, I did put line breaks into my comments.

Posted by: Jon Eaves at August 31, 2004 08:12 PM

I should add to my previous comment, your "comment preview" is screwed. Clearly the comments have come out OK. ;-)

Posted by: Jon Eaves at August 31, 2004 08:21 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?