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Gaming overload, what are the implications for the industry?


BeeJay
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I'm really wondering right now, what the next few years looks like for the industry and I'm concerned that we are in the midst of a race to the bottom. I don't see how the current trend is sustainable. It feels like being back in the 80s/early 90s where games came free with magazines and piracy was rife. There is simply too much available right now for too little cost. I just don't understand how the industry can sustain this. As a consumer, it feels like a golden era. Those of you in the industry, how do you feel about it and what do you think the next few years look like?

 

Cheap, or free gaming across almost all platforms is now the norm and I really can't keep up, despite having a lot of gaming time and spending little to no money relative to what I used to spend 10 years ago.

 

Every day, more games are being offered to me than I can possibly play at all, let alone complete. Let's look at some of the key 'offenders':

 

  • Game pass ultimate - £100 will buy you a 3 year subscription right now: - over 200 games available all the time, most of which are new releases and a lot of them full releases that stores are trying to sell for £30+. In the last few days alone we have got: Phoenix point, infinifactory, Witcher 3, pillars of eternity, pes 2020, untitled goose game. There are probably 200+ hours of top quality gameplay just in those alone. Oh, and also includes games with gold, 4 free games a month (but relatively low quality right now)
  • Epic store (totally free) - free games every week (albeit of mixed quality) but some crazy good such as Into the breach today. Not sure how long this quality will continue.
  • PSNow (£35 a year) - 700+ playstation games available to stream from PC or download to PS4. Currently including some of the biggest releases of recent years such as God of War, Persona 5...

 

Then we also have what I would say are a little way behind:

  • Twitch prime (free if you have amazon prime, about £50 a year): 4 or 5 free games each month. Quality of games has dropped off a lot recently, but started very strong.
  • PSplus - about £32 a year if you buy at the right time - the fact that the previous market leader in subscription games services is this low down says it all. However, recent months has still delivered: last of us remastered, Titanfall 2, Nioh, detroit, wipeout omega collection...
  • EA/origin access (£16 console, PC basic £20 a year) - I have a free trial for origin basic right now and am playing frostpunk, breathedge and they are billions. Ignoring the 'big' ea games, these are still games that I would happily previously paid a couple of years worth of subs for to play.

 

And then there are the ones that are either too new to judge or I don't know enough about such as Nintendo, the apple one, the upcoming google service, uplay...

 

For me personally, £100 a year, or less, is buying me more gaming than I can possibly play, and for games that I would absolutely have previously bought. I can count the number of games that I don't have access to, that I really want to play, on one hand (factorio, breath of the wild, rimworld, disco elysium)

 

Of the best reviewed games of 2019/2018, a significant percentage are on these services somewhere. God of war, slay the spire, shadow of colossus,  forza horizon 4,  celeste, monster hunter world, dead cells...

 

With more companies joining the race, I can only see things getting deeper over the next couple of years, especially with Sony and Microsoft battling for the hardware war.

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Just to note the game pass titles you have mentioned -

Phoenix point - Kickstarter

Infinifactory - Released 4 years ago

Witcher 3 - Released 4 years ago

Pillars of eternity - Released 4 years ago

PES - A struggling game series that hasn't really been hitting the numbers it needs for a while I imagine

Untitled goose game - I imagine a relatively small budget game

 

 

I think you are looking at these services wrong. Aside from first party content generally the titles that hit these services (particularly big budget titles) are games that have had most of their sales and are now looking for new audiences in anticipation of future titles. 

 

It works like your netflix's / amazon prime etc etc. The games have earned most of their money and this is their last big hurrah if you will. CD Projekt will have made a few quid out of the Witcher 3 for example and note there's a possibility the deal is time limited.

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21 minutes ago, RubberJohnny said:

You're not supposed to play everything, you don't try and watch every TV show or listen to every song.

 

This is a weird gamer hangup that seems to come from only being able to afford a few games as kids, and then getting a disposable income. 

 

Do you think that the industry has grown enough to support itself with this model? I can easily get more than enough gaming to suit my needs for under £100 a year now compared to probably £500+ 10 years ago. I regularly read that game development costs are going up and devs are folding left, right and centre. Can you understand why I am confused? Is there another me, 10 years younger than I am spending £500+ per year on games? Where are they spending that money, because it isn't on subscription services. Is all the money coming in through DLC?

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25 minutes ago, Luseth said:

Just to note the game pass titles you have mentioned -

Phoenix point - Kickstarter

Infinifactory - Released 4 years ago

Witcher 3 - Released 4 years ago

Pillars of eternity - Released 4 years ago

PES - A struggling game series that hasn't really been hitting the numbers it needs for a while I imagine

Untitled goose game - I imagine a relatively small budget game

 

 

I think you are looking at these services wrong. Aside from first party content generally the titles that hit these services (particularly big budget titles) are games that have had most of their sales and are now looking for new audiences in anticipation of future titles. 

 

It works like your netflix's / amazon prime etc etc. The games have earned most of their money and this is their last big hurrah if you will. CD Projekt will have made a few quid out of the Witcher 3 for example and note there's a possibility the deal is time limited.

 

I understand if you didn't read all the way through my long post but I can't disagree more with your view that it is just old games that have had their day. It really isn't but I can see your perspective if you look at a few games that I listed in isolation, as an example of games made available in the last few days.

 

Maybe I need to re-assess my perspective of what an 'old' game is. Maybe to younger people, a game is old and has no value a week after release?

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I feel the death of the AAA gaming studios has been a long time comming and now, there's not that many left. The transition to the Service model like Netflix is benefical to the big publishers who have a big repository of pre-exisiting games, this won't benefit the develoeprs at all going forward as the reward is big for those on the end of the £10 a month but the split is shit.

 

I predict that the industry will keep its course, the big stuudios continue to die out and we'll be left with the big publishers surviving on the service plans of their past glories with the occasional big hit, indie studios thriving on indervidual sales and the mid tier making a splash.

 

If you look at movies and music, I imagine gaming will begin to mirror that in a few years.

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14 minutes ago, BeeJay said:

 

I understand if you didn't read all the way through my long post but I can't disagree more with your view that it is just old games that have had their day. It really isn't but I can see your perspective if you look at a few games that I listed in isolation, as an example of games made available in the last few days.

 

Maybe I need to re-assess my perspective of what an 'old' game is. Maybe to younger people, a game is old and has no value a week after release?

 

I did and still stand by my point. Most games start to fall in value at about a month - 2 months after release date. Look at death stranding, admittedly sales have started but you can now pick that up for £30 if you know where to look as opposed to the £45-£50 it would have been at launch. So within a month and a half that's what almost a 40% drop already? 

 

Again refer to my point, games a year old generally have dropped dramatically in value, particularly for younger audiences, they want to play the latest and greatest, the games that are trending etc etc.

 

So name me something that has been a big third party title on another service that has been put on the service immediately on launch.

 

I do think the subscription services will really stifle the industry but it's somewhat consumer driven. I imagine there are many on here who pay for subscriptions and feel it's enough value now to not warrant buying new titles as and when they come out but really we should look at them as a way to supplement the big titles you continue to buy.

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Full price games have always traditionally dropped quickly, who remembers the good old play.com £17.99 specials a week or two after release?

 

If anything I would say the biggest problem is a game like CoD or Fifa is bought at £50 but with post launch updates it's the only game people buy all year, and if they fancy something different they can download Fornite or Apex or some other free to play game and the desire to try other games is quashed even further.

 

A or AA games don't get a look in and have more or less completely died off.

 

I really dislike how the industry has turned out to be honest but that's life etc

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7 minutes ago, Luseth said:

 

I did and still stand by my point. Most games start to fall in value at about a month - 2 months after release date. Look at death stranding, admittedly sales have started but you can now pick that up for £30 if you know where to look as opposed to the £45-£50 it would have been at launch. So within a month and a half that's what almost a 40% drop already? 

 

Again refer to my point, games a year old generally have dropped dramatically in value, particularly for younger audiences, they want to play the latest and greatest, the games that are trending etc etc.

 

So name me something that has been a big third party title on another service that has been put on the service immediately on launch.

 

I do think the subscription services will really stifle the industry but it's somewhat consumer driven. I imagine there are many on here who pay for subscriptions and feel it's enough value now to not warrant buying new titles as and when they come out but really we should look at them as a way to supplement the big titles you continue to buy.

 

I completely agree about the price drop, but that isn't new. A game like death stranding would probably have hit sub £25 by now, released 10 years ago.

 

Is your conclusion then that this will always be for first party games, indie games and third party games that have made most of their money?

 

Perhaps I am seeing a trend that doesn't exist, due to my bias toward indie games.

 

Do you see the games industry going the same way as film and TV where subscription services are the premium release method, replacing physical and digital purchase. All the evidence is that cinema is going the same way as physical and digital purchases.

 

Why is gaming different? In 5 years time, I think a very small percentage of revenue will be through direct sale and the majority will be subscription services. But I don't think the current pricing can be sustained.

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4 minutes ago, Down by Law said:

Full price games have always traditionally dropped quickly, who remembers the good old play.com £17.99 specials a week or two after release?

 

If anything I would say the biggest problem is a game like CoD or Fifa is bought at £50 but with post launch updates it's the only game people buy all year, and if they fancy something different they can download Fornite or Apex or some other free to play game and the desire to try other games is quashed even further.

 

A or AA games don't get a look in and have more or less completely died off.

 

I really dislike how the industry has turned out to be honest but that's life etc

 

Yes! £17.99 play was crazy at the time. Now 2 of those buys me gamepass ultimate for a year and that's ignoring inflation. At £17.99 I'd buy 2 or 3 'new' games a month.

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58 minutes ago, BeeJay said:

 

I completely agree about the price drop, but that isn't new. A game like death stranding would probably have hit sub £25 by now, released 10 years ago.

 

Is your conclusion then that this will always be for first party games, indie games and third party games that have made most of their money?

 

Perhaps I am seeing a trend that doesn't exist, due to my bias toward indie games.

 

Do you see the games industry going the same way as film and TV where subscription services are the premium release method, replacing physical and digital purchase. All the evidence is that cinema is going the same way as physical and digital purchases.

 

Why is gaming different? In 5 years time, I think a very small percentage of revenue will be through direct sale and the majority will be subscription services. But I don't think the current pricing can be sustained.

 

It's basically this. ^^

 

the reason games is different to TV and movie (well one of the many ways) - is how it's funded. 99.9% of movies / TV are funded by the platform holder, a conglomerate of production companies, angel investors - and random other funds.

 

Games, 99.9% of the time, is funded by revenue from previous games, seed investment, VC's, platform holders occasionally, etc etc.

 

The way projects are funded, have a direct impact on their success criteria, and their sales targets to break even. TV and film is much more perpetual than games, games age badly (albeit, we're hitting an entirely new period in the games industry where backwards compatibility and forwards compatibility are assumed and expected nowadays) - we're hitting "the perpetual state" that TV and Movies hit many many years ago.

 

So the business model will change, the funding methods will change with it (I hope) - the games industry will be absolutely fine, once we stop chasing hit-driven crowd following bollocks and start believing in our art a bit more.

 

Genre's are being ring-fenced by major companies (you'd be a bit mad to release a crime game now = GTA, a bit mad to release a footy game now = FIFA, etc etc) - but once the funding changes and risks and failure don't necessarily mean the end of a company - it'll all be ok.

 

Short term, the game's industry is in for a real polarising period, (big teams will win big, small teams will win small and occasionally win big, and lots and lots of people will go kaput - as it's always been really) - but after that period it'll be more like the book industry, where the actual item itself is worthless, and there's way too much to possibly consume but the "shit we need everyone to consume this!" success criteria will also have faded.

 

I'll be dead/retired by then so I don't really worry about it. :D

 

Edit: We're definitely in a golden period, I've never seen an industry this busy this close to a new generation. - However, I do also think there's a silver period coming where all the veteran programmers retire and go back to their bedrooms to work on that IP / game they could never convince the business men to back. With super-tools... now that's going to be an interesting phase.

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Also: I think that the film model of "you buy the DVD if you really love it and want to make sure you keep a copy of it no matter what and it'll work universally on your system" definitely will never happen in games. Ever ever ever. So that's always going to mean, "if you want zelda, you buy a nintendo". The platform holders need games to support their platforms, but their key reason for being is to sell their platform, software is secondary, and it'll always be that way. Playstations' motto (whilst I was there anyway) was "THE place to play", which is a good way of thinking about it for the future.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Strangelite said:

Edit: We're definitely in a golden period, I've never seen an industry this busy this close to a new generation. - However, I do also think there's a silver period coming where all the veteran programmers retire and go back to their bedrooms to work on that IP / game they could never convince the business men to back. With super-tools... now that's going to be an interesting phase.

 

Or in the case of so many already, leave the industry entirely and design and code in their spare time.

 

I think the gaming industry has used and abused so many of us now, combined with the strangle of the top line work, a lot of us have now moved onto working in a seperate industry but work on small little games in our spare time. In some cases, just for fun.

 

It'll be intresting to see in 10 years, when more big developers and publishers fall by the wayside, what state the the industry will be in.

 

I feel indie will be flourishing, phone games will fall off aside from tapping games and the big publishers will have all transitioned to the Netflix model and pump out just a few big safe games a year.

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4 hours ago, BeeJay said:

 

Do you think that the industry has grown enough to support itself with this model? I can easily get more than enough gaming to suit my needs for under £100 a year now compared to probably £500+ 10 years ago. I regularly read that game development costs are going up and devs are folding left, right and centre. Can you understand why I am confused? Is there another me, 10 years younger than I am spending £500+ per year on games? Where are they spending that money, because it isn't on subscription services. Is all the money coming in through DLC?


I think it probably opens up new revenues more than anything. I suspect the majority of us on here - who undoubtedly like gamepass a lot - won’t want to wait a couple of years for something to turn up on gamepass any less than we’d wait a couple of years for a film we want to see turn up on sky movies.

 

The extra revenue is from people who are not bothered about new games (and are perhaps less into games - more causal) or have financial constraints preventing a large expenditure.

 

And for us, it’s more of a movies on Netflix thing. Films we weren’t fussed about and will now watch because it’s within easy access etc. I’ve played plenty on gamepass I wouldn’t have bothered buying at retail.

 

Obviously, there are exceptions. Some games hit gamepass very quickly. But like the exclusive Netflix films, they are usually a bit shit.

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Cloud Gaming platforms should significantly shift the business model calculations in favour of less risky development; you spend less targetting a single platform and the potential audience is enormous, far exceeding the current installed base of this gens consoles. 

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For me, the biggest thing is the social impact.  There's way too much of everything, be that TV, movies, books, games.  The chances of you enjoying the same thing as your friends at the same time are massively reduced.  Have you seen that new film?  No, I don't have Netflix, Sky, Amazon, etc.  A big part of the appeal of any entertainment is sharing it with your friends.  They used to talk of watercooler moments, and today those conversations are lead by one person persuading everyone else to watch / play / read the thing they like, rather than everyone sharing their own thoughts.

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9 hours ago, Down by Law said:

Full price games have always traditionally dropped quickly, who remembers the good old play.com £17.99 specials a week or two after release?

 

If anything I would say the biggest problem is a game like CoD or Fifa is bought at £50 but with post launch updates it's the only game people buy all year, and if they fancy something different they can download Fornite or Apex or some other free to play game and the desire to try other games is quashed even further.

 

A or AA games don't get a look in and have more or less completely died off.

 

I really dislike how the industry has turned out to be honest but that's life etc

 

Well not for me. Other than FIFA, which I only play pretty casually anyway, I'm more interested in the games that don't fall into the "AAA" banner, since these are less likely to have high post-purchase monetisation. I'm not into that so I keep away from the Big GamesTM. But the plus is the other games I'm looking at are far more complete and well, interesting. Dangerous Driving, Redout, Bloodstained, Dead Cells... there's a few more on my list that to me offer much more than the usual online FPS games etc. Way more interesting titles than any AAA game I've seen imho.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Weird thing for me is though it feels that there are more games than ever, complete series that I have missed, there are some I have and play, and have sunk hours into.

 

I mostly, weirdly, play NHL games with my brother online. NHL20 at the moment, we could play that for a couple of hours a night, some nights. I have RDR2 but didn't gel with it but should give it another go. It's almost too epic. I found GTA a bit more accessible.

 

Earlier this year I bought Sonic Mania on the PS4 and loved it. Now I have a Switch I will probably get it on that too, to play on the go. I have a PSP and a Vita. Again, with hardly any games. Just a few that I liked to play on each system. I have no games on my iPhone or iPad, but I have MAME on the Mac.

 

I've spend hours on Dodonpachi on the 360. But then, when I was 12, I spent hours on Sega Rally with one bloody car and like 3 tracks trying to get higher scores and better times. So my gaming habits haven't really changed, I just find myself nostalgic as fuck when I think about the good old days. But then, when I was playing Dreamcast, I only had a few games really. I didn't get the library until the DC was dead and buried, and then discovered the gems. 

 

Hell, I bought Street Fighter for the PSP/Vita today because I am in a complete retro mood at the moment. I will play it a little but tbh I generally come back to the same shit.

 

I have a ROM of S3&K which I replay over and over, even though I've completed the game numerous times and have more chaos emeralds than I know what to do with.

 

I listen to the music from games from my past.

 

I have a huge PS+ library which I will never download. Seems like a "good deal" but tbh I play the same shit constantly. Sometimes I will stumble upon a gem... usually years late!

 

Not sure what my point is, really.  I want to go back to the days of VMUs and waiting for big releases. Now I am just shouting at clouds, I suppose.

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