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Baffling Business Decisions


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Valve allowing all those beautiful IPs to just wither on the vine for decades. The gaming equivalent of Salinger becoming haunted by the success of Catcher in the Rye and turning into a recluse who wrote only for himself and a series of groomed teenage wives for the next 60 years of his life.

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Metal gear five having no dlc

 

Konami binning of kojima

 

Overwatch still not being f2p

 

Having to buy online passes for second hand games

 

It being much much cheaper to buy xbox games from different country stores

 

Digital copies of games costing more than physical copies in 2022

 

FIFA not being a f2p game and ultimate team making them billions in transactions

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13 hours ago, Nick R said:

Activision and Platinum Games making a TMNT game that was only going to be available to buy for eight months. Activision/Platinum's other licenced titles around that time also had unusually short shelf lives (Transformers Devastation was on sale for two years, Legend of Korra for three), but TMNT was the really ridiculous one.

 

Of the people at Activision connected to its development, how aware were they that the TMNT licence was due to expire that soon? Did they make the game in full knowledge that it would only be a quick cash-in on sale for a short time before they lost the rights? Or did they expect that they'd be able to extend the TMNT licence without any problems? Maybe if the game had been better received, the publisher would have tried to retain the rights to keep the game on sale?

 

The game feels rushed. I have a feeling they binned an earlier TMNT game and then gave Platinum a short time to get something out. It’s a very mediocre game.

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14 hours ago, barkbat said:

Valve allowing all those beautiful IPs to just wither on the vine for decades. The gaming equivalent of Salinger becoming haunted by the success of Catcher in the Rye and turning into a recluse who wrote only for himself and a series of groomed teenage wives for the next 60 years of his life.

That is only baffling for gamers - for Valve I imagine it's very sensible. Why try and create something that will never live up to what fans would now expect and can only tarnish the brand? That's even more so when you imagine how little any game success would contribute to their bottom line (even if it was a mega Gta-like hit, how much must they be making from Steam every day?) 

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Thinking of the PS3, after the Cell processor design was finished, Ken Kuturagi decided it should have 8 SPEs instead of 6. And it turns out that the contract IBM had signed meant that he could just make them do that, and what could’ve been a profitable job for IBM became a massive loss that killed their relationship with Sony.

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5 hours ago, Alex W. said:

Thinking of the PS3, after the Cell processor design was finished, Ken Kuturagi decided it should have 8 SPEs instead of 6. And it turns out that the contract IBM had signed meant that he could just make them do that, and what could’ve been a profitable job for IBM became a massive loss that killed their relationship with Sony.

Wasn’t the PS3’s processor a technological dead-end, presumably also financially damaging Sony?

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Oh yeah it’s bad ideas inside bad ideas. It was probably an interesting prospect in 2001 when they started but by the time the PS3 came around it should’ve been obvious you weren’t going to get a consumer games system out of it.

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17 hours ago, kensei said:

The Saturn's hardware is basically a lot of chips stuck on a blender. I don't think the PS3 even matches for wackiness. It has all of the same "you've got to program in parallel in headwrecking fashion" except it's the mid 90s and you've even less headroom and worse tools.

 

That whole generation was pretty experimental though. There's an uncrippled version of the N64 that has similar costs but has much better framerates and textures. 

 

Sony got it most right by keeping the architecture simple and clean. So they took that lesson... and built the PS2. Had Sega put a DVD player in the Dreamcast, that could have went very wrong.

Same with the Atari Jaguar. A few tweaks to the hardware and it could have been very different. https://alexbeyman.medium.com/john-carmacks-thoughts-on-the-atari-jaguar-2c2cc0daa16a

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48 minutes ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Wasn’t the PS3 a technological dead-end, presumably also financially damaging Sony?


I think they managed to use the cell in a lot of other things, like TVs.

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11 hours ago, carlospie said:

FIFA not being a f2p game and ultimate team making them billions in transactions


But if they’re already making billions in transactions and it also costs £50 to buy the game… how is that a baffling business decision?! 

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3 hours ago, Gabe said:

That is only baffling for gamers - for Valve I imagine it's very sensible. Why try and create something that will never live up to what fans would now expect and can only tarnish the brand? That's even more so when you imagine how little any game success would contribute to their bottom line (even if it was a mega Gta-like hit, how much must they be making from Steam every day?) 

 

I think the exact same here applies to Nintendo with F-Zero. I for one am very pleased that the IP hasn't been outsourced to a smaller team, because quite frankly I can't think of anyone being anywhere near capable. Going from Amusement Vision to Raw Thrills, imagine that! 🤢

 

I'd rather just fire up GX whenever I feel the need to remember just how good the game is.

 

That reminds me of another similar baffling decision... Nintendo designing a Star Fox game and then giving it to Platinum Games to develop, instead of the other way around.

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21 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

 

But they could've changed it in the US once it was clear. And then not made it £100 in the UK after it was obviously a problem.

No you can't. You work out how much you're charging for it and engineer the console around that. Generally they sell consoles at a loss and make the money on the games. They may need one or two games sold to break even. The hardware in the Saturn cost that much to Sega.

 

So now you're knocking another £100 off the sales price. How many more games do you now need to sell to break even? With average console attach rates, will you ever manage?

 

The quote before was about that. You sell 3 million consoles at a loss, and people aren't buying two games with each one. Counterintuitively, a way to reduce the loss is to sell less consoles.

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1 hour ago, dizogg said:


But if they’re already making billions in transactions and it also costs £50 to buy the game… how is that a baffling business decision?! 

 

Missing out on more money in transactions because there's no longer a 50 quid barrier to entry therefore more people playing it and possibly spending on Ultimate Team.

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I would’ve assumed the entire market of potential FIFA owners was already saturated, even at that price. With the yearly upgrade cycle surely everyone who might want FUT already has a copy of FIFA that supports it, or can get one?

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20 minutes ago, Phantoon said:

No you can't. You work out how much you're charging for it and engineer the console around that. Generally they sell consoles at a loss and make the money on the games. They may need one or two games sold to break even. The hardware in the Saturn cost that much to Sega.

 

So now you're knocking another £100 off the sales price. How many more games do you now need to sell to break even? With average console attach rates, will you ever manage?

 

The quote before was about that. You sell 3 million consoles at a loss, and people aren't buying two games with each one. Counterintuitively, a way to reduce the loss is to sell less consoles.

 

If they couldn't drop the price in the US and UK how come they dropped the price by $100 just 5 months after it went on sale in the US? And cut £150 off the UK price within 7 months?

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33 minutes ago, rafaqat said:

 

Missing out on more money in transactions because there's no longer a 50 quid barrier to entry therefore more people playing it and possibly spending on Ultimate Team.


Will you/your average gamer start buying Ultimate Team points if FIFA is free? Some might. I wouldn’t. Most people (14yr old boys) who are into FIFA enough to spend money on FIFA points won’t think twice about buying the game.

 

Of course, there is a possibility they would get more in points which would offset the loss of revenue from selling it, but it’s far from obvious. I don’t see how you could describe it as a “baffling” business decision. 

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35 minutes ago, rafaqat said:

 

Missing out on more money in transactions because there's no longer a 50 quid barrier to entry therefore more people playing it and possibly spending on Ultimate Team.

 

On consoles though? Having to own a console in the first place is a barrier. I'd imagine most people who own a console and fit into the category of likely to spend money on Ultimate Team are already more than willing to buy a copy. Might be different on PC.

 

Having said that Ultimate Team made more revenue for EA than all the games they sold last year.

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3 hours ago, Strafe said:


I think they managed to use the cell in a lot of other things, like TVs.

That was what was meant to happen but I don't think it ever went anywhere. Toshiba released a few laptops with cell chips that were meant to help with video work but it never took off as companies like Adobe started to support GPU acceleration in software like Premiere. 

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SEGA doing a shoddy backhand deal to get its Dreamcast graphics processor done by NEC, completely snubbing the other suitor 3Dfx, which not only had a superior processor built for the console but also had EA as a stake holder, thus pissing them off and causing them to pull out of development for the console. Losing out on one of the biggest publishers and having to spend £££ to plug the EA gap in the Dreamcast library in the process. 
 

Love SEGA but they were dreadful at business. 
 

 

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4 hours ago, layten said:

Same with the Atari Jaguar. A few tweaks to the hardware and it could have been very different. https://alexbeyman.medium.com/john-carmacks-thoughts-on-the-atari-jaguar-2c2cc0daa16a

 
Jaguar was decent hardware but even competently done it wouldn’t have saved Atari, they were haemorrhaging money. The U.K. launch period the console was in huge demand but Atari couldn’t afford to manufacture more than 25,000 units, could have sold nearly ten times that much. If you can’t afford get consoles to gamers hands there’s no chance. 

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Nintendo getting Sony to make them a console add on before telling them to get stuffed and creating their biggest competitor.

 

Up there with Obi Wan teaching Anakin how to use a lightsaber.

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5 hours ago, layten said:

Same with the Atari Jaguar. A few tweaks to the hardware and it could have been very different. https://alexbeyman.medium.com/john-carmacks-thoughts-on-the-atari-jaguar-2c2cc0daa16a

Wondered for years why so many Jaguar games were barely more than Mega Drive/Amiga/ST conversions, and I guess that was down to the 68000 processor making it easier to dump ports onto. Shame in a way, as something competently

made like the Doom conversion on the Jaguar, that was (for its time) pretty immense.

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2 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

 

If they couldn't drop the price in the US and UK how come they dropped the price by $100 just 5 months after it went on sale in the US? And cut £150 off the UK price within 7 months?

They did a cost cutting redesign. From a Google:

 

"One of the things said about the Saturn is that it was an expensive bit of kit to build, so expensive in fact that Sega ended up selling it significantly below cost. Surprisingly there isn’t a tremendous amount of information available today on how much the individual components cost. I think there’s enough anecdotal evidence to draw on to suggest this was almost certainly is the case. Back in 1995, Next Generation magazine was reporting that it cost Sega $380 to produce the Saturn. This seems to be confirmed by Sega’s head of consumer R&D at the time Hideki Sato. In a 2018 interview he said:     

 

So we released the Saturn in 1994, and as I said before, there were two SH-2s. In addition, memory was expensive at this time, and we were using a large amount, so costs were very high. For each Saturn sold, we lost about 10,000 yen ($100)

 

Though the Saturn originally launched at $400 dollars in the US, it was rapidly reduced to $300 dollars to compete with Sony’s PlayStation, making these sources seemingly in alignment: Sega ended up selling the Saturn for less than it cost them to produce.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing of course. Not only could Sega recoup the losses via software sales, but over time hardware tends to become cheaper to produce: Raw materials fall in price, factory efficiencies improve allowing the original manufacturers to offer the same service for a different rate. Clone makers appear to offer compatible parts at a lower price and – courtesy of Moore’s Law – it even becomes possible to redesign chips to take up a fraction of their original space.  How quickly could Sega cut the cost of producing the Saturn? Thankfully, the community have created a thorough list of the differences between each of the Saturn motherboard revisions, along with a database of the serial numbers you can use to check what motherboard revision your Saturn has. 

 

From these lists, we can see the earliest cost reductions occurred with the very first revision (VA1) which was first manufactured in 1995. From an electrical design perspective, the original launch Saturn (VA0) was a bit of a dog’s dinner. Not only was the the entire cd block on a completely separate ‘daughter’ circuit board, but the the buttons and the sensor used to check whether the drive was open were all separate units and the console, as a whole, used a lot of off the shelf components.  From first revision (VA1) onwards, things were a lot more streamlined – all of the components listed above were included in a single PCB, with only the controller ports being separate from the rest. It’s difficult to say when they started to be manufactured, but given that a large number of VA0 boards date from 1995 and the machines used for VA1 quality assurance also date from 1995, I think its safe to say that these probably didn’t enter mass production until Sega were a good chunk through the year."

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36 minutes ago, Strafe said:

Nintendo getting Sony to make them a console add on before telling them to get stuffed and creating their biggest competitor.

 

Up their with Obi Wan teaching Anakin how to use a lightsaber.

This is because Sony tried to screw them over on the contracts. They would have got all of the royalties on CD game sales, iirc. If they'd have signed, Sony would have siphoned off all of their profits.

 

Nintendo realised and told them to sling their hook, which was the only sane thing to do. They possibly could have tried to do it less publicly, but you did not cross Yamauchi. 

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On 13/01/2022 at 14:12, Sixkiller said:

Google launching Stadia, but essentially a shop selling games at full price, rather than it being a subscription service with a full library.

 

The streaming quality I get on Stadia is streets ahead of what I get from xcloud, so their boffins clearly did a top notch job.  But the commercial people fucked them by not offering anything close to the Gamepass model, instead modelling themselves more on the PS plus / Gold models which were/are in the process of being phased out by Sony   & MS.

 

A technical marvel, destinted for the (large) rubbish dump of abandoned google services and ideas.

Phil Harrison innit. 

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3 hours ago, Phantoon said:

This is because Sony tried to screw them over on the contracts. They would have got all of the royalties on CD game sales, iirc. If they'd have signed, Sony would have siphoned off all of their profits.

 

Nintendo realised and told them to sling their hook, which was the only sane thing to do. They possibly could have tried to do it less publicly, but you did not cross Yamauchi. 


That’s a bizarre way to frame it, Nintendo were entirely aware of what the deal involved the whole time. It’s not like it was in the fine print. The only chicanery is that Sony didn’t find out they’d lost the contract until Nintendo walked out and announced their deal with Philips, in something that was widely and probably correctly interpreted as a gesture to publicly put Sony in its place.

 

The only real “puzzle” is why Nintendo originally endorsed the deal with Sony only to get cold feet later. Based on the timing, until 1990 they probably thought they were going to sell a bunch of extra SNESes and Sony-branded SNES cart players off the back of the other company’s brand image and the interactive movie fad. (Indeed, they sculpted their Philips deal explicitly along those lines.) They presumably got cold feet when it became clear that CD-ROM could be the primary storage medium for the new machine.

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On 13/01/2022 at 15:13, Rex Grossman said:

I know it's easy to bring up Sega decisions but pricing the Saturn $100 and £100 more than the PlayStation in the US and the UK was barmy.

Sony then following suit 2 console generations later by pricing the PS3 (60GB) at $599/£425, letting Microsoft bring in the Xbox360 (20GB) in at $399/£279:99 was quite bizarre.

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