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The Current State of the Games Industry 72

Posted by Zonk
from the snapshot-in-time dept.
Joystiq has drawn some interesting tidbits out of an in-depth Forrester report on the current state of the games industry. The report's conclusions? The PC Game market is healthy. For example, "39% of all households use PCs for playing video games - this group makes up the vast majority of the 48% of households that have any sort of video games hardware." The report details what Microsoft and Sony has to do to dominate the U.S. market. The report details tactics for each side of that competition. Finally, the report finds that overall consumer interest in games is falling. "In the mindset of consumers games are still too expensive. According to 48% of gamers games still fail to offer good value for money. The report finds this surprising when considering a comparison to movies (games typically offer 30 hours of gameplay compared to a 3-5 hour movie with extra features) but we suspect the problem is more a matter of quality rather than quantity."
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The Current State of the Games Industry

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  • What else is new? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @04:10PM (#14804894) Homepage
    Besides that most sequels generally suck?
  • by Supurcell (834022) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @04:14PM (#14804917)
    Does solitaire count as a video game?

    &

    Doesn't Miscrosoft already dominate the PC gaming market?
    • I'd vote that insightful rather than funny, if I had any moderator points atm.

      Such articles saying that PCs dominate the video game market are at best mis-leading. For example:

      1. Yes, I'd be very interested what they play on those PCs. The fact is, for better or worse, the console market has massively higher sales in dollars. If half of those PCs are used to run Solitaire or some freeware puzzle game (I know that's what my mother plays most of the time), the picture for a publisher, i.e., for someone trying
  • The report finds this surprising when considering a comparison to movies (games typically offer 30 hours of gameplay)


    What games are they playing that take up 30 hours to complete? Most games take 10 at most, and lack any sort of replay value. This isn't a real brain teaser, i can spend $15 on a DVD, or $50 on a game.
    • What games are they playing that take up 30 hours to complete? Most games take 10 at most, and lack any sort of replay value.

      They didn't say most games take 30 hours to complete. They said most games offer 30 hours of gameplay.

      How long do you think it takes to "complete" Tetris? (There is no answer, because there is no end to Tetris.) Yet how many hours do you think you've put into it over the years?

      And that's ignoring games like Dragon Quest VIII that can take 100 hours or more to actually complete.

      You
      • When I buy a movie I plan on watching it at least 2-3 times, and with other people.

        that is 6 hours for me, and another 6 at least for other people. Sometimes I watch it with a half dozen people.

        When I buy a well reviewed game I expect to play it for about 20 hours, but it may be far less (like 2) or far more (like a bazillion), but I plan on playing it mostly alone, or maybe with one other person. Not since Worms on the Genisis have I played games in a larger group. So that movie is providing far more pe
    • That's what the industry pretty much says right now.

      Aside from Bethesda (who produces ultra fraggin mega hits like The Elder Scrolls, part 4 of which is coming out for the PC and XBox 360 soon), replay value is a joke in the eyes of game makers.

      They figure that the audience for this is very small and that they can keep the hard core gaming crowd captive with re runs of Resident Evil or whatever.

      Everyone watched as the super bug-ridden Elder Scrolls III skyrocketed to Game of the Year and THEN SOME, but no o
      • Of course, there's the other side too. I HATED all of the Elder Scroll games, I think they're the worst RPGs ever written. Daggerfall was a buggy piece of shit. Morrowind just wasn't fun- it was too open, I felt no goals and no objectives. There are those of us who don't like non-linear gameplay at all. What I want is innovations in gameplay and a long enough storyline to actually make the game worth the cost.
    • What games are they playing that take up 30 hours to complete? Most games take 10 at most, and lack any sort of replay value. This isn't a real brain teaser, i can spend $15 on a DVD, or $50 on a game.

      Obviously you don't play RPGs, since any decent RPG should take 30 hours to complete, not counting any additional side-quests or mini-games that developers often throw in as well. Then you've got MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, where people log MONTHS of playtime. I'm sure WoW alone skews the "average gameplay
      • I can easily think of PC RPGs which took a lot less than 10 hours to finish. For example, take both Vampire titles. In fact, I dare say that that applies to any PC RPG that isn't a console port. (Not to mention that your average PC "RPG" game will actually be either a hack-and-slash action game or a mis-named RTS with some minimal stats thrown in.)

        BTW, KOTOR I and II were ports of console games, so don't bother giving those as counter-examples.

        But there's one aspect to it that's more important: the games in
        • Baldur's Gate?
          • Baldur's Gate is... how many years old? I seem to remember it coming out sometime in the late 90's.

            So, basically, sorry, I was talking about the trend in the 21'th century, rather than about how long games used to be in the 90s. If anything, that just illustrates the decline I'm talking about.
        • I can easily think of PC RPGs which took a lot less than 10 hours to finish. For example, take both Vampire titles. In fact, I dare say that that applies to any PC RPG that isn't a console port. (Not to mention that your average PC "RPG" game will actually be either a hack-and-slash action game or a mis-named RTS with some minimal stats thrown in.)

          Hmm, I wasn't even thinking of PC RPGs. Come to think of it, the last PC RPG I played was probably Neverwinter Nights, which was well over 30 hours, but also rele
  • With due respect to the amount of time, effort, man hours, development tools and cold hard cash that goes into making a modern game, they are still way to expensive.

    A modern games costs about $60-70, depending on where you are. DVDs right now are around $10. And yes, I will by 6-7 DVDs before I buy a new video game. Why? Because the movies are cheaper, and my risk of purchasing a lousy one is spread out more.

    With a modern video game, especially if you're a causual gamer, there's always a risk when you purchase a new game that you'll end up with a flop, or at leats one you don't like. Spend $60 on a game only to find out it was sub par, and you won't be so eager to purchase another so flippantly. That game for me was GunGrave. Nice game, but far, far to short to be $70 worth.

    If they want to sell more games, developers and publishers are going to have to abandon this fixed price regieme. To set the price of a game before the first concept art drawings are even created, is an invitation for a sloppy implementation, as there is no incentive whatsoever to put any polish at all on the game. It won't jazz up the price, and you can sell more units with marketing cheaper than you can go about improving the quality of the end product and customer satisfaction.

    End result of fixed price games is mediocrity and customer dissatisfation, and hence, less demand for the product. Sell me something $60 that isn't buffed to a replayable shine and I'll have a sour taste in my mouth. I pick up the same title for $20 in a bargin bin and I'm a satisfied customer. Satisfied customers come back for more.

    Burnt fingers are hesitant to fork over dough. Will the game industry listen? No. They take their cue from the music industry. Fixed, artificially high prices, despite the ease of reproduction. Well then; witness hesitent, artificially skeptical consumers. Cry me a river.
    • by IdleTime (561841) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @04:44PM (#14805024) Journal
      That is why I never have been on the New-Game-bandwagon.

      I've always waited until I can get the gamers reviews and comments and when I find a game that I think I will enjoy, I get it cheap by buying second hand.
      • I just get my games from the dumpster after they're obsolete, and then timeshift them back to "present day" via bittorrent.

      • I never buy a car without test driving it. I don't buy a game without playing it first either.

        Reviews don't tell me anything, and certianly don't tell me if a well crafted game is something I would personally enjoy.

        The last game I bought was Halo, and that's because I enjoyed the demo so well. I'm not about to shell out $30-$70 bucks for a lottery ticket on CD.

        -Mitch
    • That game for me was GunGrave. Nice game, but far, far to short to be $70 worth.

      For me it was Command & Conquer 2. I only paid about $50 for it, but I was highly pissed when I realized how bad the game was. I have been reluctant to buy any game at launch since then.

      I just bought Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, and it is FANTASTIC for the $15.98 that I paid for it.

      From now on, it's bargain bin only when I buy games.

      LK
    • Buy lower budget games then. Sony may want to charge you $60, but indie developers dont. gametunnel.com is full of reviews of new, downloadable games around he $10-30 range, including my own (blatant plug)
      www.positech.co.uk
      If you value gameplay over graphics, your better off with indie games anyway.
      • One of the key factors keeping these indie-shop games in the $10-$30 is their delivery method: downloads. Much of the cost of an off-the-shelf video game comes from retail markups and distributor mark-ups.

        What amazes me is that many large publishers don't seem to want to try and end-run existing distribution channels and sell direct to customers. It may be that they fear reprisal from traditional distributors.
    • Well, you can buy used games, if you think new ones are too expensive. Rent them, or try them at the stores.

      Also, ask friends of similar tastes what games are good, or join an online community. The Penny Arcade Forums have lots of folks with different tastes, so you can find people like you, and ask them what to buy.
    • A modern games costs about $60-70, depending on where you are. DVDs right now are around $10.

      The games going for $60 are the brand new, big name titles. The movies going for $10 have been out for over a year, and even then, it's usually only the independents or the bombs. The big releases come out at $25-30, whether they're good or not. National Treasure has been out for 10 months and it's still selling for $20. So let's not pretend you can get 5 new movies for the price of 1 new game. If you wait a
    • What they really have to do is make cheaper, funner games. XBox Live Arcade is a start.

      All I'm saying is if one guy can completely re-do Super Mario Bros 3 ( Mario Adventure [vintagecomputing.com]), certainly Nintendo could do the same and put it on, say, their Revolution portal for a few bucks.

      I'm talking about new games that feel old, or old games completely re-done, not the Super Mario Advance series and definately not (shudder) the Classic NES Series.

      I guess that's a long way of saying I want "indie" games (whether or no
    • That game for me was GunGrave. Nice game, but far, far to short to be $70 worth.

      Consequently, the sequel goes for 15$. Or Euros, depending on where you live.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 26, 2006 @04:29PM (#14804962) Homepage
    Games are interactive, movies aren't so much. The whole point of a game is that you are in control of the story, and there should be several ways to affect that story and varying outcomes. There is also an element of skill, where you might replay the same portion a few times until you master it.

    I don't compare the fun of a $60 game to the entertainment value of four $15 movies. I compare a $60 game to other games. The latest whiz-bang console release from EA will probably entertain me less overall than a more deeply involved title such as an RPG or well orchestrated FPS. It has nothing to do with play length or how many long boring levels there are. Halo was fun why ? Because it had satisfying moments and the challenge was well balanced, plus I'm a sucker for co-op multiplayer ever since the original Doom. NHL is fun because, well, it's friggin hockey and you get to cram three of your best buddies in front of the TV and shove them when they pull a hat trick on your goalie.

    Everyone has their favorites, and those games are worth every penny. It's all the other stuff that falls short, when you buy a game and regret your purchase that same evening. Take for example Mark Ecko's horrible "Getting Up" game, which is like Jet Set Radio minus the skating, plus a bunch of pointless "gangsta shit". It looks like it's 5 years too late, plays worse than a 2 week old tech demo, just a ginormous disappointment.. a modern-day Daikatana. Is it worth the same as Half-Life 2 ? Not to me anyways. So then why do they cost the same ?

    That's why I like non-blockbuster games.. look at the Popcap model, or those cheesy $15 titles at Staples like computerized board games and whatnot. Yes, they're cheap, both in price and design, but you don't curse yourself for blowing $15 because you know exactly what to expect from it. When you blow $60 for a game that's less fun than that umpteenth Mahjong clone, you want to punch someone.. HARD.
  • I have another question: why violence (think FPS) is one of the most popular form of entertainment?
    • Perhaps the intensity, shock, and the rush you get with violence. Perhaps the chance to safely experience the rush when you can't normally experience it in real life. Unfortunately, you end up getting used to a certain level of intensity, and to make the next experience better, you end up with more violence in new ways.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because people on the Internet are idiots, so therefore it is fun to pretend to kill them.
    • I have another question: why violence (think FPS) is one of the most popular form of entertainment?

      Easy, it's because most people have short attention spans and it is easy to program violence into games. The interaction to reward time is very short for a FPS; hence, it is popular with gamers who have short attention spans. Not everyone has a short attention span and there is a small market for those gamers (certain RPGs and most adventure games). I would say most CRPGs are in the middle ground. They hav
    • our survival instincts are about as fundamental to us as it gets ... no surprise really that it makes for compelling narratives.
      of the form life vs. environment ( vulcano etc.) and even more so when it applies to both sides ... us vs. them.
      when it comes to games it's also a bit easier to model than romance ... but i don't think games are all that more violent than movies, books etc.
      most played games are still stuff like tetris, the sims and sportsgames.
    • Because very few games are fun without conflict, and it's a lot more time and energy to come up with a conflict system that doesn't involve guns.
    • This is just an effect of the way the game industry has grown up. One hit game spawns dozens of copycats. Look at games like Super Mario Brothers, Doom, or Tony Hawk. Out of the copycats, sometimes a genre emerges. But the problem is that the fans of the genre keep wanting "more", so you get more violence or whatever they want. Eventually, the genres fade (a la REAL shooters, which are relegated to the uber-hardcore now), or they get reinvented as something else.
    • The easy answer is: It's not. If you check what the best selling games are you'll find it's not half life etc it's games like Myst and Sims. FPS players are just a vocal minority.
    • I don't think it is. Bejeweled and Zuma are probably the most-played games in the world right now. Animal Crossing and Nintendogs are topping the sales charts. MMOs are quickly becoming the new game stereotype. There are no less than 6 different flavors of The Sims available at Wal-Mart. RPGs are still the most influential games on the market in terms of driving console sales, and it's doubtful that will change in your lifetime. Mario, Zelda, and Metroid alone support about 1/3 of the gaming market.
  • Comparing a 30 hour game and a 3 hour movie as competing for the same entertainment dollars is not fair. It's like comparing Pizza and baseball gloves competing for food dollars. Someone who wants food is not going to buy baseball gloves simply because they are a better value. I don't want to buy movies. I want to buy games. I'm not going to stop buying games because I think they aren't worth it, and somehow try to satiate my appetite for games with a bunch of DVD's. I have money I allocate to spend o
    • Your analogy is flawed. Before I get flamed into oblivion, let me explain.

      Food is a 'need' item. Baseball gloves are (typically) a 'want' item. Both movies and games are 'want' items in absolute terms. Most ordinary consumers *could* do without either and still survive on a daily basis. Same goes for baseball gloves. The same cannot be said about food. I'm ignoring the fact that the primary audience here certainly would suggest that games and/or movies are more than 'want' items, though.

      However, your
  • The crumminess of recent games drove me to a Gamefly subscription. For about $25 a month, I can try as many games as I can ship back and forth in the mail. If I get a stinker, it goes right back, and if a game doesn't have any replay value, it's no big deal to play through it once and forget about it. Haven't bought a new game since Half Life 2 came out for the Xbox.
  • by EEBaum (520514) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @05:23PM (#14805177) Homepage
    I really wish people would stop equating entertainment to how much it costs per hour. It really doesn't work that way. It's not like we're filling up the gas tank and shopping around for best miles per gallon. By that logic, nobody should ever do anything except walk outside, because it's free.

    Besides, the time of fun from a movie, game, etc., doesn't immediately stop when it's over. I don't see people reminiscing with their friends about Super Mario Bros. 2 (though it does happen) nearly as much as I hear people crying to "Come see the violence inherent in the system!"

    Sorry, not quantifiable like that.
    • "It's not like we're filling up the gas tank and shopping around for best miles per gallon. By that logic, nobody should ever do anything except walk outside, because it's free."

      Wait... I do fill up at the cheapest station, and I walk to work to save on gas! So what's your point?
    • Oddly, the comparison was brought in to counterpoint the survey finding of reduced cosumer demand. And, last I looked, the movie companies were freaking about reduced demand for DVDs and a continued downturn in tickets sold which last year resulted in reduced total receipts. So is 30 hours per game (which I take is a mean amount of accumulated play per person per title) trending up or down? I'm not a gamer and have no base-line for comparisons but I find the 30 hours figure surprisingly low, I'm guessing it

    • Entertainment per hour is EXACTLY how it works. What on earth leads you to think differently? Even when they are talking about a game, away from the game, they are enjoying it. The problem is that you cannot gauge how many hours ppl are going to get out of a game and it's not consistent across players. There are casual and hardcore to every genre. That's about as specific as it gets. I played more halflife, starcraft, and diablo 2 (individually) than I have WoW. I still consider them superior games to WoW.
      • "Entertainment per hour is EXACTLY how it works. What on earth leads you to think differently?"

        Because "entertaiment" isn't a discrete measurement. Not every game (or movie, or whatever) produces an equal amount of fun for every person.

        For an anecdotal case: I spent about $50 on Pikmin (often criticized for being too short), but I'd consider that a more worthwhile purchase than a $40 RPG that lasts for 80+ hours. I'd still enjoy the RPG, but I'd have more fun with Pikmin, even though it was shorter.

      • That because Diablo 2/1 designed for grinding.The game basically orders you to click away for hours on monsters.
        quests are thrown in to storyline as "required content" and without them game doesnt seem any different.
        Its popular not from grinding but item based economy(do you wonder why d2 items
        still sell for cash on ebay?) and charcter customization.(builds,item setups,playstyles and minor tactics)
        Still i don't consider it great game after playing for couple of years. dull and repetitive,with gameplay issue
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone (681598) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @05:29PM (#14805209)
    Finally, the report finds that overall consumer interest in games is falling.

    The overall consumer interest in sequels is falling.

    • The overall consumer interest in sequels is falling.
    • Actually, I think that if done right, consumers would love a sequel. Diablo II, for example. A sequel that we all would enjoy is Starcraft 2.

      Like I said, if you make a great game it doesn't matter if it's a sequel or not.
      • On the other hand, after Master of Orion 1 and Master of Orion 2, my friends and I were all desperately waiting for MoO3. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still waiting, and I seriously will be reading reviews and looking for demos before I hand over money for anything else based on the series. Once burned, etc etc etc
  • market crashes because there are tons of bad games. good thing we have the internet this time and can actually see reviews. Imagine buying some of the trash that is put out with no info.
    • You mean 1983/1984. It was Christmas of 1983 that things first went south, then throughout 1984 all of the current console manufacturers pulled out of the market.

      The market conditions this time are pretty much the same, that much is definitely true. But the real difference is that nowadays we're dealing with multi-billion dollar major worldwide conglomerates, not little toy companies like Mattel and Coleco. In 1983/84, only Atari had the backing of a major corporation (Warner Bros.), but they were a sepa
      • no, i meant 1982. We aren't quite there yet. I suspect 2005 was 1982, most of 2006 will be 1983 and the arrival of the revolution will be 1985 :)
        • no, i meant 1982. We aren't quite there yet. I suspect 2005 was 1982, most of 2006 will be 1983

          Well, I'm arguing semantics now, but a) you did say "1982 anyone? the market crashes..." and b) we are in 2006 right now. So the title of your post should have really been "1983 anyone?"

          But regardless, yes, we're in a downturn. If the original Xbox is akin to the Mattel Intellivision (which is a pretty accurate comparison in every way, IMO) vs. the less powerful but more popular Atari 2600, then by all rights
  • Perhaps I'm just in a lousy section of Orlando, but every single Game Stop and EB within easy driving distance of me now has one single 2' standing rack of PC games. Typically, these will include titles released in the last 6 months (longer if it was from a brand with selling power or they just can't liquidate them, like LotR/Half Life or the City of Villains collector's edition). Yet surrounding me are entire walls dedicated to a single console per 12' span.

    PC games are dead here because I can't freaki

    • All the major game retailers have an online presence, and they generally have a better selection of computer games online than you'll find at the brick-and-mortar stores. Also, a lot of computer retailers (CompUSA, for example) have a pretty wide selection at both their physical locations and their website. Finally, there's always Amazon.com.

      Really, it makes sense that the market for computer games is shifting online. A big portion of computer users have Internet access now, so retailers can sell the com
    • PC games aren't dead, they're just in a state of suspended animation. Console games have pretty much always outsold PC games. Obvious reasons include ease of use and the price consumers have to lay down to enjoy the goods. Babbages (now a part of EB I think) went down the toilet pretty much because this gap grew wider instead of narrower. Still, games like WoW, Everquest and halflife are pretty big items for their owners. Why doesn't EB dedicate more shelf space to them?

      Because they can't carry used PC game
      • Babbage's isn't a part of EB. Babbage's, FuncoLand, and Software, Etc. are all a part of Gamestop, which is owned by Barnes and Noble (last I knew, anyway). They went down the toilet for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is their inability to pay gamers enough to fund their gaming. When I was a keyholder at Babbage's as a job during college, I wasn't making enough to actually pick up more than one or two new games a month (using the employee "discount")- and I'm supposed to be able to refer custom
        • Gamestop and EB merged according to wikipedia. A member just said an hour ago in #kclug that EB didn't take PC games. I've only seen one place take used PC games, and only one place that rented PC games, neither of which were national franchises likely to draw the attention of lawyers.

          Amusingly, Wal-mart has a better selection of PC games than EB does. I was looking for warcraft 3 for a roommate and the brick and mortar walmart had it in where a lot of online places had stopped carrying it. They've got some
  • The problem with the value per hour of videogames is that the play time is often artificially inflated. Things like copy-and-pasted levels, unskippable cut scenes or placing hard boss fights miles from save points (Spider Guardian in MP2, for example) are all cheap techniques to make the game last longer, while actually making it less fun.
  • Most games are overpriced relative to how much value people can get out of them. But the biggest issue is the issue of value. Too many games are being designed by hard-core gamers for hard-core gamers, and as a result the novice or new player is completely stumped or disappointed because the game is unplayable.

    I can give an example with Quake III Arena. I bought the game because it looked interesting. On the lowest possible setting the game is so hard I'm being killed before I even start. The action i

  • Most games fall dramatically in price in six months. I dont see a point in paying twice as much for a game just to play it a bit earlier. On top of that, the games are already patched and there are plenty of reviews available. I usually pay 10-25$ per game. The cheapest unused game Ive bought cost me under 2$. Take a look at the bargain bins and budget releases. Thats where last years classics live.

Refreshed by a brief blackout, I got to my feet and went next door. -- Martin Amis, _Money_

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