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Online Games Boom - Who Benefits? 33

Next Generation has a piece looking, in some depth, at who exactly is benefiting from the boom in online gaming. From the article: "Electronic Arts provides a prime example of the struggles traditional publishers have faced when it comes to online games. Back around the turn of the century, the market visionaries at EA boldly declared that online games would be a prime driver of future growth and would account for as much as 20% of revenue in a mere three years (by 2003). EA even set-up a separate stock for its online game holdings. Since that time, Electronic Art's growth has been nothing short of spectacular. However, that growth has not been because of online games. This is despite the fact that EA is a leader in an emerging online game category, subscription-based casual games. "
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Online Games Boom - Who Benefits?

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  • Trick question? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I would think that the companies providing the fat pipes are making a ton of money. Unless an online game hits it big, or has a very dedicated group of fans, there isn't any money to be made as every two-bit publisher is trying to ride this fad with their Evercrack clones.
    • Re:Trick question? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:18PM (#14868775) Journal
      RTFA. Look at the charts, if reading is too much of a bother.

      Game companies are poised to see continued growth in online gaming revenues, the point of the article is that a lot of the successes are companies that did not come from established, traditional game companies.

      "Unless an online game hits it big, or has a very dedicated group of fans, there isn't any money to be made as every two-bit publisher is trying to ride this fad with their Evercrack clones."

      Not even close to accurate. Yes, there is a lot of competition, as is true with any emerging market. But that doesn't mean that the market doesn't exist and there is no money to be made. It just means that more companies are vying for the increasing slice of pie.

      Now, IMO, the companies who will profit greatly in the long run are those who:

      (1) Publish the games best tailored to the subscription model -- like scheduled content, etc.
      (2) Have the best variety of games tailored to their market (i.e., Popcap shouldn't publish an MMORPG, while Blizzard should publish a SciFi MMORPG)
      (3) As with any entertainment business, the company with the best marketing usually fares well -- look for the companies with the largest marketing budget.
    • I agree with you that everyone is trying to produce an Everquest clone. Though I would argue that WoW is the game to beat at the moment. I would put out the question though, is the lack of an online games explosion because it's a fad, or is it because everyone is just making Everquest/WoW clones?
      • Re:Trick question? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:56PM (#14869136)
        My experience is probably colored by the fact that I worked on two online projects.

        I was at Fujitsu when they had the WorldsAway virtual chat world in 1997. At the time, it seems like everyone was trying to build a virtual online chat world community. I even got the book, "Avatars!" by Bruce Damer, at a convention that was held at San Francisco State University to showcase the new technologies. Looking through the book now, I don't any of them survived except for a few niche survivors. Fujitsu sold the division since it never made any money after so many years. That was definitely a fad.

        The second one was Horizons [] at Atari in 2004. This online game was picked up by Atari because they wanted an online game to compete with every other gaming company getting into this "next big thing". (This was also the same time the video game industry was rushing into Hollywood licenses.) Horizons wasn't a bad game. It's just another Evercrack clone that may survive with dedicated fan base but won't really change the gaming world.

        Whenever the video game industry is stampeding in the same direction, I consider it to be a fad. How many times have we heard that the PC was dead? Or the console is dead? Or Duke Nukem Forever is coming out Really Soon Now (TM)?
        • The only time I've heard "The PC is dead," is from console fanboys. The only time I've heard "The console is dead," is from PC fanboys.

          And my Grandpa considers the Internet to be a fad, so who knows.
    • Re:Trick question? (Score:2, Informative)

      by objwiz ( 166131 )
      I don't think size is as important. I don't think big ensures success (eg: profits). All one really needs is enough user base to over the costs of development and operations--everything above that is gravy.

      Project Entropia [] has been around for like 8 years now. At first, there were not many players. But today they have over 300K players. Second Life [] has been around for about 3 yrs and is boasting around 30K user base. And these games are going strong. I'm sure theres lot of other games that have mad
  • If the telcos have their way and can double-dip to ensure certain packets get priority on their networks, then the telcos win...
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:23PM (#14868821) Homepage Journal
    according to the article. It seems to me that we can expect this to continue to expand, and this will change the mix of popular games.

    I've noticed that Konami, for example, does well with martial arts sector games, and that these are especially popular in those countries.
  • Am I the Only One? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theJML ( 911853 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:23PM (#14868824) Homepage
    Am I the only one that doesn't like to HAVE to connect to the net to play a game? There are a number of reasons, not the least being having to buy a game and then PAY for the ability to play it. Sometimes I want to play a game on my own. I don't like cheat books, I don't like asking people for help I want to play it, and I want to beat it myself. Sure, everyonce in a while, I like playing an FPS with a friend on the net in a multiplayer mode, but I like playing games that have offline aspects. Games that don't require anything but my TV, my Console and my sound system to work (or my PC and speakers). It seems to me that games that require you to play online seem more like thin-clients than real games. I hope there will continue to be plenty of offline playable games in the future. Am I the only one that thinks this whole MMO thing is just a fad that doesn't seem appealing at all?
    • Yes you are :P You could try guildwars if you only want to pay for the box. AO can be played for free also. Of course i am not adverse to good single player games, i know that i will be only playing Oblivion for a while when it comes out soon.
    • Am I the only one that thinks this whole MMO thing is just a fad that doesn't seem appealing at all?

      MMO's are definitely not just a fad. I agree that there's a huge market segment that has no interest in them, and by no means are we at a point where the majority of games are MMO's, but you can't deny the fact that MMO's are here to stay, and that a large segment of the gaming population likes and plays them.
    • by pappy97 ( 784268 )
      "Am I the only one that doesn't like to HAVE to connect to the net to play a game?"

      Probably. I grew up in the NES/SNES generation and while back then I bought games that I would play alone and/or with friends, today I only buy games that have multiplayer, like (XBOX 360) NHL 2k6, COD 2, Perfect Dark Zero, and I am going to pick up Fight Night Round 3 this week.

      What I hated as a kid (And my parents really hated it) was that I wanted a game so badly, and when I finally got it, I was pretty much bored with it
    • by PyroPunk ( 545300 )
      No, you're not the only one. Now, I don't play video games on my computer, but I do own a PS2 and an XBox, and I will never connect either one of those machines to the internet. This is the main reason I don't buy an XBox 360, if I understand everything correctly I would have to connect it to their XBox Live System so I could download emulators to allow me to play my existing games on it. And of course to connect to the XBox live system you have to create some account, and I'm sure once all that's set up
    • No you are not the only one. But there seem to be ever fewer of us.
    • I like both types of games. What i did wish was that all the mmo type games had some form of an offline playability to make up for buying the box. I think I should be able to run around in wow on an edited character by myself for free.
    • This may be surprising to you...but you can have both. It's pretty clear that tons of other people like it and that it isn't just a fad. There are plenty of people like you too who just like single player games...those won't go away. I like both and play both.
  • i just set up an old p4-xeon system with an old quadro4 to emulate the nes, snes, and n64. i've been playing dr mario nonstop for the past week. who needs subscription based gaming when u have an unlimited source for great gaming?
  • Yes EA makes their sports games for both the PC and the XBox/360/PS2. If your like most of the people I know who play both PC and console games, you play the sports games on the console, and your online games on the PC. Though I might be wrong, I would bet that EA sells the majority of their games on the console systems, and those that have consoles seem to be very slow to jump online with them. I think the main issue is that most console games don't need to be played online. If you can play with friends,
  • Do the math. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by merreborn ( 853723 ) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:43PM (#14869014) Journal
    World of Warcraft has about 8 million subscibers.

    8 Million * $15/month * 12 months = $1.44 billion dollars per year.

    That's probably a bit on the high side, and doesn't include the box price (8 million boxes at $50 = $400 mill), but regardless, blizzard stands to pull in billions of dollars over the life of the franchise.
  • Blizzard. (Score:3, Funny)

    by ZombieRoboNinja ( 905329 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:28PM (#14869410)
    I've seen newspapers quoting figures like a BILLION dollars in revenue for the year.

    To put that in perspective, it's about $999,985,000 more than I expect to earn this year.
  • F that.

    Ill just keep playing my Descent 3 [] against others on the net [], for free, thank you very much.

    Yayaya Descent is dead (despite the enjoyable game I played in a level called circumference [] last night) yada yada.

    Weeeeeeeeeeelllllll. Oh geee. There is Core Decision [] coming soon which will have the same server based gaming system, allowing users to play against each other GASP for free. Minus the cost of broadband of course.

    Wonder what big greedy pigopolists like EA will think about that?

Loose bits sink chips.