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The Manifesto on the Evils of GameTap 79

Gamasutra sits down with Manifesto Games co-founder Greg Costikyan to discuss how the revolution is coming along. They explore the group's business model, the retail market, and the dangers of GameTap. From the article: "They don't worry me, particularly; I'm skeptical that their business model is sustainable. But basically, my argument is that they can afford to offer so large a number of titles for a $10/month fee largely because the major publishers view older games as worthless, since they cannot be sold through conventional retail any longer, so they're willing to accept a small share of rental revenue. But I also believe that PC games, in particular, are going to move online in a big way over the next few years and will eventually disappear from game stores — PC games are responsible for just 6% of their revenues, and take up a lot more shelf space than that justifies." Mr. Costikyan further explores this last concept in a post on his site called, simply, Why GameTap is Evil.
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The Manifesto on the Evils of GameTap

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  • I signed up for them when they first lauched it was ok but not alot of games i liked. After 1 month i tired to cancel. This guys took a page from AOL and offered me a free month to stay i said ok and then next month i called again, and agiain anouter free months (did this for 6 months) Theres some gems in there but paying for it and warcraft just was too much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sacremon ( 244448 )
      This guys took a page from AOL and offered me a free month to stay i said ok and then next month i called again, and agiain anouter free months (did this for 6 months)

      GameTap and AOL are both owned by Time-Warner. Odds are the support rep. was trained at AOL.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by OakDragon ( 885217 )
      This guys took a page from AOL

      Well, you use Gametap quite a bit. Actually I'm showing a lot of usage on this account. Is there a problem with the software itself? Turning off your account would be the worse... Alright, some day when you calmed down you're gonna realize that all I was trying to do was help you... and it was actually in your best interest to listen to me.

    • I signed up last April, and had problems with the Gametap video feeds locking up my Internet connection. Called up Gametap with every intention of cancelling, and was really impressed with the way it was handled. I told the service rep my problem, and I found him to be pretty knowledgeable. He suggested a few settings to check in my router, offered me the free month to try it out (which I accepted), and then we BS'd about tech related subjects for a while. That was the first time I think I ever enjoyed
  • I see end of software box stores as a good thing overall. Because they are by nature very conservative on what they sell. They will avoid Linux and Mac titles, because other stores are not big Linux and Mac Sellers and people when they choose PCs they see what the store has most of. With software being online and more and more titles online software wont be for the computer ellete so if you want linux and you see all the software titles available for linux then you may be able to choose the OS based on th
    • I think there will be somewhat of a market for longer than that. There are still people who buy a computer and the software based on what's in the store. There are plenty who feel that buying software online is a bad idea, or a foreign concept, and they won't do it.

      My parents own a computer and I've told them about how there's free stuff online, but they still went to Best Buy and bought an antivirus program and a spyware program. Do I think online-only distribution can work? Absolutely. But there n
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You are forgetting that if the company folds, gets bought out, or just decides not to support that product any longer, you're flat-out fucked.
        • You have the same problem with boxed products, except you are probably out more of an investment.
          • If i bought a game in the store and my hard drive crashes, I can just reinstall it.

            If the company folds, I can still install it...I may not be able to get updates, but I can still install it. If I buy it online and my hard drive crashes, I can't download it...I'm out of my investment.
            • Re:End of stores. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Ravenscall ( 12240 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:31PM (#16233839)
              Well, whenever I download anything I want to hold on to, I burn it to CD or DVD and write any registration info on it in indelible marker. That way if my hard drive crashes and something is wrong with my backup, I can just reinstall it.

              So, like I said, it is the same problem with boxware, but I would be out less money usually.
              • by amuro98 ( 461673 )
                That's all fine and good - and even many games purchased online will offer to send you a CD with the installer on it.

                However, many of these games rely on an online server for registraton.

                No server, no registration, no can play anymore.
          • Depending on the product, maybe. But if we're talking the nebulous world of IP, I still have exactly what I paid for when I purchased Duke Nukum 2. It might not work on my current machine or have some bugs, but barring my own action or an act of god, I'll always have that small, plastic platter that I traded my cash for.

            If tomorrow Blizzard decided to discontinue World of Warcraft, that would be it. To the best of my knowledge, the game would never work again. Not even a single-player version where you r
            • Apples to Oranges. The point of the article is downloading the program you would normally get on the platter. I can pay for, download, and install WoW without leaving the comfort of my computer chair, and I can burn that installer and account key on a cd for backup purposes. If Blizzard were to pull the plug, I would still have that initial software that I paid for. I believe this is the point the OP was making, I am merely pointing out it is as big of a problem for ANY software.
              • That's because they're trying to redefine what exactly you're buying. Back in the day, you "owned" the ones and zeros on that disc. (Just those ones and zeros... you cold resell it, but not sell copies). Now everyone trying to pull this "you're only buying a liscence to play Return to Zork which can be revoked at any time for any reason".
                • I agree that licensing is getting out of hand, but unless they storm your house and take your CD or burned media, how are they really going to stop you? With an MMO it is a bit different however. One could argue that you do own the ones and zeroes on the install media, but you pay a subscription fee to access company provided content that actually makes the game playable. If the Company folds, that content goes away.

                  However, if WoW were to close up shop tomorrow, I do not think it would be long till the
            • "f tomorrow Blizzard decided to discontinue World of Warcraft, that would be it. To the best of my knowledge, the game would never work again. Not even a single-player version where you run around the world by yourself and kill rats for old widows. I'm assuming that enough of the game data is stored on the disc to replicate a single-player world with hacking, but the point is that you will not readily be able to use what you paid for in this condition."

              Yep, there's already a standalone server hack for WOW

              • It's not so much a "hack" as an attempt at revenging it. Unfortunately, Blizz has made damn sure that information is all but impossible to find. Believe me, I looked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RingDev ( 879105 )
      Interesting unintended consequences could occur. What happens if Wal-mart, Bestbut, and CompUSA all drop PC videogames due to online digital sales? Specificly, to the ESRB, and the ratings of those games. Right now, you need an ESRB rating to get into Wal-mart, but you don't for digital sales. Any online retailer with decent traffic can make the sale. The question is, will online retailer put the same pressure on producers for ESRB ratings as companies like Wal-mart and Bestbuy?

      -Rick
      • The question is, will online retailer put the same pressure on producers for ESRB ratings as companies like Wal-mart and Bestbuy?

        That's doubtful, and for a pretty straightforward reason - you need a credit card to buy things online. Makes it a lot harder for kids to grab an "M" game.

        • That's doubtful, and for a pretty straightforward reason - you need a credit card to buy things online. Makes it a lot harder for kids to grab an "M" game.

          With things like Visa Bucks (a prepaid card which can be used like a regular Visa card), it's a lot easier for kids to buy things online than it used to be.
      • The question is, will online retailer put the same pressure on producers for ESRB ratings as companies like Wal-mart and Bestbuy?

        I predict less ESRB and more TIGRS [tigrs.org].

    • You thing the be forced to pay each month for software or you can't use it any more is a good thing?
      also there are a lot pepole who can only get dial up internet and they are not likey to buy and download software for the internet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aesiamun ( 862627 )
        Hopefully by the time off the shelf software ceases to exist, dial up internet services will be no more. I fail to see why people still choose dial up, especially when it's as much if not more than something like DSL Extreme which is $12.95 for the first year.

        If it's because broadband isn't available, that will change too broadband becomes more ubiquitous and less expensive. You don't need more than 5 Mb/s to download something in less time than it takes to get in the car, drive to the store, find the sof
        • there are people who can't get DSL or cable internet.
        • There are large parts of the US that don't have 5 Mb as an option.

          Best I can get is 3 Mb DSL. A mile away from me (and for another 15-20 miles beyond that) there is no broadband at all, and no plans by any company to install it.
          • by jandrese ( 485 )
            Heck, there are large parts of the US that can't get DSL at all, nor cable. Satellite internet still sucks too.
          • As I mentioned...I said by the time it happens. We're talking years and the current administration has said more than once that nationwide broadband in every home is one of their goals. I'm not leaning on it happening, but it could happen :)
  • The poster says that GameTap's business model is bad. Well, what can I say. It seems to be working well for them, so it can't be all THAT bad. He also has this fatalist view that GameTap is going to take over the world somehow and force the brick and mortar shops to disappear.

    Let's say that is does. Is this a bad thing? I feel that buying a game directly from the game company, say through Steam or one of those download services, is GREAT. The company that makes the game gets more money for what they worked
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Soybean47 ( 885009 )

      The poster says that GameTap's business model is bad. Well, what can I say. It seems to be working well for them, so it can't be all THAT bad.

      To be fair to him, he clarifies that it's not necessarily a bad business model, that is, it may well be good for GameTap. He just thinks it's bad for everyone else. His reasoning involves repeating some sort of bizarre metaphor about making gravy from spoiled fruit. Is that, like, vegan gravy or something? It doesn't sound very appetizing, anyway.

      As far as I can tell,

    • Actually I think you missed the point a little bit. His point was the brick and mortar shops are going to disappear regardless, it has nothing to do with GameTap at all. Online delivery is the future. How that happens and the pricing model that dominates is what he's worried about.

      If it's the GameTap model, then developers aren't going to have a viable market for older games because users are going to be used to the gametap pricing model (Expensive to start with, then basically free). That model isn't goin
      • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:39PM (#16232809) Homepage Journal
        Online delivery is the future. How that happens and the pricing model that dominates is what he's worried about. If it's the GameTap model, then developers aren't going to have a viable market for older games because users are going to be used to the gametap pricing model.

        The part I think he misses with his fruity analogies, is that room may exist in the market for BOTH models to coexist peacefully. The subtle flaw in his logic is where he manages to simultaneously argue that old games still have value, yet DOS games aren't as valuable because they're difficult to run. Both statements are true, but they create a huge divide between the 'old' and the 'new'.

        No studio in their right mind is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to update a DOS game for a re-release. The most they're going to do is a straight-up port that they can cram in a shovelware collection. If they can shortcut this cost with an emulator, all the better. The down side to this method is that the product doesn't hold the same market value it once did. For example, Doom II can't directly compete for the same dollar that Doom III competes for.

        This means that it's actually in a publisher's interest to promote these games as "classic". This removes them from direct competition with the new titles, and allows the studio to make more money rather than siphoning sales from their new product lines. So when push comes to shove, I don't think the online retailers will have anything to worry about from Gametap. The only way that Gametap could pose any sort of threat is if the Indies put out games in the vein of those from 10 or 20 years ago, rather than producing games that compete in the current market.
      • I may have indeed missed the point. Thanks for setting me straight.
    • "I feel that buying a game directly from the game company, say through Steam or one of those download services, is GREAT."

      I need to point out here that I still dislike steam.

      1) I want a physical copy of the game I have bought. Likewise with music. Data goes *poof* too easily. Make a backup? Yes, it's called the install CD.

      2) I do not want to have to interact across the intarweb in order to run the software that I have already purchased. I tried to play Halflife2 again a while back, after a long time aw
  • Would someone whose sole business is the rental of old video games start to see increased competition from services like Nintendo's Virtual console and microsofts arcade? Seems t me that these would be a far bigger risk to revenue for Gametap than anything, as its direct competition from people who hold more more cards in this game. Just a thought...
  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:20PM (#16232459) Homepage
    Mr. Costikyan's assertion that software, games in particular, are not like fruit, in that they do not have an "expiration date", is flat-out wrong. I think they have a very definite shelf-life, which directly corresponds to both the platform they run on and the available hardware.

    A game written for DOS should not still sell for the same price it did when it first came out. A game that only plays on a console that hasn't been sold in years should not be the original price. If one extrapolates Mr. Costikyan's comments to other industries, such as automobiles, it's akin to saying that an 82 Pontiac should be the same price now as it was then. That, despite the engine, braking system, interior pieces, safety systems, etc., all being subpar by today's standards. If you apply it to the electronics industry, it's like saying an 8086 should still cost $2000.

    That's nonsense. If a game doesn't work under XP/Vista/OS X/whatever OS you run, doesn't work with your fancy new gaming controller, doesn't play on the current consoles, then why should it's value not be reduced? Sure, the gameplay itself hasn't changed, but if you can't run it, then it's intrinsic value depreciates. Whether or not that's fair to developers is another issue, but everything gets outdated. I wouldn't spend as much for a copy of Windows 3.1 as I would for a copy of XP, and it's the same thing with games.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by WedgeTalon ( 823522 )
      I dunno about 82 Pontiacs, but 97 Fords should DEFINITELY retain full retail value!

      On a completely unrelated note, anyone want to buy a 97 Ford Contour?!
      • If you are serious then the comparision is flawed.

        Your 97 ford and 82 pontiac still uses the same gas, still can drive the same speeds.

        But let's say tommorow all highways are now Magnetically aligned and the only way you can get on the highway is having a car with a fully magnetic system on the underbelly, something you can't add to a car that's made before 2000(go with me here).

        Now you're 82 pontiac can no longer drive on roads and will drop in value (unless it's a collector's item, something exceedingly r
        • Electric gas, huh? ;)
          • yes. It's the future.

            The gas is constantly combusting because there's a small current running through it as you pour it in your car (Hey it's more believable than the car that ran on urine)
            • (Hey it's more believable than the car that ran on urine)

              I'm not sure about that. I know *I* move fastest when I'm full of urine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jevvim ( 826181 )
      I wouldn't spend as much for a copy of Windows 3.1 as I would for a copy of XP, and it's the same thing with games.

      Except with games, it's not due only to the time since release, but also due to used game sales. After a few months on the market, stores which carry used games will start to have copies at ten, maybe fifteen dollars less than new retail. The more popular the title, the smaller the discount. But the used discount is enough to start pulling sales away from the manufaturer. The per-unit incremen

      • by snuf23 ( 182335 )
        "Except with games, it's not due only to the time since release, but also due to used game sales"

        Not true in the USA for PC games as they are not sold used by major retailers.
        Also I've noticed that the price of an older game depends on how much people are still willing to pay for it. Classics like Diablo 2 and Age of Empires 2 have never hit the bargain bin $5 price. Typically they are sold in packages with their expansions for $15-$30.
        Some old games retain their value in the market much longer than others
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
        PC games don't decline in price as fast as console games do (or my memory is just very selective).

        Interesting. I see PC games dropping in price like flies while console games often remain at 60€ until the retailer is tired of wasting shelf space on them.
    • by cliffski ( 65094 )
      But games depreciate WAY quicker than that. A game that came out in 2005 will run fine for me today, In fact my hardware is from then anyway, ditto my O/S. You have a fair point with 10 year or 20 year old games, but theres no reason why a game shouldnt hold its price for 2,3 or 4 years.
      cars wear out, games don't. People invent new graphics and physics techs, but not all games are graphically based anyway.
      take a game like 'lux' (a risk-style strategy game). Lux is as good now (and as popular now) as it was
      • by snuf23 ( 182335 )
        Some older games do cost a similar amount to new releases. I just checked at gogamer.com and Age of Empires 2 Gold lists for $27.95. Compare this to Age of Mythology at $29.95 and the cheapest (import edition) version of Age of Empires 3 at $36.90. Even Age of Empires Gold still sells for $14.95 - a respectable amount for an almost 10 year old game. This isn't just online, these prices are a bit cheaper than what I've seen at my local GameStop. Other games such as Warcraft 2 and 3, Diablo 2, the original Si
    • The article was idiotic and easily explained by the fact that this guy sells old games for money. Hey if that was my livelihood I'd probably say you should play $1000 for Yars Revenge.

      An old video game doesn't spoil like a piece of fruit but it becomes obsolete by better and better games. The entire article is based on a meaningless analogy. Just because a video game doesn't go rotten like fruit doesn't mean that therefore the price should always stay the same.

      Video game prices, like all prices, depen
    • Anyone claiming that piracy hurts their business is assuming that if piracy were impossible, a significant number of would-be pirates would buy the product instead.

      So, Mr. Costikyan's assertion that Gametap hurts developers is assuming that you could actually sell the original Doom and Tomb Raider for $20.

      Sorry, but for my $20, I'd much rather have a more recent game, like, say, Final Fantasy X. Or maybe an indie game -- Lugaru sells for $20. Or an episode of a state-of-the-art episodic game. What's more
  • 6%? Where did he get that magic number from?

    I guess if you count all game systems for all time, even before PC's really had commercial games... That might be true.

    But there are some companies that ONLY make PC games. Some of the largest PC games don't have a console version. (WoW and other MMOs, for the biggest example. Quite a few RPGs.)

    But then, we all know that 95% of statistics are made up on the spot.
    • It's 6% of brick-and-mortar game stores' business. Go in to EB, Gamestop, Game Crazy - any mainstream game store and count the PC games. Now count the console games. I haven't actually counted myself, but the PC games in all the game stores I've been to have been a tiny percentage of the console games. Maybe he did pull 6% out of his ass, but it's not an unrealistic number.
    • by EMeta ( 860558 )
      I can sort of understand that 6% number, talking about revenue for the brick & mortar stores. They don't see the subscription fees that WoW & some other PC games are now taking in, or he Pop Cap casual downloaded games. Nor the games Yahoo Games buys & pays off with ads.

      That said, PC also doesn't have all those crap games that line the shelves of EB & GameStop--all those ones for 8 year olds and weak movie spin offs. Which is to say, I think PC gamers are a bit more selective in their B

      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
        That said, PC also doesn't have all those crap games that line the shelves of EB & GameStop--all those ones for 8 year olds and weak movie spin offs. Which is to say, I think PC gamers are a bit more selective in their B&M purchases.

        That must be a local phenomenon. I see shelves upon shelves filled with bottom-of-the-barrel PC games that start at a 10€ price and are mostly bad clones of ancient arcade games like PacMan.
    • 2005 NPD console software sales:
      $3.014 billion
      http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?st ory=10798 [gamasutra.com]

      2005 NPD PC game software sales:
      $953 million
      http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?st ory=7832 [gamasutra.com]

      Now the hard part:

      $3,014,000,000.00 + $953,000,000.00 = $3,967,000,000 (total video game sales for 2005)

      which makes PC game sales just over 24% of 2005's Video game software sales.


      For the 6% of total sales figure to be correct, console game sales would have to be increased to $
      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
        Now 24% is a number I can believe, even before the actual figures used to get it. Thanks.
    • But then, we all know that 95% of statistics are made up on the spot.

      It's actually more like 89%.

      You sound like one of the 76% that don't check their made up facts before posting. Sigh.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:37PM (#16232777)
    Ok I didn't finish the article because the first part has me slapping my forehead.

        "My belief is that's as it should be. The value of a game has--well, not nothing to to with its age, because, say, there's not a lot of point in buying a game that only runs under DOS today. And I'm not at all sure I'd want to buy the original Civ, at this point, either (though a great game it was); I'd want the most recent version. But in general, a game is a game, and it surely doesn't lose 80% of its value in the course of a year."

        But surely It does loes 80% of it's value. It's called supply and demand. Ok so supply of a game over the course of it's first couple years of release is relatively constant. Now since demand for a game is greater in the beggining a publisher can charge a premium price. Over time demand wanes but the supply is the same so the price must drop so people will buy it. It's a pretty simple concept. He also goes on to rant that somehow gametap is a bad model because it deprives game publishers of their due. It's providing easy access to games that are no longer is to obtain. So if a publisher gets only a small portion of the game, they aren't being shorted out of the full MRSP. Nobody is going to pay that, they are getting a small portion of money that they would never have seen. So in essence publishers are benefiting from Gametap. Of course I'm using economic princples and logic which don't make for assnine and "entertaining" blog posts.
    • When discussing digital downloads I would have thought supply was essentially unlimited?

      This being the case, applying the classical economic theories of scarcity to the games themselves seems wrong.

      I have some time I want to spend being entertained and I will choose a game from the many on offer based on some combination of how entertaining it looks and how much it costs. I don't have time to play every game or money to buy every game. Depending on my choices either my time or my budget may be the limit
  • by misfit13b ( 572861 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:57PM (#16233175)
    *Whaaaaaaa!*

    The whinefest "Games are Not Fruit" is a total joke.

    There's not a lot of point in buying a game that only runs under DOS today. And I'm not at all sure I'd want to buy the original Civ, at this point, either (though a great game it was); I'd want the most recent version.

    And then a few paragraphs later...

    Games are not fruit; they do not spoil.

    Oh right. Unless, like you pointed out, they're on an older OS or a sequel comes out. Dumbass.

    The market is changing. Adapt or die, Costikyan, and take your ugly-ass website with you.
  • Totally disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:57PM (#16233191) Homepage
    It seems that Costikyan is of the same mind as the music industry that thinks we should still pay full brice for a Beatles album which is nothing but pure profit for the music company. Call me crazy, but that is just plain greedy. Of course they and the videogame industry can charge whatever they want but I'm not going to pay it. I haven't paid full price for a game or a cd for years.

    Costikyan has a lot of great ideas and he means well but he is also very very pessimistic about the games industry. There isn't much that he is optimistic about, so it isn't surprising that he would see Gametap as negative.

    I subscribed to Gametap for a while, and the bast majority of the games they have are arcade and consol games that are gathering dust on a shelf. Sure there are a handful of more modern PC games, such as Prince of Persia Sands of Time, but that is about it. While Gametap is making some moves to distribute games like the Ages of Myst and Sam and Max, I just don't think it is very likely that gametap is going to make a dent in the games industry. Right now, they are basically going after games that no one would buy otherwise or games that would have a much more difficult time getting made in the first place.

    The real problem with Gametap is their selection. Playing consol games on a pc is only of limited entertainment value. As long as they refuse to carry "M" rated games, their selection of games is going to lack some of the games that have historically been popular.
    • The real problem with Gametap is their selection. Playing consol games on a pc is only of limited entertainment value. As long as they refuse to carry "M" rated games, their selection of games is going to lack some of the games that have historically been popular.

      Excuse me, but HUH? I don't remember all that many classic PC, NES, SNES, Atari, Genesis, or arcade games that would require the 'M' rating. Of those that would be rated 'M' today, I can't think of any that were actually fun. Even the games with th

      • I suppose it depends on what you mean by "classic" but I find the fact that Gametap will never have any of the games from id, or most of the popular FPS games, or heck even Mortal Kombat a downside. Moby Games has a list of M rated games [mobygames.com] which must have one or two gems on there that I know at least I would like to play.

        I'm not saying that not having M rated games is the only downside. As I said, playing a consol game in a PC isn't ideal. There were simply a lot of games on there I found boring or diffic
  • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:03PM (#16233303) Journal
    ...for indie developers.

    But really, isn't that rather like saying "If this 'dollar store' idea takes off, they'll put every retail store out of business!!"?

    I'm not convinced that gametap and the indie game markets are mutually exclusive. No one's going to release new games straight to gametap when they can sell them in stores and online for far more, just like no one releases new, quality products straight to the dollar store.

    Relax. Keep making new, interesting games, and we'll keep buying them. The vast majority of gamers want the latest and greatest anyway. Most of those of us who play older games do so for nostalgia, because we played those games as children. All the kids turning 13 this year, and getting their first console are still going to want 2k7, and the latest FPS.

    GameTap just lets us older gamers play our favorite NES titles without blowing the dust out of the cartridge and resetting the system a few dozen times. By the way -- you wouldn't be making any money off us doing that, either -- we either already own them, or bought them on the used market. At least you get a few cents when we play the same games on GameTap.
    • No one's going to release new games straight to gametap when they can sell them in stores and online for far more, just like no one releases new, quality products straight to the dollar store.

      You know, that is so true when you ignore TellTale Games [telltalegames.com] and Cyan Worlds [cyanworlds.com]. After all, they are making the Sam and Max episodic games and Uru Live respectively, both of which will be available through GameTap instead of brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, TellTale plans to eventually sell the games through its Web site and

      • Are they going to be accepting the same 'couple cents per user' deal, or are they getting something special? Are they going to get some sort of "GameTap Premium" deal, where users actually have to shell out an extra couple bucks a month to play those specific games?

        It seems there are only two ways releasing on gametap could be a good business decision:
        1) You invest very little in the game, so that cents per user is actually a good deal
        2) You get a better deal than say, Sonic the Hedgehog is getting, and ac
        • by nz17 ( 601809 )
          Dude, if you want to know answers do research.

          There is no "couple cents per user" deal. This isn't iTunes, where each songs nets x cents per download. GameTap and an other company (we'll just use SEGA) negotiate a fee for a portion of that other company's game library. So SEGA in this case gets a five to six digit payout for a portion of its game library and in turn GameTap allows an unlimited number of subscribers access to those games for the negotiated time period.

          In the "original content provider" co
  • It seems like a lot of Costikyan's beliefs about "what gamers want" are just examples of wishful thinking based on what's good for (small) developers. Apparently we don't want good graphics or up-to-date features; we should be just as willing to pay $20 for a game from 2002 as we are to pay the same for a game from 2006. We also don't want pricy next-gen graphics, complex multi-player options, talented voice acting, expansive gameworlds, or anything else that makes it expensive to design a modern game. Nope
    • This kind of thinking is exactly what will eventually cause another video game crash. Oh, no those silly gamers don't really want a fun game, they want big bloated FMVs and Voice Acting. In fact, They'll pass up a game with crappy graphics in favor of our new graphics-fest, even if there's only 10 minutes of walking down a hallway in between 30 minute movies -- for 120 hours.

      Nope, I'd far rather play a great game with decent graphics rather than some "game designer"'s wannabe movie. And I can't imagine

  • Economics has shown that price discrimination works. If somebody is willing to pay $50 for Rise of Legends and I'm willing to pay $30, then the publisher should sell it to us at those prices. But they can't have different prices at the same time. By dropping the price steadily over time, the publisher should be able to earn more total money, and people who value games less can still get them at reasonable prices. So the fact that publishers lower their prices over time doesn't necessarily mean they're stupi
  • Contrary to Greg's opinion, games do sort of go bad. For instance, I was trying to play Baldur's Gate on my Powerbook G4. My Powerbook will go down that far in resolution, but then the pixels look muddy, and I have two large black stripes on the side of my screen. The other alternative is to play it in a windowed environment. The graphics are nice and crisp, but small. Then there's the emulation problem. The game runs WAY TOO FAST to be able to enjoy. So yeah, from my perspective Baldur's Gate has gone bad,
  • Suspicious numbers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:58PM (#16234447) Homepage
    I look at it and say, "It's a 50MB installer. If I have a conversion rate of 1%, I've got 5 gigs of data traffic, which costs me a buck, per sale. At ten bucks, that's a big chunk of my margin."

    A buck a sale for the download sounds suspicious. Lets take a closer look.

    First, I assume they're hosted in a data center some where and have purchased the cheapest commercial bandwidth available (Cogent: $10/mbps). They could be hosted with MCI ($350/mbps) but I doubt it.

    Now, that $10/mbps is based on the "95th percentile measurement." That works just like taking a median except you take it at 95% instead of 50%. We can't assume that their cost would be the cost of transmitting files at a fixed rate continuously 24 hours a day but we can get a rough estimate by assuming they transmit at a flat rate 12 hours a day. That'll be accurate plus or minus 50% and in a few moments you'll see why plus or minus 50% is damn near nothing.

    So, they have to send 5 gigabytes to make a sale. That's suspicious too but I'll come back to that. 5 gigabytes = 40 gigabits plus about 10% overhead is 44 gbits. Divide by 30 days in a month, 12 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour, 60 seconds per minute. 0.033 mbps. Times $10 per mbps is 33 cents. Add 50% for our error estimate and you're talking half a buck.

    5 gigabytes is suspicious too. With this supposed 50 mb installer, you're saying they have to let 100 folks download the game to make 1 sale.

    First, why would download the installer to someone who hadn't paid you? Okay, maybe you want to give them some demo levels to get them hooked. Fair enough.

    Second, do you seriously think that 99 people are going to wait through a 50 meg download for an obsolete game and then walk away for every 1 person that actually buys it? Bull! The folks who don't intend to buy it will get the cracked version off bittorrent. The conversion rate on the web site will be 10% or better and the price of bandwidth keeps dropping. Now you're talking around 5 cents per sale and falling.
  • Mr. Costikyan's comments are almost entirely based on an "inherent value" theory of games, which is an interesting philosophical idea but has neither predictive value nor practical value in the real world, where only "a thing is worth what somebody else will pay for it" actually works.

    If you can't put a five-year-old game on the shelf and sell copies of it for $50, then, proof by concrete demonstration, the game isn't worth $50. If retailers can only move older games with deep discounts, then, proof by conc
  • Gametap's evilness doesn't matter to me (and not just 'cause it isn't available outside the US yet). For the most part, if there's an older game, like a Sierra classic, that I would enjoy, I already own it. Yes, the originals, not some hastly-downloaded greyware. I treasure my favorites. (:

    So for the most part, Gametap doesn't have much to offer me, and it would ordinarily slip under my radar.

    Except that I'm big on Myst, and thus super-excited about Myst Online: Uru Live [urulive.com], which Gametap is resurrecting and m

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