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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Less Brilliant

Every so often, the game industry seems to enter this phase where everyone has an opinion, but nobody seems to know what their talking about (myself included). For instance, everyone seems to be in an uproar that game publishers are threatening to raise prices on certain titles - despite the fact that game prices have been kept artificially low for years and the by the time any of us plunk $60 down on a title, it will probably be worth closer to the $50 we do now.

But of course, Mark Rein of Epic denounces this all as shenanigans and CliffyB says that $19.99 is the magic price point. Epic is trying to say that the problem is that people aren't using the right tools, and that with the right tools everything will be OK. Epic, of course, sells you that tool in the form of Unreal 3 - so they aren't like, biased or anything.

Then you've got Warren Spector and Greg Costikyan "burning down the house" so to speak, railing on the games industry for being too retail orientated, too profit motivated and reminding us that the budgets for games are reaching astronomical figures. Meanwhile a more indie community is still wondering what all the fuss is about (actually I think his response is more "don't burn down the house, some of us still live here").

And then finally you've for Microsoft mentioning microtransactions, and the world is a flutter. If it's the professional studios doing this, it sounds like nickel and diming to me - but the rumor is that they'll let users sell content as well. Course, I've been saying for years that profit killed the modification star, and so I'm fully expecting this to be one of the last nails in the coffin. Why do we have to leap from a console paradigm with virtually no user content to a marketplace?

Look - Alkabeth cost $35 and it was written by one guy (Lord British - you might have heard of him) back in 1980. Half-Life 2 took over a couple of dozen guys, professional voice talent and a state of the art graphics engine ... and it cost $49.99 ... so, I mean ... do the math. Games have become more and more hollywood everywhere. They've got hollywood timelines and hollywood budgets, and these movies last about ten times as long, are completely interactive and sell on a medium - but only cost 4 or 5 times more than a movie ticket. If people want blockbuster games with 20 million dollar budgets and recognizable voice acting and all the bells and whistles - they'll have to pay for it.

If you don't want to pay for it, it's not like there's not cheaper alternatives to be had.

Get Gamefly Go subscription, never pay for another title again. Gamefly gets the latest games, uses a Netflix style business model and will even sell you titles over the net with ease.

Get I've had a account for sometime. It doesn't get me the latest, greatest - but does let me catch up on titles I've missed but don't want to go buy. Were it not for this program, I wouldn't have played Anachronox ... and my life would be that much smaller.

Go indie I'm not even going to try and link to them all. Maybe in another post. Try Garage Games for now.

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