Tag Archives: business

Game of Games

Author Blake J. Harris on his new book, Console Wars, as quoted by Polygon:

My biggest influences on business writing are Ben Mezrich and and Michael Lewis. But the actual greatest influence on the narrative style has to be Game of Thrones. Because, really, that’s what this story is. It’s all these different families or corporations and entities competing for this one seat at the top of the table that they all think they deserve for a variety of different reasons. Or that they believe that they should inherit — because it’s their God-given right or because they have the right strategy, and they deserve it.

I’ve been extremely excited for this read. I might have to shelve Catmull and Swift in lieu of Console Wars, or Game of Games.

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Video games crash course

Keith Stuart, The Guardian:

For people who don’t play video games, they can seem like a strange and vaguely threatening interloper into the household.

These noisy yet seemingly seductive things are on computers, on smartphones and tablets, and on expensive consoles that your kids will tell you everyone else has. And if you’re not buying them for your children, your children are probably playing them elsewhere.

Even if you never intend to play a game in your life, you should probably know about them – if only to understand what it is that drags other people in.

Stuart continues to churn out great work over at The Guardian. As stated, this piece is a must for parents and (honestly) everyone else. The piece highlights everything from free-to-play to the state of major developers, financials to education; plus some Hearthstone, Monument Valley, and Mario Kart 8 love. Good to the last sentence.

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Journey dev raises $7 million

thatgamecompany:

We are proud to share the news today that our studio has entered the next phase of development on our upcoming project and has raised an additional $7 million in funding. We are happy to partner with Capital Today and a team of other investors who share our vision in making meaningful interactive experiences that inspire, connect, and emotionally touch the hearts of players around the world.

With this new investment, our studio is able to scale up development efforts to focus on making the best game possible in the same spirit as flOw, Flower, and Journey. We’ll also begin laying the infrastructure to self-publish, market, and distribute on our own terms for this next project and beyond.

Cannot wait.

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Nintendo x YouTube Affiliate Program

Mike Futter, Game Informer:

Nintendo is taking a step in the right direction here, but it is far from the open policy taken by publishers of all sizes, including Devolver Digital, Deep Silver, and Ubisoft. Based on what little we understand right now, it appears that YouTube creators will need to be part of the affiliate program in order to monetize. This would give Nintendo some control over content, and it could choose to remove those creators it later disapproves of for whatever reason.

I see others following suit.

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NYT: ‘Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball Video Game Tests Haggling Skills’

Stephen Totilo, The New York Times:

This is where Nintendo toys with convention. You’re supposed to haggle with Rusty, who, remember, is a virtual dog, not a living person. You’re supposed to get him to lower his price for the rest of Bat and Switch and for his other nine games. According to the plot, Rusty is stressed. His wife has left him. He’s overwhelmed by his 10 kids. He’ll bend to make a sale. One of his kids even coaches you about how to haggle with his dad, how to flatter, cajole or hardball your way to a lower price. Press Rusty well enough, and each game can be had for less than $2.

After playing along with Nintendo for a moment, I saw myself buying up every mini-game in this entry. Every hook seems perfect. This game will be a hit.

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“what do you think about us copying the game?”

Howard Tsao of Muse Games on publishing Guns of Icarus Online, blogging on Gamasutra:

Part of our embodiment of steampunk was to infuse it with influences from cultures of the world. In their attempt to exploit this, the publisher then asked for “stereotypes” of different cultures. Reason? They claimed that stereotypes are more easily distinguishable. We thought this was flirting with racism, but once again, the publisher claimed to know better. The art style that we settled on was more in the spirit of Miyasaki or early Final Fantasy games. That is not inherently a bad thing; it’s just not what we wanted or agreed to. We decided to make a compromise to keep the relationship going.

With the project hanging in the balance, teetering on collapse, I made the trip to Taiwan. After a day of sitting in a claustrophobic meeting room, it came down to either accept an extended prototype with the lower pay or be terminated. We decided to terminate and get out of the contract and the relationship. Then, I got a phone call from the publisher’s CTO. On the phone, he posed this question: ‘If you wanted to go through with termination, what do you think about us copying the game?’

Hooked after part 1. Looking forward to parts 2 thru 5.

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Dungeon Defenders studio lays off 20%, shift in company culture

Comments from Darrell Rodriguez, CEO of Trendy Entertainment, as they appear on GamesIndustry International:

Currently, we are not profitable, but we have products in the pipeline to get us there. We are in between launches, so our cash flow is a concern. We are taking the necessary steps to fix this to ensure Dungeon Defenders II gets out the door at the great quality people have come to expect. We’re at a critical time where execution and performance is essential to our ongoing success.

We are doing this very unpleasant action with respect, empathy and compassion in consideration of the great work that these people have contributed to Trendy.

As discussed last time, a lot of the culture had already shifted upon my arrival. I’m working closely with devs and leads to create more openness and better communication at all levels of the company. Cultural change does not happen overnight, but we have ongoing efforts to work on better cross-departmental communication, getting the leads directly involved in product planning and holding consistent company wide meetings to ensure we are all on the same page. There’s a long way to go, but we’re on our way

Rodriguez’s statements on culture change are well met. Healthy company culture is key and appears to be a hot topic in light of the layoff crisis plaguing development studios as of late. My thoughts to those affected. Layoff list updated.

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Juxtaposition in Video Game Commercials

Textbook Tarantino or tired trope?

I recently re-entered the world of BioShock’s Rapture by means of BioShock: Infinite’s Burial At Sea DLC. As I moved about the underwater city, full of the Gatsby-esque architectural stylings of Frank Lloyd Wright, I heard familiar sounds from the 20s-40s cascade through the setting.

At first, these genuinely warm pieces lulled me into a comfort juxtaposed against what eventually becomes a dark and grotesque atmosphere. Though, after roughly an hour, the presence of the pieces became more noticeable than they had seemed in my first play-through of the original BioShock. I pawned this off to the Billie Holiday Pandora station I’ve practically had on loop since that original play-through.

However, I began to wonder if the use of happy/soothing/serene/moving music juxtaposed against aggressive and bleak circumstances may be overstaying it’s welcome. Just as quickly as I had decided to push this notion out of my mind, I heard news of the new Wolfenstein: The New Order trailer making use of Martha and The Vandellas hit “Nowhere to Run.” While the song my not be strewn throughout the entirety of the trailer, it made me wonder if my initial inkling was correct.

I have decided to compile a list of many video game commercials that take advantage of this marketing approach, starting with Super Smash Bros. in 1999. This is likely nowhere near a complete list, merely an example of a marketing technique that is becoming less and less subtle.

Is this approach still effective or tired?

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

Song: The Turtles – Happy Together
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Black (2005)
Song: Giuseppe Verdi – La Traviata: Noi Siamo Zingarelle
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Gears of War (2006)
Song: Gary Jules – Mad World (feat. Michael Andrews)
iTunes | Amazon MP3

BioShock (2007)
Song: Bobby Darin – Beyond the Sea
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

Dante’s Inferno (2010)
Song: Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
iTunes | Amazon MP3

Playstation 4: Perfect Day (2013)
Song: Lou Reed – Perfect Day
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

Titanfall: Life is Better With a Titan (2014)
Song: Robbie Williams & Jonathan Wilkes – Me and My Shadow
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

PS4: Sharing Means Caring (Destiny) (2014)
Song: Josh Daughtery – Sharing Means Caring

PS4: Sharing Means Caring (Watch Dogs) (2014)
Song: Josh Daughtery – Sharing Means Caring

Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)
Song (Original): Martha and The Vandellas – Nowhere to Run
iTunes | Amazon Mp3

—–

UPDATE: Thanks to Bob Mackey of Retronauts for the “Sharing Means Caring” recommendations.


 

Originally published on TheStarrList.com

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Save developers and you will save your soul

  • 130 layoffs, Nintendo (Eurogamer, 6/6/14)
  • 37 layoffs, Harmonix (Polygon, 5/29/14)
  • 20% of staff across development and marketing, Trendy Entertainment (GamesIndustry International, 5/21/14)
  • 16 layoffs, Rare (IGN, 5/19/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, PopCap (Polygon, 3/13/14)
  • 700 layoffs, Disney Interactive (Joystiq, 3/6/14)
  • 27 layoffs, Eidos (Joystiq, 3/4/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, Sony Santa Monica (Joystiq, 2/27/14)
  • 70 layoffs, Irrational Games (Joystiq, 2/18/14)
  • 12 layoffs, Eutechnyx (Joystiq, 2/18/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, Ghost Games (Joystiq, 2/1/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, EA Salt Lake (Joystiq, 1/30/14)
  • 3423+ industry layoffs from 1/7/13 – 10/29/13 (GameJobWatch.com)

In a discussion on IGN’s Game Scoop!. the Daemon Hatfield, Greg Miller, Justin Davis, and Brian Altano discussed the Sony Santa Monica layoffs and the ongoing (and seemingly permanent) “ramp up / layoff” structure of AAA studios. During this discussion, the panel made comments around the need for the video game industry to unionize and operate in similar fashion to the film industry:

Daemon Hatfield: “I wonder if the video game industry should be more like the movie industry. You have a crew that works on a movie and when the movie is done, they go on to their next project. They are not full-time employees.”

Greg MIller: “Do you think as far as unionizing?”

DH, Justin Davis, and Brian Altano confirm and agree.

DH: “You have a director that runs a movie, he brings on his crew, they make the game…”

JD: “You assemble a “dream team” for each project. A director has certain DPs and other key positions [and] likes to collaborate with the same people over and over. Presumably all of those people that are one step down also have people they like and they bring their whole crew with them. You get the one guy and then you get his crew.”

GM: “I guess that kind of already happens right?”

BA: “Sort of.”

JD: “It happens a little bit but the issue is that it disrupts people’s insurance and things like that. If there was a union, the equivalent of a SAG card or something, you could just move from project to project. In my opinion (and I haven’t done a tremendous amount of reach on this), but on the surface it seems like something that would be healthy for this business.”

While, many devs may benefit from negotiated salaries, working conditions, hours, and insurance coverage, further research into unions does not seem to offer a terrible amount of protection from layoffs. Nor does it appear that the film industry works this way.

According to Lawyers.com, how a union benefits an employee during a layoff is largely dependent on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In short, layoffs of union employees are usually handled on a measure of seniority. The source also goes on to mention the benefits of The Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act (WARN):

Generally, WARN requires employers with 100 or more workers to give you 60 days’ advance notice of some closings and “mass layoffs.” A closing can mean the shut-down of a plant or facility. “Mass layoff” has very specific meanings, but basically it means that a substantial number of workers are being laid off for more than six months. –Lawyers.com

Systems such as WARN would appear to be very valuable for developers in the wake of the seemingly immediate purge of Irrational and Sony Santa Monica employees.

There is a looming fear that if the industry continues at this pace, great artists, programmers, engineers, writers, and the like will be swayed away from from the games industry, potentially diminishing the quality of games released. There is no doubt in my mind that the allure of working on a video game will continue to attract skilled creatives; however, lengthy tenure is sure to wane.

Some will argue that AAA isn’t for everyone and indie development is on the rise. While I agree, many of the skills possessed by indie devs were likely gained from experience at larger studios.

I have never been a developer, part of union, or involved in the film industry. I would appreciate any and all correction of the above information from those with experience.

Should video game developers unionize? Does the film industry actually work in this manner? Does a union offer more protection from layoffs than mentioned above? What is your solution to the state of video game development? Are things fine the way they are?

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PS4 Sells Over 2.1 Million Units Globally

PS4 Sells Over 2.1 Million Units Globally
IGN

PS4 sells gangbusters.

Speaking about the global 2.1 million figure, House said, “It’s an impressive and record-setting accomplishment for our company and for our industry, and we couldn’t have done it without you. I want to personally thank PlayStation fans, both old and new, for your vote of confidence.”

– Luke Karmali, IGN

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