Category Archives: Game developers and publishers

Dear Steam/Valve Software

Dear Steam team and folks at Valve Software generally,

Firstly, thanks for all the nifty sales over the holiday season. That was really quite nifty, even though there were obviously some problems arising from the large number of units sold.

There’s one special present that you could give us all, however, even though it seems like a very, very, very minor thing.

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Play it now – Ghostbusters

Play It Now! I’ve got a bit of a history with Ghostbusters, the film by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.

I was working in film marketing and PR at the time, wrestling a startup towards commercial viability. The cinema-release was staggered across some months, in various Australian locations, and I must have sat down and seen the film, in the cinemas, at least 60 or 70 times as a result.

The 1980s were a pretty good era for films that didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the film resonated rather strongly with audiences of the time. Off a 30 million dollar budget in 1984, the film raked in an easy 290 million dollars in cinemas, and another 132 million in rentals, never mind network syndication later on, DVD sales and all of that. The second film, Ghostbusters II, while considered by some to be something of a disappointment, still managed to do almost as well.

After more than 20 years, there’s talk of a third film – a changing-of-the-guard piece, with strong hopes of landing Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse/etc) in a major role – but in the meantime, Aykroyd and Ramis have put together a new part to the story, in the form of a video game, developed in conjunction with Terminal Reality.

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The end-of-year release schedule, and how it messes up the games industry

The games-release calendar generally stinks. Most of the year’s game releases are crammed up from September through November. Games will get pushed out the door, ready or not, just to get them on the shelves by Black Friday or Cyber Monday, with a short-tail of releases winding down through December for those titles that just weren’t ready enough or couldn’t get fabrication time.

The idea, of course, is to make huge quantities of revenue. In practice, though, what’s happening is that the games industry is shorting its own revenues, killing game franchises, and often putting studios out of business.

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Booth-babes

Nothing a games-publisher does says “We have no respect whatsoever for our customers” than booth-babes – except perhaps the EA Sports division.

I know, some of you EA marketing folks are among the regular readers here, and I’m not tarring you all with the same brush, but you might want to hide under your desks for a few minutes, because I’m going to speak very plainly.

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Women dominate PC gaming

Actually, that’s something we’ve known for a long time. In the US, UK, and Australia, women 25 years and older are more likely to play a game at the PC than men in the same age-group. It’s a statistic that’s frequently discarded by games publishers, because teens and tweens are easier to market to, even though they’re not actually that sizeable a gaming demographic. That’s confirmed every year by surveys and research.

In a bit of a round-table discussion, one commentator wondered about the people being surveyed, asking, “Who are these people?”

One of my co-workers said, “Nobody you know.”

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