Category Archives: Opinion

Ubisoft is right, but for the wrong reasons

Citing 95% PC piracy rates, Ubisoft seems to be quitting the PC games market. The problem with games piracy statistics are manifold: Nobody actually knows what the piracy rates really are (though they seem to be likely to be on a par with console piracy rates – probably – since there’s certainly no shortage of console games piracy), and there are other factors involved like release-timing, product quality and pricing that all play their part.

Ubisoft’s PC versions of their games have become increasingly so slapdash and cack-handed that it isn’t really surprising that PC gamers simply don’t want to buy them. I don’t have to tell you that this does not make for a good business model for the PC games market, but someone should probably tell Ubisoft.

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Big publishers’ AAA focus is good for Indie game devs

There are essentially two broad classes of games that sell. There are the so-called ‘AAA’ titles, which might be big financial hits or big financial flops, and there are ‘ordinary’ titles – games with a lower production value, but significantly less financial risk involved. In times past, those ordinary titles have been the mainstay of the games industry, sometimes incurring modest losses, but more often providing the steady income that offsets the big flops in a publisher’s ‘AAA’ stable.

With big publishers increasingly focusing on those ‘AAA’ titles and shying away from those mainstay games, money is left on the table. Money that Indie devs are well-suited to pick up.

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The level 20 rule

 

It’s been a while since I wrote about MMOGs professionally, but that doesn’t stop me having an interest. I have half a dozen MMOGs installed, and was recently ‘comped’ a copy of Star Trek Online and 60 days of game-time. I’ve just hit the equivalent of roughly level 20 (Commander, grade 1), and that set me to thinking.

Once you hit approximately level 20 in an MMOG, you’ve essentially seen all of the gameplay innovation that the game is going to offer, in all of the combinations that it is going to be offered.

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No faith in Yee

California State Senator Leland Yee has just spent somewhere in the ballpark of a million Californian taxpayer dollars to have his bill on violent video games struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Again.

Yee says he’s going to do it again. In fact, that would make the third time he’s heaped all of that money into a pile and metaphorically set fire to it.

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It doesn’t get any cheaper

Money speaks all languages. It says 'goodbye' to me in all of them. It’s an awkward time for games-publishers as the industry and market performs a very slow and protracted migration from physical retail sales to digital distribution.

You might think that with an increasing percentage of copies of games titles being sold via digital distribution channels that the publishers’ costs would be falling. Well, it isn’t getting any cheaper for them.

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So, how’s that working out?

So, you might remember my writing about how Activision reaffirmed its commitment to triple-A teams, basically continuing working on the strategy of only making blockbuster hit games – just like every other big player in the gaming industry seems to be doing.

So, how’s that been working out for them?

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Both unjust and unfair

Today was to be the announcement of an Australian R18+ rating for games – or lack thereof. Today it is a lack, because unanimity is required, and one State Attorney General held back.

If we accept that a ratings system for films, television and suchlike are necessary to protect children, then it is likewise necessary to have parity by applying the same ratings categories to games. The average age of gamers is now 35 – the same average age as that of film-goers.

Every month a number games that would rightly earn an R18+ rating (if one were available) and be restricted from sale to minors are instead categorised as MA15+ and permitted to be sold to under-18s.

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