I’ve been quiet lately. Illnesses and time in hospitals are partly to blame, but so has “GamerGate”, the elephant in the room that I’ve been reluctant to talk about.
GamerGate is a mixed-bag of intractable stuff, much of it (at best) misguided, and (at worst) ridiculous and offensive. Whatever its ostensible mission, it has had the effect of chilling speech, and causing many female games-writers and games-developers to consider another career, or to fear for their safety and that of their families.
I’ve not wanted to talk about this, because I’ve already gotten a dose of that treatment myself, and it is more or less inevitable that even the slightest criticism of GamerGate will likely generate more. Nevertheless, there are things that I feel need to be said.
The fact is that despite the movie and games industries bemoaning rampant and uncontrolled piracy of their products, both industries are burgeoning. The movie industry is “suffering” under record revenues, and the games industry revenues have grown more than 300% in the last decade (to more than double that of the movie industry).
And yes, rampant and uncontrolled piracy is happening – yet the industry is getting more money over the counter than ever before. It’s difficult, then, for the industries to show how much they’re being hurt. Would their record revenues be higher? By how much? Nobody knows the answer, but thanks to France, we can take a guess.
You see, back in 2010, France introduced stiff anti-piracy legislation that (after a bit of a rocky start in its early months) reduced online piracy by a whopping 66%. How, you might ask, did this affect sales?
Take Two Interactive has revealed two release dates for their two upcoming XCOM games – one to the public and one to investors. The Firaxis remake of UFO: Enemy Unknown will launch in North America on 9 October and elsewhere on 12 October.
As for the shooter-style reboot (just called XCOM), that was originally announced in 2010 for release in 2011. That was then delayed to 2012. Then a second delay to 2013. It has now been delayed a third time and yet another year to 2014, according to Take Two’s financials.
If I was inclined to bet, I’d say that that particular game in the XCOM franchise will meet the same fate as some others in the series and never be released.
Financial reporting from games-publishers often makes for interesting reading. Almost always, you’ll see things quoted like “non-GAAP earnings”, and “non-GAAP net sales” and so on, accompanied by some substantially large dollar figures.
So, what actually is GAAP reporting? Well, there are two major systems of financial reporting. One is the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the other is Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which is used in the USA. GAAP is a collection of rules and principles about how a company reports its income, sales, losses, assets and overall financial operations.
The principles of GAAP are: regularity, consistency, sincerity, permanence of methods, non-compensation, prudence, continuity, periodicity, Full Disclosure/Materiality, and Utmost Good Faith.
So, what’s non-GAAP reporting? Well, non-GAAP reporting pretty much means that one or more of those principles isn’t being observed.
It’s not that long ago that games industry folks were acknowledging (or in some cases, lamenting) the end of the age of the ‘garage’ games developer. The one-person (or occasionally two- or three-person) team who could put a game together, and sell it.
Back when I was younger almost all games fell into that category. Garage developers either self-published, or sold their games to publishers. Developers and publishers and retailers made money (or they didn’t).
Then games got more expensive to develop and required more manpower. Ten people. Twenty. A hundred. Two hundred. Thousands of dollars to develop a game became tens of thousands, became what is now often millions of dollars, and the developers’ relationship with publishers changed.