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Showing posts from 2009

Citizen Kane of Games: Can't We Stop the Comparison Already?

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This morning I saw some traffic on an old post I made about people who talk about "The Citizen Kane of Games." I brought it back up here to the top because the question still burns strong enough for people to talk about it on the evening news. Magicalwasteland.com, the site that linked to my post, pointed to Michael Thomsen's appearance on ABC News in which he cited the Metroid Prime Trilogy as the Citizen Kane of Video Games. The validity of the comparison is addressed much better by Magical Wasteland, unfortunately the other discussion is the one on the evening news.

Here is the old post:



A couple nights ago I had the good fortune of speaking in front of a class of young designers, engineers and business people in USC's game program. They are full of great ideas and I am confident many of them will create things I can't even imagine today. Their young minds are so gooey and malleable and they bring the unadulterated exuberance, brilliance and naivete of…

Kellee Santiago Explains Why Games Are Not Art: Draw Your Own Conclusion Edition

I am a huge fan of Flower and enjoyed Flow, so I was really looking forward to this talk. I was in the audience when it was given and she did not fail in her attempt to be provocative. While she did not give him credit, she drew from Clive Barker's defense of games as art in his on line debate with Roger Ebert to argue game are not yet art. I was not really sure whether she meant to say
there was no art yet, so I asked her, and she confirmed that in her opinion no one has created art. If I agreed with her, I probably would not post it here. It is a bold statement and I invite you to consider it.







Call of Duty Terror: Activision's Contribution too Little, Too Late Edition

I am proud to be an American. While it is not the most popular thing to say in some parts of the world and we often joke about being the "ugly American." I am proud and Activision's choice to involve players in a terrorist act is neither who we are or who we want to be. We are a country of ideals. When our government falls short of our ideals, and it does, we can freely challenge their actions and ultimately vote them out of office. At our best, we challenge ourselves to achieve goals which appear insurmountable at the outset.

Challenges like John F. Kennedy's challenge to go to moon:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others…

Zynga Gets No Respect: Welcome to the Club Edition

The great American hero is the entrepreneur who can grow a big business from nothing. The great American pass time is tearing down the great American heroes. We should all feel sorry for the hero who builds a game company. The most painful truism of being in the game business is how easily and often we are attacked. No one admits to playing games and the mainstream perception is of a bunch of geeks, sitting in our mother's basements, playing with ourselves in front of a bunch of glowing screens. While the growing audience and mainstream migration belies the stereotype, the attacks continue. It is just too easy to look at games as a vice and tar the entire industry, or in this case, a segment, as bad, because no one really cares. But really, "If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

Most recently, Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch decided to take a very common fraud …

Our Governor at Work: Schwarzenegger Speaks his Mind Edition

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They say it was an accident, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger gave legislators his response, he also told them what he really thought in the first letter of each sentence in the body of his cover letter.

Here it is:



It kind of makes me like him again




Yeah! Developers Can Sell Into iPhone Apps: Apple's Unbiased Indifference Edition

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I was on my way to the airport for another business trip in a month where I spent more days on the road then at home, and I saw another of the ubiquitous billboards for the PSP Go. My first thought was “I have to get one.” I mean come on, it is not just gadget porn. They are dangling a slick new drug in front of a junkie. It is small and electronic and it lights up and makes noises. It even has a slidy thing with buttons. It doesn’t do anything the old one doesn’t do and in fact, with is smaller screen and inability to use my UMD games, it does less. But Sony’s blatant pandering to my addiction didn’t bother me. I am used to it and accept it, as well as my inevitable succumbing to temptation followed by the post purchase depression as a fact of life. It was the next thought that bothered me. After I looked at it I thought I would not buy one because I could just get games for less money on my iPhone. The abuser is not Sony, it’s Apple, and not just because they are bumm…

Zynga's Doing it Old School: Showing Us How It's Done Edition

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So remember when making games was fun. Schedules were measured on single year's calendar, budgets had fewer than US phone numbers and revenue had more? Zynga does and they are bringing those days back - with a vengeance. There is certainly no formula for finding success in ultra low budget games, it is even more amazing to hear of a game company which is churning out low budget cash cow games like jelly beans down a conveyor belt. Sure, it is "only a game company," but this game company, which is rumored to be preparing for an IPO, went from zero to well into the 9 figures in revenue - rumors place revenue between 150 and 250 million dollars - in two years and operates on margins - rumored to be 60% EBITDA - that would make any media executive cry.

If you have a Facebook account, you probably played, or received a post from a friend who plays Mafia Wars, Farmville or Zynga Poker. If you are not on Facebook, you probably never heard of the company. Which is odd, co…

Talking About a Revolution: Bizzaro EA Edition

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I don't think this idea rises quite to the level of heresy of this one, but it could definitely fall into the category of "Wow, that is nuts . . . hmmm now that I think of it, it may not be so crazy." You see, I got this email from Gamestop with an amazing offer on a great game:



As a Tim Schaefer fan since Full Throttle, I was already counting the days to release, but Gamestop nows sweetens the deal by offering the game for one ATM unit, or as some of us might say the right price for a game? Sure, it would be tremendously hypocritical for me to cash in games to Gamestop, but if I put on just a bit of a disguise and went somewhere other than my regular Gamestop. . . . Inspired by Pete Townshend's one man crusade, and like him, solely in the interest of research, I looked at the list of games:



I wouldn't give back Arkham, still hours to go in The Beatles - and it is one of the only games my wife will play with my son and I - do they really want G.I. Joe or G-For…

Apple's Attempt to Reinvent the Game Business: Selling the Razors Edition

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I read this article a while ago about the entire game business fearing Apple, and I thought it was kind of silly. Then the next day I saw this one proclaiming Apple's dominance over all others and started to think I was wrong when I said Steve Jobs' reality distortion field would not extend into the game business. Then I closed my macbook, took a deep breadth of fresh open air and realized, as tempting as it is to say Apple figured it out and is going to save the day, just like they did for music. But the articles are falsely equating the music business with the game business, and they are really wrong – and we should be happy.

In the New York Times article, Yoichi Wada, CEO of Square Enix was called for a new business model. “The next breakthrough in gaming is not going to be in hardware,” Yoichi Wada, president of a top Japanese game maker, Square Enix, told Game Show participants. “It’s going to be in how to create a successful business model.” The implication is Apple…

Metacritic is all WET: Just Sayin' Edition

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Last week I bought WET because it looked like fun and I wanted to play the game. After playing half way through the game I found it didn't only look like fun, but it delivered on its promise. It was what I wanted Stranglehold to be and what Gungrave never delivered. Lot's of mindless, shooting fun. Sometimes that's just what I want in a game. But apparently, most critics did not share my view. When I first looked on metacritic the score was in the deadly sixties, but has since moved up into the safe haven of mediocrity found in the seventies. Not quite green banded goodness, but not bearing the red mark of humiliation. I wish metacritic didn't matter, but unfortunately, developers' livelihood is based on this hopelessly useless, conflicted, arbitrary measurement system even though more and more and more people are realizing marketing and word of mouth are more significant factors in the purchasing decision than a Metacritic score. If you really want …

The Beatles: Jumping the Shark or a New Era Edition

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Everyone in the world knows The Beatles Rock Band is out. That's the point, everyone in the world knows The Beatles: Rock Band is out. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a piece of media about the game. I believe this single game has more media hits than the aggregate hits for all the games being released in the fourth quarter. Don't believe me? Ask your mom, or if you are a bit older, your wife if she knows about The Beatles game. Now ask if she knows Splinter Cell and Bioshock 2 slipped out of the quarter. How about Assassin's Creed 2? Is she waiting for that one? Sorry to revisit old posts, but the folks behind the game did a simple little thing no game company has ever done before. They made a good –some say great, accessible game and told people it was available - and they are not even a game company. What seems so obvious to the marketers behind two of the best known brands in the world - MTV and The Beatles - is the antithesis of game industr…

iPod Touch Games: Reality Distortion Field Edition

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Someone is giving Uncle Steve bad game industry advice and we have to wake him up. He has the chance to do something to pull our industry forward with the same impact he had on the music industry - and perhaps dominate our future - but instead, he is choosing to run down the same rat hole as the rest of the industry - and by extension use his reality distortion field to pull us along with him. At at time when we so desperately need to pull the mainstream iPod buyers into games, he is chasing after the same limited number of gamers we so jealously covet and cater to. He started out so perfectly, mainstream device, mainstream applications, reviewed and approved all the applications, pick up and play games, cheap to make, easy to earn out, and all of sudden, he decided to spin into the already crowded game industry hell last Wednesday. The iPod/iPhone is a unique device with the opportunity to magically create an economic opportunity for never before seen games, catering to unique…