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Showing posts from 2010

Blast From the Past: Don't Blame the Games It's Not Their Fault Edition

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With so many buggy and unfinished games are falling down on us like pretty snow flakes during the holiday season, only to be shunned by their publishers when the game's only fault is fulfillment of the prophecy established long before their production, I felt it is worthwhile to repost this golden oldie from two and a half years ago. Some things just don't change. . . . . .


Games are like children. If you nurture their growth and support them once they leave the nest, they will be happy and support you and bring you joy the rest of your life. If you treat them poorly and stunt their growth, they will enter the world angry, not contribute to society, and like the Menendez boys, quite possibly kill you. In a Dickensian way, Fagin - like publishers are sending games out into the world deformed, immature, socially retarded, and ill equipped to face a cruel world. These emotionally undeveloped game are expected to perform in the real world and send money back to Fagin. When …

The Media is Reporting the Game Industry is Over: Why are They Such Babies Edition

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My posting continues to move at a glacial pace. For a while, there was nothing new to say. Then, all of sudden, the world exploded with new ideas and I had no time to write. I attribute the plethora of new ideas - things other than marketing gaffes, publishers' hosing of developers, the need for independent finance and the folks who are saying they have it or xBox becoming cable - as a reflection of increased sensitivity attributable to too much travel and too little sleep. But bubbles are growing, companies are reacting, and CEOs seem to be turning into either Chicken Little or ostriches with heads in the sand.

Some of the new stuff floating around in my head is:

- The abandonment of seasoned game designers in favor of metric driven design - catering to metrics let you keep more players, but are those players worth keeping?

- The complete lack of game sales data for XBL and PSN - Do the platforms really think they are helping us by cloaking sales in a shroud of mystery?

- Th…

Preparing for the Supremes: Raise the Ramparts Edition

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Having written about all this stuff already, as we close in on the United States Supreme Court's hearing of arguments in a history making case which will define the future of the game business.

The Supreme Court will determine whether the legislation described in this post is Constitutional. While other US Circuits determined games to be Constitutionally protected free speech, the 9th Circuit never has and the Supreme Court will likely determine once and for all whether our work product is protected by the First Amendment. If you read the post, you will see State Senator Yee, who introduced the legislation, unbound by the strictures of reality or truth, was able to create quite a compelling argument in favor of regulation of games sales. Unfortunately, as explained here, the same tactics were used at the Federal level when two congressman misrepresented data relating to sales of games to minors. They used a three year old FTC secret shopper report to show a failure to mo…

Metacritic's Fallout: Calling Metarcritic on its Bullshit Edition

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This blog was originally a place for me to vent. After about a year, I found the same things making me angry, but I already wrote about them. I don't know whether that means I did not have many things to be angry about because all my buttons have been hit, or I am a very angry person and it took me a whole year to get it out. I certainly did not expect to change things - the blog is cathartic, so once it's out I have no compelling need to wright about publishers' mistreatment of developers, bad marketing, myopic product releases, used games, ratings, or parental responsibility - again. But every once in a while something so egregious comes along and, I just can't help being redundant. One of these things Metacritic's continued feigning of objectivity in the face of blatant bias. I wish I could say this particular rant is unique, but it's not. It is just something that set me off before and set me off again.

I have written in detail about why Metacrit…

Why Does NPD Hate The Game Business: Calling Them on Their Bullshit Edition

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NPD has a problem. Their value is based on accessing and protecting a data set while their access continues to shrink and the data points continue to grow. They like to tell us they are able to track physical game sales, but they do not have access to sales data from our biggest retailers. Until recently they never covered on line and when they did they found their previous reports were wrong. Now they chose to issue a report relating to the console DLC market when they have no access to sales data. I, along with any one who sat in a room with a publisher in the last year, have better information on the DLC market than they printed. Just in case their assessment of only 6% of the market actively downloading did not ring hollow to the publishers currently showing a solid return on DLC, they highlight:
"Internet connectivity is an important feature across multiple devices:
60% of e-reader owners cite it as their favorite feature"

Excuse me while I call them by their fi…

Appeals Court Holds Used Game Sales Are Illegal?: Light At The End of the Tunnel Edition

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I am not going to go into again, I already did here, here and here, so take my word for it. Selling used games is harmful to game innovation. While publishers are engaged in a arms race against the ever growing number of used game sellers, the industry may be saved by the courts. In Vernor v. Autodesk The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled a properly worded EULA will preclude resale of software.

In the Vernor case, Vernor purchased copies of Autodesk software, did not open it, and resold it on ebay. Vernor contended he was protected by the first sale doctrine because he did not make copies, and did not open the box and become bound by the EULA. The court held otherwise and found Vernor a licensee of the software and therefore bound by the agreement which forbade resale.

Games and other software are legally resold under the first sale doctrine. In 1908, when contemplating the resale of printed, coyprighted works like books or music, the U.S. Supreme Court determined…

Games Sales Down?: The Glass is Half Full Edition

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For the fourth straight month mainstream media is reporting declining sales and the demise of our business. I am amazed when I read an article about rumors of seconds old Playdom in discussions with Disney for an acquisition at a valuation of USD 600 million or Zynga securing financing at purported USD 2 billion valuation while analysts and commentators say the game business is dying. Are they making games, or just money? We are not in the midst of a declining market, we are suffering from a lack of measurement. Genius analysts are out there with quotes like, For the month of June, Pachter predicts game software sales measured by NPD will decline by 8% from the same month last year. Doug Creutz of Cowen & Co. predicts a 17% decline for June, and said he expects the slowness to continue through the summer.
and they treat it like it is relevant to anything at all. It is kind of like saying "buggy whip sales" are falling through the floor so consumers obviously do …

The Workshop's Sorcery: Sony's Best Move Game Edition

Congratulations to The Workshop on finally getting to announce their first project as a company. They have been working very hard and deserve every kind word. I could write a bunch more, but instead I just wholesale stole this post from Kotaku:

Shown exclusively during the Sony E3 2010 press conference, SCEA's Sorcery made enough of an impression on us to score a Best of E3 nomination for Best New Game. How'd that happen?

Your PlayStation Move controller is a magic wand.

Okay, you might need a more in-depth explanation.

Your PlayStation Move is a freaking sweet magic wand.

Sorcery, developed by The Workshop, places you in the shoes of a young sorcerer's apprentice. The Nightmare Queen has broken her pact with the humans and threatens to plunge the land into eternal darkness, which the humans really should have seen coming. Forging a pact with someone called the Nightmare Queen always ends in tears.

Anyway, your young apprentice takes up a magic wand and sets off into the Faer…

What Happened to Privacy: Naked to the World Edition

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Sure E3 is going on and you might click through to this post to read something I had to say about it. Do you really think there is anything left to say? It is back and the whole LA Convention center is full of unicorns shitting rainbows while puppies dance on their backs. If you cannot make it down there, you may be better off. You do not want to step in a rainbow pile. There is so much E3 news I went ahead and wrote about something that is bugging me. But if you would rather see E3 stuff, here to go ahead.

I purchase a bunch of random things through itunes and because there is no real correlation between the timing of the purchase and the timing of the confirmation receipt, I often do not even open the purchase confirmation emails. But last week I got a few emails in a row and opened them to find out I purchased:

ViKey - Bộ gõ tiếng Việt - TELEX, VNI, VIQR, v2.0, Seller: Dinh Ba Thanh,

MyFlickr, v1.0, Seller: Do Tuan Anh ,

VnExpress 2010, v3.1, Seller: Do Viet Tuy,

VietnamCa…

Did Steve Jobs Call Microsoft "The Smarter People": Who Owns the Living Room Edition

Someone asked Steve Jobs about television at the all things D Conference and he explained why Apple TV remains a hobby. In the clip above he explains the existing market market is heavily subsidized by cable operators who "give everybody a set top box for free, or for $10 a per month. That pretty much squashes out the opportunity for innovation because nobody's willing to buy a set top box." Everything makes so much sense when he says it. . . but Microsoft got consumers to purchase their set top box and through the sale of content they are able to turn the sale of the box and operation into a profit center.

He then says the problem with adding a box to the user's experience is they end up with a variety of different boxes each with its own remote and user interface. "The only way that's ever going to change is if you can really go back to square, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different function…

Raising the Bar: Death of Mediocrity Edition

I went to see Eric Lewis, aka ELEW, a couple nights ago and just like the clip above, he gave it everything he had. He beat the shit out of the piano and by the time he was done, I could not imagine there was anything left in the guy. Eric's career is blowing up right now - search him and you will see - and he deserves it. Quality rises to the top, even if it takes a while. He and I joked about his years of work leading to his "overnight success."

That day I read more about the death the media. Newspapers and magazines are failing, network television is down, film attendance down, all the rest and I could not help but think about the parallels to game sales. These media are not failing, the bar is being raised. With all the choices consumers will not accept mediocrity. Consumers who are assaulted by media from computers, televisions and phones do not want more of the same. So much is free that we must provide value to get their time or dollars. Newspapers t…

J Allard: Class Act Edition

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There are far to many "role models" in the world and too few people to really admire. Every sports figure or actor is inevitably held up as a role model and they never fail to disappoint. While their effort to get to their position is admirable, the likelihood of emulating their role is slightly smaller than winning the supper lotto - twice. In the bright glow of these superstars we miss the ordinary guy who makes an ordinary gesture extraordinary. The guy you can really be if you just try hard enough. You have to be born Superman, but anyone can be Batman.

Anyone who has spent time with J Allard knows he is not an ordinary guy, but the act of leaving employment is pretty ordinary these days and exit emails are not often inspiring love letters worthy of publication next to Steve Jobs' famous commencement speech. Actually, I've never seen one. Many compare J to Jobs and in an alternate world where he sat a couple seats high in the organization he may have been …