Thursday, October 11, 2007

First the BNL and Radiohead, then Nine Inch Nails, now Madonna. Oasis and Jamiroquai too.

Seems ditching the labels in favor of direct-to-consumer (or in Madonna's case, signing a very different kind of disty deal) is all the rage the days.

Big labels are getting exactly what the deserve for putting up artificial barriers for too long, and bilking the customer for some time now (phasing out singles, forcing DRM, etc, etc). Sure would suck to be in their shoes, but I have to say I'm enjoying watching their towers crumble from the sidelines.

Game Industry folk: Should we be watching and learning? How long before the torch-n-pitchfork mob finds their next target?


Unknown said...

Sorry if this is a bit disorganized but I’ve recently shifted my focus from games to music, and this is the first time I’ve tried to do a comparison of the business and experience. I agree with you about the labels bilking customers for years despite the cost of distribution going down and cost of production being relatively constant. For games, the cost of production has gone up dramatically with only minor increases in the price point.

Experience wise, music is more easily done in the background than games are: lower engagement = lower perceived value. It doesn’t help that many people in their late 20s and younger download music. Since games are something you actively engage with, there's more variety in the levels of interest and commitment (time-wise as well as financial) from players - from a super deep immersive experience like WoW or Halo 3, to something pick up and play like Loco Roco or other handheld games, and many of the games on XBL Arcade. XBL Arcade and Valve have proven that people are willing to pay less for less content that’s still high quality, downloading rather than buying discs. And games like KartRacer use the razor blade model and make it up in microtransactions.

So in short I think developers may try different sorts of experiences to satisfy the market and diversify the types and lengths of experiences they create, but doubt that there will be an uprising anytime soon. The hardcore are invested enough to understand why their crack costs so much, and the casual players would find something else to do rather than start a riot. Not that we shouldn’t keep looking for other ways to keep players engaged :)

Mark DeLoura said...

Of course we should be watching and learning! One of the difficulties right now though is simply that there are very few studios that have the name recognition to pull off something like this. Remember the rant/meme about making stars out of your game designers, or the fact that publishers frequently don't put the developer logo on the front of the box? It's still very valid.