Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Random reads from around the Intertubes

A few posts that caught my eye:

  • Game retailers stocking fewer games, fewer copies of those they do buy. Further proof we're not recession-proof, recession-resistant, etc. (It will be interesting whether this compounds what we're already seeing with pubishers; cancelling risky projects, non-sequels, etc).
  • Pachter would disagree, as he maintains that we are recession-proof. He blames bad planning and over-investment in R&D on new IP and the like, rather than bread'n'butter sequels. (EA did spend over $1.1B on R&D last fiscal year, which is pretty high even for them. Expect that to drop next year).
  • Ubisoft is using this time to grow and invest. Smart if you have the cash on hand to carry you through. I think the "next gen consoles coming in 2011-12" is likely a bit off the mark though.
  • Q4 VC investments down to lowest level since Q1'05. Also not surprising. (As an aside, I've been letting VGVC.NET attrophy for a while, but it might be a good time to do some editorial around this).
  • Continuing the bad news, here's a post commenting on the downturn, layoffs, etc. An interesting snippet I disagree with: "a lot of firms, games industry or not, are using the credit crunch as an excuse to trim their more optimistic hires away". I think the difference with the games business in particular is that so many studios are running on a pretty thin bank balance, living hand-to-mouth between milestone payments. When credit dries up, cash is king, and if you don't have any, making payroll might get tricky.
  • Good, but lengthy editorial on the whole "are games art?" thing and on games place in our culture. The money quote:"
There is no other medium that produces so pure a cultural segregation as video games, so clean-cut a division between the audience and the non-audience. Books, films, TV, dance, theatre, music, painting, photography, sculpture, all have publics which either are or aren’t interested in them, but at least know that these forms exist, that things happen in them in which people who are interested in them are interested. They are all part of our current cultural discourse. Video games aren’t.
  • Its the sincerest form of flattery: EA, and other companies, asking for their IP to be whitelisted in Little Big Planet (Sony's been removing anything that even smells of IP infringement, not waiting for DMCA takedown notices.
  • Good interview with Jon Blow about Braid, his next project, and other stuff. Jon's smart. Go read!

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