Sunday, September 20, 2009

Four Pointers on the Future of Games

I read a number of posts over the past week or two that opened my eyes. Here they are:

  1. Dan Cook's 'Flash Love Letter' series of posts (two so far: one, two. With more coming soon) on Flash games, the opportunity for premium flash games, how to monetize them, existing (flawed) feedback systems when distributing through portals, etc. His blog has always been gold, but this series of posts shows that he understands this space better than almost anyone who's writing about it. Much of it applies to all digital distribution and not just Flash games.
  2. Raph's liveblog of the AGDC panel on monetizing online games: Free-to-play biz model experts discuss successes and stats around different tweaks on the biz model and how it's evolving. I remember when I first worked in casual games, being surprised about how scientific (in the sense of hypothesize-->test-->measure-->analyze results) the business was compared to traditional big-budget retail games. This group takes it up a notch. A must-read.
  3. Alice's post on Smokescreen. Smokescreen is an online game that aims to educate teens about issues involved with their online activities, like identity, privacy, security, etc. By all means go play it - at least see the first mission through. It will challenge both what you think is possible in an 'educational' game, and in the quality of production possible in a publicly-commissioned game. On the latter note, I'm not sure what the budget was here, but its clearly NOT your $50k flash game. It's polished, rich, and deep. It doesn't take much to extrapolate a few years out and think about what it means when your games have to compete with free-to-play, $10M+ budget titles funded by your taxes.
  4. This post on Bobby Kotick's comments about 'untethered' Guitar Hero. Kotick has done his share of talking out of his rear, but this is not one of those cases. The idea of a stand-alone SKU of guitar hero, connected to a dedicated service, is not as ludicrous as you might first think. Music games are a phenomenon and there are still a lot of households without consoles. If some of the people who shelled out $250 for a Wii did so to buy 'the Wii sports machine', then I don't see why this wouldn't hold for people that want GH or Rockband but don't own one of the big 3 consoles. And if this is a route for publishers to connect directly to their customers without console holder as middleman? Hmm..
As I said above, these are four must-read posts. A lot of hints as to where we'll be going over the next decade are to be found in there.

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