Playing the Lame Presents: Discussions on the Current State of the Game Market


“Discussions on the Current State of the Game Market.”


“This conversation went to kind of a weird place.”

It might surprise you to know this, but the majority of my conversations don’t revolve around gaming. While I have plenty of gaming related discussions with staff members, most of my time is spent avoiding this topic of conversation unless something important is going on. Surprisingly, most of the people I talk to on a day to day basis don’t play video games, and even when talking to the ones that do, there are often more important and interesting things to talk about. People have lives, as it were, and if they want to talk about, say, how they’re moving soon or how their family is doing or how they got a new job, that’s more important than talking about Batman: Arkham City or whatever.

But when you do talk to people who play video games, even conversations that didn’t start at that talking point end up there eventually, as did a recent conversation Widro and I were having about his new job, among other things. Widro’s kind of a big picture sort of person, though, so I don’t have conversations with him so much about what games we like as much as about the state of the industry, and this one was no different. It was fairly topical, however, so I figured it might actually be worth doing something with, and so, I bring it to you to share.

There is actually a TON coming out this fall, they just don’t release stuff over summer. Plus I like weird genres like platformers and arcade racing.

Yeah, I don’t totally understand that, but it’s worse this year I’m finding.

It seems to make no sense, because gamers don’t like outside, we like inside; you’d think they would release more over the summer, and they don’t seem to learn lessons about killing off games and then developers by using wrong release windows. I think about May 2010 when they released Split Second AND Blur AND Mod Nation Racers. Not only were they all dropped within a week of the release of Red Dead Redemption, but those three games speak to the exact same market, so it split sales three ways. Blur caused Activision to shutter Bizarre Creations, and Disney just closed the Split Second developer. Both of those games are very strong, but got killed by insane scheduling, and Mod Nation failed too, only not considered such because its a first party game.

Also, it wasn’t very good.

Worst of those three I think.

Right. It was saved conceptually by the development mechanic but no one bought it anyway.

I think the onus is on Sony and Microsoft to better manage the schedules. They are the gatekeepers to the walled gardens they created for their consoles. It is bad for everyone for releases to be bunched like that.

Right. There’s virtually nothing of note coming out for the next three weeks save for digital releases.

Even just for me as a 2D platformer fan, I have Rayman Origins, Sonic Generations and Kirby Wii, likely released within weeks of each other this November. There is no denying those three games are reaching the same target markets. Why release them at once like that?

Because the publishers dictate the schedule, not the console makers.

But Nintendo and Sony are publishers too and they choose to release their games alongside the others.


Once Sony saw Split Second and Blur on May 2010, they should have bumped Mod Nation. Release dates aren’t sudden, they are in the works for months or years.

Yeah. We know when Modern Warfare 3 will come out. Anyone smart will avoid that week like the plague.

Instead I bet the week before and week after will have multiple major releases, FPS or not. If you have a game like that, you avoid it.

Right. Anything that draws millions of sales overall, whether it be first day or not, you should stay away from it. Instead we’ll get developers releasing multi-million selling games AGAINST each other, because the economy can totally bear that you guys.

(SIDE NOTE: I actually went and did the research to see how true this assumption was; turns out, IF the release schedules stay as they are right now, within a week of Modern Warfare 3‘s projected release date of 11/8/11, so far, Skyrim, Saint’s Row 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations AND Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary are scheduled to drop. GOD DAMN I hate being right all the time.)

It’s not even just price, you can only dedicate yourself to X many games. If I get Modern Warfare 3, that takes up my gaming time for X weeks. I might be more likely to buy a game now, when there is nothing, than a game as a second or third.

Also very true.

Nintendo generally spaces theirs out as if they are in a Nintendo vacuum, where if you only play first party Nintendo games, you get enough time for each, as a general rule. Not this holiday, though, because they are phasing out Wii.

Because no one buys third party games on the Wii.

I wonder why Nintendo or other companies wouldn’t take some of these popular imports and release them as limited edition print runs online-only? “Sure, we’ll localize Xenoblade, we’ll print 10K for $100 each”.

People talk about how the Wii totally crushed the PS3 and 360 sales-wise. Okay. Show me the strong selling third party game on that console.

Just Dance!!

Kind of proves my point, I think.


How many award winning games came out of that console, if not universally, in general?

I liked some of the first party games. Super Paper Mario, Kirby Epic Yarn.

Conduit. Trauma Center/Team. Zack and Wiki. Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles. Dead Space Extraction. Mad World. Monster Hunter Tri. But the Rayman games and Just Dance are the only third games to really make a significant dent, by all indications. If I’m Platinum Games, and I see Madworld do shit numbers and Bayonetta do great numbers, I’m moving my development to the 360 and PS3.

I liked Madworld, I didn’t play much though. I hate waggle.

If I’m Capcom and I see Tatsunoko vs. Capcom do worse than some of my online releases on XBLA, I’m moving to Xbox and PS3.

And then you saw Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on those and not Wii.

Right. That game killed. The Wii saw some novelty games and games developers were either willing to experiment with or willing to release, but not at the high development budgets of the PS3/360. At this point, it’s a dead console. It’s a barren wasteland ruled over by Nintendo as Master Blaster. “WHO RUN BARTER TOWN?” “MARIO RUN BARTER TOWN!”

I wonder why Nintendo let so many low quality games through.

Well, they did change the Nintendo Seal of Quality to the Nintendo Seal. Survey says they don’t care.

That’s so hard to measure, but I think that had a bad impact on Wii game purchasing.

Well, they still dominate the handheld market with the DS, and the 3DS will likely attract attention sooner or later.

Perhaps, it’s not looking great so far, with Angry Birds. Stupid Angry Birds.

Fuck the smart phone gaming industry. I can sell ten million people a one dollar game because those ten million people don’t have another gaming console but DO have a smart phone. There are something like four hundred million people in the US. Assume half of them are too old or young to factor in, two hundred million people. Two hundred million people are not going to go out and buy a DS. They’re just fucking not. They don’t play video games routinely.

But I see it on subways. People play games on iPhone, I see NO portables. Once in a long while I see someone.

Because two hundred million people CAN get an iPhone, or an Android or a Windows Mobile phone or whatever. Because they’re becoming cheap and universal. If I’m taking a ten minute subway ride, no, I’m not bringing my DS. I’m bringing my smartphone because I’m bringing it anyway. But you show me the one dollar cell phone game that does what Pokemon does. Fuck Gabe and Tycho and their “buy a forty dollar game and I’ll buy forty one dollar games, we’ll see who has more ‘fun'” debate. The average person has zero use for a gaming console and will use a smartphone to fill that void because they can get cheap games through it. Gamers will buy handheld gaming appliances because they play ACTUAL, COMPLEX games, and eighty million Smash TV clones and a couple physics based games aren’t going to satisfy that need forever.

I hope so. I don’t like games being cheapened. I’m rooting for PS Vita, and I like the 3DS. I think the main problem with the 3DS is there are no games yet that people will buy the system for.

Oh, there aren’t. But the system isn’t a year in just yet. The PS3 had no system selling games for over a year from launch.

And sales were poor, and the cost too high, and they never really recovered in this generation.

Okay, but the thing is, the same thing could be said about the PS2.

No, because PS2 at launch effectively killed the Dreamcast, and there were no competitors to it.

Not because of the launch lineup.

True. I still think Nintendo will do well with this.

What could we get? Orphen?

Ridge Racer V!

Fuck that. I bought Armored Core 2 and that was the only game I owned for a year.

I’m trying to think about what I bought in year one.

Wait, my ex bought me Fantavision and The Adventures of Cookies and Cream. So… that’s… something.

Oh, I had Cookies and Cream! That was pretty bad but I liked the split screen concept.

Right, but think in the reverse. The Dreamcast had at least two AWESOME launch games, relative to the time it came out.

I LOVED the Dreamcast launch lineup.

Right. And they had all sorts of great games in the first year. And none of it mattered. Because Sony came in with absolutely zero must-own games and murdered the Dreamcast.

I don’t disagree that it’s too early to call the 3DS a failure or anything, but it’s concerning that devs are dropping 3DS projects in development, and I think $40 for a game has to change.

Nintendo has a lot on their side. Backwards compatibility to the DS, first console at launch, price drop, and their own brands to market.

The internet is dying here, so I am going to take that as a sign to go home.

Sounds good. I’m off to stain my deck.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments. I’m looking forward to it.



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