Monday, July 23, 2012

Investing in Content: A Reply to Mitch Laskey's blog post

JUNE 06, 2012


Mitch Laskey's Blog

My response:

He's right.

What I think is interesting about this blogpost is that he really has done a good job of summing up the history of game development from a publishing perspective. I've lived through the console cycles and watched companies pour ridiculous amounts of capital into manufacturing those cartridges before they ever even had a chance to see if they were going to sell. And they had to guess how many they would sell or they'd eat that inventory. It was ugly. Back then, it was hard to imagine even entering the console market. Publishers had a stranglehold on the customers through the capital requirement, relationship with console manufacturers, wholesale distribution, and control of wholesale to retail. The game makers never interacted with retail, much less the players. When I explained this to my friends and family, it always seemed to me that the console owners were like a mafia that controlled access to the fans and publishers had to pay to get on the shelf. Developers were always at the mercy of "the deal."

Then from a developer perspective, you were constantly strung out for the promise of royalties, but whenever a smaller company struck it "rich," the royalty rates and contracts were re-written so that it made it next to impossible to have a hit game propel you into the big bucks. It still happened, so we all believed it could happen to us. That is some ridiculous insanity and I was completely caught up in it for years.

And that's not even to calculate in the music mafia style chargebacks and advances that had to be paid back through your royalties. Many many bands found that they actually wound up owing the music publishers / record companies money after their first album was released. That contract style still lives on with bigger publishers and developers.

Nowadays, the field is much more level. Small teams can speak directly to their customers, both online through forums / blogs and through their games themselves. Adapting at lightspeed to the desires of their SPECIFIC players, game developers can turn on a dime to give them exactly what they want and need. It's a fundamental twist that is absolutely changing the game. For the better.

We're delivering entertainment. We can adapt to the ever changing desires of the public instantly. As long as we know how to listen, we will succeed.

Okay developers, let's rock!


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