@TrevorStricker is interviewed in this report on the game biz in Massachusetts. Specifically, on tax incentives for games.
This Wednesday, May 15, at 5:30 EDT Trevor will be live streaming LIVE with the guys from Fire Hose Games.
Of course we’ll talk all about Jungle Rumble and Go Home Dinosaurs. We’ll talk about indie games. We’ll tackle burning questions in evolutionary science: Did monkeys ride dinosaurs? How did the T Rex hold a spatula over the grill with such widdle arms?
Cool piece on Jungle Rumble and Disco Pixel. Thanks, Maurice!
Dev diary for Jungle Rumble. How the sausage gets made!
The Future of Video Game Consoles
The highlight of my life as a little dude was getting a Nintendo. Hanging out with the neighborhood kids playing Castlevania. Showing my sister warp zones in Super Mario Bros. Painstakingly writing out those long Metroid codes to swap with kids at school. I’m hardly alone. That little grey box has a place in the hearts of many children of the 80s.
As the Wii U posts sales numbers low enough to be a Barry White love song, Sony is trying its hardest to get the world excited about going from 3 to 4. Meanwhile, Microsoft wants you to know that, hey, they’ve got something to check out, too. Real soon, now. Are you excited yet? Hmm? How about now?
Once upon a time, a new console generation was something to get excited about. My first console transition, working in the industry, was the Dreamcast. I got a buzz when a beige box with the beta version of the hardware arrived from Japan. Even my mom, computer illiterate and video game unbeliever, could take one look at the blocky and jagged fighters in the Playstation’s Tekken and see the improvement in the billowy robes of Dreamcast’s Soul Caliber. Sega sent us cool Dreamcast jackets and random people on the street would give you high fives when they saw it. Why?
Because video games are awesome and the Dreamcast was considered the next level of awesome by Joe Sixaxis.
Now it’s 2013. We’ve already seen great 3D graphics. Is it getting that much better? Can my mom to tell a Playstation 4 game from a Playstation 3 game? We’ve already got consoles that live on the network where we can play with our “friends” without ever having to remove our tochis from living room couch. We can already download stuff and see who’s online and stream movies. Is there enough marginal awesomeness to get Joe Sixaxis to pony up for another console generation?
The Playstation 3 cost $500 when it came out, and early reports are that number 4 will debut the same way. That’s a splurge. Especially because you’ll also need a few games for it.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a Galaxy Nexus in my pocket. It has a 720p screen and an HDMI port and can be plugged into my TV. It has the rendering power of a PS2. It has an always on network connection, and picks up my wifi when in my living room. I can download games without a trip to the mall. Add a bluetooth controller or two and that’s a game box. In the year my phone has been out, new phones have specs that are bigger and badder. And cheaper. We all know what’s happening—tech marches on, gets cheaper, and (most importantly) spreads everywhere.
Why isn’t my phone my main gaming machine? Graphics horsepower? No physical joystick? I’d say it’s more that I can’t play Portal 2, Grand Theft Auto V, or Borderlands 2 on it. The games just aren’t there.
Smartphones already have an installed base of gamers that rivals game consoles themselves. That’s a market that won’t get ignored. But what if the graphics aren’t quite as sizzlingly pixel shaded as they could be? They’ll be good enough and if you want better there will still be the PC. But how can big budget games be viable on a platform where everything costs 99 cents? Nobody said mobile games will cost 99 cents forever, and when GTA VI comes along gamers will pay what they’re used to for quality that they’re used to. Nobody is going to confuse Jetpack Joyride with Bioshock Infinite.
In the 21st century a cell phone is becoming as basic a thing as electric lights and running water. If that’s a game box too then you don’t need a console. The game specific machine is becoming redundant.
So what happens to the big console makers of today? Does Sony explode into a massive, smoking crater as Nintendo fanboys cackle along the rim? Does the president of Nintendo commit ritual seppuku for dwindling sales as Steam fanboys sternly look on? Not at all.
Long term value in the game industry is created by making franchises that people fall in love with. Gamers still want to send Nathan Drake on adventures and shoot at the Covenant. Do you care if the box rendering Uncharted happens to have a PS logo on it?
It sure was great for Nintendo when everybody bought a Wii and then turned around and bought Zelda for it. It made them more profitable per employee than the mighty Goldman-Sachs. They rode a gravy train with biscuit wheels. But nothing lasts forever and those biscuit wheels fell off. This is a disruptive point in the video game industry. Five years from now when Ganon kidnaps Zelda gamers will still rescue her. But they will rescue her with an Android, not a Wiimote.