Will the big game publishers have full control over the future of game, or is this the tipping point and smaller more community-based publishers will gain more grounds and power on the “battlefield”?
Over at Gamesindustry.biz, in a interview with Chris Satchell the general manager for Microsofts Xbox 360s XNA Game Studio and the subscription-based XNA Creator’s Club, Chris talk of how the expanded digital distribution trend for games will help nuture smaller publishers. Then the system owner (Microsoft in this case) opens their platform for everyone to develop, they support and encurages a important development step for the console market. The XNA Creators Club still have to review the games before they can be released officially on the XNA platform. With the tools in place and a strong social develop community, this can lead to the birth of many community based smaller publishers.
One good aspect of this is how this can counter rising cost of bigger game productions, resulting in less endangerment from the bigger publishers. Big publishers operate the same way as bigger corporations, usually with interests for the shareholder as primary focus. Profit comes first, creativity second. But with the complexity of game development, I thing those to often collide, which in turn slow down the evolution of the industry. Not to say it isn’t evolving, and Chris put this very well:
“The games may still be creative, many are, but the problem is that because of the cost, it is hard to have lots of completely new concepts or IP in a portfolio.
That is not to say that large publishers don’t create new concepts, they do, but I believe it would benefit the industry and our medium if we could get more new ideas started. In the long run I think this is essential to keep our medium growing and continuing to be relevant to a broader set of people.” – Chris Satchell
The potential to start “micro-community publisher” is all here! The same way Apple open up their before locked iPhone platform for everyone to develop new applications/games to sell and distribute freely, not only can smaller groups expand Microsofts Xbox Live service with content. Its necessary for the evolution of the overal business model of console games. A whole new testing ground for game developers and publishers to try out ideas and concept with great feedback.
In recent years it seems the fusion of game publishers have increased greater than before. Vivendi(with Blizzard) – Activision, and the on going EA – Take2 deal, which I’m not sure the end result of yet. This is probably just natural reaction to the expansion of the industry as a whole and the increase of development costs. The game industry is moving in the same direction as movie and music, a few big actors basically controlling the industry plane. If we’re not already there! While the movie biz is still focused on the big players, music have evolved to some extent thanks to the internet with sites like MySpace for smaller artists and bands to reach new audience and build a fanbase themself. And then we have the game industry… and according to Christopher Kline (technical director at 2K Boston) the game industry are currently dividing into two paths. Ether you develop big budget triple A titles, or the cheaper more casual trail. The middle segment, games with a budget of around 3-6 milion dollars (by todays standard) will face bigger challanges in the competetive harshen game market. Even as game developers and publishers look for new ways to profit and/or create and drive new revenue sources, its a hard struggle for the gamers time, attention, wallet and energy. Even if video game over and over again surpass the year before in terms of growth, and have (somewhat…) “proven” to be recession-proof, this expansion will boost the competition and hopefully help the industry to evolve and develop even more. WIth smarter business models and more ways for even the smallest developer to break through, we will see the dawn of a more creative mature interactive entertainment medium than before.
Maybe one should start a smaller publisher focused on small gamedevelopment and distribution?