2014/04/22

F2p is not a genre

I discuss a lot about the design & business side of f2p. Often enough in these discussions people mix and match games and argue with them only because they are f2p - right?

If both are f2p they should be comparable yes?

Well - no. Let me give an example. I use Assassins Creed Black Flag to show open world game play while you come up with the retail version of Angry Birds to counter my argument. Both are retail games right? You would find that silly wouldn't you. Both are targeting different audiences and are different genres.

So why oh why do you argue with f2p games only because both are f2p? Because both are free and such comparable?

The business model f2p is NOT the games genre. So stop mixing up games in the discussion.

So please stop using Clash of Clans in a f2p MMO RPG discussion. Why do you refer Farmville 2 in a discussion about World of Tanks. Why do you use Candy Crush Saga as a reference when we talk about f2p FPS.

Only because all are f2p? Think again.

Stuff one game does in f2p does not mean it works for your game. Stop copy/pasting things.

Stop saying "But I see game xyz is doing ... so we need to do ...". You don't know if what they do is successful - you don't have their data.

You assume ... and how one of my bosses always says "Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups"

Watch this making of "Triple Town" for some really excellent advice.



2014/04/06

Quo Vadis 2014

The title doesn't mean I am asking where we go in 2014 but it is the name of the largest developer conference in Germany happening next week April 8th to 10th.

My talk on Thursday morning will dissect the monetization of Puzzle & Dragons. After my talk about doing the same with World of Tanks was so successful I decided to expand those topics. Btw this is the first talk I will hold on an iPhone!

At Casual Connect 2014 in San Francisco in July I will repeat that exercise with League of Legends.

I am doing this simply to educate teams how these games work. I usually pick top f2p games for this as they aren't at all "evil" - which seems to be a major criticism of f2p. I assign 3 pillars on those dissections:

Public Metrics
Numbers and data I find online, either from services like Appannie, Comcast or simply from the game providers PR or shareholder messages.

Own Monetization & Online Game Experience
I use my professional skills to take the game apart into its foundations and mechanics and examine them for their functions.

Self Experimentation
I play the game as a player for a while (usually until mid game) and then as a payer (note the missing L) and research what this changes in the game experience compared to the former experiment.

Those three usually give me enough information to understand fully how the game works in terms of game mechanics & monetization.

I hope to see you at one of the above conferences.


2014/03/13

GDC 2014

I am off to GDC 2014 in San Francisco tomorrow. Besides being the largest developer conference of the world with over 20.000 attendees the 2014 will be important simply because we are in transition years (see previous post).

A lot of talks will focus on the new generation of consoles, others on the other cool stuff happening like indie, f2p, digital etc.

I also expect a major announcement from Amazon, you read it here first.

(Edit::told you so: http://gizmodo.com/amazon-fire-tv-hands-on-the-fastest-smart-tv-youve-ev-1556986083/@jschreier)

I might blog the major findings during my stay - that depends on my internet, jet lag and hang overs.


2014/03/06

Transition Years

In 2004 I made a talk on Quo Vaids, the largest German developer conference, about our game industry cycle. (btw. the next Quo Vadis is in April, highly recommended!). This talk was adapted into a major article on MCV, the leading industry magazine by its time.

From there on people knew what it meant to be in a transition year. Although the term "transition year" was coined by EA I can take credit assembling the facts and regular events what a transition cycle causes.

Basically the games industry goes through a cycle which is kicked off whenever a new console enters the market. The old one doesn't do the revenue anymore it used to and the new one hasn't grown enough yet to do good revenue.

This forces the big players into a conservative mode which means:
- Studios are getting shut down
- Media spending is reduced
- Releases are safe bets, i.e. sequels

The side effects are usually that independent studios are no longer able to place their next developments and shut down if they don't have already one under contract. Also some media are shutting down like games magazines or game web sites as the reduced media spending also hits them.

However as developers and teams are looking for alternative revenue streams they put their creativity into other platforms like the new wave of good games on PC digital or the immense growth on mobile games this transition cycle. Some also find ways into f2p on consoles or PC.

Why is this important? Because 2013/2014 is the current transition year where bad things already happened and worse is still to come. From the last count of studio closures at least over 15000 developers were laid off over the course of the last 18 months in USA and Europe. Some cities were laid to waste in terms of game development like Austin or Boston.

Why I am saying this? Simply because I want to calm you guys down that this is perfectly normal and part of our cycle. It is like hitting Ctrl-Alt Delete and re-install. Everything will be smoother and better afterwards, you just need to be prepared.



Not complete overview, just samples:

Disney
http://kotaku.com/disney-lays-off-700-employees-1537889729

Lucas
http://kotaku.com/how-lucasarts-fell-apart-1401731043

Eidos
http://kotaku.com/big-layoffs-at-thief-developer-eidos-montreal-1536315021

Bioshock Devs
http://kotaku.com/what-next-for-dozens-of-ex-bioshock-game-creators-1525989099

EA
http://www.polygon.com/2013/10/29/5043244/ea-cancels-free-to-play-command-and-conquer
http://gamepolitics.com/2013/07/12/ea-closes-phenomic-studio#.Uxi7Cvl5Mg8
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-09-30-ea-closes-north-carolina-studio-report
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/187793/Dragon_Age_Legends_studio_BioWare_San_Francisco_closes__report.php
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/187116/EA_lays_off_workers_across_multiple_studios.php#.UTW-ZldZcaU
http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/ea-confirms-medal-of-honor-studio-danger-close-is-no-more/#!yJiMy
http://hothardware.com/News/EA-Cuts-More-Jobs-Shuts-Down-PopCap-Vancouver-and-Quicklime-Studios-Total-Number-of-Casualties-Unknown/

THQ
http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/01/thq-bankrupt/

Misc
http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/06/gree-layoffs/
http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/4/3836168/social-games-developer-majesco-boston-shuts-down-say-former-employees
http://allthingsd.com/20130603/zynga-to-lay-off-520-employees-18-percent-of-staff-and-shutter-new-york-and-la-offices/

2014/03/03

Steam kills PC Games

Steam announced that publishers on Steam can now run their own sales. Why this is bad I won't say here simply because he said it all:

http://www.gamesbrief.com/2014/03/valve-has-just-started-the-pc-games-race-to-zero/

Just this much: this will be bad, a massaker, a bloodbath. With only one survivor.


2014/02/18

Buy Banished

I rarely do this but I would love you to take a look at this indie game and give it a try. It was released just today (and will be on Steam tonight) and is a resource management game just like Settlers or SimCity. Beware that the learning curve is steeper so I recommend the tutorials first.

Information about the game: http://www.shiningrocksoftware.com/game/
Buy Humble Link: http://www.shiningrocksoftware.com/buy/