2013/01/13

The World will end as we know it - in 2013

I mean the game industry world - the one we are used to. The one with PC games being niche, the one with consoles being the big revenue makers. Where there is only one MMO RPG dominating the world. Where games are usually all around the big IP's of the top publishers - on console.

The major trends which we have seen in 2012 surfacing which will be even stronger in 2013 are:

Crowd Funding
It is an additional source for money. And as most people know in the gaming industry - money is the #1 problem of all developers. So this is an alternative. Not the best, but it is in addition to what we already have. And it also is able to fund games which are under the threshold of publishers - this means single man games, small teams, games with budgets of less then 1 million.
Of course there are the big million budget funded games - but those will be the "AAA" of kick starter. The important thing is not the money or that users decide which games are being made - the important thing is that the industry will see a new source of creativity from that funding. This impulse is desperately needed as otherwise CoD 10 and Fifa 2014 and Halo 5 and xyz 10 are all the same again and again.

Digital Distribution
It took long enough. We had hoped it will happen back in 2000 but the internet bubble bursting destroyed our master plan. Finally digital distribution has a break through and I expect this to quickly push into the console space as well.
There are more games being sold on digital platforms than on retail. Add it up. You will come to the same conclusion. Note I said "most" as in numbers, not in revenue. That will follow. Quickly.
What does this mean? It means retail becomes secondary, not the major platform anymore. The time as we went to stores to get games are over. Amazon does the rest of the death push of retail - but games will be a niche shelf space pretty soon. - if consoles push digital.

'Mobile' as major game space
I put mobile in quotes as studies shows that the main space people play mobile games is the couch or bed - so its not really "mobile". Still Smartphones and iPads will push the games market to bigger segments as even the console market. Even now the mobile market is the only one where western game makers have even access to all Asian markets. Note that consoles don't exist there and most western online games (the only one popular on PC) do not have a single chance of being published there. But hey, now even Asian's play single player games - but on mobile.
Why is Asia so important for mobile? Because it doubles, nearly triples the revenue potential of games on the devices with no major investment. This is huge. The Asian games market is so big that we (in the west) have not even a glimpse of its power.
So will mobile destroy consoles? I think it will push aside handheld gaming as we know it but AAA console games will stay - at least for the next generation. But as more and more developers find it easier to publish on mobile the creativity and cool games might move away from consoles to tablets.

Free to Play
F2p seems saturated 'they' say. I hear that often but always shake my head. F2p has just started and shows some saturation - but only in spaces where big companies are located and all their copy cats - as those copy cats don't know how to enter the f2p market but to copy the lead publishers - and of course fail ;)

Believe me: there are many game genres and types still to be published successfully as f2p as big as League of Legends or even World of Tanks. There is still plenty of space. Want proof? Which publisher would have accepted a Counterstrike type game with World War II tanks and persistent development? NO ONE!

Of course now they say "yes of course it works". But before? Nah, they wouldn't even have gotten an appointment.

So there is lots of space. The primary reason is being online: when you got the world internet population as potential customers it is easier to reach a critical mass to be profitable then in retail or any other publishing platform.

Online - Persistent
Games have shown that if they are online (even if only basic asynchronous) and persistent that the success doubles easily. The recent example of Clash of Clans and Hay Day shows that also on mobile it is a pre-requisite for huge success potential.
So the time of Fantasy MMO RPG's might be over, but hey, the time for online MMO's just has started!

Conclusion
If you want to be on the ride combine all four from above. Do a tablet/PC online persistent crowd funded free to play title.

Cheers, Teut

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