One of the best panels at C2E2 was “Behind the Graphics: A Video Game Industry Round Table.” Several members of the games industry answered questions and held discussions offering a unique insight into video games. And we’ve got all the info you could need.
Our coverage of the panel continues. Make sure to catch part 1 as well. Now, continuing on with the questions.
Question: What are your thoughts on free to play games?
Daniel: Personally, I love League of Legends. The most important thing to do is make a game that compels you to buy into it. League of Legends found a way to make this work. Facebook games are also very good at this. The most difficult thing to do is for the developers to maintain high standards of other games.
Allen: It’s interesting that people are down on free to play games because in the 90’s everyone hated shareware as well. Free to play games are very similar. The issue comes up, are games a service or a product? A free to play game may work easier for a smaller developer that can reach directly to the consumer. However a publisher needs numbers to meet. It’s difficult to gain a set amount of sales from in game items in a free to play game.
Ryan: It becomes an issue where the business aspect gets too involved.
Question: How could a writer go about getting a job in games?
Allen: Writers are the unsung heroes of the industry. There’s always a place for writers. As games get bigger and narratives get more complex there will be a place for someone to flesh out and build that big moving story. A writer is a writer and if you are good at your craft you can find a job. Many big studios do have designated writers.
Question: Why are used games hurting the industry when used cars don’t hurt the automotive industry?
Daniel: The issue with used games is not that a gamer decides to trade a game in. Once a game is bought it is that person’s property and they have a right to do what they want with it. The problem comes because used games send all their profits to other parties. Developers don’t see anything coming from used games.
Allen: Used games are not inherently a bad thing. They’re bad when you can find them almost immediately after a new game is released. A game is only profitable for so long after release and if used sales cut into that time period, there’s less time for a development studio to see those profits. If a game sells one million copies at GameStop and five hundred thousand are used copies, than according to GameStop they sold one million copies. According to the developers they only sold five hundred thousand copies. THAT’S the problem with used games.
Ryan: Developers have no right to say that a person can’t trade in a new game. Once a product is sold, they don’t have any more right to it. However a developer can ask really really nicely and hopefully a consumer will listen.
Question: As gaming gets bigger and bigger, what do you think is going to happen to video game publishers?
Ryan: “The fans, kickstarter, that’s it.”
Daniel: There is always a market for big publishers. The last Call of Duty was a huge hit and not small time group could have put that together. Having a big publisher leads to a more selective nature. On the plus side it means that games will be high quality. On the bad side a lot of smaller games are going to get lost.
Seth: The current publishers are awfully wasteful. They pay extra for things that could be done cheaper. If a publisher wants to maximize profits they should look at better planning. A little extra planning could go a long way. All publishers want to feel safe. That’s why we get so many sequels. There’s definitely room for big publishers but they need to work smarter.
Allen: There’s always a need and room for ‘gatekeepers.’ That’s what a lot of publishers can be. Someone needs to keep standards. Restrictions on developers are bad but a publisher who can change the current system can work.
Kyle: Not all publishers are evil. Warner Bros. helped create Bastion. Bastion is a great game. What gamers need to do is look at developers and find the people who actually make the games. Don’t buy from bad publishers and see if the developers you like have released titles independently. Publishers are business people, which isn’t a bad thing.
Question: Is DRM an effective way to prevent piracy?
Ryan: “DRM is bad and it doesn’t work.”
And that about does it for the questions presented. With such a wide selection of backgrounds and experiences, the panel provided many different views and a wealth of info. Hopefully all the aspiring game developers out there could gleam some wisdom here.