Epic Games On The Future Of Triple-A Game Development Marketing And Pricing
from the the-future-is-inevitable dept
In the first interview, Capps was asked if the death of AA game development and the rising costs of AAA game development is good for the gamer.
No, no I don't think so at all. Certainly as a gamer I don't think what's going on is a good thing. Triple-A is as much about marketing these days as it is about production values.Here he lays out some of the concerns over marketing allocation for games. While publishers will release a number of games during the year, the vast majority of the marketing budget is spent on only one or two hits. However, he feels that this is changing in gaming. Capps feels that there is a marketing shift from direct marketing to building a community behind games.
Take a game like BulletStorm, for example. That game was supported and well reviewed but just didn't break out. It wasn't a failure, but it wasn't a success that could fund a series of projects either. That's a game that I think people loved but it's not one that gets the $100 million marketing budget, because that amount of money is only spent on a few sure-fire hits and annualised sequels.
There's a lot of great games out there that don't take off. How many games have you loved that sell less than three million units? There's probably dozens. Those games can't get made in today's games economy. So no, I don't think it's a good thing that the middle-class of games have gone away.
I'm not an expert here, but there is a huge impact from non-commercial marketing these days with things like Facebook and Twitter. If you don't spam people then you can be very useful to your customers. We were not forward-thinking in that area, but we're really driving in this space now and have more than one million Facebook fans.Such a move can certainly help the viability of AA games in the market. Many game developers, specifically in the indie scene, have learned that building a community behind a game increases the word of mouth exposure of the game and the developer. As AAA publishers shift to a community focused marketing strategy, they will be able to focus more on the games themselves.
But other forms of marketing and PR are starting to change things. The focus is changing from shoving TV ads in people's faces to actually building a community.
I don't know if there will be the same amount of TV adverts in five years' time. No one gets fired for buying TV ads, because they make sense, but soon they will start to make less and less sense. I think what could happen is a lot of money can be saved with less TV adverts and that itself, perhaps, could free up more money to take more risks and be more creative.
Moving on to the second interview, Capps feels that pricing restrictions on consoles are also part of the problem of less viable AA games.
I think another thing that's changed is the way people are willing to spend their money. Consoles need to adapt to this. Game revenue has moved to the service model and the microtransactions model. Consoles need to start being comfortable with that. They need to be able to do something where small virtual items can be sold and bought for 20¢ without a long certification process and a price approval process.On the surface, this may seem contridictory to comments Capps made earlier in the year about how $1 games are destroying the games industry. Hopefully, Capps is just seeing the folly of that view point and instead feels as he is expressing now, that console manufacturers need too allow more price flexibility. While they probably don't need to let prices drop to $1, having more available pricing options will only help some games.
Right now we're not even allowed to change the prices of virtual content. We're not even allowed to set the prices. I just don't think this protectionist approach is going to be successful in a world where the price of virtual items changes on a day-today basis.
Double-A games will never come back unless we get rid of this notion of a game being $60 or not released. The console manufacturers need to let this happen. The best way of driving developers to PC is telling them they have no freedom in what prices they can set for virtual items. It would be great to have the level of freedom that, say, Steam gives you.
As game development further moves into the realities brought by the digital age, there will be companies lost as they try to hold onto old business models that may have worked in the past but do not work today or will not work tomorrow. As Capps has shared, marketing and pricing are two aspects that will change the fastest. As gamers rely less and less on television and print media for gaming announcements and move more toward social media for that information, game publishers will need to adapt or they will be left behind. As console manufacturers continue to insist on complete control over game pricing, gamers will move toward platforms that allow for less expensive fare that provides just as much enjoyment. Times change and so do markets. Epic Games seems to be on a path toward success in this new age, how many other developers and publishers will join them?