As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Info on gaming industry?

EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm writing a final paper for a mass media college course on the video game industry. Rather than go the 'how big of an impact do games have psychologically/socially/culturally on people' route, I decided to look at the industry as whole, and how it has grown and changed since it's birth in the 70's as an offshoot of the computing industry.

I realized that while I play games a lot (I've been procrastinating playing Left 4 Dead instead of writing, actually D:) I don't know much about the industry.

So, I'm looking for as much information as I can get, specifically on how development of games has evolved from the early days to where it is now: i.e., is it harder for small developers to make/publish games games today than it was 10 years ago? I imagine there's a big difference between consoles and PC gaming here, too.

How much of the market do smaller developers/publishers represent today? And is the business model of the larger companies similar to say, the movie industry, in terms of vertical integration? (how much of the means to develop, physically produce, publish, and sell games do they own, or are at least directly involved in?)

Also, where can I get statistics on how the top games have compared in sales to their counterparts in the film/music/book industries?

Any links or info, or a shove in the right direction, would be greatly appreciated

steam_sig.png
Eupfhoria on

Posts

  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Gamasutra
    The escapist

    Listen to podcasts and research articles there. They had one about the team that worked on Pacman C.E. that touched on the differences between development today and development of yesteryear.

    SkyGheNe on
  • vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    is it harder for small developers to make/publish games games today than it was 10 years ago? I imagine there's a big difference between consoles and PC gaming here, too.
    Harder in what sense? With the rise of the internet and open source, it is easier than ever for a PC developer to download free tools, make their own game, and self-publish that game to 'net. However, with the rise of polygon counts, increasing production values, ever-heightening expectations on the part of gamers, ballooning development budgets for "AAA" titles, and the shrinking of the number of game publishers into an increasingly small, monolithic and risk-averse pool, it's harder than it used to be to get your product to market with sufficient exposure to sell enough copies to make a living at it.
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    is the business model of the larger companies similar to say, the movie industry, in terms of vertical integration? (how much of the means to develop, physically produce, publish, and sell games do they own, or are at least directly involved in?)
    Currently, for most development projects, the games industry is far more vertically integrated than the movie industry. Major studios and major game publishers work in a fairly similar fashion, so comparing the two groups won't show many differences. The big divide right now is that the movie business has a fairly vibrant indie scene. It is quite possible to take an idea that the major studios won't touch, shop it around to various independent producers and studios, and get funding to make your movie and have it seen in indie film houses and on things like the Independent Film Channel. There is a market for these lower-budget sorts of efforts, where grainy film and a lack of flashy effects is a plus, not a minus. The market for games has just started to make strides in this sort of direction in the last 5 or so years.

    On the plus side, games can be super-cheap to make. You just need a PC, a bunch of time, and some coding talent. The problem is that the market for the types of games that are cheap to make have been pretty limited in recent years. In terms of these sorts of scaled down efforts, the ones that have been financially successful in the last 5 years are mainly Bejeweled clones, or Desktop Defender clones, or something along those lines. I.e. mostly "time-waster" / "casual" type efforts, usually with extremely low levels of innovation or identifiable artistic merit.

    As I alluded to earlier, this is starting to change, but it's not an overnight thing. Shameless plug time: my girlfriend is one of the curators for a Montreal group called kokoromi. For a couple years now, they've been running an event called gamma, scheduled each year to coincide with the Montreal International Game Summit. Each year, they ask for game submissions that correspond with a specific theme, to be developed and delivered within 45 days. The goal is to spur development into directions that wouldn't otherwise be explored. This year's theme was stereoscopic 3D (think those paper 3D glasses with one red and one blue lens). Last year, it was a maximum of 65536 pixels (256x256, or 512x128), though it could be smaller; one of the most popular games at the event was 8 pixels by 8 pixels, and was very cleverly done.

    So development of these sorts of alternative efforts are starting to happen, and they're starting to find a market too, mainly by sidestepping the traditional retail distribution channels. Things like PA's own greenhouse, Valve's Steam and Stardock's Impulse are (re)opening PC game development to smaller developers. On the console side of things, Microsoft's LIVE Marketplace and Sony's Playstation Store are giving developers opportunities to get their independent efforts into the console market. Games like Braid and flOw are some examples of critical (and I believe also commercial) successes in the console space by small independent developers. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that someone would pay $60 for a boxed copy of Braid, but it's downright ludicrous to think that a game like Braid could have come to market in this day and age without purely digital distribution. Under the major game studious, something like Braid would never have gotten past the meeting where it was pitched to the money people.
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    Also, where can I get statistics on how the top games have compared in sales to their counterparts in the film/music/book industries?
    The NPD Group is widely considered the definitive source for sales metrics in the games industry. Their reports normally aren't free, though, and you usually see their numbers second-hand, filtered by games journalists and quoted in their articles or blogs. N'Gai Croal's generally excellent Level Up blog often looks at the monthly NPD numbers. That might be a source you can actually site, since it's attached to a major publication (Newsweek).

    In terms of other resources, Gamasutra is devoted entirely to "the art & business of making games", as their tagline says. There's bound to be useful articles and references on that site.

    vonPoonBurGer on
    Xbox Live:vonPoon | PSN: vonPoon | Steam: vonPoonBurGer
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It should be noted that NPD are only an indication of trends. They only apply to the US and do not include many major retailers (the most notable being Wal-Mart).

    Willeth on
    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    thanks, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for

    ...

    now, to put down the 360 controller and get to the writing :P

    Eupfhoria on
    steam_sig.png
  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I think a great start would be to research the histories of some of the older companies, Nintendo especially. Nintendo's history is very, very interesting if you've never really dug in. Like, at one point, their main customers were yakuza.

    Gihgehls on
    PA-gihgehls-sig.jpg
Sign In or Register to comment.