We submitted this proposal to GDC. Fingers crossed we get picked!
Session Title: What about the consumers?
In the Business and Marketing Track.
Video games we are told are an ever growing market and medium. So why is it that product windows for making a profit are six weeks after launch? Why do game studios continuously close and rise from the flames under a different name? Why don't developers demand more of their publishers? Why don't publishers demand more from the retailers? Why are developer websites horribly out of date? Why does the industry seem to do its best to ensure that the legacy of gaming is destroyed as it is created? Why was Deus Ex Human Revolution at a 75% discount six weeks after launch?
This session will give attendees a ground level view of how the average consumer will, if you are lucky stumble upon the game you invested years of your life, blood, sweat and tears into. This presentation will ask where those evil marketeers we read about every other week on MCV and CVG are when it comes to selling your product. It will also help attendees to get publishers and retailers to work for them rather than the other way around.
The intended audience is all those bloody creatives who occasionally trick themselves into thinking that they are acting like professionals whereas they're keeping the industry in a prolonged gestation built on a toxic relationship with the gaming community and each other. This discussion is intended for an audience of people who really want to make the games industry a proper industry rather than a pastiche of the other creative industries. The prerequisites are to have developed a game that was good but that utterly failed for 'inexplicable' reasons.
Session focus/ Abstract
The main focus of the talk will be about how the high street game retailers have collapsed and why that's a warning sign for the community and the industry. Popping the cork of a champagne bottle on launch day is really where the work should begin not end because as a studio celebrates bringing it's product to market as much as 90% of the intended audience is ignorant of your product. They don't read the magazines, they don't spend all day on NeoGAF or Reddit. They didn't know that there was a Bioshock let alone a Bioshock 2 and don't really want to start on what's deliberately titled as a sequel or not the original. They walk into a shop and look at the pictures on the box. At best they talk to a cashier who also hasn't heard about your game. And that's launch day.
Far too often does a developer of studio head take the soap box and blame second hand sales on killing the industry/platform/studio. Is that argument valid when you legitimately can't buy a new copy of the game a month after launch?
Of course digital distribution is the new ball in the industry's perpetual game of schoolboy football. Let's chase that until one of the industry gurus tells us we should be chasing something else (social games anyone? casual titles? Motion control?). Because we failed when there was a brick and mortar representative of gaming on the high street and when magazines at least gave the average gamer a chance. Have you looked around the town where you live recently? If I asked you where I could buy a physical copy of your latest game would you even know?
And we've got the little shit munchers right where we want them! They (the gamers and the CEO of GAME) are begging us for the next generation. They actually bought the excuses that we gave them for simply not being creative enough or taking marketing seriously. "The technology just isn't ready for what we've got". Works every time.
As for celebrating the legacy of gaming, in the UK we all work very closely with the National Video Game Archive based at the National Media Museum and we generously support the modding and hacking community who help preserve our old games because we can't be bothered. Politically we're also acting like a grown up industry, well Tom Watson likes video games doesn't he? I'm sure he does some lobbying for us.
We're also very vocal when video games get bad press (thanks Vaz!) and we don't leave it up to the amateur writers and journalists to squabble about what we do or don't think about the serious issues we largely ignore.
We've come so far since the days we'd endlessly keep reiterating (well get the community to keep reiterating) that games are a new medium and are taken very seriously as an art form, a positive medium for change and a genuine professional career path.
From the Collection: Introduction
The next thing we're getting pushed on us
I beat Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Skies on normal once.