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Zeschuk: Old-school gaming in "sick market" right now, digital 'not filling gaps'
Posted: 10.04.2013 10:52 by Simon Priest Comments: 2
BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk doesn't hold much hope in the next generation of platforms as catalysts for revival. Unlike Microsoft and Sony "pull something magically out of a hat," it's the same old tricks.

The trouble is that the new market emerging is "not really that great" - only some are making a ton of money, but most don't see revenues like from the console business. Need something innovative.

Zeschuk also touched on Star Wars: The Old Republic and how it's "doing really well" as free-to-play. Subscription-based models just "aren't going to fly anymore."

"We are in a kind of sick market for old-school gaming - the traditional retail-based gaming - and as much as EA has moved into digital, the boxed stuff is not as robust. While digital is coming up fast it's not filling in the gaps," Greg Zeschuk told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview.

"...right now, there is this sort of classic innovator's dilemma where we see a new market emerging, but it's not really that great - with the mobile business, certain people make a lot of money but on the whole it's not generating as much revenue as the console business."

"Everyone's kind of holding out hope for the new consoles, but I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal. I worry a lot that unless Microsoft or Sony pull something magically out of a hat, it's pretty much the same old, same old repackaged and I don't think they're going to change the dynamic of the retail market," he continued.

"I don't see how they can - the market is what it is."

Activision and Blizzard impress Zeschuk for remaining "very disciplined and focused, but how long can they continue? They've been relying on a smaller number of titles, but no title works forever, and obviously they will be working hard to replace the games they're working on."

"So they're probably one of the shining examples of company that's done well by really doubling down on a very narrow amount of things, and trying some different stuff - I'm actually really impressed with Skylanders."

Many MMOs that used a subscription have switched to free-to-play and seen revenue rocket, and The Old Republic is no exception it would appear as they introduced the Cartel Market. Will PlayStation 4 and Xbox manage to pull the industry back to some or all of those retail glory days? Many an analyst crystal ball says so; Greg Zeschuk doesn't.
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Comments

By Voqar (SI Core Member) on Apr 10, 2013
Voqar
I don't think old school gaming is dying or dead - I just think too many companies, particularly big companies, have the wrong approach. Old school games were just GOOD games, they didn't need 1-200 million dollar budgets. You don't have to take a solid game and over glitz it into oblivion - a good game is a good game period.

How many really solid game franchises end up with sequel after sequel, while older titles that were the bedrock of early PC gaming never get touched - because they don't fit the huge console or multi million dollar budget style. Those classics fro the earlier days of PC gaming were often vastly superior games - they just don't lend themselves to multi-media blitzkrieg or to the legions of braindead console players, so they don't get redone by the big companies that own them.

All the companies that have become corporate whores that need to enrich stockholders and millionaires are pressured into making big games that sell millions of copies but that isn't necessarily what's best for gamers or old school gamers. Is it really so bad to make a scaled down title that doesn't cost 200 million and take 4 years to make and sell less units if the title is overall profitable?

Seems like joining a huge company (buyout or whatever) is the worst thing to happen to a gaming shop. Sure, you get funded, but it stifles your innovation and limits you to making games that should be sure hits, which means just rehashing what you've already done.

I'm very glad for the indie scene, which seems to get stronger all the time. THERE is where you find the innovation and there is where you find more classic games. Companies that aren't bound by corporate whoredom can make games gamers want and make more diverse games without the pressure to be the next big blockbuster. Not all games need to be the next big tech demo in the sky. It's ok for games to just have amazing gameplay, ideas, and content without the glitz. Indies have the opportunity to be old school - either reviving ideas of old, carrying on the spirit of old, or innovating without fear of reprisal.

A 15/mo sub for a mediocre game isn't something most will pay for. Make a more focused game, like say an MMORPG that isn't a glorified single player game (where people buy it, play it for few months, and bail), that has a focus - like PvE with tons of instances and raids (and no PvP since you're not losing much if a few PvP diehards don't play your game) and charge an appropriate sub, instead of arbitrarily pulling 15/mo out of a dark place (your ass).

I find F2P to be miserable. I buy my games. I'm not some punk ass looking for free entertainment who thinks the world owes me everything like some new generation gamers seem to be. F2P has the worst communities (players who don't pay are even brattier than typical internet-insulated brats). F2P breaks immersion constantly (like the honking huge cash shop thing on your screen in SWTOR - I resubbed to revisit SWTOR and that was a huge turn off).

I would rather pay a reasonable fee (either a reasonable sub or pay for the box up front and have a less obnoxious cash shop ala GW2 or TSW) to have the full game available to me without cash shop/F2P disruptions.

The other lame thing about F2P is that it generally involves a lot of pay to win. Even with GW2's lighter cash shop they essentially sell gold and take a cut such that players can buy their way thru the game. F2P shortcuts actually playing the game and earning stuff by letting losers buy their way thru games with cash. I don't want to be in gaming environments filled with gimpy losers.

F2P is one of the worst trends in gaming, IMO. And for sure "free to play" is one of the most misleading lies of a name in gaming, since nothing is free. Companies don't spend millions to make games out of charity and the backers of these games aren't just amazingly generous - they're usually money grubbers looking for ways to make MORE money, not LESS money. F2P is usually free to play crippled, or free to demo, or free to be a 3rd class citizen in a game, where you end up paying quite a bit (in an MMORPG it can easily end up more than 15/mo) to fully enjoy the game without limits.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Apr 10, 2013
herodotus
Just to throw in a tuppence worth Voqar, I do believe he was referring to "old School" in the sense of old school retail packaging as opposed to digital downloads from online stores. The good doctor has not explained himself well, methinks. Might be better at typing code than sentences.

To quote:
"We are in a kind of sick market for old-school gaming - the traditional retail-based gaming."