The game industry is the same as most industries

cookyy2k

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By the title I mean the dev/publisher relationship. The publisher puts up the cash they then makes sure the work is getting done and finally market it, in return they get the IP and the lion's share of the profits. This model is a tad unpopular (I admit I'm not a fan) due to publisher's being rather restrictive on what gets funded.

However this afternoon I had a revelation. I am a physicist and I work for a research lab, they put up the cash for my research and survival (some call it a salary) and I get to do research on pieces of equipment I could never dream of being able to afford.

Here's the thing though:

I have to pitch research proposals and only ones that have a reasonable chance of succeeding are accepted, there are tones of crazy things I could be doing but I personally can't afford it and I can see why the directors are against such wild flights into fantasy.

Any IP I generate belongs to the company not to me, so sayeth my contract. If I come up with a really good IP my company will develop it and market it, I get a (very) small fraction of any profits generated.

If I was failing to meet any research goals or the peer reviewed output from my research was widly panned I'd be unlikely to be trusted with a big project or budget again and probably, eventually got rid of.

All these things are the dev/publisher relationship. I am the dev doing my research with hopefully good products (research papers) and my company are the publishers paying for the research, judging the risks and holding any/all IP.

With this revelation I kinda can't hate publishers for a lot of what I have in the past, hell I'm very happy in the same arrangement as the devs. I'd be nowhere in my chosen field without the vast budget of the lab behind me, they add extra credit to my work also with the paper coming from a well respected lab. I could try "indie" science but that wouldn't get me far because I have no money for equipment. Even theoretical physics research is generally done on huge, expensive super computers.

I still get to hate publishers for all the DRM and crap though, none of that is forced upon me and thank god for jim that!
 

Jedi-Hunter4

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Its just people not understanding the real world, the majority of people just carry out what I would call "task jobs" where you have a task that is your job and that's what you do day in day out, never having to concern yourself with funding, budget etc, no appreaciation of what goes on in the grand scheme, company's are simply "greedy" etc etc.

Same with why the INSTANT reaction to lay off's is always "X amount of jobs have been lost" never "future of the company secured and far more jobs secured due to unfortunate sacrifice".

If people were given the choice every year at work of you can choose :

project 1 and you are guarantee a good pay check, the majority of our customers will be happy.

project 2 if your successful you will get the same pay check as project 1, but you have a 2/3 chance of failure which will range from loosing your job to your pay check being negative to not getting paid. But if you are successful you will make more customers happy but only for a couple of years at most, then if you want to keep them happy you will have to make the same risk again.

Would anyone consistently stick their neck on the line year after year, for from the company's view a little more customer satisfaction? when at worst they could loose money on the venture? I don't think so.

I'm an Engineer so I'm in the same boat as you without big money financing I can't do anything, an yer it would be nice if someone would indulge me to do a non-profit project or a very low gain one, but in the real world people have to make money.
 

cookyy2k

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You see I only just had this epiphany today while at work, I not linked the two before and it just popped into my head from nowhere that it is the case. Oh and boy would I love the bean counters and directors to just indulge me for a couple of months but alas we have a job to do and a budget to stick to.
 

GonzoGamer

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I think most people understand how it works: the publisher invests in the ip which couldn't be funded & marketed by the devs alone.
I think the problem people have is that (like most industries) the big corporations that do all the funding aren't interested in adding value to the industry but just looting as much as they can from it.
 

cookyy2k

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GonzoGamer said:
I think most people understand how it works: the publisher invests in the ip which couldn't be funded & marketed by the devs alone.
I think the problem people have is that (like most industries) the big corporations that do all the funding aren't interested in adding value to the industry but just looting as much as they can from it.
I understand that, it's just like a lot of people I never equated it to anything in my experience, I had the "damn publishers ripping off the dev's IPs and ruining the industry" outlook until I equated it with my experience and then it just seemed perfectly normal. Maybe I got caught up in all the publisher bashing that goes on or something, anyway as I stated I can still hate them for DRM, microtransactions and being EA (that last one may be kinda specific to one publisher)
 

Jedi-Hunter4

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cookyy2k said:
You see I only just had this epiphany today while at work, I not linked the two before and it just popped into my head from nowhere that it is the case. Oh and boy would I love the bean counters and directors to just indulge me for a couple of months but alas we have a job to do and a budget to stick to.
Lol yer I'm primarily a Motorsport engineer, although I do, do R&D work, generally out side of F1 and MotoGP for the most part racing teams are considered non-profit advertising ventures, so you can imagine the barrel of laugh's we have trying to get even a little more money!

Race I'm taking part in June, we have a team of 11 Engineers, we have access to manufacturing facility's and material (within reason ie aluminum, steel, basic stuff etc) out side of that we have the whopping budget of £2000....... not exactly allot, been told by those in charge their not even expecting us to get a win as the budget is just not there, little bit depressing but there you go, best we can hope for is to do better than expected, maybe get a bigger chunk of the pie next year.

GonzoGamer said:
I think most people understand how it works: the publisher invests in the ip which couldn't be funded & marketed by the devs alone.
I think the problem people have is that (like most industries) the big corporations that do all the funding aren't interested in adding value to the industry but just looting as much as they can from it.
True but that's what industry essentially is, it's open markets that are the only thing that in 99% or industry's keep them honest and force them to keep moving and make improvements, so that the competition does not take over. Company's 1st priority is ensuring the investors who believed in them took the risk with their money are rewarded and that their employees get a paycheck they and their unions are happy with. The consumer will always be second to profitability, that's just life, the best we can hope for is a close balance.
 

Atmos Duality

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Jedi-Hunter4 said:
True but that's what industry essentially is, it's open markets that are the only thing that in 99% or industry's keep them honest and force them to keep moving and make improvements, so that the competition does not take over. Company's 1st priority is ensuring the investors who believed in them took the risk with their money are rewarded and that their employees get a paycheck they and their unions are happy with. The consumer will always be second to profitability, that's just life, the best we can hope for is a close balance.
That's the sad imperfection in market balances, and it only gets thrown further out of balance the larger demand becomes.
Sounds kind of backward, but the larger the general market, the more pressured the industry is to find a common model (homogenization of games and game mechanics, with distinction being forced more through enhanced aesthetics, and even that has become highly similar).

Additionally, with excess demand, supply gets more leeway to leverage itself (where the "Vocal Minority" gets trumped by the "Silent Majority"), which is what we've been seeing with this needlessly-restrictive DRM business.

The saving grace in all of this, is that the newer, smaller firms are going to be pressured to innovate more since they lack the market presence and leverage of the larger firms.
In a creative medium, this is where you will find business driven more by creative interest than profit-seeking exploitation.
(Fear not, hipsters. Economics agrees with you...mostly)
 

Jedi-Hunter4

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Atmos Duality said:
Jedi-Hunter4 said:
True but that's what industry essentially is, it's open markets that are the only thing that in 99% or industry's keep them honest and force them to keep moving and make improvements, so that the competition does not take over. Company's 1st priority is ensuring the investors who believed in them took the risk with their money are rewarded and that their employees get a paycheck they and their unions are happy with. The consumer will always be second to profitability, that's just life, the best we can hope for is a close balance.
That's the sad imperfection in market balances, and it only gets thrown further out of balance the larger demand becomes.
Sounds kind of backward, but the larger the general market, the more pressured the industry is to find a common model (homogenization of games and game mechanics, with distinction being forced more through enhanced aesthetics, and even that has become highly similar).

Additionally, with excess demand, supply gets more leeway to leverage itself (where the "Vocal Minority" gets trumped by the "Silent Majority"), which is what we've been seeing with this needlessly-restrictive DRM business.

The saving grace in all of this, is that the newer, smaller firms are going to be pressured to innovate more since they lack the market presence and leverage of the larger firms.
In a creative medium, this is where you will find business driven more by creative interest than profit-seeking exploitation.
(Fear not, hipsters. Economics agrees with you...mostly)
Yer I agree with you. What would be ideal I think really is specialist studio's, kind of like certain music labels only produce certain types of music. I don't think there are truly any publishers out there who go for the more niche market of vocal gamer that you get on these kind of forums.

When somebody realizes that they can make more money catering for 100% of a niche market (although I would guess still fairly substantial), rather than making a AAA FPS and sharing the market with half a dozen other huge games, I think most people would find they can have the best of both worlds. How to encourage or instigate something like that I have no idea, unless you know richard branson of the gaming world sprouts up.

One issue I would say though is I've often found, people demand top notch voice acting, story and charter interaction, to take them into that world and then slag off a game because the graphics are not up to scratch or the combat is not spot on. It's a simple fact that not every game is going to be perfect. So many times even amoungst my friends I've heard someone complaining "the poor graphics just made it unplayable" an it's like "but 2 weeks ago you were complaining about the shit story in COD, the story in that was great", if you get what I mean, people expect it ALL, they want the production and visuals of a triple AAA title as well an innovation and story telling, games are made on a budget, not everything can be polished to perfection.
 

GonzoGamer

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Jedi-Hunter4 said:
GonzoGamer said:
I think most people understand how it works: the publisher invests in the ip which couldn't be funded & marketed by the devs alone.
I think the problem people have is that (like most industries) the big corporations that do all the funding aren't interested in adding value to the industry but just looting as much as they can from it.
True but that's what industry essentially is, it's open markets that are the only thing that in 99% or industry's keep them honest and force them to keep moving and make improvements, so that the competition does not take over. Company's 1st priority is ensuring the investors who believed in them took the risk with their money are rewarded and that their employees get a paycheck they and their unions are happy with. The consumer will always be second to profitability, that's just life, the best we can hope for is a close balance.
Yes, any business needs to make a profit for it's investor(s). However, capitalism is more than just that. The business should also add value to the industry as a whole. A lot of people make excuses for publishers (and any big corporation) by saying "they're supposed to try and make as much money as possible" but when that's done at the cost of shrinking the consumer base or minimizing the progress of the industry's output, it's no longer capitalism but looterism. It not only degrades the progress of the industry but in a short time in can also degrade the profitability. Shit, that mindset already crashed the game industry once.
Sure its no different from any other industry now a days but that doesn't make it right.
 

Jedi-Hunter4

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GonzoGamer said:
Jedi-Hunter4 said:
Yes, any business needs to make a profit for it's investor(s). However, capitalism is more than just that. The business should also add value to the industry as a whole. A lot of people make excuses for publishers (and any big corporation) by saying "they're supposed to try and make as much money as possible" but when that's done at the cost of shrinking the consumer base or minimizing the progress of the industry's output, it's no longer capitalism but looterism. It not only degrades the progress of the industry but in a short time in can also degrade the profitability. Shit, that mindset already crashed the game industry once.
Sure its no different from any other industry now a days but that doesn't make it right.
But if you look a video game sales overall life time, the industry has grown and grown, even though individual publishers sales have slumpt, I'm fairly sure (can't be bothered to find a source, so feel free to correct me if i'm wrong) that overall the industry is still growing, as it's extended it's spectrum, hell you will find more than casual gaming OAP's enjoying game's on their smart phones. The industry in terms of it's scope has exploded in the last 5 years, so I can't see much evidence that publishers are harming the industry as a whole.
 

GonzoGamer

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Jedi-Hunter4 said:
GonzoGamer said:
Jedi-Hunter4 said:
Yes, any business needs to make a profit for it's investor(s). However, capitalism is more than just that. The business should also add value to the industry as a whole. A lot of people make excuses for publishers (and any big corporation) by saying "they're supposed to try and make as much money as possible" but when that's done at the cost of shrinking the consumer base or minimizing the progress of the industry's output, it's no longer capitalism but looterism. It not only degrades the progress of the industry but in a short time in can also degrade the profitability. Shit, that mindset already crashed the game industry once.
Sure its no different from any other industry now a days but that doesn't make it right.
But if you look a video game sales overall life time, the industry has grown and grown, even though individual publishers sales have slumpt, I'm fairly sure (can't be bothered to find a source, so feel free to correct me if i'm wrong) that overall the industry is still growing, as it's extended it's spectrum, hell you will find more than casual gaming OAP's enjoying game's on their smart phones. The industry in terms of it's scope has exploded in the last 5 years, so I can't see much evidence that publishers are harming the industry as a whole.
Many (gamers at least) would argue that the mobile game/app business is a separate market of it's own. Yes, that's exploded but I don't think any gamers want the whole industry geared towards it.
The ps3 & 360 still aren't anywhere near the market saturation of the ps2 when it was as old.
And if you're going by game sales, it actually slumped by a few billion last year.
 

Atmos Duality

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GonzoGamer said:
Many (gamers at least) would argue that the mobile game/app business is a separate market of it's own. Yes, that's exploded but I don't think any gamers want the whole industry geared towards it.
The ps3 & 360 still aren't anywhere near the market saturation of the ps2 when it was as old.
And if you're going by game sales, it actually slumped by a few billion last year.
The mobile/lightweight-app "gaming" scene is booming precisely because the smartphone business is booming.
I'd say it has very little to actually do with "Core/Heavyweight App" gaming.

The markets do not appear to cross into each other much if at all. Off the top of my head, Plants vs Zombies is the only game that spans everything.. beyond the usual lightweight perennials of Tetris, Bejeweled, and Playing Card/Gambling sims you can find on every platform.

Personally, I'm guessing that independent titles will rise up to the release of the PS4 (and assuming no crippling DRM and the Xbox "Durango". After that, it's a big crapshoot. After a year of bad launch titles (I think I can safely claim the launch is going to suck, based on the last 14 years or so) we will see how quickly the next-gen consoles take off, and if that stops the cycle of erosion and stagnation eating away at the AAA right now.

"What about the WiiU?"
Yeah, what about it. It's out right now, and it isn't doing much of anything.
 

Smooth Operator

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Well it is a necessary evil to get some things done but that doesn't make it fair, this is cutthroat business and the guy with money is looking to exploit your time of need, writing off the IP is in fact the shittest deal you can make and possibly tying the paycheck to metacritic on top.

Which is why devs should always consider alternative sources, otherwise all that hard work belongs to someone who really doesn't give a toss where it ends up.
 

alphamalet

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If you are a physicist, which I am assuming means that you are a smart guy/girl, then why are you only having this epiphany now? This is how the business has always worked. The reason people get pissy is because some (like me) will argue that publisher play it TOO SAFE with their investments; this means a lot of derivative games.
 

Iron Lightning

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You're right but fuck calling gaming an industry. It's an artistic medium not driven entirely for profit or at least that oughtn't be the case. Films, books, and music are all profitable but they ain't industries like cars, furniture, and electronics.
 

bug_of_war

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Iron Lightning said:
You're right but fuck calling gaming an industry. It's an artistic medium not driven entirely for profit or at least that oughtn't be the case. Films, books, and music are all profitable but they ain't industries like cars, furniture, and electronics.
Where the hell have you been living? Have you literally NEVER heard anyone call the artistic medium of films and music the 'film industry' or the 'music industry'? Seriously, just because it's an art form does not mean it is not a part of an industry. Films are an industry because you have a bunch of people with big pockets investing in the creation and distribution of an object that a vast majority of people want and are willing to pay for. Films are an industry, so is music, and games, so you really missed hitting the nail on the head here buddy.
 

CrystalShadow

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I can see the point you're making, and I understand that it might seem like a revelation.

To me though it's to be expected really. I hate it. But I understand it's part of the system.
It's unlikely to change unless society as a whole moves away from capitalism.
(And even then, it really depends on what would replace it. Communism had exactly the same issues, it's just no longer a profit-driven corporation determining things, but some government department. I recall interviews with a famous Russian author about what it was like to deal with such a department. The reasons they would let you do one thing rather than another were different, but the end result was pretty similar.)


What would it take to change this though? My guess is it cannot be changed unless people can literally survive doing nothing at all, but even then you'd still be restricted to spending your time on projects that don't require costly equipment.
Which, depending on the economics of it, could still be a lot, but I suspect no matter how much you can get for 'free', there will still be certain things that require so many resources to do that someone will try to limit access to it.

(I can't imagine something like the LHC being built just to satisfy the curiosity of one person, for instance.)

Meanwhile, a game that requires the efforts of 100 people to make will also probably never be something people just do.
I mean, sure, if nobody had to worry about whether they could feed themselves tomorrow, and could get any equipment they needed (within reason), it could happen in theory.
But can you actually imagine 100 people that can all agree on what the end result should look like? Without the pressure of actually needing to get paid, why would most of those people agree to work on something that essentially reflects someone else's vision?

Still, at times I wish we could experiment with a system where nobody actually needs to do anything to survive, and see if the results were actually as unproductive as they seem...

(Or put differently, what would people choose to do with their time if they didn't actually HAVE to do anything in particular just to survive?)