So it’s hardly news that there’s a large audience of ‘reward-driven gamers’ out there polishing off one title after another just for the trophies and achievements – rewards in themselves are a great idea that give a competitive extra dimension to a game. Who can resist the addicting quality of collecting those digital gems? But what puzzles me is why the games industry haven’t noticed that they’re sitting on a marketing gold mine…
It may be an abstract accomplishment but it’s no walk in the park trying to unlock Platinum trophies on my PS3, and when I do, I feel as though I’ve really accomplished the ultimate goals of the game, and enjoyed it more thoroughly. It’s a feeling unique to chasing those digital carrots, a feeling of having done the game creators proud with the time and effort (and of course my money) I’ve put into their product. How about a little recognition for that? If people find abstract rewards like trophies and gamer points so alluring, think how irresistible they would be if there was something concrete to strive for beyond perhaps a measly t-shirt or piece of merchandise for a thousand or more gamer points .
One such idea might be to promote a competition across PSN and XBLA that offers players who can unlock certain trophies a discount on their next game purchase, provided they beat other players to the prize first. The buzz around the competition would generate more social media activity, and in turn promote sales for the next games upon their release.
And why not introduce this at the retail stage of the supply chain? Retailers could generate a large consumer base through accepting PSN and XBLA accounts on their websites, creating a revenue stream via E-mail marketing and advertisements, and fostering a more active and involved gaming community who really feel like the games industry value their time.
Portal 2 won the BAFTA for best game, but what will escape next from the labs at Valve?
This generation we are seeing more multiplayer and co-op games than ever before. As noted by Syndicate producer Jeff Gamon, it’s rapidly becoming something that’s expected. There is much debate about whether this is good thing - I for one see a strong future for the development of multiplayer platforms.
Multiplayer accounts for the overwhelming popularity of games like Counter Strike, Call of Duty and Battlefield, which give the player a huge variety of opponents and challenges. Fans endlessly play until the next sequel, meaning far better value for money than a single player game that is played once, completed and left to gather dust.
Adding two perspectives in Portal 2’s co-op made an already challenging and engaging game that bit more enjoyable, adding a whole new competitive dimension to the strategic puzzle game, and not a headshot or melee in sight.
Multiplayer gaming has developed strong communities, turning games such as Call of Duty into a sport, but there is one flaw - I fear that multiplayer games as a whole are too restrictive in their gameplay type, which focuses purely on killing opponents, with little deviation from this. This is where the creators of Portal have the perfect opportunity to break the mould.
For instance, I would love to see a Team Fortress style Portal game featuring teams of six human test subjects pitted against robots. Teams of humans would compete to beat GLaDOS’ brutal testing rooms which the robot teams defend. This could be a brand new take on multiplayer games that focuses on strategy and problem-solving, racing the clock and other players to solve complex puzzles, like a chess game as opposed to a straightforward point-and-shoot battle.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good shooter, but isn’t it time for something that pushes the envelope? Like many other gamers, I want to be challenged and play games that really get my brain cogs turning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who longs for an action packed game that focuses less on straightforward violence but is still great FPS entertainment.
By Johnny Khakh
The sale of video games solely through digital platforms offers so much room for cutting costs and making true advancements in the games industry – it’s practical to think that saving the games industry money will benefit both the company and the consumer, ultimately helping developers to focus expenses on making and delivering better products faster.
Ultimately, digital distribution will allow a greater variety of games at more convenience - there are many games I haven’t seen or heard of in stores - and cutting costs on distribution, warehouses and the many other expenses of physical retail. There is also the added benefit of it being better for the environment, minimising transport and packaging.
If we, the games consumer, keep on going to retailers for used games, games developers will have no choice but to continue pricing their products unreasonably high. This, in turn, forces the industry into a ‘Catch-22’ situation, where we turn to buying games indirectly and second-hand due to their lower price, cheating the developers out of their well-earned revenue.
Here’s a thought- what if gamers took it upon themselves to give a little more back to the industry they love?
One of the main reasons people go to retailers for games is the option to rent before purchasing, but for the time being there are options for those who don’t want to commit to buying a full game upfront- Playstation Plus allows for an hour’s play for quite a few new titles, and there are always demos. Games developers could improve this by offering better demos and investing in schemes such as voucher codes that let you rent a game digitally for a set period of days.
“But my broadband isn’t capable of downloading games digitally,” I hear you object. So your broadband may not be up to scratch now- give it a few years and if you’re still getting the same service, I’d be very surprised. In Japan, the average internet speed is currently around 68MBs –more than 100MBs at its optimum- and some Scandinavian countries are not far behind.
I agree with problems such as limited hard drive size – console makers should be taking this into consideration when providing the option for DLC. The fact that DLC even exists is to pick up the extra revenue where developers failed to profit from the game alone. Gameplay quality often suffers as a consequence of missing out on DLC. The problem could be eliminated and developers wouldn’t need to chase the extra revenue lost through the physical retail process if entire games were sold digitally on first purchase.
If the games industry is going to make the leap to fully digital distribution, they will have to provide us with better hard drives, ideally between 500GB to 1TB, and perhaps a separate SSD to mediate and run all programs and content through, as the master drive and storage on the 1TB slave drive. It is an option that is feasible for the near future.
It’s pure speculation that next-gen Playstation and X-box will not be capable of running older generation games. The digitalisation of content will make it easier for backwards compatibility, eliminating the consumer’s need to continuously re-purchase games in the latest format. In these environmentally conscious times, shouldn’t we as consumers be discouraging the needless production of material things? Fair enough, there will always be the collector, but our continual hoarding can only be symptomatic of a lack of ecological awareness. In a world where there is more content than ever before, film and publishing industries are increasingly turning to databanks and digitalised alternatives such as Netflix, ITunes and e-reader software. Why shouldn’t the games industry follow suit?
Inevitably, the stalemate argument is that we’ll never know if prices will actually drop if we went entirely digital, until we take the risk. But sometimes, risks are worth taking. In some instances, industries need middlemen to help facilitate and promote growth for companies who don’t have the business instinct to create it themselves, but in this case, the videogames industry are always pushing new ideas and new tech demos, and as a relatively new industry have never been shy of innovation. But the problem is, investors are reluctant because they believe facts and figures from often misleading and underfunded market research that would have them believe that the next ‘Call Of Duty’, ‘Battlefield’ or the next ‘Final Fantasy’ is all that the majority of gamers want, and not anything new.
I believe that the burgeoning industry of video games has as much potential as any art form to surprise, innovate and enrich lives. According to recent research, children who play video games have been shown to develop better problem-solving and other cognitive skills- a far cry from the unfounded claims of videos triggering violence that were in the media a decade ago. There have even been shown to be health-care therapy applications. It seems we are slowly dawning to the positive potential of what we have created. Video games are, at their best, an expression of human creativity and ingenuity- who knows where they could take us if we give them the support and the resources they deserve?
“Creating something from nothing” - Jack Donaghy
If I could name anyone as my professional idol, it would have to be Alec Baldwin’s character ‘Jack Donaghy’ from the US TV show 30 Rock. As a fictional executive of broadcasting company NBC, Jack is funny, charming, scrupulous, and a constant powerhouse of ideas to innovate his market - throughout the show he analyses and determines trends and integrates products to further the company’s growth in creative and surprising ways.
Know Your Product - After years of market research, he finally perfected his ‘greatest triumph’ in the form of the Trivection oven, a product he created at General Electric (GE).
Know Your Audience - Jack was the catalyst for bringing Tracy Jordan onboard the NBC sketch show The Girlie Show, and ensured the show’s name was changed to TGS with Tracy Jordan to appeal to a wider target audience.
Quote Statistics - Jack quotes statistics to manipulate others, showing that doing thorough research keeps him one step ahead of his competitors. (Even if it is to tell a bald colleague “did you know that people with a full head of hair earn 17% more than their bald counterparts?” in order to negotiate his salary.)
Problem-Solve - Jack uses his initiative in pitching new ideas to gain further development on projects. The network was lost for ideas for a new show, so he quickly came up with a new reality show called ‘Child Health Flight’ in which a presenter reveals to passengers they are being flown by a 6 year old pilot.
Always Dress Well - Jack’s dress sense keeps him well equipped for professional situations, so that he can never be caught off guard in being presentable. When questioned as to why he was wearing a tuxedo, Jack scoffed “it’s after six! What am I, a farmer?”
By Johnny Khakh