"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people," goes the famous quote by H.L. Mencken, which many marketers seem to take to heart. After all, if you want to maximize your reach, you ought to appeal to the lowest common denominator, right? Wrong, as Electronic Arts found out this week, as its "Sin to Win" promotion for the upcoming "Dante's Inferno" inspired an enormous amount of backlash.
I like Valve. The development company is one of the major reasons the PC market has remained a thriving platform for core gaming even in the face of dedicated gaming consoles. Valve offer indie developers and modders a platform for distribution through the Steam service. It also revitalize classic titles with similar distribution deals. So when managing director Gabe Newell talks about crowd-funding games, it might not just be a cursory side comment.
A recent release on the XBL Marketplace and Steam is making old gamers wax nostalgic -- the "Secret of Monkey Island, Special Edition." If you missed this title for whatever reason -- because you're too young to have played it, or you're a more recent arrival to the gaming culture -- it's well worth a download. As long as you don't mind a hard puzzle.
As video games continue to mature as a medium, one of the major narrative elements being included in AAA titles is the idea of your character's moral choices having an effect on the outcome of the game and the game world itself. Some of the top games of the last year have incorporated this element, including "nFamous" and "Fable 2." But there's a problem with this approach. In almost every game that features these kinds of moral decisions, the choices aren't just easy, they're totally transparent.
According to Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan, used game sales account for one-third of the total game sales in a year, coming in at over 100 million units as a $2 billion industry. He claims that game publishers shouldn't worry, though, as these sales occur outside of a new game's launch window and the practice actually drives new game sales by providing additional funds to a potential buyer. While the numbers are very interesting, I disagree with Pachter's analysis. Publishers should look at used game sales as two billion dollars of unrealized profits.