Thursday, July 8, 2010

5 Things I'm Thinking Right Now

I've been very busy at work. Other than taking some time to write a few notes up about E3, the blog's taken a back seat right now.

However, Alice did a post on her current thoughts that I thought might make a nifty meme, so here are 5 Things I'm Thinking Right Now. (What are 5 things YOU are thinking?)

  1. The time is right for a explosion of funding models. Over the past few years, we've seen things like funding disaggregated from the other facets of publishing, we've seen government grants, Indiefund, Kickstarter, and others. But when on one hand projects can raise $10-20k on Kickstarter based only on a good pitch - and large projects can do retail pre-orders for millions, months in advance (GoW3 went on pre-sale *10* months before release!!), it seems there's a lot of play in the middle. If gamers are willing to part with $60 6+ months in advance just to ensure they get a copy on release day, are they willing to part with $100 a year in advance if it gets them an advanced copy and possible repayment from the developer? Seems there's a lot of room for play (and opportunity) in between these two extremes. (Right now pre-orders are rewarded, if at all, with a piece of DLC. Couldn't they come with a royalty or dividend check?)
  2. There's a new wave of growth coming. While down at E3, I ran into a number of industry veteran friends who've quit posts at large companies to pursue their indie interests. Then in the few weeks since E3, I've had four different friends (from very different areas of the tech industry) call me for feedback on their startup pitches. Maybe this is just symptomatic of post-recession exuberance? I don't know, but I put it to a friend that I felt like I was seeing a bunch of surfers waiting on the right wave. I'm suddenly seeing a bunch of people paddling hard to catch a wave I don't yet see, but there must be one coming.
  3. An explosion of graphics capabilities is good and bad for game devs. This deserves a much longer post, but the short version goes like this: People are becoming accustomed to sexy UI (iphone, ipad, win7, consoles - all doing UI leveraging GPU transistors to do visuals). As this trend continues, graphics vendors are going to be putting more graphics power into devices across the board (good for devs) but the 'top customer' dictating the requirements for these things is not always going to be the game developer (bad for devs?) and there will be wide variance in solutions (not just performance, sometimes DIFFERENT - like the stereo3D gap I mentioned in my E3 post).
  4. We are vastly underestimating the 'next wave of social'. Alice touched on this in her post, talking about how current social network games are only touching the basic 'slot machine/food pellet' buttons in folks. However, here are a couple things to think about: (a) There's a lot of money being poured into chasing Zynga's tail lights. Some companies will pour that into game design, production quality, and technical innovation - all of which will explode genres and offerings. (b) The console vendors have all learned a lot from MS's effort with Live. Last round we got a very basic stab at social with friends list, acheivements, messages, multiplayer, etc. Remember, this was a console shipped in 2005 and shipped before that. Pre-facebook-hysteria. The set of capabilities to trump that next time around has to be a pretty high bar. OnLive had some early glimpses of this at E3, but you could riff on this one all day. Forget Gamerscore and MS Points. Give me GamerWhuffie.
  5. This time the phone is for real. By that I mean that we've been hearing for years that "The phone will be the leading device connecting people to the Internet". To which many have replied, "well sure, if you count texting, or very basic services, or voip". The reality is that Apple reset everyone on what high-end phones are expected to do, and low-end phones will follow in short order. First-world, money-spending consumers are going to use phones more than PCs in many cases, and so there's a real market there. The Apple vs Android will look like a blip when we look at the bigger picture years from now.
OK, back to work now!


Alice said...

Yes times 5!

I'm hearing a lot of "we've missed the boat" sentiment re facebook and my response is, you are fkin kidding yes? Farmville alone has converted zilions of nongamers into bgamers. It's *amazing* news for gamemakers.

Let's do these regularly!

dwlt said...

Hey Kim, great list: added my five to the mix too:

KimPallister said...

@DWLT: Arg! no comments on yours.

I agree with your #3, and #2 is quote of the month!

On #1, Don't things like IGF, Pax10, Indiecade, etc, count? Lots of IGF finalists being courted by XBLA and publishers...

dwlt said...

Sorry - one of the cons of Tumblr I guess, although I'm going to start blogging more often again so I'll see about enabling Disqus or something.

Anyway, thanks for my quote of the month award! On #1, I suppose it is starting to happen, but I still see the publishers as being massively risk averse for no good reason. I may be slightly biased in light of what happened with Quarrel, of course, but given the Joe Danger story clearly it's not a unique case.