Hardcore Gaming's Salvation?
Quarter to Three talks to three developers about the profits and
perils of bypassing the traditional retail market
by Mark Asher
Virtua Tennis is a great game. Who doesn't love the new sports
games like Madden 2001 for the PS2? Up for some Tony Hawk skateboarding?
The console market is booming, and many PC developers like Peter
Molyneux and Lionhead have declared that it will be the mainstay
of their development future. On the PC side we're seeing more and
more grabs at the mainstream audience with real-time strategy clones
and other genres all shifting to a real-time, 3D style presentation.
Since developing games is a business that is getting to be more
and more expensive, it's understandable that developers and publishers
want to increase their potential audience. That just makes business
But if you're a long-time PC gamer, you may be a bit apprehensive
about your hobby. Who's going to deliver the next Master of Magic?
Will we ever see another game as great as X-COM? Although some games
aimed at the hardcore PC game market are in development Dreamlands,
Master of Orion 3 it's hard to not be a bit fearful that
these may be the last games like this we'll see, and in a few years
we'll be limited to ports of console games, first-person shooters,
and real-time strategy lookalikes on the PC.
There may be help on the way. Some smaller developers have turned
to direct sales as a way to increase profits and minimize cost.
If these developers can find a way to turn a profit with smaller
sales volume, it may mean that they can serve the niche gaming markets
better. We talked to three developers who have turned to the direct
sales market to get their thoughts on the subject.
Charles Moylan is behind Combat
Mission, a WWII turn-based 3D game that will be on the short
list for game of the year. He and his company, Big Time Software,
turned to Battlefront.com,
a small publisher who specializes in selling direct.
Brad Wardell, who writes a column for Quarter to Three, is part
of Stardock. They made Galactic
Civilizations and Entrepreneur, both well received games, and just
published The Corporate Machine, which they are selling direct.
Finally David Dunham is part of A
Sharp, the people who put out one of the most original games
of the year, King of Dragon Pass, which was also well received by
the hardcore gaming crowd.
Read our interview.