Mark H. Walker writes a great column at GamePen.
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Great column Mark !
I fear the same is true in computer gaming. The gaming news in inundated with press releases extolling the next great massively multiplayer game. Yet only a small fraction (less the 20%) of gamers spend more time gaming online than off. Reviewers hail the length of biblically proportioned games such as Baldur’s Gate, yet as the gaming community matures, marries, and has kids, they will have less and less time for gaming, and hence long games. The press harps on replay ability, but with the volume of yearly releases no one has time to replay a game’s opening FMV, let alone the entire endeavor.
The industry needs to take a hard look at its audience. Despite each year’s influx of young gamers, the community is aging. Many older gamers lack the time for MMORPGs, heinously long campaigns/quests, or give a damn about replaying a finished game. Publishers, stop pouring your money into the minority before the majority wises up and moves on.
Two paragraphs and a screenshot per page. I'll pass, thank you very much.
I thought Sharky's was bad.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 01:16 pm:
I would be interested in finding out where those numbers come from. I know *my* perceptions of the industry are biased heavily by my personal observations and play habits. A good source for stats like this would be a great tool.
I have some issues with the subject matter personally, particularly when it comes to game length, but that's another topic. (heh)
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 01:58 pm:
Oh fine, things are a bit slow at work, so here goes:
On the one hand, I am personally inclined to agree with MW's stance on the MMORPG's, but the economics speak for themselves. If people don't have time to play them, the games will no longer be able to support themselves in the marketplace. Apparently, there *are* people who are willing to invest the time and money into these products. Because of the economic impact these games have on the industry, they warrant a good deal of the attention they have been given. I don't care for MMOG's, and from the tone of the column I take it that MW doesn't either. It quite possible that *we* are in the minority, at least from an economic standpoint.
I also find it amusing that MW complains about lengthy cRPGs and then goes on to extoll the virtues of PoR2. This reinforces my belief that game length is a weak metric, when really gameplay should be emphasized. I fall into the category of increasingly-time-limited gamers. I don't want shorter games; I want games with a high fun/time ratio. For example, I had no qualms playing through BG2 multiple times. Yet, I found it extremely tedious winding my way through Arcanum. Why is this? Both are isometric cRPGs of similar scope. I would argue that the difference was pacing and its overall effect upon the fun/time ratio. As shallow as it sounds, graphics were part of this. BG2 has bright, high-res backgrounds filled with visual details and recognizeable landmarks. Arcanum has subdued, low-res backgrounds built from generic tilesets. The end result is that my BG2 time was spent adventuring, while my Arcanum time was spent scrolling around the map trying to get my bearings. How do replayability and length fit into this? If I'm having fun, I want the experience to last longer. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Essentially, I play games to have fun, but I don't have unlimited amounts of time. If a game isn't fun, I'm not going to spend time playing it. I no longer play MMOGs because I didn't get enough enjoyment for the amount of time I put in. Still, there must be someone out there playing those games. "Me too" games and sequels don't appear for no reason at all. Publishers will continue to pour money into the minority if that's where the money is. In the meantime, I'm going to go play Flashpoint.
By Mark H. Walker on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 09:53 pm:
Alan, you have good points. Of course publishers are going to go where the money is. This is, after all, a business. MMORPGs offer longevity which makes financial sense. Not only does the gamer pay for the intial product, but also monthly membership fees. That can make a smaller intial sale turn more cash than a bigger single player intial sale. Plus game publishers don't have to worry about returns, stocking cost or shipping on monthly membership fees.
Barbi makes a great point for the older gamers. Game publishers appeared to be ignorant of the young girl market before the release of Barbi Fashion Designer. By the same token I don't think they are exactly on top of things when it comes to the aging of the computer games market.
And BTW, my column isn't just on GamePen. It's a syndicated column that appears in several sites such as Gamepen, Electric Playground, Gamesurge, Video Game Nation, Inside PS2 to name some (if not all ;-)). If you have a favorite site that you'd like to see my column on write them and ask them to add it. As far as the screen shot comment. The column actually contains NO (yeah, that's right) screen. Gamepen added those.
Thanks to everyone for reading.
By Bub (Bub) on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 10:02 pm:
hearty congratulations on self-syndication. An impressive, and smart, feat in this market to be sure.
By Mark Walker on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 04:57 am:
We all have something we would like to say about the industry, and the GG is just my method. I hope that a;ll is well with you.