Welcome to another installment of Beyond Co-Op, where we look "beyond co-op" and bring you some of the gaming news that doesn't necessarily revolve around cooperative play. This week, we have an assortment of topics and quotes that revolve around the event of E3 (not necessarily this one) and of the gaming industry’s predicted future.
The Importance of E3 Has Diminished
CEO of Ngmoco (Japanese mobile social giant DeNA's subsidiary), Neil Young, has many years of experience with the gaming industry, even being employed at EA for many years beforehand. While many in the industry feel that E3 is more important for growth now than ever, Young feels quite the opposite. Quite the contrary, he feels that Ngmoco’s rival, Gree, is wasting a whole lot of money to hold a large booth at the venue.
In an interview with Young, GamesIndustry International asked Young about his take on the modern E3 and the game industry in general. Here’ s a small clip of what he had to say about the upcoming E3 show:
Q: What is the relevance of E3 to the game industry these days? Has it diminished?
Neil Young: Yeah, I think it's diminished massively. E3 was invented as a place where all the buyers could come and see the products that the publishers thought were going to be the big hits. That led to an arms race of publishers building bigger and bigger booths, with more and more elaborate displays to try and influence the opinion of buyers that their products were their big products. That's the core of E3, and then surrounding E3 there are these two other dimensions. One is the press that gets generated around it, and you could argue that's a benefit to consumers, and I think it is interesting to customers, but really the awards and what-have-you are just another way to pre-validate products before their release. The third dimension is the business that gets done in meeting rooms that are off the show floor, and that has varying degrees of value.
If I think historically, when I was at Electronic Arts, the most value I personally would get out of E3 was meeting with colleagues from around the world and getting the opportunity to spend focused time with them, and also to stay connected to people in the industry. I think as we move more and more to digital distribution, to mobile and mobile operating systems, and we move away from the packaged-goods centric business, I think the relevance of E3 diminishes and will continue to diminish.
Source: GamesIndustry International
Console Gaming Will Continue to Decrease Over the Next Few Years
After 8 years as CEO of Digital Chocolate, Trip Hawkins has finally stepped down from the position last week. Hawkins, originally the founder of EA, talked with Games Industry International about how the end of the console age might be here in the next 10 years and his recent career changes. Here’s what he had to say about the decline of console gaming:
Q: The thing about the industry is that so many shifts have happened, and another one is coming up. What do you think is going to happen with the next generation of consoles?
Trip Hawkins: I think the console business is going to continue to shrink. It'd be like looking at the aircraft industry in 1920 or 1930 and saying, "What's going to be the ratio between privately-owned aircraft and passenger commercial aircraft?" Obviously in the first couple of decades of flying it was all personally owned aircraft, and you couldn't be in a plane unless you knew how to fly one. It's a little bit like the hard-core console gamers. The same thing with cars; the first couple of decades with cars you had to know how to crank the thing on the front end, know how to drive a stick-shift and do your own repairs. You just get to a certain point with technologies where the mass-market wants things to be much more turnkey and convenient.
Even the hard-core gamer now, many of them prefer the social value of playing casual games that are on social platforms. They also prefer the convenience of cloud-based games where they don't have to be locked into one machine where they did the download or the install. They prefer short sessions. That's where Zynga's customer base has come from. I think Zynga probably has 1 million of their 250 million customers that generate most of the revenue, and those are the customers that have migrated over, that used to play Grand Theft Auto for $100 in their basement, and now they're spending $1000 in Mafia Wars and Zynga Poker.
And that migration is going to continue, I think there's going to be a pretty healthy supply of these migrating gamers, and I've started to refer to them as dolphins, because they're basically behaving like whales except they're doing it in casual/social games. If you think about the difference between a dolphin and a whale, a dolphin is sleek and agile and very social and playful, and those are all characteristics of these kind of gamers.
Q: The fundamental change is that before you could sell someone a console game for $60 and that was all you could get out of them no matter how much they liked it, and now if there are more things to buy your top end is no longer limited.
Trip Hawkins: That's really key, because in all of these games a very high percentage of players will always only play for free, and in really high-volume games there will be a little bit of ad revenue, but the most important core skill that the industry has to improve is how to get gaming time to go deeper into integration with a virtual goods economy, and how to use good principles of merchandising and promotion in that economy, and get customers excited about spending more money.
I honestly believe that the customers that spend a lot of money on virtual goods are very satisfied customers, because they're basically king of the world. There are consumers today who will go out and spend more money to upgrade their car to a luxury model that will cost an extra $20,000 and they may still feel like a loser even with the hot car. Somebody who's even spending as little as a thousand dollars in a game is going to get an incredible dominant feeling about how well they're doing in that game. Socially, people want to drive luxury cars, and they want to have other status elements to improve their social opportunities.
Source: GamesIndustry International
Wii U vs Ipad at E3
When you look at the new Wii U controller, you’d think that it looks coincidentally similar to the iPad for a reason. Well, Morgan Webb, co-host of “X-Play” thinks that, since the two already share many common elements to their hardware, Nintendo will have a tough road ahead of them to convince us that they don’t. He went so far as to criticize Nintendo for sticking to the Wii branding for their next gen console.
Nintendo has an uphill battle this year. It’s really a branding problem. I think a lot of people are still confused about the Wii U. They’re going to have a hard time convincing people that this could be a better gaming experience than the iPad.
What do you think? Do you feel as though Nintendo might be making a huge mistake for using another “Wii” model? Either way, we'll see what Nintendo has to say come tomorrow's E3 presentation.