Great Dane Games

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This weblog is the digital playground for Anders Højsted. I'm a philosopher, indie gamedeveloper, writer & all-round renaissance man.

Nordic Game

Game IndustryPosted by Anders Højsted Thu, April 29, 2010 09:07
I'm currently at the Nordic Game conference at Malmø and quite enjoying myself.

Large parts of the copenhagen games industry is here, so it's like a family reunion.

However I have some complaints:

I'm really tired of hearing about social games (aka Facebook-games). There's a ton of money there, but the market is already dominated by some very large players (Zynga, Playfish). However the gameindustry (aka the developers) are always pressed for money, so they constantly looking for the Next Big Thing(tm).

Kristian Segerstråle, VP of Playfish did the keynote yesterday and brought out some very interesting perspectives (BTW: I'm not slagging Kristian here, he made a great presentation and seems like a nice guy).

He said if you make a succesfull game on Facebook, be prepared to be copied almost instantly. He said this as the most natural thing and this really shocked me. I care about the games that I make, I invest myself in them and try to make them unique experiences for the players. I do not like the thought that other people can copy them (aka the concepts) with impunity.

It's very costly to protect an IP-rights-wise. So the alternative would be that FB accepted their role in this and started to "police" FB. It wouldn't be hard, - just a email where you could complain if your game-concept is blatantly copied. FB could examine the case and remove the ripoff from FB (if the complaint was substantial).

Right now the lack of policing scares people away from FB because they know that if they make a succesfull game, they'll be overrun by a copy-cat-game and a massive marketing-budget a week after their release. This is - in the long run - a loss for FB; they'll be missing out on innovative titles because the developers won't be able to capitalize on their products.

The instant direct access to the players on FB means that the developers can test changes in their design very rapidly and very quickly measure if it makes a difference in userbehaviour. This is nice if you're a CFO, - make it, test it, see if it's profitable, if not, discard, if yes, keep. Rinse, repeat. Eventually you'll have the perfect challenge-reward-cycle down for maximum addiction-value, - which means a lot of money in the bank.

However, they're not measuring whether the player's experience is better, only if more people are playing their games/using more money in it. So it helps them give people exactly what they want, but doesn't really challenge people or advance the art of gamedesign.

(Unless you equate very succesfull in the marketplace (=quantitative) with good (=qualitative). You can't equate quantitative with qualitative, - in that case McDonalds would be the best restaurant in the world).

So in conclusion: FB is an oversatuated marketplace, where you can't protect your product and where metrics decide what's acceptable in design. Don't go there.


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