Originally Posted by Chris
Here is the problem with the video game industry, specifically AAA console games:
You have a model that is increasingly expensive and hit driven with each leap in technology. It's very difficult for most studios to cover cost because, despite big sales numbers, the audience still isn't big enough to sustain more than a few heavyweights. There are only a handful of studios that don't have to risk everything each time they put out a new game. This reduces risk taking both from funders (publishers) and creators (devs). The result is an industry that needs to expand its audience to sustain itself but refuses to take the risks necessary to cater to more types of people. It's stuck producing teenage power fantasies that cater to one or two demographics.
The $60 price tag is also alienating to potential new gamers but is viewed as a necessity given the audience size. The high price then puts pressure on developers to pad their games with filler content to make them longer. The time commitment of many AAA games is another alienating factor. Controls and gameplay mechanics need to be mastered before you even get into the meat of the 30+ hour experience. Give me a $15 two hour game any day of the week because, as a working adult, I really don't have much disposable time to devote to entertainment. This is a big reason why social games or games like Call of Duty and Madden are so popular - they're relatively simple and offer quick play sessions with easy rewards. Players also have a sense of when they're going to end - imagine going into a movie theatre and not knowing if you'd be there for a few hours or a few days. Existing members of the gaming community don't like to hear this because it suggests that their lives lack balance. In reality I think it just suggests they're deeply passionate about games.
The smaller the audience, the less diversity of talent you're going to get entering the industry 5-15 years down the road. That diversity is essential for long term growth because it spurs the kind of creative innovation needed to attract new players. In the film industry, they at least have a large, global, if a bit battered, independent community and its visibility continues to push people with diverse backgrounds and interests into creative roles. Granted, only a tiny fraction make it, but the result is a medium with offerings for everyone.
There is hope in the emergence of "big indies" like That Game Company (Flower, Journey) but these examples are far too few. To its credit, Sony in particular has recognised the value of pushing indies to the forefront of its online experience. Hopefully all the big players can continue to nurture indies from the small experiments to larger mid-scale games that have the potential to really grab large swathes of people. I look to possible disrupters like the Valve console and the Ouya for additional help in this arena.
And with that I announce my retirement from the video game industry!
The problem here is that you're really outlining the fundamental reason why there's market segmentation while arguing that there shouldn't be.
There's a market for $4 Android games, just like there's a market for $60 shooters. There's also a market for MMORPGS that cost much more (in the long run) Some people just move from one market to another because of circumstance. It happens to everyone sooner or later. There's nothing wrong with that. But it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with the market you're leaving behind. Sometimes those markets overadjust to trends. They're pretty worried about cheap/free games on mobile devices. But like all other innovation, eventually that gets tired and everyone starts looking for something new.
PC is my primary platform recently. I've been an Xboxcateer for the last two gens, but I'll have to wait to find out how much Kinect they try to ram down my throat this time around.