Forbes article: "Casual Gold Bust"

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Allen Varney, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Allen Varney

    Allen Varney
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    Apologies if this is a dupe, but I can't find any posts here about this Forbes article by Mary Jane Irwin, "Casual Gold Bust," posted August 1 on their website:
    Obviously this isn't news to anyone on this forum -- nowadays. What's especially disheartening about this dismal situation is that it was so utterly predictable. I, among many others, predicted it in my February 2006 Escapist article "Attack of the Parasites," which prompted personal attacks on my character and motives here on this forum.

    By the way, this exact same stupid story is playing out again right now on Facebook. Anyone care to attack me for saying so this time?
     
  2. KNau

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    The same thing is also being played out on XBLA and the iPhone. Dare I say, it'll happen in the Flash game sponsorship market, too. You can't stop a goldrush, even if you can predict one.

    In the end Darwinism rewards diversity and the weak drop into the abyss, as it should be.
     
  3. Jack Norton

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    There's a BIG typo in the article:

    developers get 30-40% of revenues. Otherwise, would be too good :D

    Personally I'm much more scared by the increasing "open but closed" market like iPhone, XBLA, etc. For the following reasons:
    - they get 30+% commission and you don't have any alternative (which in the case of people selling only directly like me, is already a lot compared to BMT/Plimus fees).
    - you don't have any way to do marketing. No SEO or such things, since people find the games all on iTune/Creators club.

    About the crisis on casual market, don't know. Doesn't seem to be real, even just looking only at my reflexive affiliate sales... :rolleyes:

    /conspiracy mode on
    Maybe "someone" wants everyone to believe that there's crisis so all players should move to iPhone/XBLA/Wii etc? ;)
     
  4. MindToy Games

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    "...but the portals want very cutesy, water-downed content."

    So true!

    I submitted my game Voyager (it was my game at the time; URL to it is here: http://stormcloudcreations.com/voyager.htm) to a few portals; BFG among them, and got several "game is too complex for our audience" responses. The fact that I tested the game with a number of younger "non-gamers" (and it had the graphics to compete somewhat with some of the games on there) and they learned how to play it quickly didn't matter, and the game really isn't THAT complex. Why not try something new and different from the Hidden Object/Match 3 thing?

    Made me sorta sad, and the future of the casual game industry looked pretty suspect at that point.
     
  5. Sybixsus

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    Or put another way, you don't *need* to do marketing, and that 30% you give Apple ( I'm not including Creators Club because I don't think it's directly comparable ) is really more of a publishing fee than a distribution fee.
     
  6. Maupin

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    I think that's just a nice way of saying "we can't take a game with such horrific, blood-curdling wights."
     
  7. Jack Norton

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    Yes but with the downside that's going to be much more risky... once the iPhone market will be flooded by titles (probably very soon), either you are in top10-20 and make a fortune, or you make nothing (like PPC-PDA market nowadays).
    I prefer much more the Pc/Mac market, that is really "open" to all kind of gamers, not only casual ones.
     
  8. Allen Varney

    Allen Varney
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    If the portal bubble referenced in this Forbes article has taught us nothing else, it has indisputably taught us the peril of abandoning control of one's own marketing.

    "I don't need to do marketing" = "I have surrendered access to my own customers" = "I'm not running a real business."
     
  9. Indiepath

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    And that opens a whole load of new business opportunities for us all.
     
  10. cliffski

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    Allen speaks the truth in spades.
    The portals have saturated us with hidden object and match3 games. Thus supply and demand means these games are virtually worthless.
    All that means is you should make something else.
    People are not bored with games, any more than they are bored with books.
     
  11. Sybixsus

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    Well firstly, it's patently not indisputable, or I wouldn't be disputing it. As for the stuff about someone else marketing for you not being a real business, that's absurd. Sit down and think for five minutes and you'll come up with a very long list of large companies who - according to you - aren't running a real business. I bet some of them are making "flipping great wads of cash" too. It's a perfectly viable business model if you know the risks, and know how to deal with them.

    Which is just it, Jack's spot on with his reply to my comment. It's just a bigger risk. If this is your business model, you get in, make as much money as you can as quickly as possible and start looking around for the next opportunity when the bottom falls out of the current one. It's the opposite of the Cliffski or Cas business model.

    I hate to disillusion you, but whatever negative comments you got at the time likely weren't from people who were too stupid to predict it, but rather from people who were already eyeing up the next cash cow to jump into and milk before anyone else got there, and didn't particularly want you pointing it out to anyone who hadn't managed to predict it themselves. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much," and all that.
     
  12. Vic Davis

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    From the Forbes article:

    "Indeed, anyone with a little programming know-how can create a game and ship it off to publishers."

    Yes, and I built a working replica of a Tiger tank in my garage and a pressurized water reactor in my basement. It's easy with just a little know-how :)

    OK, there may be a glut of casual games hitting the market but my guess is that most are the result of lots of hard work, dedication and some serious know-how. Or can you just submit Hello World and join the crowd?
     
  13. DFG

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    Couldn't agree more. We aren't taking any more hidden object or match 3 games unless they are blockbusters. I think many portals are painting themselves into a corner.
     
  14. Escapee

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    I 'm officially scared of a hidden object and matching game. I wish game developers would give these genres a long break and start focusing on others to rejuvenate the market.

    Remember Warren Buffett 3 I in any business/investment cycle.

    Innovator, imitator and the idiot (the disaster phase).
     
  15. Jack Norton

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    Well most HO and match3 games released nowadays totally sux - they can have insane presentation and production values, but the gameplay (a mysterious entity for most of portal casual gamers it seems) is really crap, repetitive, boring.

    That's why when a really fresh title with at least some innovation appears, like Azada or Fairway Solitaire sells very well!
     
  16. sound app

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    I just would like to point out that people in Funpause, evil doers in your article, have been the core force behind Azada which totally broke out from the TM or HO or M3 formula....
     
  17. luggage

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    But because you don't like it doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of thousands who do. It's a perfect example of supply and demand.
     
  18. Jack Norton

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    Well I can't believe that nobody likes to play arcade/platform/pinball etc. Also do you remember what happened to match3, 2 years ago was a boom, nowadays rarely a match3 enters in top10.
    I'm willing to bet HO games will fade in about 1-2 years in favor of normal adventures or collection of games like Azada.
     
  19. MerscomMan

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    I disagree, I think the portals are responding to their customers. We attend every Casual Connect event and meet with all the portals to get a feel for the market. In 2006 and 2007, the major ones (particularly BFG and Oberon) were asking, arguably pleading for innovative content and risk taking. In fact, one of them gave us particularly good deal terms to try something new (at the time, almost everything was Match-3). At the various shows this year, it was clear they got their teeth kicked in (as did we) with anything that deviated from the norm. In fact, some of our counterparts at these companies lost their job because of this. The fact is a solid but unspectacular hidden objects game will sell 30k-50k units the first month on one portal, while a good, somewhat innovative game (which reviews great) will be lucky to sell 3k-5k units.

    This is the reality of the market and what casual consumers want. It is not an evil plan by the portals, it is a response to what sells:eek: . Let's not blame the portals or the customers (if they like a basic hidden objects game or match-3, what's so bad about that). You can still make something innovative, but you have to accept that the sales may not reflect that because the bulk of casual consumers don't want it.
     
  20. Mattias Gustavsson

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    I would say that the "casual gold rush" actually started before the portals, and that the portals were just a natural cause of the increasing popularity of casual games on the web. They sure played their part in making the casual games market big, but people were making good money off games sold on the web even before the boom.

    Portals made it a lot easier for many developers to get their game out to lots of customers. Some devs made lots of money off the portals early on, and it's no surprise that the terms aren't as good now: The portals took a lot of the initial risk, and are now in a position to really profit on that effort. They've grown big now, and I think they now do what any big company would do: play it safe and look at reducing risk. Which in this case means stick with what's proven.

    Maybe this is the time for indie devs to stop relying so much on the portals to generate sales. Maybe now is the time for self-publishing to grow bigger again, an opportunity for the next small niche market to grow explosively, creating the next gold-rush... Time will tell, I guess :)
     

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