A new year means a fresh start for many. In the games industry, a fresh start is exactly what the doctor ordered - specialist retail now seems to be settling down, PC companies are taking a shot at console manufacturing, and the traditional console companies are getting ready to reveal some shiny new products of their own.
With such an exciting year ahead of us, what better than to turn to games industry experts and ask them for their thoughts on various trends and stories as and when they happen?
As part of an ongoing series, SPOnG gets the unedited, open and highly informed opinions of developers, producers and more in the vast world of computer games.
Andy Payne O.B.E.
Entrepreneur and experienced CEO
Gambitious, AppyNation, Mastertronic
Best Known For:
A UK game publishing and development legend, also active with the GamesAid and Special Effect charities, and the Great Indie Games label.
Considering the critical acclaim of titles such as The Walking Dead and Journey in 2012, is digital now the real viable means of getting games in gamers' homes?
Digital is here and thriving, but packaged games are not dead. There are two issues for me really. First is distribution and access. There are so many more ways for people to get games into their playing devices, connected or otherwise. Apple have disrupted the console market, and they have been followed by Amazon and Google.
Add in that Steam have kept the PC gamers fires stoked to the max and all of the online browser based and Facebook games from Bigpoint, King, Zynga and more it is now possible to have access to so many more games, often free, F2P or subs based. That is without ‘digital only’ Runescape, Moshi Monsters (also out on DS/3DS) League of Legends, WOW, Team Fortress and more. So ‘digital’ has been here and significant for many years.
As important is the fact that digital distribution has allowed many more original games to be made. Games that maybe did not warrant the huge investment in marketing and expensive packaged goods stock and all the physical distribution and logistic challenges of the old world, have surfaced, grown and thrived. The mass market is actually a series of smaller markets that analysts, marketeers, finance and legal guys sometimes gloss over all too quickly and blithely.
This is the age of choice as barriers to market entry are lowered everywhere. Can only be a great time for gamers.
What are the biggest and most exciting challenges you're looking forward to in the next year?
Making sure we make games that are wanted. Making sure we can afford to make the games that are wanted and making sure we don’t follow every single dream and idea.
Focus is needed, but fortunately with cross platform development tools now becoming cheaper and easier to use, we can make decisions on what formats to support based on where our fans are. If that is PC, iOS, Android, Kindle then so be it. Equally if fans want XBLA, PSN and Windows 8 games we will make sure we make them.
What are the benefits to you and to gamers of the new console generation after Xbox 360 and PS3?
I think the days of 'generations', next
or otherwise, may be over. We are in an iterative world, whether we care to believe and accept it or not. Sure there will be new Playstation and Xbox consoles, but closed/limited tech specs have never been able to keep up with the ingenuity and drive that games developers add.
As games developers, we need some stability of platforms but we also need to be able to push the envelope, otherwise game makers and players get bored. The new consoles will re-ignite the passion in all core gamers, which is much overdue - but the business models, methods of distribution and choice of games must be in line with the modern world expectations, in my very humble opinion.
Thanks to Andy for his time. Check out SPOnG's recent industry insights below.
January 2013 Insights:
22/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna
21/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios
17/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
16/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Christmas 2012 Insights:
26/12/2012: Games Industry Insights with Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
27/12/12: Games Industry Insights with Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
28/12/12: Games Industry Insights with Ted Price, CEO Insomniac
29/12/12: Games Industry Insights with Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
30/12/12: Games Industry Insights with Steve Lycett, SUMO Digital
31/12/12: Games Industry Insights with Martyn Brown, InsightforHire
01/01/13: Games Industry Insights with Jon Lander of CCP
02/01/13: Games Industry Insights with David Jaffe
03/01/13: Games Industry Insights with Andy Payne O.B.E.
04/01/13: Games Industry Insights with Peter Molydeux, Genius