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.
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?
That's a tricky one, so I'm going to hedge my bets and say yes and no. For what I like to call "informed gamers," then the answer is yes, absolutely. The digital platform is another avenue to reach those guys and gals, and because of the experimental nature of that platform and the fact that it's much cheaper to develop for - versus the risky retail model of creating a full priced retail game - you're likely to see much more interesting and innovative experiences, which a lot of seasoned gamers are looking for.
For the uninformed gamer though, someone who doesn't really dabble in the delights of the digital marketplace and looks to retail stores for their video game purchases, then no, we've still got a long way to go there before we reach them and we can call it viable.
The very fact that Telltale also went down the retail route with The Walking Dead
shows that there's still a huge market that buys their games at brick and mortar stores, and until we see digital titles reaching the unit sold numbers that your big high street retail releases get, then it's hard to call it viable across the board.
It works, don't get me wrong, and it can make a lot of money if you make a hit, but for every Minecraft
, The Walking Dead
, there's 15 that sneak past without a whimper.
What are the biggest and most exciting challenges you're looking forward to in the next year?
It's quite easily the inevitable launch of the new consoles. I only got into the industry a few months after the Xbox 360 launched, so this will be my first experience of being involved with the launch of a new console and informing our readers of what they can expect.
I was a gamer on the outside looking in during the launch of the Xbox 360 - and the PS3, for the most part - and it was exciting to get wrapped up in all the media coverage, looking at what the future holds and counting down the days till the launch day... now I get the chance to be on the other side of the fence reporting on it, and honestly, I couldn't be any more excited...
I've even taken my yearly holiday already so that I can give it my undivided attention from announcement through to release. Yes, it's only January as well!
What are the benefits to you and to gamers of the new console generation after Xbox 360 and PS3?
Well, being the owner of two console sites, the advantage to me personally is that we get the chance to reach a new audience with the launch of the new consoles, an audience that might not have bought into this generation.
It also gives us the chance to expand the current console audiences too, as the inevitable price drop of the Xbox 360 and the PS3 will likely mean that those people who have been holding out to pick it up dirt cheap will then have their chance to do so.
In terms of the industry, it'll be nice to get everyone excited about something again. We've had a bit of a torrid few years, what with mass closures, the loss of THQ etc, and focusing on the launch could revitalise the industry a bit and give everyone a little hope. In terms of gamers, well, they get shinier games, how's that sound?
Honestly though, the jump from this generation to the next isn't going to be as big as the Xbox to the 360 or the PS2 to the PS3, so as a gamer, I'm not expecting too much of an improvement. Seeing motion control inputs become like how we envisioned them in our dreams and seeing tech like Microsoft's IllumiRoom come to life, that's the thing that gamers should get excited about.
That, and more cinematic games. If David Cage can get performances like that of Ellen Page in Beyond: Two Souls
captured and put on the PS3, imagine what he and other developers can do with the increase in power. It's exciting. It truly is. I'm like a kid at Christmas over here.
Thanks to Dan for his time. Check out SPOnG's recent industry insights below.
January 2013 Insights:
29/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
23/01/13: 2013 Industry Insights with Andy Payne, O.B.E.
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