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.
Best Known For: Ghost Recon Online
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?
The overwhelming majority of game titles are already being delivered digitally. To put that into perspective, Farmville 2 had more players in January alone than the top 4 retail titles combined sold units during all of last year.
Then add to that the other Facebook games; free-to-play games like Ghost Recon Online
, World of Tanks
, and League of Legends
; Steam/Origin/uPlay; BitTorrent; iOS and Android; XBLA/PSN and Yahoo/MSN games.
My estimate is that on a unit basis, less than 5% of all individual games played last year started with a purchase at retail. I?d love if someone actually ran those numbers exactly!
On a revenue basis, retail still matters of course, but we?ve also seen that revenue continue to consolidate in a small group of blockbuster games.
My take is that, unless you?ve got $75m to develop, market, and sell your game to wind up in the top 10, digital is the only viable way to make and distribute games today.
What are the biggest and most exciting challenges you're looking forward to in the next year?
I?m really excited about seeing how far we can push Ghost Recon Online
this year. Last year we started Open Beta, and so much of your effort at the beginning of running an online game is devoted to the Sisyphean task of making sure your servers work, that you can do maintenance quickly, and a thousand other details.
We?ve finally gotten over that hill, and all the energy in the team is now focused on gameplay, content, and features. This is the fun part.
An interesting challenge for us in 2013 will be figuring out what Windows 8 means for a game like GRO
and what kind of traction it will get.
What are the benefits to you and to gamers of the new console generation after Xbox 360 and PS3?
You mean the iPad? Retina display, 10 hour battery life, and my current addiction ? Bloons 5 Tower Defence
? are all pretty good benefits.
Thanks to Theo for his time. Check out SPOnG's recent industry insights below.
January 2013 Insights:
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