9 Industry Delusions

9 Industry Delusions


We've seen our fair share of game industry watchers and veterans coming up with weird and wonderful statements, but the last few weeks have shown a particular abundance of them. Why is that people who are standing knee-deep in the industry say such ridiculous things? We have no idea, but we did comment on 9 recent ones that stood out among the weird.

We've seen our fair share of game industry watchers and veterans coming up with weird and wonderful statements, but the last few weeks have shown a particular abundance of them. Why is that people who are standing knee-deep in the industry say such ridiculous things? We have no idea, but we did comment on 9 recent ones that stood out among the weird.

1. Aaron Greenberg thinks the X360 can last another 5 years

What Greenberg said:

"… we're five years in. We think we have another good five years-plus, but that remains to be seen -- but easily there's another five years' life."

Why he’s missed the ball:

We’re assuming Greenberg isn’t talking about the technical lifespan of the Xbox 360, so he’s predicting 5 more years of Xbox 360 before the next generation. While everyone is aware that Sony and Microsoft need time to make their investment for this generation’s hardware worthwhile, it is doubtful that either company will bank on their current consoles for more than another three years. Hardcore gamers are hungry for the best graphics and already the PC is taking a huge lead in that area which will likely mean gamers will migrate there.

Our best guess is that the next Xbox will launch 3 years from now and - with Microsoft's track record - that means that the X360 is dead 6 months after. And fans have long memories and they still remember how Microsoft dropped the original Xbox like a hot potato as soon as the 360 was released. First party support dropped to 0 and as a result, third party support went the way of the dodo soon after. Three years from now, Xbox 360’s are going to be cheap on Ebay.

2. Bobby Kotick wants to sell cut scenes

What Kotick said:

"... if we were to go to an audience and say 'We have this great hour and a half of linear video that we'd like to make available to you at a $20 or $30 price point,' you'd have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever"

Why he’s lost his marbles:

Seriously, Bobby, have you gone mad? You have said and done some remarkable things over the years but this one tops them all. Of course Activision can't sell cut scenes from games for $20 bucks. If they try, the chances are that not only Kotick's already questionable popularity will go down the kitchen sink, but it will take the rest of the company down with it.
We all know Kotick's on a quest to generate ever more cash for his shareholders but there are limits to what people will accept. Continuing this particular example, we seriously doubt Blizzard will let Kotick get away with something like that. And why does that matter? Because the lion’s share of Activision's dough comes from the World of Warcraft cash-cow which is controlled by Blizzard. They are an incredibly powerful entity within Activision and they - unlike Kotick - are gamers at heart. Other studios may be forced to participate in this travesty but it won't last.

3. Aaron Greenberg says the Xbox is the default platform for gamers

What Greenberg said:

"I think we've become the default platform for gamers. And what you see in Japan is that there are a lot of creators who like to make core games, and that's their heritage. If you think about someone like Inafune-san, or Suda 51..."

Why Greenberg’s shoes are too big :

It’s not Greenberg who decides whether a console is the default platform, gamers do that. They vote with their wallets, buying games for their favorite console. While it is true that the 360 has the highest 'attach rate' (average number of games owned per console) of all three consoles, Sony is catching up fast, a sign that gamers vote more and more for the PS3. At the current speed, Sony may well overtake Microsoft this holiday season. If we look at the ‘installed base’, the Wii eclipses the Xbox 360 and PS3 combined; and when there are hordes of gamers (an estimated 250 million) that would rather game on a PC, wouldn’t that make PC the default platform?
Furthermore, Japanese developers aren't developing for the Xbox 360 because it's the default platform, but because in previous years they focused solely on the Japanese market. Now they're looking more and more for growth in overseas markets and the Xbox 360 has a good presence outside of Japan, making it a viable platform to develop for.

4. Peter Molyneux thinks the X360 hasn't reached its potential yet

What Molyneux said:

“It just doesn't feel like we've reached the limits of the 360 or anywhere near it”

How Molyneux lets his fantasy run away with him:

We're big fans of Molyneux. Few visionaries - as that's what he is - are as willing to go out on a limb and try something new. Peter Molyneux does it all the time. But... we also know his statements need to be taken with a pinch of salt, or every now and then a whole bucket -- like this one.

Peter Molyneux works for Microsoft so we can’t really expect him to say anything but positive things about the Xbox 360. The truth, however, is that the Xbox is running out of steam. Compared to the Playstation 3, the 360 is lacking in key areas such as storage and graphical and processing power. Worse, recent graphic comparisons of high profile titles have shown both machines to be consistently overshadowed by their PC counterparts and several developers have already confessed to feeling restricted by the space on the 360’s DVD drive. Seriously, the limits of the Xbox 360 have been found. This is what we all have to live with.

5. Michael Pachter thinks it will be 20 years before discs are replaced

What Pachter said:

"Digital distribution will become the norm and completely replace package products in about 20 years, maybe 25… 22% of all households in the U.S. don’t have cable or satellite, so if they don’t have cable or satellite, they probably don’t have high-speed Internet and they’re probably not about to download all their games,”

Why our response is “No sh** Sherlock!”:

Michael Pachter - our resident industry oracle - is an expert at kicking in open doors. We know, we’ve been following him for years. This quote originates from one of his recent Pach Attack videocasts (Clever name no? No. Seriously, NO.) and could contend for ‘biggest open door ever’ in the Guinness Book of Records, rivaling only the gigantic entrance to Godzilla’s cosy love nest.

I think it was back in 2005 that Bill Gates said that he believed that the HD DVD versus Blu-Ray war to be the last format war for digital media carriers. There's nothing after this. Sure, Blu-Ray (the winner) will be developed further and discs will increase in size a few times before they pull the plug. Yet its existence will peter out much faster than the twenty years Pachter speaks of. The next generation of consoles may not even be equipped with a drive. Twenty years is a long time and anyone could have made this prediction; you don’t need to be an analyst for that.

6. Peter Dille says Sony ain't a “me too” company

What Dille said:

“I've always regarded Sony as an innovator; it's not a “me too” company. I think PlayStation has proven this, whether its introduction of CD, DVD or Blu-ray or breaking some fresh ground with EyeToy, Home or PS3 Move. But it's gratifying to see it's not something that is limited to one area, whether it's PS3 and Blu-ray or a free online service.”

Peter Dille has a habit of baffling both friend and foe and this statement illustrates that as well as any. We respect Sony for always raising the bar with their machines but saying that they are not a 'me too' company shows they rarely leave their cubicles. The entire Playstation concept is a 'me too' product, even if it is one done really well. Let's analyze Dille's arguments shall we?

The Playstation One did indeed carry a CD drive. Yet it was released in 1994 -- six years after SEGA released the CD equipped Mega Drive. Really pushing the envelope there, aren't we? And the EyeToy? Another SEGA invention; look up Dreameye on Wikipedia and you will see that it was released three years prior. And Playstation Home and Move aren't 'me too' products? Don't make me laugh. Both were created because Sony's competition scared the living daylights out of them with similar products on the market years before Sony even thought they were necessary. And while we’re certain that many gamers enjoy the free online network capabilities of the PS3, PC gamers have had free online play for well over a decade. Dream on Mister Dille.

7. Lenovo's Jay Chen believes there's room for another console

What Chen said:

"[Lenovo] saw game consoles as an area with growth potential." and "[Lenovo will be] the world's second company to produce a controller-free game console, behind only Microsoft."

Why he’s delirious:

Jay Chen is a newcomer to the scene. We’ll go easy on him and forgive him his lack of understanding of the industry when he spoke to The Wall Street Journal announcing the new eBox . I am sure the machine can be a big success in China where none of the three big console makers have made significant inroads in the gaming space. There's lots of room to start something new. But outside of China, the market looks very different.

No one in his right mind would buy any console other than one produced by the big three, it's just not a good investment. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have -proven- support from developers and publishers with worldwide distribution networks as well as the support from gamers. There's nothing this box can offer that the big three aren't offering already. If Chen needs more convincing that this is a really, really bad idea, he only needs to visit the video ‘game console manufacturers graveyard’ where he can find the hardware efforts of Atari, SEGA, 3DO and SNK playmore. Those companies were far better positioned to launch and maintain new video game consoles and ultimately failed.

8. Peter MacKay says Canada is angry at Medal of Honor

What MacKay said:

"The men and women of the Canadian Forces, our allies, aid workers, and innocent Afghans are being shot at, and sometimes killed, by the Taliban. This is reality. I find it wrong to have anyone, children in particular, playing the role of the Taliban. I'm sure most Canadians are uncomfortable and angry about this."

Canadian politician Peter MacKay has obviously never played an hour of Medal of Honor in his life but has already dismissed the game as an affront to military forces in Afghanistan. It makes you wonder if Peter MacKay’s mom ever told him "it's only a movie dear" when he was watching a scary scene. Well, this is only a game, Peter. You may want to hold off commenting on a game until you have played it.

It would also be wise to speak to your fellow countrymen and soldiers to ask what they really think instead of making them out to be mindless cattle. In the mean time, consider that gamers have already played: chainsaw wielding maniacs, postal workers gone mental, blood sucking vampires and evil Nazi's hell-bent on world conquest. Stunningly, they have survived those 'ordeals' without wanting to become those characters themselves.

9. Steve Jobs thinks iPhone is a serious gaming platform

What Steve said:

During his speech at the yearly Music Conference, Jobs said that Apple had sold more handhelds than Nintendo and Sony combined.

Why Steve doesn’t get it:

It seems good old Steve has gone bonkers over the last couple of months. Maybe the radiation from his iPhone’s poorly isolated antennae was affecting him that day. Yes, lots of people are playing games on the iPhone, and some of those games are absolutely great. Yet the vast majority compare like Halo to Farmville. Moreover, serious gamers are prepared to fork over $30 to $40 for a game on their Sony or Nintendo handheld while they will spend a few measly dollars on a game on their phone. We’re the first to admit that serious handheld gaming will slowly shift towards phones, but the world is not ready for that just yet – and nor, truth be told, are the phones. Sony and Nintendo will rule the handheld space for at least another generation.