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Question Of The Week: 2007 Resolutions

In Gamasutra's latest Question of the Week, we asked our audience of professionals to suggest their industry New Year's Resolution - one change the video game industry should effect in 2007.

The "Question Of The Week" feature, a specific industry-related question to be answered by professional game developers reading this site,this time asked for readers' opinions on what the game industry's New Year's Resolutions should be.

Thus, the question for this week was :

"If there was one change you'd like to see the video game industry effect in 2007, what would it be?"

Answers were invited to involve working conditions, different business models, legislation-related changes, image shifts, or even game trends. We now present to you your diverse set of ideas for the game biz to consider in 2007:

I'd like to see less companies using draconian anti-piracy measures. No consumers want to be made to feel like a criminal. Stardock's Galactic Civilizations II has done very well without any copy protection on the CD, and our customers have been very vocal in their appreciation of not having to deal with anti-piracy measures that usually do more to irritate paying customers instead of preventing piracy.

-Cari Begle, Stardock

Now that 2006 is over can we finally stop worrying about who’s going to win the console war and start focusing on the games? Arguing about which next-gen system is the best is as silly as arguing about which five-star restaurant has the finest china and silverware. It’s the food on the plate that matters to the customers after all. With any luck we’ll see delicious games with plenty of innovation on all of the platforms this year!


-Patrick Curry, Midway Games

I'd like to see Nintendo really support independent development for Wii and the DS. I'd also like to see publishers start to promote prestige games driven by specifically named designers, but the first one is more likely.

-Patrick Dugan, True Vacuum


If there is one trend in the general business practices of the video game industry in 2007 I would like to see happening, it would be to capture more professional management, business, and marketing graduates coming through from business and marketing undergrad and master degree programs. It is a shame that the best and brightest management graduates with the fruits of recent management thinking, knowledge, techniques, and education are cherry picked by Fortune 500 companies, consultancy firms, and the financial sector.

As the video game medium has grown into a global entertainment industry, the skill deficit within the business development and management capabilities of video game companies and the industry at large has become all too noticeable. There needs to be a new breed of upcoming professional trained business development, management, and marketing managers that have the knowledge, know-how, skills, and education to pinpoint, manage, and leverage opportunities throughout console, online, casual, and handheld games development alongside shifting trends in online content and product delivery platforms. We might see fewer products cancelled, less money wasted by studios, and more stability in the games industry.

-Alan O' Dea, Monumental Games

Stop using wooden crates in games!

-Anonymous

The most beneficial change the game industry could undergo: major publishers realize the economic advantages of carefully managed, revolutionary innovation in interactivity, and they:

* Dedicate a nontrivial minority of their finances to the development of revolutionary, non-mainstream gameplay, and fully fund and market the most promising projects to completion

* Plan for most of these projects to be commercial failures by producing plenty of the “surefire moneymakers” that already carry the industry

* Reap the monetary rewards when lightning strikes and a new, groundbreaking franchise takes its place among the pantheon of “surefire moneymakers” (along the lines of – but possibly greater than – The Sims, Grand Theft Auto 3, etc)

-Nathan Frost, Crystal Dynamics

Working conditions, different business models.

-Anonymous

Further growth & success in the indie games segment.

-Anonymous

If there was only one change I could ask for, hhmm, the industry is going in a pretty good direction right now (save for the normal problems like lack of innovation, high dev costs, jobs going overseas, etc.), I'd have to say, send Jack Thompson to Iraq. As Ripley once said, "It's the only way to be sure."

-Tony Dormanesh, Collision Studios


Bring audio into the creative process at a much, much earlier stage. Audio can drive and make the user experience, but too often developers look at it as simple elements that can be plugged in at the end, especially voice talent. It's not only maddening for those who create the audio, but it also short-changes the title and ultimately the consumers who will buy and recommend it.

And other than habit, there's no reason not to bring composers, voice casters/directors and sound designers in early stage development; the cost of starting the audio process sooner is usually negligible. Make that simple change in process, and developers will make exponentially better games and sell more titles.

-Randall Ryan, HamsterBall

Business models more like iTunes, and many more well-done real time strategy games.

-Michael Lubker, Zeolite Studios

I had to think a bit about this, because just one resolution doesn't cover all the changes I'd like to see. But I think even my bugbears about licensing and sequels vs. original IP could be addressed if this one resolution is adopted: "Have some faith in your players."

Cultural and intellectual standards in games, as in other media, are driven down by a demographics powered race for the bottom. I know there are exceptions, particularly in the indie sector, but they largely just prove the rule. We make brainless games because our audience is deemed to be brainless. It's not true, so let's stop doing it in 2007.

-Mark Brendan, Codemasters

The industry needs to stop emphasizing graphics over gameplay.

-Anonymous

Quality Assurance.

-Andrew Pawlek, iBeta

A greater emphasis on the 18+ gamer and more mature-only content.

-Anonymous

P: What're we going to want to do this year, Brain?
B: Same thing we want to do every year Pinky - decouple the financing from the publishing of the game.

-Dave Mariner, NDS

To strengthen the game development industry, we must find faith in both business and game design. Business is not the enemy that constricts well designed games but can support and enhance their development. We must find as much passion for business as we do for creativity.

For instance, small studios must pay as much attention to their design of financial models for a project as they do a game design document. Large studios must not shut themselves off from marketing, but integrate themselves into guiding the process with the publishers, instead of avoiding it. IT and HR issues increasingly play larger and larger roles, and we must spend enough time and energy making sure they support a companies vision rather than hampering it. And all must realize there can be as much creativity and vitality for a studio on the business side as there is on the design.

Many, many studios have done one hit game, and then lost money through bad decisions, whether it be bad contracts, underestimating work vs payment, or wretched management skills. The concept that business and games must be combined needs to become integrated enough to filter down to the startups though industry articles, schools and the lore that established developers bring to people just beginning in the industry.

Strengthening the tie between business and creatives has tangible benefits. Better contracts, accurate information piped to designers about demographics, solid predictions of work hours vs dollars spent should lead to an overall increase in profits and a decrease in overall risk. Publishers benefit from a more stable industry, less risk of failure and an increased trust in studios.

-Clarinda Merripen

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