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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What does the success of GTA 5 mean for the industry?


GTA 5 is out, GTA 5 is awesome and GTA 5 is selling like hot cakes. One of the highest rated games on Metacritic; the game has proved to be a darling for both the critics as well as the masses. Proof of the fact is it’s sales figure that has never been seen before on Xbox 360 and PS3. GTA 5 has managed to gross a billion dollars in just 3 days & thus has become the biggest entertainment launch in history, turning the attention completely from casual gaming to console hardcore gaming among the gaming fraternity.




But the game is not without controversies. The game has been branded as misogynist by the haters with a lot of people generally despising its portrayal of women. True the game may contain content that may not be acceptable to a huge population but the sales and ratings show that the same content is highly appreciated by another huge set of people. That being said, the success of GTA 5 is great news of the industry as it goes on to prove a few things.

1. Consoles are not dead: First and foremost, the humongous sales of GTA 5 show that the console industry is far from dead. It is in fact living with plenty of great signs of glowing pink health in the future. GTA 5 proves that if you are willing to take the risks, invest huge amounts of money (nearly $250 million) in development & come up with a game which is excellent in all aspects, you are not only going to recover your investment but also net a huge pile of profit. It replaces faith back on the good old days of game making where the developers didn’t really care about the quick hot noodle type of game making where the mantra of success lied in getting the game out as quickly as possible in the market without investing too much time & resources in it so that if it fails, we don’t lose a lot of money. GTA 5 proves again that if you were ready to bit your time to deliver a finely tuned game, audience would flock to it.

Yes, it is a proven franchise. True that it already has it set of loyal followers. But the adage that quality sells holds true today even for newer franchises. Look at the success of games like The Last of Us and Dishonored. Quality games that have not only sold well but have also given rise to franchises with much more potential for the future.

2. Being different is good: Secondly it provides evidence that success in this industry would not only come by making games keeping the masses in mind. Niche games, which can be controversial and not according to the taste of the masses can also sell huge numbers and make a lot of money. There have been many controversies about GTA 5 with a lot of people against the general theme of the game. But there is also another set of people who love to play these kinds of games, do stuff in the game that they would not want to do in the real world. These games have their own set of audience with a lot of them being extremely loyal. It creates high potential franchises as they find it much easier to differentiate from the crowd. Not every game needs to focus on the largest possible customer base as companies like EA and Activision has not faced the test of time by just creating casual games.

3. Diverse audience tastes: Thirdly, the success of GTA 5 is heartening as it suggests that gaming has a very wide audience base with different tastes. It is very important for any medium to provide different kind of content, which would be acceptable to different kind of people. This is really important for the mass acceptance of the medium. When more games like Angry Birds that cater to the casual audience, primarily female and kids & games like GTA 5, which mainly focus on the male gamers, succeed, it expands the horizon of gaming and brings more people into the industry. More and diverse kind of people trying and hooking to games can only be great news for the industry.



GTA 5 is controversial but so was Da Vinci Code. Controversy sells as it allows you to be recognized. GTA 5 is different but so was Thank You For Smoking. Its important as it protects you from getting lost in the crowd. And GTA 5 is great content. And we all know that “Great Content” always finds its own audience.


Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.
To know more about the latest in games, reviews and news, please visit http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What would be the fate of PS Vita TV & other Microconsoles?

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I bet if you open up any gaming website, you would definitely see at least a small coverage of a new consoles, either one of the big players or one of the new microconsoles. The gaming industry has been busy spreading its wings to cover the masses since the advent of the smartphone gaming phenomena, and the recent announcements of a host of new microconsoles based on android and otherwise is just another step in that direction. But the question that begs to be answered is whether these new breed of consoles would really entice the audience in loosening their purse strings.



Before we dwell into any discussion lets first understand the typical gamer and his preferred gaming machine. In gaming today, we can primarily divide the gaming masses in particularly two kind of players, the one who loves mostly hardcore consoles games and the other more casual player who is really fond of his Cut the Rope on his Tegra powered smartphone. This demarcation doesn’t mean that one doesn’t play the other type of game. In fact it is increasingly evident that more and more people are playing both kinds of games, people are playing more on their consoles and are also downloading more games on their smartphones. But does that mean that their expectations are the same when they game on these different devices. I bet they are very different.

When a person plugs in his console in his high definition TV, he is expecting to play a game, which is formed in a world hugely detailed and expansive and offers him a deeper gameplay experience. On the other hand, when he starts a game on his smartphone, generally he is looking just to kill time with that fun immersive game with very short play sessions. The experience that he expects to get as well as the time he is willing to invest in both the above cases is vastly different. This is where I believe that Microconsoles would struggle to find a foothold in the market.



Microconsoles aim to bridge the gap and bring the kind of games that are generally played on the run onto the TV screen. The games which are generally built with a very different expectation & which aims to offer the player a very different experience as compared to console games. The player would need to plug in his micro console into the TV, boot it up and then start playing the game, basically follow the same procedure that he can do for booting up his dedicated game console which would offer him a much more evolved game. Why would a person spend an equal amount of energy & time to access something which is inferior when he can do the same thing to access something much more superior?

Some may say that the games on these microconsoles are much simpler and casual to understand than the console games, which may prompt a lot of people to buy these systems. I would say that I don’t really visualize someone spending extra money to buy a system that plays the same games, which are already present on his phone. They may do so if their favorite phone games look much better on a larger TV screen, which brings me to my next question. Making a game look much better on a larger screen would involve much more development effort from developers. I wonder if a lot of developers are willing to put in the extra days to upgrade their games for systems that have a lesser-installed base and also in some instances are lesser powerful than even the phones.

The case may be a little different for PS Vita TV as compared to other micro consoles. PS Vita TV brings along with it a huge catalogue of 1000+ games including some of the awesome PS1 games, which can be a huge incentive for the gamer. The difference between PS Vita TV and other Micro consoles is the already available catalogue of titles for it. Also Gakai is coming to PS4 and if Sony adds that functionality to PS Vita TV, it can be a winner. Also the ability to add a second screen functionality to PS4 as well as a low cost video streaming device for your TV (read Netflix), PS Vita TV may well be a good value proposition. 

The Android based Micro Consoles are facing an uphill task. They are getting into a space which is generally occupied with more high end gaming consoles and trying to entice users who are generally accustomed to gaming on their much more accessible smartphones. It would be interesting to see how they are going to generate demand and how they are going to place their USP. At present, they are in the middle of nowhere & they would need to come up quickly with their unique place in the landscape before the hype quickly dies.

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.
To know more about the latest in games, reviews and news, please visit http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited

Friday, 6 September 2013

Bring In More: Why are mobile gamers good for consoles?


Mobile gaming is on the rise. There is no doubt about it. I read recent news that the number of new shipments of smartphones is going to touch the coveted 1 billion mark for 2013. The same news pointed out that in all probability, by the end of 2017, almost the whole world would be using smartphones with near 100% penetration. What does it mean for the gaming industry? With gaming segment being the highest revenue generator unanimously for all the app stores, I think it is pretty evident, that the graph is going to go only up.



Mobile gaming is only going to grow in the coming years. With more and more phones being delivered in the hands of the people, more and more people are going to download apps, particularly games and a lot of them are going to turn into gamers. This would have only one effect on the mobile gaming industry. It would rise, both in terms of revenue and user base.

The dynamics of the industry is going to change. Consoles, who have been the big daddy for a long long time now may not command the same leading position. That position may soon be occupied by mobile gaming, just on the basis of its sheer size of user base. But is the advent of mobile gaming really bad news for console gaming. Yes, in all probability, console gaming may not the top honcho. Yes, it may not be the one calling the shots in the industry. But is this change really something that the console gaming would mind.



I believe that they should be more than happy with this change. I believe that the more the number of mobile gamers, the more it would benefit consoles. Lets look closer to understand my reasons. But before we do that, lets define what I truly mean by console gaming and mobile gaming. Gaming for me is just about the kind of experience they are giving to the player. Consoles present complex world where the player has multiple choices with varying decisions to make. On the other hand, mobile gaming provides the player with a window to escape the boredom by providing him with gameplay experience, which is fun but doesn’t involve a lot of complexity. The experience offered by mobile gaming is basically a diluted version of the console games. If this comparison doesn’t seem right, just compare the games released on consoles and mobile simultaneously like Battlefield or Street Fighter 4.

If we understand that both consoles and mobile offer the player different kinds of experiences, we can understand that sooner than later a person would want to graduate from something which is simplistic to something with is more challenging (which may equate to more fun in gaming) and hence offers the same experience on a larger scale. If that’s the case, sooner than later people are going to graduate from their mobile games to consoles in search of much better experiences. Isn’t that how humans have gradually evolved over the years? Seeking to better their experience. Look at the quality of your everyday appliances like the TV or the mobile phone. Wasn’t CRT TVs the norm 10 years ago? Is that not the reason why automobiles took place of horse carriages, because they can do so much more? Humans are always in search of better experiences.



In case of gaming, it would be the other way around. Consoles came earlier offering great experiences but somehow they were not adopted by the masses, primarily because they were so complex to understand. Now mobile has entered the fray, simplifying the experience, which has drawn in the crowd. People are getting exposed to a simpler experience and once they would get used to it, they are bound to seek out for grander experiences just like most humans do. That’s when they would migrate to consoles. I believe that it doesn’t matter who is number one, mobile or consoles, till the time the whole pie gets bigger. And the fact that PS4 and Xbox One have attracted the biggest pre order in the history of console gaming may just mean that the pie is not only getting bigger, but also tastier.

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.
To know more about the latest in games, reviews and news, please visit http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited