Google+ Followers

Saturday, 23 November 2013

How changing gaming habits may dampen the party for Xbox One and PS4?

http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited


Xbox One and PS4 are here and looking at the look of things, they don’t seem to be going away in a hurry. Both the consoles are selling like hot cakes with each able to rack up sales of 1 million units in just 24 hours. Those are impressive numbers for any consumer device. There have been estimates that both the consoles would be easily able to outsell their predecessor. Going by that estimation, the newly launched consoles are going to be huge hits considering the fact that both Xbox 360 and PS3 have managed to sell around 80 million units individually. Those are big numbers.

All seem to be rosy for MS and Sony but is it really so? I mean, yes the new consoles have got a rousing reception but is that not also due to the huge pent up demand that has been building for the last 3 years. This has been the longest console cycle ever, extending well over 3 years from the generally accepted norm. That has resulted in a huge demand for new hardware for the devoted fan boys. Considering these theories, it was almost certain that whenever a new console is launched, it would be greeted with open arms. And that has happened. So what’s next?

A lot has changed over the last 8 years when the Xbox 360 was launched. For one, a certain Apple along with its quarreling sibling, the Android, has captured and ruled over the attention of the masses. Gaming has evolved from being confined to the living room to be present on train, stations, offices, shopping malls and practically everywhere humans have been. Simply put, the gaming habit of the average gamer has evolved. The smartphone and the tablet along with the consoles have become the main gaming machines. Yes, it is true that the level of engagement or the kind of games is not the same when mobile gaming is compared to consoles. But that does not take away from the fact that people are getting their compulsory doses of gaming away from their consoles. Also mobile games are doing an increasingly good job at delivering nearly the same kind of experience as got from a console game. Not same but nearly. Games like Reptide GP or Prince of Persia Shadows & Flames allow me to have a deep gaming experience without switching on my console.

A lot may say that mobiles would never be able to catch up to the kind of games that consoles deliver
and I would agree with them. But the question is that are we really concerned about the hardcore devoted gamer who crave for that kind of experience? He will anyway play on his console. But what about the not so devoted gamer? If he is getting nearly the same kind of experience at a fraction of the cost and at his choice of convenience, it would be tough ask to compel him to invest hundreds of dollars on a new gaming device. Many gamers game because it allows them to escape their routine life and get into a world of fantasy. If their phones are allowing them to do just that whenever they please to, would they be willing to go back to their consoles? The answer is not absolute but it’s a “Maybe No”.

It’s not all gloomy for consoles. I think that they would survive and grow as well but maybe not at the same pace at which they have grown over the past generations. They would need to do things differently this time around. For one, they would need to integrate the different mobile devices as second screens in their platforms. The mobile devices need to be an important integrated part of the consoles. Games need to designed and developed in such a way that they would make use of both the consoles as well as the user’s smartphone. The experience needs to be connected. For Microsoft, the Surface and Windows 8 phones become so much more important. The same goes for Sony’s PS Vita. If they can find some way to meaningfully integrate the mobile devices in their whole ecosystem, gamers may see a lot of added value in buying the new consoles.

While doing so, both Xbox One and PS4 need to deliver better & more of what they have been known for: great quality games. They need to up the ante so much that the gamers would find the difference in quality between the mobile and console games big enough. That would make it much harder for them to ignore the consoles. Bigger better games should be a huge help for the consoles. They would also need to give a lot of space to the Indies as that’s where the real innovation lies. Again care would need to balance the price point with the value offering so as not to dilute the value of their bigger brother, the AAA games.

With so much going on in the industry, so many new developments almost everyday, it would be very difficult for anyone to guess one clear-cut winner. The whole ecosystem is changing, and changing fast. The one who would be able to adjust and adapt would be the one who is more likely to succeed. Change is here and its forever. In the famous words of Friedrich Nietzsche: “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” 

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


Monday, 11 November 2013

Why do we need PS4 and Xbox One to succeed?


We are on the doorstep of the next generation of consoles. Both Xbox One and PS4 would be launched within a month to eagerly awaiting gamers. Massive number of both the consoles has been preordered. The estimate is that the number of preorder is at least 2 times more than the last generation. Going by the media hype, the coming generation promises to get a huge launch, with both the consoles selling millions of units.

However, this success would continue for a long term is another question all together. A lot would depend on how the consoles can differentiate from one another in terms of feature sets, the kind of games and software that they are going to make available and the overall value they can provide. I am sure that both the companies with their extensive marketing and research teams would have figured these points out, at least in their strategies.



Personally, I believe that it’s really important for both the consoles to succeed in the coming generation. There are multitudes of reasons for believing so. One of the major reason why I want the generation to succeed is that it has the capacity to really expand the revenue potential of the industry. Along with increasing the revenue of the industry, it also stands to bring new kinds of integrations between software and hardware, especially considering the fact that both the consoles are being touted as entertainment devices fit for the living room. The last boom enjoyed by the industry was when the last console generation was launched, back in 2005. The upcoming generation promises to bring the good times again.

A host of platforms have emerged since the launch of the last generation of consoles. Companies, which were primarily developing for consoles are now also developing for all kinds of platforms, like IOS, Android and Social. The success enjoyed by the upcoming generation would bring in a lot more money, which can be invested in developing great games for these platforms. The whole industry would benefit from the success of one segment just like the success of mobile gaming has allowed companies to sustain in consoles during the last 2 years. It’s a win-win situation for all the different segments of the industry.

What more could the success of Xbox One and PS4 bring to the industry? Mobile gaming can learn a lot from console gaming like AAA production values, the different ways in which player engagement
can be implemented which allows console games to hook on the players for hours, the art of story telling. There are a lot of things that can be learnt from consoles. Consoles could also learn a lot from mobile gaming, especially in the way the games can be socially integrated along with adoption of different business models. The only way this learning process can continue is if the two very different segments co-exist.

As a gamer, I would really love for Xbox One and PS4 to succeed. They are the epitome of gaming and allow me to have and play games that are just not possible on any other platform. It keeps the gamer inside me alive and kicking. Don’t get me wrong. I love mobile gaming. Clash of clans, Deer Hunter, Dead Trigger, Cut the Rope are some of my favorite games of all time. I love playing them. But they are not Call of Duty, GTA, Battlefield and they would never be. These are the games that top everything else I would want to do in my spare time. And I would want to keep on having them forever. Mobile gaming, though brilliant, still doesn’t have the legs or the shoulders to carry the industry. For the sake of diversity that allows so many different kinds of experiences for the same player, lets just hope that both Xbox One and PS4 are a huge success, endearing us for many more years to come. Looking forward to the good times again.

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


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Xbox One DVR feature: Possibilities and Pitfalls


Xbox One will be launching on November 22, right at the doorstep of Christmas. However it would be facing stiff competition from Sony’s PS4 which would be launching a week before on November 15th in US. This is going to be one hell of a battle where each would be trying to outdo the other in the bid to garner as much attention as possible. Each would be bringing along their own set of amazing features with a hope that they are able to bring some amount of differentiation in the minds of the player. Armed with a host of launch titles, both Microsoft and Sony are bullish that this is going to be the biggest console launch in history.

There is no doubt that both the consoles have some amazing features and capabilities that allow the player to have amazing new experiences. One such feature that Xbox One brings is the DVR. The new Game DVR feature keeps a rolling video of the last five minutes of gameplay, so you can share it online or with your friends. Some games come complete with an Upload Studio feature that lets you edit clips and add effects or voice over before uploading. What would this possibly mean for the individual gamer as well as the industry on the whole?



For starters, it allows gamers to capture and share their gameplay footage with a lot more ease. There would be no more requirement for gamers to get additional software and hardware to capture their gaming clips. It becomes much easier for the not too tech savvy player to capture video game footage and share with friends and family. This would increase the number of player uploading game footage to websites like youtube. How would this help the gaming industry? Increased exposure to gaming clips and the ability to share would definitely increase the chances that people may pick up a lot of games that their friends are playing.

It also allows the gamers to do a lot more with their games and increases the engagement factor. People can play tutor and load multiple walkthroughs of the difficult portions of the game. A lot of people would do so to either help their fellow gamers or boast of their incredible gaming skill. Either way, it would mean a higher engagement level with their game. The ability to share video clips would be specially helpful in games where there are multiplayer modes. I for one would love to upload a video of me getting the better of my friend in our favorite Battlefield game. It is just so much more fun.

The ability to record and share video also does a lot of good for the console as well as the industry on the whole. It would make the console a much more socially integrated device, something which has been a bone of contention for a lot of people in the current generation. It would also give a lot of freedom to game designers to come up with scenarios where the player can share video content with his peers. Different gameplay scenarios can be designed keeping in mind this particular feature. That being said, care would need to be taken while designing the game to keep the action balanced or else too many over the top action sequences would creep into the game just to cater to this feature.

The feature to capture and share video clips would also put a lot of pressure on game developers to really improve the cinematic quality of their games. Some games don’t actually require a heavy emphasis on graphics but this feature may tempt a lot of developers, especially the ones working under the influence of a traditional publisher to go that way, considering the marketing potential of social sharing. A delicate balance would need to be maintained while developing games keeping the video sharing feature in mind or else there lies a danger of skewing the gameplay.

The feature has a lot of potential to do good. It not only allows player to get more engaged with their games but also give the developers the opportunity to bring a lot more in their game. The scope it provides for marketing, word of mouth and social interaction is immense. The final piece in this puzzle can be the kind of  integration it can have with the different social networks. The success of this feature would also depend on one factor, its ease of use and manageability. If Microsoft is able to nail down these factor, it would be a huge boost for their console as well as for the industry as a whole.

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

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Importance of balancing your Game for Monetization

http://www.facebook.com/videogamesunlimited


I read a recent article, which talked about the newly released IOS game, Batman Arkham Origins. The main focus of the article was the monetization of the game and how even when the game is well appreciated & free, it is not among the top grossing games in the market. That article brought a lot of my attention to the tricky subject of designing the monetization model of your game.

Free to play has been hugely instrumental in bringing a lot of new players in the ecosystem. It has also allowed developers to get more revenue for their games just on the basis of huge number of downloads. However, if not done right, the free to play model can have a damaging effect on the developer’s revenue. Care should be taken to design the monetization model in such a way that it allows the player to play & enjoy the game as it is supposed to be while also giving him incentive to spend money in the game.

The primary target for any game designer should be to make his game as fun as possible. The attention should never deviate from this aspect of game development. Too many times in the pursuit for increasing the spending of the player, designers put a lot of restrictions in front of the player hence eroding the fun factor. This should never be the case. Once the game is made fun to play, the next step should invariably be to develop the monetization model around the game.

There are different ways in which the monetization model can be designed. A lot of free to play games are often Pay to Win games where the only way for the player to win the game or remain competitive is to spend money in the game. This often leads to frustrated players who leave the game before it has a chance to impress them. Pay to Win takes away the competitive factor based on skill which has always been one of the most important factors in games. May the best man win just doesn’t apply in this scenario. I have always believed that monetization model should be designed in such a way that it allows the player to enjoy the game uninhibited, just based on skill. There can be other ways to increase player spending which would allow the player to have more of the fun he is having rather than restricting his progress. This can surely be in the terms of buying better weapons or powers but they should not be definitely required if the player is skilled enough to win without them.


Advertisements are another way in which developers can successfully monetize their games. There are multiple different ways in which advertisements can be implemented in games. The way in which advertisement is implemented should be dependent on the kind of gameplay. Again, gameplay & fun is the most important factor to be considered here. Advertisements should not be intrusive to the game. For example, in a game where the player has to play with a lot of concentration, banner ads may not be the most profitable option, as the player would seldom pay attention to them. Also it may appear intrusive to the gameplay. In this case, full-page ads can be much more viable. Banner ads should best be used in games where on the main game screen; there is a lot of free space, which can be utilized. The frequency of ads would also be important, especially when full-page ads are concerned. It would appear common sense that full-page ads should not appear in the main game but you would be surprised to know that’s not always the case. I have played numerous games where after starting the game, a full-page ad pops up in the middle of the game, disrupting my experience. It’s very annoying to say the least.

There are a lot of free games in the market that are extremely fun to play but don’t earn enough money for their developers just because the monetization model was weak. On the other hand, a lot of very high potential games are killed just when the journey with the player has started because of the frequent insistence to spend money. The most successful games are those who are successful in forming an efficient partnership between fun and monetization, without one coming in the way of another. This however is easier said than done but if some games can do it, so can others. 

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