If Gaming’s future is online, what about the present?

By Virgile
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800px-Atari2600a

Hi there,

Yesterday, Electronic Arts (known as EA), the world’s number one game developer and publisher announced it will cut 1,500 jobs out of 7,000 employees. This is major news for the gaming industry.

It’s even more interesting that on the very same day EA announced  the acquisition of an established gaming web portal Playfish for $300M.

What does this mean?

The future of gaming is online, and everybody’s starting to understand it, as brilliantly exposed in this article. While hardcore gamers still buy DVD/CD games for their consoles (and sometimes for their PCs), most casual players tend to ‘pay and play’ either on their web browser, subscribe to unlimited game download access and buy their games online directly from the console manufacturers “App Stores”: 

Xbox Live Arcade (Microsoft), Playstation Network (Sony) and WiiWare (Nintendo) and obviously the App Store for iPod Touch and iPhone (Apple) are clearly ramping up or now established sales channels for game developers.

What’s interesting for Dassault Systèmes 3DVIA is that online games are moving from 2D to 3D– it’s not a new trend but there is a clear acceleration since the last few months.  I’ll be giving a talk at the Montreal Games Summit next week about a related idea: “Building games driven by artists and small teams: are we (back) there? ”  I‘ll keep you posted.

What do you think of this trend?  How do you currently buy games and play?

Virgile

P.S. If you like this topic, you may want to take our poll on gaming and cloud computing here.  You may also enjoy my post (especially the discussion in the comments section): Cloud computing for video games . . . true or not?




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4 responses to “If Gaming’s future is online, what about the present?”

  1. Cliff says:

    I hope all those cut from EA start working on new games in these “small teams” you mention. This is the age of the “Microprenuer” game developer. The iPhone app developers have proven that individuals and small teams can make great money.

    Love the Atari image…takes me back (I wonder how many people worked on “Pong”?)

  2. Virgile says:

    I agree with you Cliff. However, it’s probably not that simple for these guys. Working on the iPhone only is not that interesting anymore -they’re way too many Apps out there and it’s almost impossible to make it to the top. However, it’s a great opportunity to start from scratch without a heavy approval process and involve the community in game developments!

    PS: Pong = 1 guy only, Allan Alcorn, in 1972!

  3. Juan says:

    They actually hired, right after the cuts, from low cost markets to maitain capacity.
    http://www.develop-online.net/news/33258/EA-hiring-amid-staff-cuts

    I agree that there appears to be a large shift to webgames but I guess I’m a hard core gamer :) I love the long, well made, well balanced pc games with built in editors for the community base to create their own content.

  4. Laurent Alt says:

    Hi Virgile,

    I think that the EA job cuts come from a turn in the game industry, partly related to the crisis these days, and more pressure on prices. It is true that online games make a better margin today, but I believe that the other AAA games will keep on, and they will still be as complex to create, if not more. However, price pressure will compell companies to work differently, with more outsourcing, and massive assets reuse, for example.

    It is interesting to notice that this kind of change has already happened in the past in other industries (like automotive and aerospace), and these industries reorganized with smaller design offices and more numerous and specialized suppliers. By the way, this is what led to PLM, and there might be a similar move in the game industry as well.

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