I’m beginning to believe that Game Studios – The Developers of the Games – are incompatible with Wall Street goals and expectations. In other words, Art is Incompatible with Greed. I think recent events are bearing this out.
This post is full of screenshots of Google searches on the topics covered. This avoids too many links and allows the post to have some longevity. Rather than long quotes, the short snippets should get the points across without lengthy quotes from articles and links that will get stale as time passes.
Activision / Blizzard is one of the game studio / publisher pairs that I’ve been following since I was a long time Wow player. Amid all the other BFA controversy, there appears to be a real issue where Wall street has no patience with the development of Art. They just want their money. It’s not just Act/Blizz, but many companies are having issues as evidenced by a recent spate of layoffs across the industry.
This post was triggered for me by a recent announcement that ArenaNet is hit by layoffs instigated by their publisher NCSoft. I would wonder whether ArenaNet is supporting themselves or whether NCSoft is taking the costs of other failures out on ArenaNet as they cut costs across the board.
Taking Back Control
Sometimes these issues cause the Artists to take back control.
It will be interesting to see what happens here.
Of Course Some Developers Fail
Of course some Studio’s just can’t build a good game. At least that’s my opinion. I tried to play Wildstar and while I loved the artwork and general game / combat style, the game quickly became a grind and I gave up on it.
Carbine had a long time to make the game fun and attract an audience. I’m not sure why they could not do that. But I have noticed that their general art style does live on in other games such as Dauntless, which looks very like Wildstar in many ways.
Loot Boxes – Greed in Pure Form
Another aspect of Greed is the recent Loot Box Controversy. Pay to Win has been an issue for a long time in games of all types and the player base apparently universally decries this practice. But only recently have Governments taken a look at Loot Boxes from a Gambling point of view, and some have come down harshly.
Of course, there is no “Art” in loot boxes. They are pure Greed Play by the Publishers and are not being pushed by Game Studios.
Selling Out for the Payoff
I think I know why the executives at Blizzard sold out to Activision a few years ago. That was their Exit Strategy to get out of their business and make a ton of money.
When they sold out to Vivendi, they were riding high with Wrath of the Lich King soon to release a few months later. It was not until Cataclysm and later Warlords of Draenor that subscriber numbers started to drop off significantly.
I have nothing against the founders of a great franchise getting paid for their hard work. And apparently they did. But the sale to Wall Street has not been good for the Art of Gaming, especially recently.
Mobile Gaming is not the Problem
And I don’t buy the “Demise of PC Gaming” in favor of Mobile Gaming. While complex games such as MMOs and Monster Hunters can work on both PC and Console – FFXIV is on both PC and Console. I see no way to take a complex game like an MMO to a phone interface. It might work with a very high end phone – for the storage requirements – but it would require using a controller since a phone touch interface is just not going to work. But there is much hype on this topic. Possibly with someone doing the “Numbers” for how many phones there are vs how many PCs there are.
Layoffs Amid High Profits?
I think it may take a few years before the Studios understand that selling out to a Publisher is death in the long term because, increasingly, Publishers are driven by greedy investors rather than Artistic concerns. Activision recently announced massive layoffs at the same time they announced massive profits.