Archive for the ‘Game Politics’ Category
Posted by Stropp on
February 6, 2014
A lot has been written about Kickstarter as a means of funding games, and even as a tool for promoting a game, but it occurs to me that it may also be useful as a means of doing market research for your game.
Let me explain.
All market research is about is in finding out if there actually is a market for your product, and if there is finding out who that market is: age group, wealth level, location, gender, that sort of thing.
But firstly, actually finding out there is a market is really important. If there isn’t there is no point actually spending money developing a product in the first place. It seems to me that Kickstarter could be really useful for a developer to figure out if gamers are interested in their proposed game in the first place.
I’m saying all this because in looking at the Pantheon Kickstarter, with 16 days to go there are only 2589 backers listed. Now lets say that that number is doubled by the due date and Visionary Realms somehow manages to get to $800K, which at this rate is doubtful anyway. That’s only about 5180 backers, or people interested enough to fund the game.
My question, is this a big enough market to support a MMORPG with all the ongoing costs?
Consider that most of the backers will get the game free as a pledge reward, they’ll only have to pay for the ongoing subscription. The initial backing will be used for development.
But I also wonder if all the calls we hear for the industry to go back and create new old school MMORPGs with forced grouping, long travel, corpse runs, and all those features long since whittled away actually are representative of gamers.
Sure we all get nostalgic from time to time. I’ve enjoyed revisiting Everquest and Asheron’s Call, but after having done so I’m not sure I’d want to remain in those games. Certainly I’d love for those worlds to be revisited by developers, and to have a lot of the same features, but also take advantage of the improvements the genre has seen over the years.
But with only a few thousand gamers backing the latest game to promise to go old school, I wonder if it’s about time to concede that those days have gone. Or at least have fallen into a very niche category.
Posted by Stropp on
January 24, 2013
…that a mentally ill person goes into a school/theatre/whatever with a gun which has a magazine capacity that is only intended for warzones, kills a bunch of people, and in the aftermath people demand that computer games be banned or otherwise controlled while saying nothing about the supply of guns to people who obviously shouldn’t have them in the first place.
Is there a mental disconnect here or what?
Posted by Stropp on
January 18, 2012
Last November I wrote a post about the upcoming SOPA/PIPA legislation currently being debated in the US Congress and Senate. I concluded that SOPA would have a negative impact on gamers and on games. I said,
Even worse, because the burden of proof is lowered even further, it may become rediculously easy for game publishers to take out the competition. Just claim copyright infringement. Right now you cannot copyright an idea. But since there is no due process anymore, just a claim that the competing developer has infringed might be enough to close down the competitor. This might not work between two giants like Activision and Ubisoft, but what about Activision claiming against an innovative indie developer?
There’s no way an indie can fight that sort of fight. Right now indie developers are enjoying a golden age as the web has opened up lots of opportunities for them. How easy would it be for SOPA to end all that?
That was a big concern of mine, and while it was directed specifically at indie games, there are all sorts of indie ‘industries’ that SOPA will kill.
Right now the Internet has lowered the entry bar to all kinds of creatives. If you are a musician you can put up a website and let people download your music. If you are a writer you can write a novel and self publish far more easily now than any time in history. An Indie game developer now has access to the tools, content, and resources to make games that would have been considered AAA ten years ago.
I think we are coming in to a golden age of creativity where anyone will be able to create art, both commercial and non-commercial, and find people to share it with. The challenge will be the development of new and innovative tools that enable those connections between creators and fans.
This is a threat to the gatekeepers. The publishers and agents who controlled the means of distribution. They don’t create, they sell what the creatives build and give back small returns. In the past they were necessary, now, not so much.
These gatekeepers have made many fortunes off of the work of others, and they are now threatened. So they are spending large chunks of these fortunes to
bribe payoff lobby politicans, who don’t understand the technology, all over the world to crush that innovation and to retain the old obsolete business models. They have stated that the needs of the wider Internet community are subservient to their own and that it is okay to break the Internet in order to meet those needs.
Not only will creativity be crushed, you won’t be able to have secure web access to your bank and other online accounts, because the DNSSEC (Wikipedia entry) work is regarded as circumvention and will be illegal. (Even Comcast a SOPA supporter has said that their DNSSEC implementation clashes with the SOPA provisions. What a mess!)
Because I’m not a US Citizen I cannot vote in any US elections, I can’t even contact a US politician and let them know how I feel, so Stropp’s World is not going to go dark on January 18th in support of the movement against SOPA/PIPA.
However, I’d love to encourage as many as you who read my blog and live in the US to contact your federal and state representatives about SOPA and PIPA. Find out where they stand and let them know in no uncertain terms how you feel about this evil legislation. Let them know that this legislation is toxic and will cost them votes and possibly their seats.
If you want to go further, and this isn’t limited to US citizens, contact the people you buy stuff from. Find out their position on SOPA, and if they are pro tell them you won’t be buying their products until they change their position (this worked with Godaddy, kindof.) Of course you have to back it up. Make everyone see that the Internet is not just a bunch of ineffective nerds, but a very powerful political force that cannot be ignored in issues such as this.
Your comments are welcome. Tell me how you feel about this.
By the way, I found the image at the front of this post using Google Image search. Is it copyright? Perhaps. If SOPA is enacted, I could lose my site without any recourse at all if anyone, not just the original copyright holder makes a complaint.
Posted by Stropp on
July 26, 2011
Over the weekend, yet another nutbag thought he was doing the world a favor and murdered a terrible lot of innocent people because he thought some of them might end up being traitors. It’s an awful thing to read and watch the aftermath of this kind of act, how much more horrible it must be to be the friends or relatives of the victims. Even the stalwart people of Norway who aren’t directly affected must be in shock at this attrocity right now. I want to send my condolences to all who were affected by this terrible event.
The interesting thing is how the people of Norway, and the government are calling for calm and not reacting in a knee-jerk fashion by calling for tougher security and touting an anti-terrorist agenda.
Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped the opportunists with an agenda calling for action to be taken against games.
You see the killer in this event stated that he used Modern Warfare 2 as a training simulator to prepare for his crime.
This single thing, as ridiculous as it is, has been grabbed by the game hating lobby to call for the banning of violent games. Here in Australia at least one lobby group is calling for a ban on all violent games. Because of course, it’s the games fault.
Now, as we all know, unfortunately the world has more than just a few people who fit the desription in the title of this article. These are people that are filled with anger, hate, fear, or all of the above and who think that an individuals, or group is out to get them or those they love. In simple terms, they’ re mentally ill. Normally, this rage or fear expresses itself in a single or small number of deaths; We’ve all seen the standoffs in the news with some guy who has taken hostages kills them and usually himself.
Sometimes though, the hate is directed at a group. In this case, the killer was convinced he had to protect the West from Islam, despite the fact that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding members of whatever society they belong too. So he gunned down and blew up a large number of people. Many of whom presumably belonged to his own faith.
Now I said earlier that his statement of using MW2 as a training simulator was ridiculous. Why?
Simple. How does using a mouse/keyboard or gamepad simulate the use of firearms or explosives? It just simply doesn’t. Aiming, the effect of recoil, the timing of fuses, everything associated with arms and ordinance takes a lot of practice using the actual gear to become proficient. Being good at CoD doesn’t mean you can handle a gun. I very much doubt that the police or military will replace live fire practice with Gears of War or CoD on the XBox 360 anytime soon.
And ultimately, the individual is to blame for their actions. It’s up to the courts to determine capability due to mental illness, not some lobby group. Do we blame the fact that this guy chose a game to while away his fantasies and ‘train’ for his act of murder, or do we consider that he was a nutbag and would have done what he did regardless of what game console he had chosen?
Would anyone be asking for a ban on Mario Cart if he only had a Wii?
Posted by Stropp on
May 10, 2011
Just saw on Rock Paper Shotgun a little news item that Good Old Games has decided to drop a IP location check for buyers of their games.
This means that Australian gamers won’t be faced with the following.
- Not being charged a ridiculous premium on games because we live in Oz, as Steam does for some titles.
- Not being able to buy a game online because the publisher blocks games that didn’t pass our stupid Australian censorship laws.
Both of those are bonuses.
I do like this quote from RPS.
It’s great that GoG are employing trust in their customers this way, because it means they know that no one in Australia would ever dream of breaking this bond by using the lack of IP geo-tracking to purchase a game that’s been censored by their country’s government.
pause in typing
okay. Just excuse me for a second as I pick myself up off the floor. Laughing like that is a health hazard.
As you know I hate censorship. I think it’s the lowest act of government, and a sign of the nanny state mentality that politicians who think they know better than the people who elected them. As an adult I have the right to choose what I read, watch, listen to, or play. No government has the right to dictate that.
So I applaud Good Old Games, even if they are not making a stand against censorship, to at least remove some of the road blocks thrown up assisting the censors.
Posted by Stropp on
January 22, 2010
Regular readers will know that I periodically rant against stupid censorship laws, being a strong believer that people not only have a right to make up their own minds about what they read, watch, or play, but that they are generally capable of making those decisions being adults.
Still, sometimes one must wonder.
One of the big gaming issues in Oz at the moment is the undemocratic blocking of an R rating for games by the South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. I’ve made a few comments about that on this blog, but that’s not what I want to rail at now.
Apparently, some in the gaming community have been sending death-threats to the AG, not only threatening him, but his family.
Are these idiots really so dense as to believe that a death-threat will make someone in a high-level government position cower in fear and change their position?
If anything this kind of stupidity only entrenches the opinion and position of your opponent. Worse still, it turns the reasonable members of society who may have been leaning towards supporting our position against us. It can only harm the cause of getting an R rating for games, and supports the position of the censorship advocates. Idiots!
The point of being anti-censorship is to support a system where everyone has the right to express themselves freely, and where everyone can choose what expressions they partake in. One of the constant features of repressive societies is the censorship of expression, often through the use of violence or the removal of individual rights.
Someone who chooses to threaten someone with violence or death in order to get his or her own way isn’t choosing the path of freedom. They’re choosing the road that dictators and censors so often like to take.
Maybe there really are some in the gaming community who should be denied access to games.
Posted by Stropp on
June 26, 2009
With apologies to Yeats.
It’s been a bad news day today hasn’t it?
There appears to be more to come for us Aussies. Nestled among the stories about Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcet — my sympathies to their loved ones — is another about the Internet filter that our so-called democratic government wants to foist upon us.
It looks like that they want to protect us now, aside from child pornography, from racy and unrated downloadable games that we can get from the internet. And since Australia does not have a 18+ rating for games, that means many of the unrated games that we can now get from overseas will be filtered.
A lot of gamers possibly won’t find this an inconvenience. After all they buy their games from stores which by law must be rated.
For MMORPG gamers though… well that’s the sticker. Apparently most of these are unrated in Oz simply because they are primarily available online and the content changes. (Though there is some dispute over this at the moment as I understand.) It’s entirely possible that the Australian government will decide to block games like World of Warcraft for this reason.
And games like Age of Conan may be hard pressed to get a rating even if they apply. AoC has blood splatter and decapitations, and worst of all, to the shock and horror of the what-about-the-children crowd, it has exposed boobies. Oh who will save us from those evil knockers!
Now here’s where it could badly affect casual web gamers.
Pretty much none of the independantly developed games out there are rated, at least officially, it’s way too expensive. If the Australian government decides to go the whole hog and censor all unrated games (perhaps unlikely) then there will be virtually no access to independant web games within Australia. That’s an exteme possibility, but when have governments ever been rational?
The thing is, I thought this filter idea was effectively dead. Some months ago, a number of the top ISPs in Oz withdrew from the trial saying that it was a bad idea, a waste of time, and that they weren’t going to have any more to do with it. They also said what everyone else knew, the filter was going to slow our access speed down to a crawl, a bad idea considering the comparatively low speeds we currently get.
Now I’d like you to do something. I know there are a lot of Australian readers of this blog, the stats say that Aussies are the second most common visitors, with the Americans being first.
If you don’t want Australia to be locked away behind a firewall and secret blacklist and be unable to access the games you want to play, contact your local member of Federal parliament. Tell them you are unhappy about being treated like a child.
If you are an indie game developer, hey you’re losing customers. Try letting your Aussie customers know what is going on, and get them to raise a stink.
Finally, if you’re a blogger, even if you’re not from the Land Down Under, I’d appreciate if you could publicise the issue too. The more noise and ill feeling that we can raise against this completely inappropriate violation of our civil rights, the better.
Posted by Stropp on
July 10, 2008
Here’s a quick update on the ban on Fallout 3 by the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC.)
It turns out that the reason for Fallout 3 being refused classification is that it contains drug use.
For those who remember the earlier Fallout games, that incidentally were allowed classification, part of the game mechanic entails the player injecting certain types of drugs to provide certain attribute boosts, or healing effects. For example if you’re wandering around a radioactive area, you can take a radiation medication.
Fallout 3 carries this metaphor a bit further. Your character can be injured on various body parts and can suffer pain effects. These must do something to movement, as debilitating injuries do, so to alleviate the pain, the player can inject morphine.
And that’s what the bastions of public parenting, those protectors of gamers from themselves, the OFLC, find objectionable.
Posted by Stropp on
July 10, 2008
I just saw on Game Politics that Fallout 3 has been refused classification in Australia.
According to GameSpot and other sources, the long-awaited Fallout 3 has been refused classification by Australia’s Office of Film & Literature Classification.
The decision effectively bans Fallout 3 from being sold by retailers Down Under. From the GameSpot report:
While the OFLC website has no details on why Fallout 3 was banned, a user in GameSpot’s PC forum last week suggested it could be due to the use of the drug morphine within the game.
I’m not a happy chappy at the moment.
I’ve been anticipating Fallout 3 ever since the announcement of its development, and having thoroughly enjoyed the first game in the series. (I haven’t played Fallout 2 or Brotherhood of Steel due simply to timing.) I even noticed on the EB Games website the other day that the release date was sometime in October.
This travesty of state censorship is something we have to put up with here in Australia. Unfortunately we don’t have the same protections on speech as the US and thus our government can choose to censor it at anytime. In fact Australians don’t have a bill of rights, or the constitutional protections of the US. We’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t had a government that has ridden rough-shod over them, even if we are sometimes deprived of games.
Fortunately we do have the option with PC games to purchase them overseas. Consoles are another matter since OS games are region coded and won’t play without a mod chip. But since I was always going to purchase Fallout 3 for the PC and not the 360, I’ll be putting my order in with Amazon.
Come October, I will be playing Fallout 3. The OFLC can kiss my pale hairy arse.
Posted by Stropp on
April 30, 2008
I’d just posted an article on game politics and what does Game Politics the blog do?
They report on a rant by Richard Bartle in the UK Newspaper, The Guardian.
Bartle, love him or hate him, is the co-creator of the MUD, the text based predecessor of our beloved MMORPG. He’s also a great voice out there for the gamer generation and he doesn’t pull any punches when he’s talking game politics.
Bartle directs his ire at the following:
I’m talking to you, you self-righteous politicians and newspaper columnists, you relics who beat on computer games:…
He has some word of prophecy for this generations politicians and media moguls.
15 years from now, the prime minister of the day will have grown up playing computer games… Gamers vote. Gamers buy newspapers. They won’t vote for you, or buy your newspapers, if you trash their entertainment with your ignorant ravings. Call them social inadequates if you like, but when they have more friends in World of Warcraft than you have in your entire sad little booze-oriented culture of a real life, the most you’ll get from them is pity…
In the immortal words (paraphrased) of Monty Python: He’s a cruel man – but fair.
Like I said in my previous post about game politics, there are powerful groups with a vested interested in knobbling the gaming community. Richard Bartles perspective is that they have already lost, that there are now more gamers in the community than non gamers.
While I don’t agree completely — just because someone is born in the post-game generation doesn’t mean they are a gamer, or respect games — Bartle makes a great point. Games are here to stay. The longer this media exists, the more entrenched it becomes.