J T wrote:
That may be, but this is StarCraft II! The game sold 1.5 million copies in the first 48 hours of its release. It is the fastest selling realtime strategy game of ALL TIME. Surely, by most metrics, StarCraft II is still a huge success. I get the business logic Activision is using, I just find it incredibly sad that one of the top selling (and well crafted) games of our time is not even considered a success under the new business model that finds that trickling out content through a pay-as-you-go system is so much better for making money.
It's also sad that while game designers may strive to become the next Will Wright, Shigeru Miaymoto, John Carmack, Hideo Kojima, or Warren Spector, all of those dreams won't matter much in the new market if they can't help their corporate leaders become the next Zynga.
I hear you, I really do.
The problem is that there are successful sales metrics, and a successful bottom line. While selling one million copies of any game is a laudable achievement, it's less so if it's not providing an acceptable profit margin. It sucks that we're in an era where it costs so much to make top-tier games that even selling a million copies does not provide an acceptable (if at all) ROI!
If you compare games to say, the movie industry, they have multiple streams to recoup their investment. From the initial run in theatres, to consumer media sales, to streaming licensing deals, to hotels, to rentals, to television syndication, the list goes on! One product has multiple reaches. A game company can invest a similar amount of time and money in the creation of their product, and they've got retail sales and digital downloads. In that context, the importance of DLC, microtransactions, F2P becomes that much more apparent.
It seems to me that we need to figure out a way to roll with the industry changing. Freemium is going to be king for a while. What is it that we can do to ensure freemium doesn't become all there is?
I find this peculiar. Before Blizzard became part of Activision, they were certainly making enough money with their strategy to be able to support themselves despite following their business model - unfortunately it is hard to say that after WoW as that in itself means they would be profitable (and be an attractive purchase for Activision) regardless.
Anyway, they had server costs for Battle.net and they were pouring balance tweaks for *years* for Diablo 2 and SC. I believe that those tweaks have diminishing costs because just as the players become more and more familiar with the game, the (small?) team assigned to those tweaks has to be pretty experienced at it after several years of focusing on that.
But they also gott advertising money from running ads on their Battle.net servers. Surely that is an alternative business model to "freemium" at least for games with an online component?
One thing to note is that Blizzard games - because of those perks they provide, no doubt - also have shelf lives of years, unlike basically everything else out there (except maybe stuff from Valve, who I guess also tweak Team Fortress or whatever it is). I don't think there is much doubt right now that SC2 will continue to sell for years, and I think people may be neglecting that.