Chu’s on a winning streak these days, due in part to his encyclopedic knowledge of all things trivial. But he owes a pretty big debt to ‘game theory’ as well.
A year or so before the Wii controller was unveiled, I had the chance to sit down with Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of Nintendo. As I expect every other reporter did that day, I bobbed and weaved with him about what was so “revolutionary” about the company’s next product – and why they were guarding that secret so closely instead of getting consumers excited about it. His answer always stuck with me. Competitors, he said, tend to copy the company’s moves – and they wanted to own this market for as long as possible.
The amount of ink wasted bemoaning the sheer volume of crappy movie-based games is copious – and I promise this isn’t more of the same. In fact, for the first time games and movies may have found a good way to co-exist.
It’s been a relatively quiet past few years for developers who focus on action games. Sales have been solid, while media hysteria about the genre has been, for the most part, muted. The heyday of finger-pointing and uninformed accusations could be about to resurface, though. While Jack Thompson is less a force of nature than he used to be (both legally and with mainstream outlets, who seem less inclined to put him on air), the elements of a perfect storm are brewing to put first-/third-person shooters back in an uncomfortable media spotlight.
Game publishers and game retailers have, at best, an uneasy relationship – so what happens when one becomes the other? It’s a growing question that should make for some interesting times in the years ahead.
Valve Software kicked off the hybrid developer/distributor model in 2003 with Steam, and it wasn’t long before Electronic Arts and Activision followed suit with their own online stores, giving them more control of (and higher margins from) the sale of their games and in-game content. Microsoft and Sony, meanwhile, straddle the fence with the storefronts that are built into the Xbox 360 and PS3.