Why Atari will Succeed

September 19, 2008

Source: lastshepard.wordpress.com

Reading about the Phil Harrison interview yesterday, anyone in the game industry would see Atari‘s forward thinking strategy. The focus of the company moving forward will be based on digital distribution and new media (Facebook, iPhone, etc). Contrast this with the strategy of Gamestop and parts of EA, and you can tell why this is forward thinking.

Ive been having conversations with my friends in the games industry and some I them see this change, while others don’t. Video games are still a very young industry and the next 10 years will dictate whether games are viewed as gimmicks or art. To get there, I believe games need standardization at the high-end to create universal experiences that a varying (skill) set of players can enjoy. This means that high quality games need to be more accessible. Not just in terms of accessibility or casual gamers, but also in terms of length and scope. Look at the IMDB top 250 movies. Gone With the Wind was the greatest movie of its time as a financial success. What you can also see from the IMDB page is that the movie had a run time of 238 minutes (4 hours). I watched this movie several years ago and found that to appreciate it, you had to be a dedicated movie buff. Games today often suffer from the same problems of having titles that just run too long.

In the early console wars, significant effort was placed on technology. This is synanomous with the developmet of the camera for movies. Today, we’ve reached a point where the “camera” is reaching a point of “good enough.” That means that the focus is on gameplay and story rather than graphics. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be companies that will drive technology. And they are necessary for advancement in the games industry. But the fact that Epic is valued at 1 billion plus shows that many people are happy buying tech rather than developing it internally.

The next step in making high end games mainstream is to control the length of the games. I will never stop being a gamer and neither will the generation below me (that’s a good thing). But I don’t have the same amount of time I had back in the day. This means that I want games to provide a great experience with having to invest 100+ hours. Looking at the movie industry, studios like Pixar demonstrate that great movies can be done in a 90 minute timeframe. We need to approach game development the saw way. Phil Harrison may not say that word for word, but his strategy may very well lead to that.


2 Responses to “Why Atari will Succeed”

  1. radymarketingon Says:

    Making games high quality, interesting, engaging, and the right length would indeed be great…oh, and affordable too. But what if get the first best isn’t possible? What if what you state isn’t an attribute that is shared across segments? What if some people go for playability, while others go for the social aspects? The Wii vs. PS3 clearly shows that the future may not be reserved for high end games. If you are looking for the next killer-ap, you might want to consider a platform that allows people to sort themselves into the specific set of attributes that suites them…

  2. Joseph Young Says:

    Thank you for the feedback. My post was geared mostly towards the “core gamer.” Those who grew up playing games and are now in their 30’s and 40’s. The growth of the industry has been amazing, and the success achieved by the Wii was a surprise to everyone. But I believe casual games focus on the social aspects of video games (as you pointed out), and don’t grasp at the story. Other media is valued higher than games because it can make you cry. At least that’s Ebert’s opinion. A casual or social game is not going to bring emotion to the player beyond socialization and entertainment. The industry needs great story driven games to reach the same respect as a form of storytelling as a book or movie.

    If we look at it from that perspective, then game need to shorten their time to gain mass approval. A great example of this would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story has enough depth and emotion to make it a classic. The directors of the movie were able to bring that emotion over to film while also reducing parts of the story. Games can achieve this one day, but they need a story and a format that will be enjoyed by both “core” and casual gamers.

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