Is Video Game Industry Just a Business

I have been playing games for quite some time now and once a friend of mine asked me “What is Video Game Industry” and I told my friend that gaming industry is not just a business, its an art business. They are there for the creation and not just the money. Recent changes in past few years have made me rethink that statement again which I once gave to my friend. So I sat down with a vacant mind, thinking about the past of the gaming industry and how much it has changed in more ways anyone can imagine. Let me clear out several questions before I move further in this article. I am strictly talking about PC gaming here, no Console vs PC war here please. Now let us move on.

Is it all about just business and nothing else

The short answer to the question is YES. Gaming industry is indeed just a business industry. I mean look at the size of this behemoth, its the largest entertainment industry. The amount of revenue a single AAA game makes, any hollywood movies can just dream of making that much money from their product. Its around $30 to $40 Billion industry globally which is way more than ant Entertainment industry. Hell even combined revenue of Movies and Music can’t reach this beast. Also according to new reports it will grow to around $100 billion in next few years. Now lets me give you some example. Call of Duty Black Ops made half a billion in just 24 hours and in 15 days it was over a Billion dollar game, thus selling around 27 million copies. World of Warcraft has grossed more than $10 billion out of the game. Similar things happen to many other games as well but need not to mention them all here. I hope you get the point. Even the designers of the games are quite rich people. A game designer start off at around $45,000 annual salary which I gotta say is a lot for starting guy in even modern world country. After several years experience it goes beyond $100,000 for senior designers. Publishers have various Developing house working under their name and have thus hired several thousand employees to work for them. Recently the DOTA 2  tournament The International 2014 was held in Seattle and it was biggest Electronic Sports event till date with prize worth $10.93 Million. I think you got the idea about how big is this industry.

It Looks Good, What’s the Problem then

Well for starters its about the way most of these companies make money. You made a game its a hit among the gamers so you put the game in yearly cycle to make the most out the game IP until gamers literally hate the series and dump it. Example being Prince of Persia, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and many many others. I can’t express my frustration when a good IP has turned into a yearly cycle just for sake of releasing the games and make every last penny out of it. Please let the game die with pride and don’t make us hate the series because of few really really forced games in the series. Remember the failures of Need for Speed games after Carbon, they just kept making games but didn’t tried to improvise, its was just failure after failure. Same goes for Call of Duty, same wine in new bottle every year, I can’t even get excited with new COD game news. I’m like “Oh that, well its another shit, ignore it”. Another way of screwing around is with DLCs (Downloadable Content). So you release a $60 game and after just several days you are releasing a DLC which costs $20 or more than that. Now this is just plain cheating with your customers. We know that part of the game you released was ready when you launched the game and yet you are demanding more money from me. Didn’t I just paid you $60 for a brand new game. In olden days it was discouraged, even if some new content used to be released it came with the updates and not as DLCs. Also nowadays companies ask money for in game items like clothes, new weapons and other things. They can just give them for free. I mean its not like they have very high production values and took a hell lot of time to make them. EA literally won “Worst Consumer Company” for 2 consecutive years. This might tell how much gamers hate this phenomenon and yet it never gets stopped. Also many games are released half baked with game breaking problems at launch just to make money. The reason behind this is publishers forcing the developers to rush the product to make money ASAP. See what happened to Battlefield 4, game breaking bugs on day 1 and now they are getting sued for this act. So this is how companies screw gamers.

I Remember something like DRM, what’s that

DRM stands for Digital Right Management. Its another way of screwing the legit gamers for most of the time and sometimes illegit gamers also. In olden days it was known as CD-Key. You got the CD key then you can run the game by putting the CD/DVD in DVD drive, very simple. But nowadays its way more complicated than that. Some DRM asks you to be online whenever you play a game, doesn’t matter if you wanna play singleplayer or multiplayer. If you bought a game so it must be your choice whether you play it online or not but no, its not your choice, its theirs. Many games require you to activate game once using internet and after that you can play it offline but some require you to be online constantly. Diablo 3 uses a DRM which fetches data from their servers even while playing Single Player means if you are offline then you just can’t play the game at all. And there are so many of them, with new names. A buttload of bloatware installed on my PC to run a game. Ubisoft and Blizzard have a pretty damn bad reputation in this area, their DRM literally sucks. A new DRM is also coming for FIFA and GTA V which will supposedly bring halt to the piracy. To be honest I don’t think so, I have seen multiple DRMs fall right on their face trying to stop piracy. Hey you wanna stop piracy, at the very least stop screwing around legit gamers or you are increasing piracy not stopping it. Treat your customers like they want to so that they will spread the words and more will join, not screw them so that they will also leave with a middle finger on your face. Anyway thats the way it is, you can’t really change that. I hope that it does but well we will see about that in future.

So Basically I am screwed big time

No not really. Everything has a silver lining, gaming industry has that too. There are many developers who actually care about their customers and maintain the gamer’s creed while doing business as well. CD Projeck Red comes on top of that, they are the owners of GOG (Good Old Games). A site which sells DRM free games, also all their games are DRM free and future games will also be DRM free as per their statements. They have never charged anything for any DLC they have released and they plan not to in future as well. This actually helped them, their games have sold a lot because of this attitude towards the gamers. Many people have bought the game even when they won’t play it just to support them. Lariel Studios, makers of “Divinity Original Sin” came out of the shell and said “screw you” to the publishers and made a outstanding games using the Kickstarter funds and have sold quite well. Several Indie games are exceptionally nice as well like Limbo, Braid, Orcs Must Die and many others. The list will go on. The problem is that they never get the limelight because they can’t afford a lot of advertisement. Same goes for many other games and developers. Indie developers also make very good games which are available for quite low price with DRM free or limited DRM.

Can I do something to improve it

YES, of course you can influence it. After all you are the end user, if you make a stand and enough people follow the stream then it might make a difference for sure. You can start off by funding some games or projects on Kickstarter, the one which you think have potential, but unfortunately they don’t have enough funds to back it up and develop the product or game. The new Terms and Conditions at kickstarter just begs you to fund the good projects. Previously many project took people’s money and ultimately said “Sorry guys We can’t make it”. Now they can’t, they have to give proper reasons for that or refund the money to the backers.  Also you can donate money directly to the developers if you like. You should also endorse the modding community who work their ass off for you guys to improvise on the mistakes of games which support mods. Never think that I can’t donate because I can only spare $1, every penny counts. If there are 1000 people who donate $1 then it would become $1000 which is pretty big amount, so donate what you can. Report bugs to them, don’t just dump it, try to improve it by working with the developers, they are more than happy to listen if you have something better to say. As for DRMs you can simply boycott the games which have those DRM which you hate. I boycotted Diablo 3 even though I wanted to play it because I hate that DRM. Its not that I can give the company a loss but at least I am not following the herd like sheeps. I am making my own stand, even though it won’t make a difference to them, it does to me.

Is it really improving or just a hoax

Yes and no. Several developers have started to listen and are actually actively interacting with the end users or lets say the gamers. End users are giving them the feedback and if possible then developers are improving their product as per requirement but it also opens the door to flaming and criticism as many come at their forum to spam around and to do trash talk. Still I appreciate the things that they are doing and their efforts towards interacting with gamers. Also more and more games are coming on GOG which is a good thing as it shows that many developers are supporting Anti DRM stream and going their way to support it, by selling their games DRM free from the site. And yet we are seeing more and more new DRMs coming in picture with more pain to play the game every now and then. More DLCs are coming on Day 1 of the release of the games and very costly too. Many times cost as much as price of a game itself which is clearly not a good thing for the gamers point of view. I hope that the big players of the industry learn from these developers and start treating gamers like they want to.

What do I make up after all this

The gaming industry is indeed a business model which is clearly not going to change at all. However new developers will come in and go out the league to do new things and maintain the dignity of the industry every now and then. So lets not lose faith in gaming and let it expand and flourish.

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