Long-time listener, first-time caller!
I've seen a number of blog posts on this site recently comparing games with films (movies), and in particular suggesting that the similarities are sufficient that the games industry could benefit from moving towards the finance and production models used by the film industry.
That set me thinking: surely there must be better analogies. This is how far I've got. I hope it's enough to interest some of you and kick off some discussion at least.
Caveat emptor: I'm not in any of these industries, and I've not done any specific research for this. It's from my head, and I'm happy with both well-informed and equally uninformed feedback.
By the way, in the same way that some people switch between he and she to try to keep the reader thinking about a disparate group rather than settling on an image of a single person, I've decided to keep switching between the gaming terms like "player" and those more normally used with traditional media like "viewer". Hope that's not too painful!
Action games are like action films
I'm primarily comparing AAA single-player action films with blockbuster movies here, say Drake's Fortune with a Bond film, but I hope the analogies survive as you scale down both.
I can definitely see the games industry learning from films here. As I understand it, films are created by a production company who do the planning and prototyping with some seed funding, but are then financed with a lump sum as they go into production based on the track record of the producers and a detailed visualization of the end product.
Who doesn't this model suit? What would be lost?
RPGs are more like box-sets
Roleplaying games, single player and particularly MMOs, are like TV series: the sort which you missed out on the first time, but bought the box set, and you are now evangelising to all your friends about it, even though they watched it last year (e.g. Sopranos, House, 24).
I think TV networks tend to be pitched a concept and some initial content, pay for a pilot (which is mostly a test of the script and actors, and tends to be lower cost than a regular episode) and then pay production costs as they are incurred. Franchises can be heavily milked, so long as the content keeps coming and the quality stays high.
Does this mean that RPGs should have a completely different funding model to FPSs?
Casual games are like daytime TV, and also like magazines
There is probably already a good corrolary between the consolidation of much of the market into the hands of big producers. Tiny independents can still find a niche (in games and magazines at least) but it can be hard for them to market themselves in such a crowd.
Strategy games are like novels
I'm stretching here perhaps, but I've decided there are quite a lot of similarities between turn-based strategy games and novels.
Books are generally developed by a publisher providing an advance to someone with a good idea who they think has a decent chance of completing the task. They monitor progress, without applying too much pressure. End quality is key to them, so they let the author decide when its ready.
Could TBS game dev be more like this? Or is it already. This is not far off the traditional model of publishers funding developers, but I get the impression that game publishers lean much more heavily on their authors to finish. I don't know if the publishers know to be more hands off when the game type makes it appropriate.
Sandbox games are like colouring books
Okay, I'm just being silly now. They are more like biographical novels.
So, if there's anything I've drawn from this, it's a belief that game genres are
more different than I'd considered before. Not just in their effects on the players, and the markets they sell into, but also in their development and funding requirements. Therefore it should be no surprise if they are developed using very different business models.
Any of the above strike a chord with anyone? Any mileage in this analytical line? Or do you perhaps have the knowledge to point out the fatal flaws in the above? Comment are very welcome.