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Q Games' Cuthbert: Cost Of Making New PS3 Themes Outweighs Profits
Q Games' Cuthbert: Cost Of Making New PS3 Themes Outweighs Profits
September 8, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

September 8, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

With a promotional theme for PixelJunk Monsters, Q Games is one of the first developers to showcase PlayStation 3's new Dynamic Themes, a system it helped create. The new themes add animation capability with firmware upgrade 3.0 -- but the developer says it's unlikely to earn any money producing the themes.

Q Games says it's "proud" to have helped out with the development of the Dynamic Themes . "Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) wanted to spice up the background a bit and static pictures just didnít cut the mustard," writes Q-Games head Dylan Cuthbert on the official PlayStation Blog.

"So we collaborated with them to make a system where developers can display what they want and animate and move them around," he adds. "This definitely adds a little life to the PS3ís background so be sure to try it out."

But in the comments of his post, Cuthbert responded to users who groused at paying $3 for a software theme, pointing out that the developer makes the theme itself at a loss.

"Remember that weíll be lucky to sell even a few thousand themes, and so the cost of developing the theme (3-4 weeks of coder/artist time, checking, testing etc) will still far exceed any money we make from it," Cuthbert wrote.

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Sid Krishna
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Sell them for a reasonable price (The magical iPhone instabuy price of $1) and a LOT more people will buy them on a whim and you may make a profit if its a good theme.

Arne Gleason
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Maybe Iím being Mr. Obvious here, but Themes have both Merchandising and Marketing aspects. Giving them away for free might make sense for some cases (dev cost could be a legit Marketing expense), while for other cases they might be sold for profit (by having a strong Merchandising draw). When you feel the need to explain publicly that youíre taking a loss, Iím guessing customers donít value your product as much as you wish they did.

steve roger
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Sorry, not buying the "it's a loss." First, as Sid said, drop the price get that Valve proven profit from gross receipts. Second, tie the theme to advertising dollars. If a gamer installs it, you have instant advertising both through viewing and good will. For example, I got a screen saver for Asto boy of the net for free. Sure they are taking a "loss" because it's free. But it is selling the movie to my kids who want to see it now because it's on the PC.

Arne, I think they are just trying to justify the bloated price. A price that is pricing themselves right out of a profit. 3 bucks for a theme? No on my watch. And yes, I think if they were motivated by selling these things, they are fooling themselves.

Tom Newman
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Just factor it into the marketing budget, because that's essentially what it is. I'm happy to display the theme of my favorite game, but paying for it seems unnecessary, especially for what is essentially a big ad.

Janne Haffer
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Just to be annoying and point out that this part is incorrect: "The new themes add interactivity with firmware upgrade 3.0"

The only way to get interactivity from dynamic themes is to manually go in and change the ps3 clock, which I don't think Sony would approve of as a "proper" use of the themes.

Also as Tom Newman said, just make it part of the marketing budget.

Tony Dormanesh
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Make another Monsters expansion !

Gabe Carter
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I don't love the $2.99 price, but keep in mind that Dylan is talking specifically about the theme they made, which is for a game that has been out well over a year. He's not saying all developers are making themes at a loss, just in this case where the theme is unlikely to receive purchases other than from the die-hard fans, since PJ Monsters isn't really at the forefront of marketing right now.

In that case, where they are LONG past the point of lumping this in with a marketing budget, I have no problem with them charging $2.99 for it. I'm a massive fan of the PixelJunk games and happily would pay $2.99 for a PJ Monsters theme (and I did).

On the flip side, if brand new games are coming out alongside dynamic themes at $2.99, I call foul. Dynamic themes should be on the disc or inside the game download. Buy the game, get 2 or 3 varieties of themes for it.

Dylan Cuthbert
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Sorry to butt in - but seeing as my harmless comment has become major gaming news... :)

Gabe has it right - I think if we were releasing Monsters right now, then a lower price tag (or free, depending on the effort put into it) would be fine.

But Monsters is almost two years old now (the Japanese release was early December) and we already actually spent a lot of cash on "free fan service", such as the trophy patch and the difficulty options, plus all the free static themes we've released.

Someone mailed me just yesterday asking if there was a way to donate to PixelJunk as a mark of respect. I think it would be cool if these dynamic themes were thought of in that way - if you like PixelJunk and want to add some cash to our coffers to help us develop more games then grab our dynamic theme!

If you "game-shared" Monsters and never got around to buying it, then grab our theme and feed us! (well, if you enjoyed the game of course)