Turning to the state of the industry - what do you see for this new generation in terms of who's going to be around for the long haul?
More so with developing for the PS3 than obviously the 360... looking at how game makers have started with some additional focus in terms of looking for ways to create other means of involving the player in the experience above and beyond just “it's beautiful”. It's not about being beautiful anymore, because, at least with the exception of the Wii, all of them are capable of producing incredibly detailed, lush, complex images. So now that you can do that, what you do with it?
It's interesting that they're kind of both saying “beautiful graphics are the most important thing right now”, but both in different ways. Nintendo is saying it by saying “this is unimportant, we don't care”, and Microsoft and Sony are saying “they're not important because the tools to make them are so good, and the systems themselves are so powerful, that every game has to have good graphics -- other things define the experience”. It's interesting to me.
JO: I think that's a good observation, and I don’t think people buy games today because they look really good. I think there is an expectation level as to what a game should look like and it either meets that threshold, or it doesn't. And once you look at this expanded market of people who are entering the market because they’re new, because of the Wii, with the DS or because of age attrition... they’re no longer eight-year-olds, or 12 to 14, and they’re in the sweet spot for... interactive entertainment is their primary form of amusing themselves.
They know what they want; they are educated, sophisticated, savvy consumers. And I think that game makers are really... I'm not sure struggling, but I think they are challenged to come up with ways to do things without losing what they believe to be the core audience. And I think the new gamers that are coming up... the hardest challenge I can think of today would be if they went out and bought a Wii and Wii Fit... what would be the second game we tried to sell them? I don't know what that would be. I suppose we could come up with about ten in 10 minutes, but...
How would you get them to a think they need another game and go out and buy it? How would you inform them about it?
JO: I think somebody just gave me the phrase of “Wiisearch”, and I am quite confident that Nintendo spent a fair amount of resources in talking to people in terms of determining where the opportunities are, and I think that they will continue to apply that. And that's really good, but the thing about game systems in the past, over the last five cycles, what you've seen was “we can have a couple racing games, a couple fighting games and platformers, a couple of sports sims...” and now for these new systems today, for the current generation of systems, you don't think about it in those terms.
You think “what’s a really great game?”, and it's not about the genre, as much as people segment it, [but] it is about what's really going to engage you, and what audience you really want to engage. I think for the first time, I really believe that as one who represents game makers, that I say gamers are not 12 to 17-year-old boys, above and beyond we’re seeing people 12 to 24 years of age, segmented by what they like and what they want to play, and if I expand that to the television-ubiquitous audience of adults 18 to 34... they’re gamers.
I presented at a national cable show, and basically got a question from the floor that said, “can you describe the gaming audience today?” and I said “well can you describe the people who watch cable television?” Because they're almost the same mass level of audiences, and the thing they have in common is that they have a device that connects to television set or a monitor that allows them to play games.
So the Wii might be the equivalent of the Lifetime network, or something like that.
JO: That's not bad, the Lifetime network is profitable and has a large audience and it doesn't bother me that people love Lifetime or HGTV, and as long as you don't force me to watch it, I'm fine with that. And I think people who watch Lifetime are just as happy saying “don't make me watch the action movie channel, and I'm good with that”.