Nolan Bushnell: What The Game Industry Misses
July 7, 2008 Page 5 of 6
Once wireless stuff is the de facto standard, then it'll be changing. Who do you think is doing things right in the gaming industry, if anyone?
NB: I think that EA continues to do legacy products very, very well. I think that they have put a lot of money into Spore, which is sort of what appears to be the more innovative thing that's coming down the line from Will Wright. I think that Rock Band has represented a really good thing. Of course, Wii has expanded the game market massively.
I think in terms of the casual games space, I can't say that anything has been truly wonderful. I've been a fan of PopCap and Wild Tangent, but a lot of the other stuff is pretty pedestrian, in general. Nothing rises to the level of noticeability, from our standpoint.
What do you think of the missed opportunities, in terms of the casual games that people are failing to notice or failing to get across?
NB: I think that World of Warcraft has shown an interesting play dynamic. It started with Ultima and some of those, and I think that I don't see anything being worked on to replace that when it burns itself out, which it ultimately will. In fact, World of Warcraft just passed what I call the Bushnell Threshold.
The Bushnell Threshold is... I watch my sons, and because they're my sons, they tend to start things at the beginning, or sometimes a little bit before. So they play and play and play and play, and all of a sudden, they don't play anymore. They stayed with World of Warcraft for a long time. My older son all of a sudden got Mage 72 or whatever it is and quit. All at once. Cold turkey. I didn't think it was going to happen. And my 14-year-old is getting close to there, which is surprising.
I'm pretty sure that Blizzard's thinking about that.
NB: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. They have to be. But who's going to take their place? I don't see any intelligence out there that is looking to do anything other than another "level up your character by cutting and slashing," which I believe is the metric that's over.
Targeting Wider Demographics
How do you think that games will or should appeal to a wider demographic? Obviously in many games, there has to be some sort of conflict or competition or sense of achievement.
NB: "Sense of achievement" more than conflict. I think that we as men, based on our testosterone flowing, feel very comfortable with conflict, but a lot of women do not. They really don't want this to be a battle to the death, but they are really, really good at problem-solving and puzzles.
I think that the place that we're making massive in-roads is in female gamers, in some of the puzzle-based games. What is missing is story. There's pieces of story going on -- Cake Mania sort of has a story: the Horatio Alger of the baking industry -- and I think that some of these games are attempting to do story, but the stories are more tacked on, rather than built in.
Sandlot Games' Cake Mania
Think about the metric of the coffee table game. America grew up on Monopoly and Risk and The Game of Life and what have you, and in those, the game was about as much what happened with people sitting around the table -- what happened with each other -- as opposed to what was there on the table. We're finding that and we believe that in fact, we can create the board game of the future using technology, and capturing that sort of around-the-hearth...
TL: Scrabble's a great example right now. It's the biggest news story right now on the web, because it's become so popular from a social standpoint.
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