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Navigating A Crossroads: David Jaffe Talks


January 25, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next
 

Well what do you think about monetizing it, if it's a free Flash game?

DJ: Well that's happening. I think there are about four or five business models for casual games right now -- at least that I'm aware of. And I was actually doing some research today [on a model] where even though your game is free, the developer shares in revenue with the ad company every time their game is played. And I definitely think those are going to have to be made to be financially lucrative, or people aren't going to keep making them.

But, what I have not noticed -- which I am very thankful for, and very excited about -- is that gamers seem OK with the advertising model. It's like, they're not going to pay, they're not going to go through the trouble of going wherever their wallet is and putting their credit card in, downloading a file; they don't want to deal with all that, and they shouldn't have to.

But they seem to be not only OK, but supportive of the fact that in between every few levels, you may have to watch a 10 second ad. Or on the side of the screen, there are going to be ads, and stuff like that. They seem OK with that. And that's really exciting.

I think the real question now is: Can significant advertising revenue be brought into that space, and how is a developer of games going to benefit and share in the revenue? But I think that's stuff that people who know much more about that market than me have been discussing for a while.

I am really excited to get to GDC this year, to attend some of those sessions, because I think, to me, that really is where a big portion of the future of gaming is. Not even so much the fact that casual, in terms of the game mechanics -- although that's part of it -- but just the accessibility of games coming through, free games, and web-based browser games, that is crazy exciting stuff.

I can't speak obviously to everyone you have at your new company, but you know, your background has been in these core gamer titles, like Twisted Metal and God of War. Do you think the people that you have have the skill sets to make both kinds of games, since you're interested in both kinds of projects? Or is it difficult to find people?

DJ: Well, I think the way our company works is -- you know, just like any other company that is successful, or somewhat successful, you get the lion's share of the spotlight. I think everybody knows that the games that we make are team based, so everybody's always contributing to our titles.

I think the reality is that we're all getting older; I'm one of the youngest guys at the company at 36. And part of that is fantastic in the sense that, our guys have discipline -- they come in, they don't fuck around on the internet all day long -- they get their work done. And that speaks to their, not their age, but that speaks to to their work ethic that I think they've gained by building a lifetime of work, and success from working.

So I think as we are getting older, we're finding that things like Ratchet, and Uncharted, and Mass Effect, and things like that, we're all finding that we still like games but we don't have the time to play those big epic games. So we're really excited to try our hand at some of these games that, now as we're getting older, we actually play now. And, I don't know, who knows if you have the skill set until you try it?

Do we think we're going to be the next PopCap? I couldn't tell you. We'd like to think that on our PC side we will, [as well as in] our relationship with Sony -- which is our core focus right now, our only focus right now. We hope that we're going to do awesome work there as well. But I don't know if we have the skill set. I think we're pretty good at play mechanics, and iterating, and we're pretty good at killing things when they're not fun -- and hopefully that will see us through, and get us into that market in a way that we're successful.

It's interesting. And I think that it probably is exciting to think about what you can do, because -- what I was talking about earlier, is that I think people aren't sure what the dividing line is, or where to go. As you said, there are several different models for getting a game into the hands of players, and there are different thematic opportunities. It's rapidly evolving right now.

DJ: It absolutely is. No one really knows, and there's a gajillion different business models out there that people are trying, and games are getting so expensive on the console, so it's a really exciting time, and a really scary time. And hell, every week I'll read Gamasutra, and there's a new story about a new casual games business model, or a new company that broke off and made casual games, or big games, or whatever, and there's a lot of activity happening right now. And that's part of the fun of it, I think.

And what do you think of the place of, like, you know, like the PlayStation 3 in this market, or, you know, how do you think that that market's evolving? Do you, I mean, obviously, you know, you still have a great relationship with Sony, and you're talking about that being your main focus, so it seems clear to me that you believe in it.

DJ: You mean consoles in general, or the PlayStation 3?

Well, you know, I guess... both. Either.

DJ: Huh. Well I love the PlayStation 3. I mean, I have a Wii, I barely play it -- not because I don't like it or appreciate it, I just, you know, it's not my cup of tea at the moment. Mario Galaxy, I thought was pretty cool. I've got to be honest: I didn't think that it was as good as Ratchet. I didn't get the huge big deal over it; I thought it was a really good Mario game, but I wasn't like, "Oh my God, it's Mario 64!" I'm totally in the minority in that.

Of course, I like my Wii; I love my 360, I think the 360's awesome; I really do love the PlayStation 3, though, and I was really excited to hear some journalists talking recently about the new Burnout. With Burnout, if you really want to play Burnout the way it's supposed to be played, play it on the PlayStation 3.

And I think now we're just starting to see the idea that the PS3 is going to be capable of ultimately being the best system out there, in terms of delivering the best games and the best performance. And, you know, I love the fact that Blu-ray seems to be doing really well, and seems to be winning the format war. So I'm a big fan of the PlayStation 3.

Of course I wish it was a little less costly, I wish it had a bigger market share, but I think all that is just to come. I don't look at the situation and think that it's: "Where it is now is where it's going to be." I ultimately see it being pretty close to ahead, if not totally ahead, in terms of Xbox, in terms of market share when all the dust settles. I'm a big fan.

 


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