Friday, December 19, 2008

Evolution of a blog post: Kenny and Josh discuss the gaming industry crisis

This is a geat example of how we foster stories for the show;

I picked up on a short note on the Wrestling Observer about the video game business having a economic downturn that was going to affect TNA on Spike TV, and sent it on.

Which led to a fascinating exchange between Spirited Kenny and Young Josh about the inner workings of the industry, and the development of a blog post by Kenny -- which is linked to at the end of this exchange and is well worth reading.

Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2008 18:24:07 -0800
From: marty
Subject: gaming takes hit
To: spirited_kenny; josh

"Midway laid off 150-200 people today and closed down their Austin studios. Their main Chicago branch also laid off 20-25% of the staff, and the big news is that with the exception of Mortal Kombat they have suspended development on all future titles, including the proposed TNA Impact 2"

From: kenny

this was weeks in the making, when the Sumner sold his shares in the company to Thomas. This activate some law where the bondholders to get some 70 million dollars from the company in about 50 days. Midway has also been kinda mis managed in the past years too.

EA is also decided not to open a new studio in BC.

Also a number of people are getting laid off from Gamespot after CBS interactive bought CNET.

The only company that seems to kicking ass and chew bubble gum in nintendo

From: josh

That's what happens when you make products with massive hype that soccer moms can afford and their kids can enjoy -- you kick ass and chew bubble gum.

It doesn't help that Midway's been churning out mid-card, underperforming titles for the last several years (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe? Please), and nobody ever got really excited by EA's stuff pre-2008. Gamespot can keel over and die, as far as I'm concerned -- last year, they fired a veteran editor for giving a bad review to a game that had been massively sponsoring their site, and we can't have that kind of shit if games journalism ever hopes to become respectable.

I know we had been talking about the video game industry being recession-proof, but here's something we've got to consider: game development studios aren't like music studios, where they've got a bunch of albums on the go all at once. Any studio outside of EA, Ubisoft, Activision/Blizzard, or Square-Enix, the whole studio will work for years on a single title, and if that title doesn't perform well, the studio can go under just like that. And that was *before* the 2008 market corrections hit. Some studios (Rockstar, Bungie, Infinity Ward, Epic, to name some recent ones) get lucky and make blockbusters. Most (Clover, Ensemble) don't. Atari is barely surviving, and that's only thanks to its history.

And finally, regarding Midway, it really doesn't help if your new CEO is named Matt Booty. That just doesn't bode well!

From: kenny

What most of the big boys are doing now is buying up smaller companies that have big titles. EA tried to do it with Rock star, and Atari picked up ghostbusters from sierra.. and so on...

Its dog eat dog out there right now.

From: josh

Yes, that's true, Kenny -- although, the only really successful one I've heard of is Activision merging with Blizzard. Blizzard is the studio that makes World of Warcraft, and they rake in almost $2 billion a year from that game alone.

Kinda makes it all the more shocking that Jim Rondeau doesn't have straight answers for us on fostering game studio development here in Manitoba, eh? We go crazy for Hollywood films to shoot here, when they're here for only three to four weeks, and their industry's revenue is a fraction of that of the video game industry.

A new Winnipeg studio under Take-Two, Ubisoft, or EA would create 100-200 permanent jobs, requiring little more than office space, and a triple-A title from that studio would not only keep them here in Manitoba, but would also boost our own economy. (Especially if they're Harmonix employees, who got $300 million in bonuses this year from the success of Rock Band.)

And a game studio can show those profits and boost our economy about a year earlier than the IKEA on Sterling Lyon and Kenaston!

From: kenny

The merger of Activision and Blizzard was more a mutual thing. Blizzard has been dieing to get back into the console world, and Activison has never had a presence on the computer. Its some what different then the hostile take overs that are being seen now. Particularly EA, and now Ubisoft is on a mad dash of buying.

It’s the way the business is going. The ideals of have a small studio and making a game every 3 to 5 years is done. It’s all going corporate. Businessmen are taking over the business part, and artists are making the games.

I was reading an article from Gameguru I think, some emailed in asking the best way to break into game designing with just a programming degree, not one specific for gaming, they also had quite an active social schedule.

Gameguru pretty much told him that if he couldn’t manager his time now with the full time job and family and friends, and he couldn’t find time to take a course or start programming flash games, and then mini games that he would never make in the game publishing field. (Insert dream crushing sound here for millions of people my age)

I will try to find the article tomorrow if fire it to ya both…

Nite boys!
and finally, here is the link to today's blog post at kenorama: