Industry analysts Michael Pachter and Jesse Divnich questioned the validity of game publishers during a panel at DICE 2012 yesterday, with the former stating he feels “the traditional publisher’s role has lessened” over years, while the later feel that without publishers, there’s “no way” for gamers to experience the various offerings on the market.
Pachter said, according to Gamasutra which was in attendance, publishers were “great in the 80s and 90s when consumers didn’t understand what games were,” but today, games can be sold directly to consumers.
“They needed someone to bring their games to market. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore, so the traditional publisher’s role has lessened,” he said, adding that today, a publisher is much more risk adverse, and unless it a game can sell 3 million units, “they don’t even try [to release] the game.”
“I think you’re going to end up with a lot more companies like THQ,” said Pachter, which recently announced it switch to “core”-focused titles and digital. “I think it’s interesting that in the last eight years, we lost Acclaim, 3DO, Eidos, Midway. What new publishers have emerged? Yeah, Chillingo, Playfish, but they’re not the same.
“We are getting fewer choices as consumers because financial guys are taking over. Financial guys are making the decisions. I think the power is going to ultimately shift from the publisher to the developer.”
EEDAR’s Divnich, is of the opinion that the publishing model isn’t broken, and is still a major factor in brand awareness for consumers who have almost too much too choose from on the market.
“Innovation happens every day… but without publishers, there’s no way for us to experience that.” he said, adding that “innovation would cease to exist” without publisher backing.
“Innovation doen’t occur at the publisher level, but they do put it in front of a mass market so that [the masses] can experience it,” he continued. “Your Limbos, Braids, Bastions — those games wouldn’t have been successful without a publisher.
“At the end of the day the publisher plays a huge role broadcasting new IP.”
Pachter said, regarding Divnich’s list of indie examples, that indie developers can be a bit naive when it comes to publishing deals, as most are just happy to have their creations played.
“It’s endearing, but the publishers are going to walk all over them,” he said.
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