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Zeschuk: “I don’t see how” new consoles can rescue “kind of sick” market

Wednesday, 10th April 2013 01:25 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Sony and Microsoft have to do something dramatic or the traditional console market is in trouble, according to former BioWare leader Greg Zeschuk.

Speaking to GamesIndustry, Zeschuk said the games industry is in a lot of trouble.

“The console core sales are slowing significantly – you can’t get around that fact. We are in a kind of sick market for old-school gaming – the traditional retail-based gaming – and as much as EA has moved into digital, the boxed stuff is not as robust,” he said. “While digital is coming up fast it’s not filling in the gaps.

“Right now, there is this sort of classic innovator’s dilemma where we see a new market emerging, but it’s not really that great – with the mobile business, certain people make a lot of money but on the whole it’s not generating as much revenue as the console business. Everyone’s kind of holding out hope for the new consoles, but I honestly don’t think they’re going to be that big a deal.

“I worry a lot that unless Microsoft or Sony pull something magically out of a hat, it’s pretty much the same old, same old repackaged and I don’t think they’re going to change the dynamic of the retail market. I don’t see how they can – the market is what it is.”

The BioWare co-founder’s comments came up in the context of the recent ousting of former EA CEO John Riccitiello, and the question of whether Star Wars: The Old Republic under-performed, contributing to the publisher’s woes.

“The interesting thing with SWTOR, almost the only way we could have moved the needle at EA is if we were just ginormous,” he said.

“It’s kind of funny because it is such a giant company. I can’t really speak to why John’s not there anymore, but it was one of many games released, and we’re in a context where just a few days later it was Yoichi Wada who was booted out from Square Enix.”

The PlayStation 4 is expected to launch in the 2013 holiday period; Microsoft is believed to have a new console reveal scheduled for late May.

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25 Comments

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  1. NightCrawler1970

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNMw7yTirb4

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Erthazus

    I agree, unless Microsoft will bring something completely new with Next Xbox.

    PS4 so far is PS 3.5 or it’s a PC with underwhelming hardware from AMD and a bit better OS and controller. Core console gamers will buy it but beyond that…

    Just look at the Vita. Dead as Fuck. 3DS is not that big compared to DS and WiiU sales are horrible at best too.

    @, “NightCrawler1970″

    It’s the guy who has important games under his shoulder and the guy who is in games industry almost since the beggining. Go figure, bro.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. SlayerGT

    Erth what do you play out of curiosity? Like some of your favorite games right now.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. NightCrawler1970

    Im pretty sure that PS3 will be the next PS2 for another 5 years on the market, wich that Xbox never did… to kept First Xbox on the market…MS just drop the first BOX off the market, “buy the next Console”.
    There are always people that dont have the money to buy a PS4, they can buy the PS3, just like the PS2

    @2, are you sure about that, Atari was the first Console ever produced
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATARI

    Im pretty sure that Oldgamer is 100% agree with me about that one

    back to the story…

    Agreed, it’s just an upgrade, we already red that PS4 have more TerraFlop than Xbox, but thats all rumors… we need to wait when they both comes with the final Console…

    #4 1 year ago
  5. ps3fanboy

    the next step… the ESport Athlete.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcpFG5D8LIA

    #5 1 year ago
  6. theevilaires

    Yea make games $40 brand new again

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Rikki

    Sick market huh? That’s why need a doctor(s) to cure this sick marker!

    #7 1 year ago
  8. DSB

    If it really is a crash, I think it could’ve been avoided.

    Publishers main focus right now is coming up with new nickle and dime schemes, when it should be to make properly great games.

    They have the choice between fleecing the customers they have now, or treading new ground and showing people why videogames are worth their time. I don’t think it’s feasible to try and do both.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. SlayerGT

    @DSB the nickel and dime is a direct cause of used games. If folks just bought their games new I believe the industry would still be prospering.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. zinc

    Well you could blame used games & piracy, which have been with videogaming since forever…

    Or you could point the finger at the suits desperately trying to turn the industry into a sausage making machine.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. DSB

    @9 Yeah, used games is a plague. I just don’t think those measures help anyone to get excited about videogames. Rampant monetization largely isn’t something that people have to worry about if they want to enjoy music or movies.

    I think publishers should be concerned about adding value to their games as entertainment, instead of taking it away in favor of another grab at peoples wallet.

    To borrow from a piece on the Penny Arcade report:

    “X has become a company that releases mediocre products created by faceless teams. There is no real vision at work, no grand design.”

    It’s just not a healthy creative industry right now, and I think it absolutely has to start striving to be if it wants to profit, and make even more people consider games a worthwhile form of entertainment.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. SlayerGT

    @DSB I completely agree. Maybe it’ll start all over with Indies. Being older, I have a hard time believing it. But if the industry can cut out the middle man (the pub) and live and die at their own hands..the strong survive? The next ten years are going to be interesting. Hell the next YEAR will be interesting. The next step in the industry, if it makes it there, that i want to witness is all digital. Or mostly digital. When like 75% of games are being purchased digitally..thats when I want to see where and how “healthy” the biz is.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Mineral4r7s

    How can you guys say used games is a plague? Without used games I would never had started gaming at all. You guys seem insane and rather intoxicated by publisher propaganda =/ imho.

    Games became to expensive. When I read the numbers on games like SWTOR or any other major release it’s just mind boggling to me.

    They need better game design technology to reduce production costs or reduce production value if above is not possible (I do not know).

    #13 1 year ago
  14. AnimJack

    @13/Mineral: Used games are a plague. Not only have they done damage to the way that game sales work – back on that in a second – but the result of that has also impacted design decisions, production practices, and has largely been the reason for monetization methods that players hate.

    The effect of used game sales is that the first week a game comes out is absolutely critical. It’s when the VAST majority of sales happen. Prior to a huge used games market, people’s purchases weeks after would still be going to the developers. Because developers effectively only have the first week to make their money back, they have to prevent people from playing the game in one day then selling it back the next day. Do you play single player focused games at all? A lot of people hate how multiplayer modes are “forced” and “crammed” in along with games that should be just single player. Well, that multiplayer is there to keep the disc in the console for another couple of extra days – precious days for sales to actually get some revenue. Since there’s only that first week to make money at actual purchase, there are methods to nickle and dime players IN the game after purchase in order to recoup money lost by used sales.

    So multiplayer is much more rampant which takes away from time on the singleplayer side of things. And because multiplayer is becoming so common to counter-act used sales and is there just to bolster the short time people keep the game, studios will often just go with what’s popular. So we start to get a lot of creative stagnation and more watered-down mainstream experiences.

    I completely agree with you about the importance of games at a reduced cost for those that would otherwise not play many titles. Rather than used games, one solution is for developers/publishers to hold steam style sales that would dramatically spike sales long after that first week of release. I’m hoping that the move to digital will help facilitate more of that kind of thing.

    It’s one of many issues right now, but it’s definitely one worth noting. Used sales allow people to try more games they otherwise wouldn’t, but there has to be a better means to accommodate those players without the developers losing out.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. DrDamn

    The majority of his view is from a commercial perspective. In that respect I don’t have a problem. Publishers are spending too much and expecting too much, they need to reign it back and look at their own business models. There will continue to be a good market for good games on a home console, they need to sort out their business models to fulfil that. A rethink in that area is a good thing.

    One point he made related more to gaming is the “same old, same old” argument. I think even looking at what Sony and MS are likely to be providing there is a lot of scope for innovation and new experiences in game design. They shouldn’t always look to hardware to change things, much more significant is the software, services and OS features provided. In that respect I thing we’ll see a lot more innovation in the area of online interaction. Some titles have hinted and exposed a lot of interesting ideas in this area recently, and now we are heading into a new generation where the consoles are better designed to suit these ideas. Always On doesn’t have to mean DRM and has some really interesting connotations for game design.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. AnimJack

    @15 Completely agree. I’d actually like to see a return to more stylized games. Less focus on the ultra real. They don’t have to be cartoony like Crash/Jak/Ratchet/Spyro etc. They can still be dark and have grit, but focus more on aesthetics rather than pushing ultimate polies and texture res. That would reduce costs dramatically on the art side, I think. More focus on good choices rather than impossible detail.

    And everything you said about connectivity opening up new design possibilities I completely agree with. I really hope that stuff is given serious consideration.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Digital Bamboo

    Am I the only one slightly jealous of Zeschuk’s Shakespearean actor-like facial hair?

    #17 1 year ago
  18. zinc

    Yeah, used games are a plague. If their trade stopped tmro, we’d all be in nirvana, as pubs would defo stop timed dlc, micro-transactions, online passes & reign in the sometimes ridiculous digital prices.

    Suuuurrrreeee.

    Gaming is in trouble due to a lot of bad management. Period. We the gamers are not to blame. People who eat at McDonald’s, don’t have much say how the burger is made.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. MidlifeAxe

    Woah, from reading articles in the past on this website, everybody was up in arms about Microsoft or Sony blocking used games and now everyone is calling them a plague.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. roadkill

    Hmm, Zechuk is correct. Best games that you can play right now are the Mass Effect games, Battlefield 3, Witcher 2, Guild Wars 2 and maybe a few indies but they can’t get any better than that. Not without new control systems. I mean, you’ve seen BF4, same s**t better graphics/sound and maybe better story telling but gameplay innovations? Not many and anyway not any substantial ones. Not that it’s going to be a bad game, it might be awesome but still. Guild Wars 2? Reinvented the MMO PvE. It can’t get any better than that. The Mass Effect series? Incredible story telling. Again it can’t get any better than that. I’m telling you without Virtual Reality or something like that.. we’re going to play these same games. Not that I’m complaining or anything. Though I might at some point in the future.

    And yes I do agree about the used game sales. It’s bad for business. But it’s not the only problem and certainly not that biggest.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Gheritt White

    @14: Hear, hear.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. AnimJack

    @18 A nice, solid argument

    …..

    I appreciate the civility, but your “bad management” hypothesis is a wonderfully oversimplified idea of a complex situation. And the McDonald’s concept is a fantastic false analogy w/ little to no relevance to the actual situation.

    I’m sorry but “bad management” is comical. So you’re saying that universally, management across the entire video game industry has somehow plummeted and is causing the situation it’s in. Hardly. Microtransactions, timed DLC, online passes, they’re all reactions to the current market.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. DSB

    Technically, the market has never been healthier. Yet the business hasn’t been this sick since the 80′s. I’d say that’s pretty indicative of bad leadership across the board.

    @19 It’s not exactly black and white.

    For every 4 dollars Gamestop makes on new games, they make 2,6 on used games. Quite arguably that money could be better spent making new games instead of just paying for Gamestop to have three stores on every city block in the western world.

    It doesn’t mean that it’s inherently “right” to stop the used games trade, but it should make you think about where your money goes. The people making the games never see a cent of it.

    So arguably, that’s not good for the industry as a whole. It’s really only good for Gamestop.

    Personally I think the problem with always-on is worse for denying people the ability to play the games they paid for.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. Shuklar

    Of course console sales are slowing down – a console generation has never been this long, and the majority have already had their fun with the current gen.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. OlderGamer

    Reading this thread was like looking back at some of my own posts over the past couple of years. I remember even saying that the games industry could have another crash. Kind of warms my heart lol.

    I agree with Zeschuk btw.

    #25 1 year ago