Former Microsoft executive Ed Fries sees a possible future without “big publishers”

By Stephany Nunneley, Tuesday, 6 August 2013 20:23 GMT

Former Microsoft executive and “father of Xbox” Ed Fries said he was both surprised and impressed with his former company’s policy reversal on allowing self-publishing on Xbox One, and feels that in the future, the “big publishers” may vanish.

Speaking with [a]list daily, Fried said Microsoft’s policy reversals prove the company is “responsive to feedback,” as it’s important to listen to customers. He also noted his surprise when the company announced World of Tanks – a free-to-play title- would be releasing on Xbox 360.

“[That] and the indie publishing announcement surprised me as well,” Fries said. “I think, like a lot of people now, I’m waiting to see the details. I gave a talk last year about how the world of games is changing, and how it might be difficult for big parts of the industry to change along with it, for big publishers to change or for developers to change. I talked specifically about this issue, about free-to-play and about the barriers to consoles truly adopting free-to-play. I’m glad they’re heading that way.

“It’s hard for these companies to change. You see that all the time – it’s the innovator’s dilemma.

“Who knows if there’ll be big publishers in the future? There don’t have to be. Maybe the world of the future doesn’t look like that. Maybe it’s just lots of small developers, getting together and then breaking up into little teams all over the world, that’s where great games are going to come from. Big publishers were formed because games were really expensive, there were big distribution issues. Walmart didn’t want to deal with a hundred companies, they wanted to deal with four or five.

“A lot of those things changed with digital distribution. Maybe what we’ll see in the future isn’t like what we’ve seen in the past. What does that mean? There are winners and losers all through that.”

Microsoft is expected to outline its self-publishing policies in more detail during gamescom later this month.

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