Xbox 360 launched in the US today.

21 11 2005

The North Americans are getting to grips with the Xbox 360 today. Here’s a round up of what all the fuss is about(collected by Aleks at the Guardian):

Next Generation: Xbox 360 hot on eBay 5 reasons why the Xbox will bomb
Eurogamer: Xbox 360 – the lid is off
Gizmodo: Xbox 360 dissected
Kotaku: Final Fantasy XI debuts at zero hour
Gizmodo: Early Xbox 360 reviews
IGN: Xbox 360 launch guide – hooking it up
Kotaku: Perfect Dark Zero in the house
Rocky Mountain News: Pricey Xbox 360 designed as a family room accessory
Ferrago: Xbox 360 equipped with parental locking features
Major Nelson: A very special episode of Game With Fame (play vs. J Allard)
Wired: Xbox 360 hits a hi-def homer
USA Today: Xbox 360 revives addictiveness of video games
BBC: Xbox 360 to kick off console wars
CNet: Xbox 360 makes desert debut
MSNBC: Stores brace for Xbox 360 onslaught
AZCentral: Serious gamers lust over Xbox 360

A game development bill of rights

21 11 2005

A Bill of Rights for Game Developers

Eric Zimmerman presented “A Game Developers’ Bill of Rights” during his keynote at the Montreal Game Summit. The 700+ crowd of mostly developers lapped it up. Well, at least in theory, if not actual practical implementation…

While it is certainly a gutsy approach, it does serve as a valuable tool for discussion of what developers’ “rights” should/could be. And, to further expose the extent which current developers would barely be able to check-off a small handful of the 13 rights listed…
thanks to Jason Dela Rocca.

Time to get your house in order

16 11 2005

Next generation consoles ask tough questions of the games publishers as development costs are set to soar

The launch of the next generation consoles will see games publishers’ development costs increase dramatically. The current cost of console games development typically ranges between $3 and $6 million per title. This is set to increase to $6 to $10 million for the forthcoming new machines from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, with extreme cases surpassing $20 million.

However, set against this background of increasing development costs, the games industry is in rude health, with forecast growth of 9-10% over the next four years, though 2005 is forecast to be flat whilst the industry waits for the arrival of the next generation consoles.

According to a new ground breaking report from Screen Digest – Game Software Publishing: Strategies for market success – games publishers will have to choose their development strategies carefully as the cost of a failed title becomes even more pronounced. Screen Digest estimates that the number of profitable titles per year could fall as low as 80 as developers and publishers are forced to focus on fewer and higher quality titles.

The report predicts continued industry consolidation and the demise of smaller publishers which lack viable growth strategies. Currently, the large American publishers seem best placed and most capable to succeed. Japanese and European publishers, although creatively successful, will need to get their houses in order and focus on other key aspects of running a games business – strategy, marketing, finance, licensing and human resources.

This new landscape will undoubtedly force publishers to carefully consider their development strategies. Titles which are based on third party IP such as that owned by the movie studios, sports associations and sports personalities have traditionally been considered a safer bet than original content titles which are more volatile, either selling very well or very poorly.

Screen Digest’s analysis shows that in the US in 2004, titles based on licensed IP, such as Madden NFL 2005, sold 23% more units than titles based on original content. However, the short term revenue gains of licensed IP, does not necessarily translate into greater profits. Licensing costs are rising as IP owners become increasingly aware of the growing importance of the games medium.

While the majority of games released in 2004 and 2005 by the major publishers will have been profitable, looking ahead new revenue streams will take on increased significance for games publishers. The total online PC games market topped $1bn in the West in 2004 and is expected to exceed $2bn by 2007. Mobile and digital distribution also offer growing new incremental revenue streams for publishers.

At 30 years of age, the games industry still suffers from an endemic lack of professional management compared to less mature industries such as the mobile telephony and the internet industries. The high number of bankruptcies – despite favourable market conditions – is testament to this fact. Games companies must complement their formidable creative and technological achievements with strong business planning and analysis in order to reap the benefits of the next phase of console market growth.

The report is the first study to identify the world’s most profitable games publishers and reveals the strategies that have lead to their success. Employing analytical techniques never before applied to the games sector, the report critically examines a range of operating and growth strategies for games publishers.

Microsoft announces launch day line-up for Xbox 360

14 11 2005

Day one titles:

· Amped 3 (2K Sports) – Snowboarding

· Call of Duty 2 (Activision) – War

· Condemned: Criminal Origins (SEGA) – Horror/Survival

· FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup (Electronic Arts) – Football

· GUN (Activision) – Western-gunslinger

· Kameo: Elements of Power (Microsoft Game Studios) – Battle Game

· Perfect Dark Zero (Microsoft Game Studios) – Spy FPS

· Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie(Ubisoft) – Film Tie In

· Madden NFL 06 (Electronic Arts) – American Football

· NBA Live 06 (Electronic Arts) – Basketball

· Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Electronic Arts) – Urban Car Racing

· Project Gotham Racing 3 (Microsoft Game Studios) – Car racing

· Quake 4 (Activision, id software and Raven Software Corp.) – FPS

· Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 06(Electronic Arts) – Golf

· Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (Activision) – Scateboarding

Pixel-Love:Lots of sports, war, crime, and urban adventures, nothing too highbrow, nothing too bland. Interestingly 3 of the big title are UK projects.

Topping the bill are Rare’s action adventure Kameo: Elements of Power and shooter Perfect Dark Zero. Project Gotham Racing 3 will also hit the shelves on launch day, along with Activision’s Call of Duty 2, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland and Quake 4, plus Condemned: Criminal Origins from Sega.

Electronic Arts will publish four sports titles on December 2 – FIFA 06, Madden NFL 06, NBA Live 06 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 – along with Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

2K Sports’ snowboarding sim Amped 3 will also get a launch day release, as will Ubisoft’s movie tie-in, Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

Microsoft has confirmed that all the titles on the list will be available “on or before the console launch,”

However, three key titles are missing from the list – namely Dead or Alive 4, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Ridge Racer 6. These are due to hit stores “in the weeks after launch and beyond,” according to Microsoft.