Friday, July 19, 2013
Developers/Publishers Aren't as Smart as You Think They Are
If you pay attention to release announcements, like yesterday's Strider announcement, you tend to see two things that are almost always left out: Wii U and Vita. The 3DS misses a lot as well, but that's...kind of a different beast in that the 3DS is likely the weakest machine out there at the moment. Which isn't a knock against it, it's just that it's fairly impossible to get some games to fit within its confines. Watch_Dogs, for instance, simply wouldn't go on the device in the same form as it could go on the PS3, the Wii U or anything else. It's not an unfair statement to make, is my point. Regardless, that they're -not- on the Wii U or the Vita is always something of an anomaly, given that both platforms can more than likely stomach the game you're trying to hand out, especially if it's on the PS3 and possibly PC, given that it's been said it's an easy port from the former, and I imagine a lot of the PC Indies have found it rather simple to get their game on the Vita, and I've yet to hear of a screaming technical error from any game yet.
Whenever a question is posed, "Why isn't this game on the Wii U/Vita", someone will always (usually in a snarky fashion) state it's "Because those systems don't have anyone buying them." Okay, so then the question becomes "Why isn't anyone buying them?" (by the way, people are buying them, obviously) and the answer is then, still snarkily, "Because they have no games." Well, yes, they do have games, but okay, not quite as many as the other systems that have been around for seven years (or almost three for the 3DS), so yes, totally fair. Totally. Still, this is a lead-in question as well - "Why do they have no games?" "Because they don't sell any systems."
So the way to get a system to sell is for it to already have a fantastic library of games on it already? Games made for it, I assume is the qualifier, since, you know, the Wii U has the Wii library (of which I'm told has a few gems) and the Vita has a good percentage of the PSP library which has quite a fantastic line-up as well. Regardless, I'm sure you can all see the logical inconsistency here. I have faith in you all, you're smart people.
However, the answer to that is that it's simply 'unprofitable', and in today's environment, 'unprofitable' means 'doomed', either in the over-reactive presumptuous way, or the....actual, literal way, which is a fairly sad state of affairs. That fault lies nowhere but on the developers and publishers for creating the environment to begin with. We didn't force them to make grandiose teams of developers to work on possibly out-of-this-world-great games or potential over-polished garbage (or, hell, even under-polished garbage as we have seen), certainly. We assisted in fostering it by buying the games, one could argue, but what are we going to do, not buy games because their developers/publishers were fiscally irresponsible in making them? Of course not because that's silly.
The harsh truth is simply that you're going to have to eat a loss at some point. Sorry, but that's just the truth of it. You have to get games onto a platform to inspire purchases of it so you can put more games on it and eventually recoup from not only late purchases of that original game, but people who have finally picked up the console for the games who are grabbing yours up. That's simply how it works. Don't pretend the PS4 and the XBone are anomalies in this, considering the success both consoles seem to be having not only in pre-orders, but game announcements. Think back on the announced lists and try to present a game that's 1.) Third-Party and 2.) Not also coming out for PS3/360 as a fall-back, ensuring that the PS4/XBone version is just an up-port. Or perhaps a lateral port of the PC version. I mean, go ahead, I'll wait, I'm pretty sure you're not going to find a lot. (I'm gonna cut you off and go out on a limb here and suggest that Sunset Overdrive is a Second-Party thing, like Resistance for Sony has been.)
So it's not even as if they're giving the PS4/XBone 'proper' focus, either. It's going to be up/side ports for a long time while Sony and Microsoft struggle to keep their First and Second parties making the system enticing enough for you to deem it worthy of a purchase if you're not sold on it already. Neither of them will have very much trouble in this, of course - Sony has been working very hard at making the PS4 attractive from every angle and have succeeded almost uniformly, while Microsoft has gained back a lot of goodwill from the 180, specifically from the people who went "Well, I -want- Halo, but I don't want bullshit" since said bullshit is (possibly) gone. The mandatory Kinect isn't near enough of a deal-breaker for most people (unless its requirement requires some funky layouts and/or won't allow a person to simply turn it around to keep the camera off of them, as they'd rather not deal with it) and you simply cannot fault Sony for much at this point, in terms of the PS4 itself.
Still, this is playing both sides of the fence, and eventually somebody is going to lose out on that end. You're going to need other sources of revenue than the Large McHuge Super-AAA havens that people make the PS4/XBone out to be (as they made the PS3/360 out to be) and the time to get in on this is now. Or rather, it was half a year ago at least, but you can still get in on it. You especially want to jump in on Vita development, since the parity between the PS4 and the Vita is going to put the device in a lot of hands, and if it's there, people will buy your games. Nintendo is probably going to get their act together on displaying the Wii U as a device that you want for reasons as well (if we know Nintendo, part of it'll likely be a price cut right around November to 'devalue' the PS4/XBone out of the gate), and to continue to ignore them isn't going to do you any favors. People -will- play non-Nintendo First-Party games on a Wii U if you give them to us, it's just in your court to make that leap. Since you're just hurting yourselves by not making the effort everywhere you could be focusing.
the cyclical bullshit is just so damn annoying