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What We Have Known For Years


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I would love to post the entire article here because these things have a tendency to disappear after just a few days. But it is 3 pages long.

 

A CNN link to Fortune Magazine ( I believe... it's not on my daily reading list after all ... ) led me to an article about the video game business. It was quite blunt about how much of a Mega-Buck business video gaming has turned into.

 

The Link is : http://www.fortune.com/fortune/technology/...4,480222,00.htm for the whole story.

 

I will C&P some of the things I find really interesting.

( For those of you who don't care for Madden ... don't fret ... the entire article is NOT about this game, I think they just used it for number crunching. ) A lot of the article dealt with EA games, but there are several interesting snippets all over the place.

 

 

The Biggest Game in Town

Music? Sales down. Hollywood? Hit or miss. Tech? Flat. No wonder everyone wants to be in videogames.

FORTUNE

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

By Peter Lewis

 

Let's play a little numbers game: On Aug. 14, Madden NFL 2004, a videogame pitting real-life NFL teams against one another, appeared on retailers' shelves. Within three weeks, the game grossed $100 million?two million copies sold at $50 a pop. In roughly the same period, the summer hit movie Seabiscuit returned $78 million. Madden doesn't just have better numbers, but better legs: By the time the next version comes out a year from now, gamemaker Electronic Arts will have shipped four million copies of Madden 2004, raking in $200 million. By comparison, last year's Oscar-winning Best Picture, Chicago, has taken nine months to bring in $171 million at the box office. ..

 

The average Madden 2004 player will spend, conservatively, 100 hours mastering the game over the year. That's four million sets of eyeballs times 100 hours. HBO's mobster smash The Sopranos drew an average of 11 million viewers for all 13 one-hour episodes last season. That's 143 million viewing hours for the most popular show on cable TV. Do the math...

 

Next month EA is formally launching EA Sports Nation, an online service that will allow tens of thousands of network-enabled PlayStation 2 gamers to compete against one another ... The pricing structure is still being decided, but in the back of everyone's mind is the possibility of offering prizes, perhaps even cash payments...

 

It's a show of EA's clout in the industry that it is willing to tell Microsoft to take a hike, but it's also a risky move for EA. Unlike the PlayStation 2, which has a clumsy, optional online adapter, the Xbox was designed from the chips up to be a broadband gaming device?and Microsoft is investing $2 billion over the next five years to perfect the box. If the Xbox's technical superiority over the PlayStation 2 makes XSN the online sports network of choice, EA could miss out on a potentially huge market...

 

But as the gaming industry has started copying?and superseding?Hollywood, it has also started to take on many of its bad habits. The rising cost of developing games?several million dollars per title for top-tier games, and $20 million or more for some titles like The Matrix or The Sims Online?has forced the larger game companies like EA and Activision to focus almost exclusively on franchise titles or movie tie-ins like Spider-Man or Shrek. Sequelmania in the game business is even more rampant than in the movie business. Take Two Interactive's Grand Theft Auto 3 was 2001's Game of the Year by acclamation, despite?or perhaps because of?its combination of violence and salaciousness. It's no surprise that an online sequel is rumored to be in development.

 

The growth and popularity of the games industry has its drawbacks. As top-tier games get more complex, not everyone is willing to spend the 20 to 30 hours it takes to navigate a game successfully or has the patience to learn complex controls. Even in game-happy Japan and Korea there are reports of declining software sales, citing complaints about the complexity of new games.

 

A number of software companies, mistakenly thinking that the global economic downturn would not affect the moonshot growth in game sales, overstocked the retail channel in 2002 and prompted an inventory glut. The same fate befell Nintendo, which recently suspended production of its GameCube console until an unspecified inventory backlog is absorbed.

 

That's not stopping the gamemakers from pressing ahead. Most in the industry think they can avoid the mistakes of the past by relying on the increasing collaboration with storytellers and musicians from Hollywood and by banking on the inexorable increase in technology. Example: There are as many polygons?the most basic picture element in a game graphic?in a single football in Madden 2004 as there were in an entire screen of Madden 2002, including players, grass, stadium?everything. And though Sony hasn't revealed details yet, Ken Kutaragi, the head of Sony's game division, says the next-generation game console could have as much as 1,000 times the graphics processing power of today's PlayStation 2. To get there, Sony is taking a page from supercomputer makers: Its new machine will almost certainly reach out over the Net to tap unused cycles on other Sony machines. The company is working with IBM and Toshiba to develop a new processor that can handle the chore.

 

To put that in perspective, the $300 home game console of 2006 could have the ability to render lifelike images in real time?something that costs movie studios hundreds of thousands of dollars today. Combine that with the spread of high-definition, widescreen TVs, and the transition to multichannel surround sound and you've got interactive games that are almost cinematic. "We'll make games that can make you cry," says EA President Riccitiello. Cry all the way to the bank, he might add. Just ask John Madden.

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Originally posted by AuntieMuffin@Sep 3 2003, 12:00 PM

To put that in perspective, the $300 home game console of 2006 could have the ability to render lifelike images in real time?something that costs movie studios hundreds of thousands of dollars today. Combine that with the spread of high-definition, widescreen TVs, and the transition to multichannel surround sound and you've got interactive games that are almost cinematic.

Oh (swearword). Why must we continually have this "games of the future will be just like films - it'll be great!" nonsense.

 

1) Our expectations will improve constantly; I've still not seen this "Toy Story in real time" that Sony promised us with the PS2, and if games five years from now really do look like that then film CG will still be trouncing it (unless its a James Bond film, obviously).

 

2) Games. Films. Two different things, thank goodness. If Monkeyball 3 was like a film it would be terrible.

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I don't want my whole game to look like a movie

 

Just because there is the capability to make games a certian way, it doesn't mean ALL games have to be that way. Personally, I think a baseball game where the players look absolutely real would be awesome. That doesn't mean I am not interested in polygon players or Baseball stars type drawn players. It is just another tool that game programmers could add to their arsenal. If the technology could be developed, then I say go for it.

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There are as many polygons?the most basic picture element in a game graphic?in a single football in Madden 2004 as there were in an entire screen of Madden 2002, including players, grass, stadium?everything.

 

I find that rather hard to believe. Are they talking Madden for PS1, PS2, Gameboy?

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