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19-03-2013, 12:31 PM #1
Is There Any Game Publishers / Developers "Too Big To Fail"?
Reading the report concerning resignation of Mr. John Riccitiello as EA's CEO suddenly made me realize one thing: there is currently almost no western publishers / developers being "Too Big To Fail" for gamers, not even publishers as big as EA.
Of course, EA's problem is that it will probably fail to meet its targeted profitability, and for a CEO of a publicly listed corporation, this is a failure publishable by termination. But EA's recent trouble inspire me to think of one thing.
By "Too Big To Fail" here I am referring the publishers / developers of which downfall would be a great loss to gamers. Consider this, which western publishers' / developers' are bring on developments of franchises with great value to us? I regret to say that there is none, at least for myself. Of course, they have been generated tons of great works. However, once a piece of great work is in the market, technically it's no longer owned by the publishers. As an intellectual work, it is owned collectively by the whole gaming work. (We have to thank warez groups for this, no publishers can retain absolute control of intellectual works with nasty DRM.) It's not the individual work, but the franchises that the publishers/developers own. Franchise IPs can be transferred, but work by a different IP owner will be completely different thing.
And there is NO western developers with franchises which I consider to have great value to carry on. EA's case is the worst. Gamers here give EA a nickname: franchise terminator.
In contrast, Japan has many great publishers with great value to us. Sega, Konami, Capcom...... you name it. (And Namco, Bandai better be careful not to screw it up.) There is one thing western publishers need to learn from Japan's game industry: to Japanese, a game franchise should not be just about games. One always seek to expand it to other fields of entertainment. Real-action movies, action figures, plastic models (Mobile Suit!!), animation, and so on. It's true that Japan is relatively backward in game technology, but they are catching up. We all appreciate how gorgeous Square's last Final Fantasy trailer is.
Plus one thing, while old nemesis, South Korea, is still struggling in its dying online game industry (stop resorting to sex contents, you idiot, bring something creative!!), Japan is very aggressive in mobile gaming. There many smart phone games from Japan, and they are very good at marketing of those games. I don't know, how many years of progress would be hindered if for now Japanese developers like Sega suddenly pull out of mobile game developments?
The only western developers "Too Big To Fail" I can think of as now would be Epic Games. I don't know if termination of development of new Unreal Engine would drive up development cost of the whole industry, in effect crowd out how many possible great games.
19-03-2013, 12:37 PM #2
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Epic are hardly developers, they make something like four games in their engine. I don't even think their fall would significantly hurt the games industry, as it seems like a few of publishers are looking to make their games in in-house engines (like EA). If they fell someone would replace them (maybe a nicer version of Unity), and it might even have Linux support.
Also, with Kickstarter the importance of publishers is slowly decreasing.
19-03-2013, 12:47 PM #3
I do however get your point though, if Sega had been a western publisher it would have died completely when the Dreamcast failed but they managed to stay alive. I guess the western equivalent is Atari, which rather than having a resurgence had the brand bought be successive owners resulting in brand dilution and a drawn out death, which was sad to see.
I think the other obvious to big to fail entity (which will no doubt have already been mentioned by the time I finish typing this) is Valve, but that's more due to their distribution stranglehold that their status as a developer.
19-03-2013, 12:47 PM #4
If EA fell who would make all the sports games!?
(2K games would make all the sports games and they'd be bloody better.)
19-03-2013, 12:51 PM #5
Valve, privately owned, own the biggest walled garden on an open platform.
Even if Half life 3 was a turd "Steam" would live on and Valve would keep trying to make "walled garden" exclusive games.
19-03-2013, 12:53 PM #6
Actually, I think if any publisher IS "too big to fail" it would be EA.
Casual Gamers: The Sims, potentially Sim City, lots of mobile games
"Bro" Gamers: Basically every single sports game on the market
Shooter fans: Battlefield series
RPGs: Like it or not, Bioware is still the gold standard of the industry (which makes CD Projekt Red solid platinum or something)
No other publisher appeals to that many demographics. No other publisher has games that are that warmly received by each of those demographics (even if people still hate EA).
The problem is though: Gamers are stupid. Simple as that. The average gamer would rather laugh at a company failing and people losing jobs than think about the rammifications.
If/when EA goes the way of THQ, a LOT of people are going to be out of jobs and there are going to be some pretty big vacuums all across the board
Also: I strongly disagree with you regarding Japan. I'll give you Sega, but Konami is basically "Metal Gear and a few other franchises". And Capcom have been killing their own franchises over the years to the point that they are the Resident Evil and Street Fighter store. As for their obscene merchandising angle: Thanks, but no thanks. I don't really need to watch teenage girls power gundams by kissing their heart pad or whatever the hell that was.
19-03-2013, 12:58 PM #7
Shh, people don't like mentioning The Sims or the EA sports series because both those series sell by the bucket load.
19-03-2013, 01:02 PM #8
19-03-2013, 01:05 PM #9Is There Any Game Publishers / Developers "Too Big To Fail"?
(Any of the ones that I might think of as "too good to fail" also happen to be relatively small).
This plague... The importance of Kickstarter is intensifying to a point where we may not be able to contain it.
19-03-2013, 01:29 PM #10
19-03-2013, 01:31 PM #11Because it isn't particularly indicative of the actual impact of KS and will only lead to heartbreak when the people who blindly support projects without researching it realize why four kids in a basement can't make Battlefield 5?
19-03-2013, 01:32 PM #12
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19-03-2013, 01:46 PM #15
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19-03-2013, 02:01 PM #18
19-03-2013, 02:13 PM #19
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I have to reiterate what has been said before, too big to fail was coined as a phrase to describe economic effects of shutting down a business that would plunge the world into depression. You can debate the merits of that phrase, but political conspiracy theories are probably less relevant than the grey and fuzzy world of economics.
In any case, it really doesn't apply to gaming. If publishers failed entirely, there would still be ways for people to spend their extra cash and be entertained. Really not at all the same thing as crashing national major economies and creating unemployment that affects hundreds of millions of people.
If on the other hand we interpret the phrase used here as a crash of the games industry where the fall of a major publisher meant the death of AAA level games. . . Well that is something worth wasting time discussing on a forum.
Maybe try answering this question:
If EA were to stop producing games, would the next generation of consoles still be profitable enough to be worth building? If the next gen of consoles isn't worth building and selling, are AAA games worth making at their current development costs?
That is a tougher question and requires quite a lot of speculation. I think most of us would agree though that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo would pick up considerable publishing slack if EA fell. Sony and Microsoft are probably the only real too big to fails in gaming in the sense that BOTH of them collapsing would kill the AAA market, but that is likely due to their hardware influence as well.
Last edited by Misnomer; 19-03-2013 at 02:18 PM.
19-03-2013, 02:17 PM #20
This is a highly subjective topic, at least in the way I read the OP. So you like Japanese publishers. Whoop-de-frickin'-doo. Saying that no Western publishers are too big to fail because you don't really enjoy their games is a tad myopic, no? And what's so special about Sega, Konami and Capcom? Neither of those have any special significance to me. Sure, the Total War series is awesome, but it's not like that would disappear if Sega vanished. Paradox, on the other hand, is a developer/publisher that makes games I love, most of which would probably go down with the ship.
And for crying out loud, merchandising? No thanks, please don't. Different cultures are different.