Men spend more on games than music

But wouldn’t you say the price differential is somewhat evened out by the disparity between number of gamers and number of movie goers?[/quote]

Absolutely. Sure, video games make, what is it now? $8billion? And that’s close or higher or whatever than movies. But the argument is usually framed as if games were more popular than movies in our culture. Which isn’t true. Yet.

So. Does this article prove or even indicate that video games are more popular with men than music buying is? I’m not so sure.

There are simply too many publishers right now Jakub. That’s why you’re seeing many of them not doing as well as they would like. The videogame market is saturated with product of both the new and used variety. It’s harder and harder for anyone to stand out at retail and the hit mentality of most gamers helps fuel the continuing constriction of publishing.

It has nothing to do with game prices being too low. If anything, game prices are often too high. An increase in game prices next gen will only make people buy less games. The big question is will they buy enough games at $10 more (assuming $59.99 is the new price) to justify the increase.

I think gamers in general are just out of time to enjoy games. The hardcore especially are just finding it impossible to buy all the games they want to play. Many of them are also going to find that a price increase results in fewer game buys. That increase can only cause the industry harm in the short term and maybe even bring all the growth back to near nil in the longer term.

Don’t let the publishers and PR people you probably talk to regularly divert you from the truth. Games are dropping in price faster than ever. Shelf life is shorter than it’s ever been. A price increase is only going to emphasize more to people that it’s ok to wait a month and pay less. The publishers are wrong about the effect it will have on sales IMO, especially when combined with an expected $300 or $400 console to purchase first in order to buy those more expensive games. The increase in graphical quality between this gen and next will not be terribly significant. People won’t be able to “see” the difference like they did from PSOne to PS2, etc. It’s going to be a lot more like the change from 8 to 16-bit.

My column at GamerDad tomorrow talks about another thing that’s pressuring price and significantly devaluing purchase for the game buyer … used games.


Even on a unit basis, I’m probably 50:1 on games to CDs. Being an old fart, and having satellite radio, I either already own the music I want to hear, or I hear new stuff enough on satellite.

I just did a little looking at my CDs. The last two CDs I bought were Everclear’s greatest hits album yesterday and TMBG’s Indestructible Object when it came out (4/6/2004). That’s exactly a year between CD purchases.

Beg to differ with you on this. You will most definately “see” the difference and that difference is going to paid in about double the number of artists required to produce the same number of models/environments. Every single dev team that I am aware of working on a next gen title is estimating their team size increasing by nearly double on next gen titles.

Since September I’ve bought just over 900 songs off itunes. I’m pretty sure I’m buying more music than games but its close.

We’ll see… I’m not convinced that mainstream America is going to think graphics have improved that much. I’m sure we can expect highly detailed models and the like, but Joe Average isn’t going to be as impressed as he was when he first saw Gran Turismo 3 running on PS2 compared to the original on PSX.

It might cost you a lot more money to put in more detail, but detail tends to get lost in the background of what matters in games.


We’ll see… I’m not convinced that mainstream America is going to think graphics have improved that much. I’m sure we can expect highly detailed models and the like, but Joe Average isn’t going to be as impressed as he was when he first saw Gran Turismo 3 running on PS2 compared to the original on PSX.

It might cost you a lot more money to put in more detail, but detail tends to get lost in the background of what matters in games.


I disagree. Right now on the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube, things still look too “video gamey” for a lot of the casual market. The 20-somethings and 30-somethings that grew up with games don’t mind, but my mom just isn’t going to get gripped by a modern game - any game - like she is a Pixar movie or Shrek.

There will be a pretty big leap in fidely in the next gen. It’s not going to be like going from 2D to 3D, but for the first time it has the potential to take tens or hundreds of millions of casual entertainment customers around the world over that edge. To take them from “too gamey” to “realistic.” Hmm…realistic is a bad word, because the characters in The Incredibles don’t look at all “real,” but you know what I mean. Something my mom can connect with. (whether publishers/developers produce the kind of content that will connect with them is another matter entirely, but certainly the graphics will reach the necessary level)

I don’t think the “casual” audience cares about realistic graphics. Take a look at and you’ll discover that what that market is playing is all about simple gameplay. How many polys does it take to render monopoly pieces and playing cards?

Basically, it’s going to be a lot like playing PC games on an HDTV. PC graphics have been at a point for a while where you can play with little to no jaggies and much higher resolution than any game console. While XBox looks fantastic in 1080i or 720p on a large screen HDTV, it’s all those jagged lines that still screams that this is just video game. Even my very tech unsavvy friends were blown away the first time I showed them the difference between the PC and XBox versions of Chronicles of Riddick on a 62" Mitsubishi DLP.

And of course, the next-gen consoles will be a pretty decent step up from anything currently on the PC, so I’m pretty sure Joe Average will notice a difference. He probably won’t notice or appreciate it as much as anyone here, but I’m pretty sure he’ll see it.

I’d have thought the price difference was fairly meaningless and that the important comparison to make is the percentage of disposable income devoted to each.

Apparently they roped Amon fucking Tobin into doing the soundtrack for chaos theory. SWEET!

Yup, and by videogame soundtrack standards, it’s really great, plus it sounds almost completely unlike any other game. Amon Tobin is so experimental that his “real music” is really hit-or-miss, but when he hits, he hits hard, and there’s only one song on the Chaos Theory soundtrack that bores me. Good stuff. I don’t know if it’s included with the game, but if not, and if you’re a Tobin fan, you may want to hit up Ninja Tune’s website to buy a copy.

As far as the next-gen consoles looking noticably better, I agree with those who think that they will. Supposedly they’ll push a great deal more polys than their predecessors, right? If so, then just as an example, I absolutely cannot wait to see the first Dynasty Warriors for the PS3. No way will anybody NOT notice when suddenly you have 1,000 soldiers running around on screen at all times instead of just 30, with no slowdown or pop-up issues. DW6 (well, by the time the PS3 comes out Koei will probably be ready to make DW10) could look much more like Rome:Total War than Serious Sam, which is what the series looks like right now if you want to be generous about it. You don’t have to be a Casual Joe about gaming to appreciate that R:TW is far more visually dazzling than Serious Sam.

Offhand, I’m not totally sure how this could apply to other games, but I bet you’ll see it happen a lot.


Beg to differ with you on this. You will most definately “see” the difference and that difference is going to paid in about double the number of artists required to produce the same number of models/environments. Every single dev team that I am aware of working on a next gen title is estimating their team size increasing by nearly double on next gen titles.[/quote]

Why does it require double the artists to (effectively) double (or scale x10) the polygon count? I don’t understand this, frankly. I mean, I understand that pushing around more vertices or drawing to higher texture resolution takes more time than less, but doesn’t that interact in some way with the fact that it’s flat out harder to optimize a 5,000 poly model to look as good as possible than a 50,000 poly model? Aren’t there more stutter-steps on setting up a 512x512 texture than a 4096x4096, because the latter allows you to actually directly cut/paste designs you want on them, instead of having to pixel-by-pixel reconstruct by hand things that look similar without having the resolution to just cut/paste/blend and be done with it?

Is it, effectively, that current artists and content creators have been trained to so efficiently work within the limitations of the system (and, effectively, work from zero up, rather than from infinity down) that scaling up therefore takes more time/effort? If so I can see where there would be a change, but at some point (perhaps not now, I have no clue about what type of capabilities the new consoles are supposed to bring), shouldn’t it be possible to anticipate going from a top-down approach where, for a AAA title, you take the FMV models and run them through a decent middleware decimator and only build the model once, thus saving time, instead of building one model for FMV, one for in-game cut-scenes, and one for in-game action scenes?

And video gaming in general is starting to attract an older audience, with nearly a quarter of all gamers over age 40, the agency also said.

This bit shows Neilsen still lacking a clue. Of all the gamers over 40 I know, they were gamers when under 40, too. This statistic mostly means gamers are aging, not that people over 40 are suddenly picking up an Xbox.

Actually it means people over 50 are playing online Bridge. The “average age of a gamer” stats are really misleading. Then again, the average is likewise brought down by 3-year olds playing games online at It is true that gamers are aging and they’re not putting the gamepad down (I get plenty of mail about that) but I haven’t found an accurate way/source to track that yet.

Given all of the other questions focused on console ownership which are mentioned in the article, and the focus on the purchase of games, I assumed they attempted to eliminate webgames from the survey. Anyone want to pony up the $1000 or whatever they are charging for the full survey results?

more polys = more things happening at once = more art to draw and get through QA. It also means animations will take longer as there is higher resolution throughout.

Super Marios Bros art could have been done entirely by one person. Mario Sunshine’s art took a whole team.

See, this is the part I don’t get. (Not the SMB vs. MS comparison, that’s apples to oranges.)

More polys == more art is only true in some really odd sense. It’s more data yes, but I don’t understand why it’s more work. For an example (extremely simplified) of what I mean, take a curve, any curve:

If I draw it point by point, and need, say, a point density of 500 points, and am using stupid tools (i.e. setting point X,Y,Z) to do it, it takes a set amount of time. If, however, I use smart tools (say, a nice NURBS or spline control program) it takes far less time, despite having effectively infinite density. More points != more time.

Similarly with models to some extent. Obviously, if I need a 500 poly model, it’s wasteful to make a 1.2 million poly model and then start carving away the non-essential bits. But what if I make a 1.2 million poly model and just decimate it down to 100k or so? Are tools good enough to do that? You betcha. What they aren’t, or haven’t been up til now, is good enough to take a 1.2 million poly model and decimate it down to 5-10k. But as polygon density goes up, such things should asymtotically scale out. Moreover, the tools to make a 500 poly model and a 1.2 million poly model are reasonably robust. (Polygon point placement and subdiv surface based modelling, respectively, for competent artists.) What’s a mess is the in-between, where your dataset is too large to be feasible by hand without a lot of work, yet still too small to be algorithmically generated from the next heirarchical step up the tool ladder.

So are next gen machines still not enough to step up to new tools in terms of polycount? Are the people who do these games just not used to using these tools so would have to be retrained/replaced, which brings it’s own problems. Or am I overlooking something more fundamental from my (admittedly amature) knowledge of 3D modeling and related tools?

(Animation strikes me similarly… more polygons doesn’t mean much other than the fact that you may now actually need bones to control finger motion which was previously coarse grained out of existence. I suppose if consoles are to the part where you have to worry about linking up musculature underneath everything that would explain it somewhat, but if you’re doing that type of realtime deformation I have trouble believing you’re not already well into the “high end tool” regime of polygon point placement at least. If you’re not using skeletal animation, I see where it’d be a huge problem, but that just screams “Poor choice of employed tool” rather than “OMG, we have to generate 10x as much data which means 10x as much work now!”)

(Edit: Bah, now I think what you’re saying. Instead of having 10x more polygons=characters that are 10x more detailed, games will trend towards having 10x as many characters that are roughly as detailed as last generations? If so, why? I see the idea behind having some increase in background “clutter” for realism’s sake, but at some point is it really that worthwhile to replace the tiled sprite players in the background stadium in Madden 2k7 with crudge polygonal replacements? Is there some middle-ground of content that games are crying out for that makes developers want to throw in characters that don’t even appear in games these days, but who deserve the excess effort for next gen games despite obviously not being integral to the same type of game play?)

That’s exactly what’s going on. Instead of making crazy characters with 100,000 polygons (which you don’t really do anyways, they use new techniques like normal mapping) they add more “background clutter.”

The background clutter actually makes a game look better, but it doesn’t make it play better. A lot of times they do both things (more clutter, more background crap).

But yeah, the more background clutter you add the longer it will take to make the content. Which initself is a problem. I wonder if the game Spore will somehow come up with a cure to always needing more content instead of just having an algorithmic game.

You’re not doubling, or scaling x10, a polygon count. Nor are you just making more detailed textures.

Instead of having a 2,000 polygon model, where most of the details aren’t actually modeled at all, you’re making a 2,000,000 polygon model (factor of 1000), which is used to generate a normal map and a 2,000 polygon character to stick it on. This model has a lot more moving parts than previous 2K polygon models, and a lot of parts that are physically active, so the animation and collision detection and laying out bones and all that stuff is a lot more involved.

Then, instead of a texture that is just a color, you’re actually layering on multiple “textures.” There’s that normal map, which you’re going to go in and hand-tune to add details and stuff. Then you have a couple layers of colors blended together, a gloss map, reflection map, maybe more. Then you gotta tweak the shaders for different materials, so that skin looks like skin but the sword doesn’t look like “silver skin,” but rather like metal, and the backpack looks like leather.

It’s the same reason it takes a lot more artists to make Shrek than a this-generation game.

Want some idea of what the next-gen games will look like? It’s nothing like PC games of today.

Go here:

Download the Ruby: Double Cross demo. If you don’t have a really badass ATI card, you can download a movie of it. (The Quicktime is bigger, but much higher res, though still looks worse than running real-time)

That’s an example of what game graphics could look like with THIS generation of graphics. An X800 can do that, real-time. PC games don’t look like this because they make a lot of sacrifices to be scalable, work with lots of different graphics cards, etc. They COULD look like this, if they could require everyone to have an X800 or GeForce 6800, as a minimum requirement.

Now consider that the Xbox 360 and PS2 will use a generation of graphics hardware BEYOND this, and that all games will be explicitly coded to take advantage of that specific chip…even moreso than this demo. That gives you an idea of what next-gen graphics will be.