The serious business of making games

Followup to the earlier FIFA vs EA Sports story. FIFA is going to make their license non-exclusive and have multiple partners.

Pff, as if bringing in new partners is going to save the relationship.

But Misses Jones from the hairdresser said an open marriage saved her relationship! And I’m sure she knows best, this is SURE to work out brilliantly!

Workers at Paizo, one of the biggest tabletop publishers in the industry, are unionizing and demanding recognition for the union as well as better transparency around diversity, and hiring and firing. What’s really inspirational is that Paizo’s freelancers have coordinated with the union and stopped working for Paizo, which is basically going to stop their output dead, and hugely strengthens the employees’ hand.

Thread with some deatils:

Game Pass shows growth but falls short of internal Microsoft targets.

Gamepass is about turning average gamers into core gamers. They don’t really need the guy who has a 1000 Steam games - he probably would have bought 40 games on the console anyway. What’s the attachment rate of consoles? Like 3 or 4 games on average over the lifetime of the console? Two years of Gamepass at $15 turns that into 6 full priced games over two years, and it just gets better over time.

That’s why those online access gatekeepers were so important. $50 a year to get online probably doubles the average effective “attachment rate” of that console.

I was surprised to see in a hardcore forum like SomethingAwful a bunch of people saying that they were doubting to spend $60 for Back4Blood. As if they still didn’t know of Gamepass as a much cheaper option.

Lots of people don’t like recurring bills.

I think GamePass is probably approaching a saturation point for Xbox console owners and isn’t growing outside that on PC and the Cloud like MS hoped.

This is probably true, but I think there are places they could go. If the Cloud gaming thing really works out and is expandable, I can imagine a host of use cases like small devices like Roku sticks for TVs (or built directly into televisions), or deals with hotel chains to integrate (limited) versions into their television entertainment suites, etc.

It would probably be helpful if the PC app was a little easier to use\more predictable.

Finally, I think they need to get more “premiere” big titles on the service. As it is now, the service is a platform unto itself, or has the potential to be one, separated from hardware (which seems to be their intent). Like any platform, it needs a killer app. For the first influx of users, the breadth of the offering seemed to be enough, but if they want to reach deeper, I think they’ll need some big ticket sellers on there. Halo Infinite and Forza 5 are obviously a start, but I think the Bethesda acquisition is a better glimpse into the future there.

Might help if they fixed the shitty app and/or properly integrated it into the OS.

I’ll say that I’ve always hated the terrible install and update process in the Windows Store/Xbox App, but with the Cloud Gaming stuff my complaint is gone. I just click on what I want to play, and play it a few seconds later.

I just don’t think there is actually a large population of potential subscribers who want to play console style games but are unwilling to invest in a console.

Game Pass has a lot of games, many of which I wouldn’t necessarily call “console style”. If they can get current sports games on there, more stuff like MSFS, I think they could grab more folks that way, too.

And once they get more premiere console games, they could eat into other platforms as the second choice platform, hardware or not.

Note also that I have limited sympathy if their target is something like 30 million subscribers up from 10 million a year and a half ago. My completely random guess is that they’re safely in the “cry me a river”/world’s tiniest violin territory with something like 28 million subs.

This (rather older) article reports these numbers:

  • April 2020 – 10 million
  • September 2020 – 15 million
  • January 2021 – 18 million (remains the last confirmed article)
  • April 2021 (reportedly) – 23 million

I think executive bonuses were affected by them missing.

They’ll do better once they get a more steady stream of big games day one. Right now IMO it’s been far more old games (which you probably already played or bought during a sale) or games that if not on Game Pass would fall into that “wait for a Steam sale” category. There’s also the fact that 3rd party stuff leaves the service over time and I think a lot of PC gamers have become sort of digital hoarders.

This number is incorrect. We know subs only grew by 37% year over year from June 2020 which was between 10 and 15m. That makes 20.55m the literal cap by June 2021, and since it’s unlikely there was no growth between April and September last year it’s probably decently less than that. In fact, based on the 18m number from January, new signups must have basically slowed to a crawl in the first half of 2021.

A look at Tomb Raider: Ascension, a survival horror game that was squashed in development.

Wow, I was just reading about that studio last week in Jason Scheirer’s book “Press Reset”, and that was one of the studios written about that formed in the aftermath of Irrational Studios dissolving after releasing Bioshock Infinite.