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Old 09-29-2005, 01:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Downloaded games? That's unpossible!

Greg Costikyan has started up an new Independent Game company, with a focus on digital downloading. Greg has been in the industry for a long time and wrote a scathing article called "The Scratchware Manifesto" on Home of the Underdogs under the moniker Designer X.

During the last GDC, he was on a panel of what was wrong with the industry and his monologue nearly caused a riot. One of the major problems was distribution schemes. As long as distribution is physical, the distributors will have all the power. That means that places like Walmart will be able to dictate what sort of content comes out. That means that places only interested in numbers will never let truly innovative games see the light of day because they're too "high risk". That means that even though a developer will invest 2 years of their life into a product, it'll only stay on the shelf for 1 month.

Hopefully he'll succeed and herald a new era for the game industry.

http://biz.gamedaily.com/features.as...feature&email=

Quote:
Industry Vets Launch New Independent Games Company
Two video game industry veterans, Greg Costikyan (left) and Dr. Johnny Wilson, are starting up a new independent games company that will offer independent, original content via digital download. Costikyan got tired of the fact that it's very hard for indie games to succeed in traditional retail channels but he thinks they can thrive through digital distribution. More within...

Fed up with the current business model that limits independent game developers today, industry veterans Greg Costikyan and Dr. Johnny Wilson today announced the formation of a new independent games company called Manifesto Games.

Costikyan and Wilson have been frustrated by the fact that the video game industry has made it increasingly difficult to bring "offbeat and niche" games to market, and they lament the notion that any game that sells fewer than 1 million units is deemed a failure.

Building a Viable Path to Market for Indie Games
According to the press release, Manifesto will employ a digital distribution method to sell its games. The site will offer gamers a place where they "can find 'the best of the rest,' the games that the retail channel doesn't think worth carrying." Manifesto breaks down its offering into three types: truly independent, original content from creators without publisher funding; the best PC games from smaller PC game publishers, including games in existing genres like wargames, flight sims, and graphic adventures; and niche MMOs. They expect the site to carry content by early 2006.

"The typical game store only has 200 facings. They can only carry best-sellers. On the Internet, there is no shelf space and you are limited only by how well you can market yourself, your site. This is where niche product can rule," explained Costikyan, Manifesto's CEO.

"The game industry has become moribund," continued Costikyan. "Because of ballooning budgets and the narrowness of the retail channel, it is now essentially impossible for anything other than a franchise title or licensed product to obtain distribution. Yet historically, the major hits, the titles that have expanded the industry to new markets and created new audiences have been highly innovative. It is time for us to find a way to foster innovation, because it's not going to happen if we leave it to the large publishers."

Costikyan believes that Manifesto will be unique because it's not targeting the casual crowd or trying to generate revenues from publishers' back catalogs. "Many companies are entering the direct download space, but in most cases, they're either focusing on casual downloadable games, or on offering the back catalog of major publishers," he said. "It's amazing that casual game publishers can succeed selling games to people who, historically, haven't bought them, but we'd rather try to sell games to people who already buy them. By offering greater exposure to independent games, we'll be introducing gamers to a universe of games they haven't already seen--and that, we think, is the winning strategy."

Creating a 'New Day'
Costikyan's partner, Johnny Wilson, will serve as Manifesto's Executive Vice President for Community and Content. Wilson has been disappointed that many of today's games have been very derivative, but he's excited to get the chance to bring more original indie games to market.

"I left Ziff-Davis Publications after 18 years when I realized that electronic games were becoming so mass-market that they didn't have the appeal for me that they once had," commented Wilson. "Games were becoming as homogenized as the movies. The big budgets required to keep pushing the technological envelope were proving to be self-fulfilling prophecies of an era of sequels, imitation and indistinguishable, derivative material. So, I moved back to table-top gaming for a while. Now, I am thrilled to realize that the downloadable potential of cerebral, thought-provoking 'indie' games is giving me a chance to move back to the kind of in-depth, exciting, quality coverage we enjoyed providing back 'in the day.' The only difference is that we're not 'back in the day,' we have a very real chance to create a 'new day.'"

More than 50 years of experience
Costikyan and Wilson have a wealth of combined experience that will no doubt be instrumental in getting Manifesto up and running in the right direction. Costikyan has been working in the game industry since 1974. He's designed more than 30 commercially published board, roleplaying, online, computer, and mobile games, including the first online game to attract more than 1 million players. He also served as a consultant for IBM, Intel, the Sarnoff Corporation, France Telecom, Roland Berger & Partners, and Wieden + Kennedy. Additionally, Costikyan was co-founder of Unplugged Games, one of the first North American mobile game start-ups, and is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplishment in the field. He most recently served as a games researcher for Nokia, but left his post to start Manifesto.

Wilson, an ordained minister, comes to Manifesto from the editorial side of the industry. He's been covering computer games since 1981 and served as Editorial Director for Ziff-Davis' Computer Gaming World magazine until 1999. Following CGW, he served as Group Publisher for Wizards of the Coast magazines and eventually helped to spin-off the publications to Paizo Publishing, LLC, where he served as President. Along the way Wilson has also written or co-authored nine different books about computer games and he's appeared in more than 200 radio and television interviews.

Costikyan plans to describe the process of building and funding his company on his blog. In his first entry about Manifesto (posted Tuesday), he describes his fears about leaving his job at Nokia and his aspirations for the company; it's an interesting read.
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Old 09-29-2005, 02:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Maine, the Other White State.
Funny. When Valve tried to do this, everyone just got pissed. Now everyone's like "WHOA, WHAT A LEET IDEA!"

I've been saying for a while that physical media should be out the door. Packaging, retailing... it's all a waste of money, and that money goes to the wrong people. Put leftover cash into development of the games or the pockets of the people who actually make the game.
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Old 09-29-2005, 02:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No people were pissed at Valve because you had to have a damn internet connection to play an offline or lan game.
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Old 09-29-2005, 04:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Is there a website up yet?
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Old 09-29-2005, 06:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAGEAngel9
No people were pissed at Valve because you had to have a damn internet connection to play an offline or lan game.
True. Anyone here heard of people lambasting Bioware's distribution model for Neverwinter Nights Premium Modules?

Didn't think so.
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Old 09-29-2005, 10:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Phoenix
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coppertop
True. Anyone here heard of people lambasting Bioware's distribution model for Neverwinter Nights Premium Modules?

Didn't think so.
Followup question: How many people here have actually been willing to pay for modifications that were generally over priced? I own NWN and the 2 primary addons. The whole premium module thing was a horrible idea I always thought, just a way to rip off customers for somthing that should be free.

But I'm quite the cheap bastard when it comes to additional content when I allready shelled out to much for the initial game its self.


---

Back to the story at hand: When this goes live I hope they get it right the first time, because to many people are not going to give it a second chance. Valve had more money then then could ever care to have to make one beautiful distribution program for games. I wouldnt mind if more businesses somehow just went through valve or pay for use of the software.
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Old 09-29-2005, 11:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooseMan3000
Put leftover cash into development of the games or the pockets of the people who actually make the game.
Heh...that leftover cash will never make it into the pockets of the people who make the game. Most likely it'll go into marketing.
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Old 09-30-2005, 12:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
C'mon, just blow it.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FngKestrel
Heh...that leftover cash will never make it into the pockets of the people who make the game. Most likely it'll go into marketing.
...Which will sell more games, so the people who make them get more money
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Old 09-30-2005, 01:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
Insane
 
We'll probably get the added bonus that any old shit will get released and unwittingly purchased. You could always return it and get a refund i suppose.
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Old 09-30-2005, 04:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
wouldn't mind being a ninja.
 
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Location: Maine, the Other White State.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FngKestrel
Heh...that leftover cash will never make it into the pockets of the people who make the game. Most likely it'll go into marketing.
Yeah, I know. It was wishful thinking, I guess.
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Old 10-01-2005, 07:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: KY
Hey, I'm ready for total digital distribution. I used to be into getting boxes and stuff, but I'm cool without it now, as long as there's a good way for me to get it again easily (without paying for it again) if I accidentally delete the install file or something.
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Old 10-02-2005, 09:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm actually hoping Nintendo uses this type of distribution method. Make it look like iTunes. You have your games library, sorted by genre, title, system etc, and a game store that lets you download games for a fair fee ($5 for an NES game maybe?) and a free DS demo every week. iTunes is a great model for software distribution.
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