Gaming reaffirmed as central tentpole of Apple TV revamp - report

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  • Reply 101 of 136
    The Pippin is coming! Oh shit, not again?

    Another miserable attempt by Apple to pretend it cares about games and gaming. Expectations are going to be for a seriously underpowered, overpriced toy with barely sufficient sophistication to engage a four year old until s/he is five. If Apple's set-top streamer does not have features and graphics to better the Sony Playstation 4, Wii or Xbox One, there will be absolutely no point to its existence.

    The final era of short-lived, myopic tech development from Apple coders, electro-mechanical designers and engineers is upon us.

    Apple truly is tumbling in on itself. I'm coming to the conclusion this implosion was Steve Jobs' last ironic wish. He engaged Tim Cook with full knowledge Apple fans and onlookers will witness the biggest, most slowest-motion crash of their lives.

    what nonsense. it needn't try to be a niche use case (hardcore gaming console) to be a successful product for normal people.
  • Reply 102 of 136
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,363member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DanVM View Post

     

    I don't know if ATV will succeed or fail as a gaming device, neither Mr. Hawkins.  What I'm saying is that I don't see casual gamers spending hours in front of a TV playing games.  Casual gamers like playing games in their mobile devices, which are accessible and don't require to be in front of a TV.  IMO, that's the reason iOS succeed.  Nintendo already tried it with the Wii, and while the console was successful, the people lost interest of it.  Now looks where the Wii U is now, even though it has a great library of games. 

     

    I think Apple already beat Nintendo with casual gamers, and that went without the ATV.  I don't see iOS casual gamers moving to the ATV, neither console gamers, which is a completely different market, where Sony and MS dominate.  Sure, some people will play in the ATV, but for how long?


     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    I met Trip once -- when he worked for Apple in the 1980s. Trip impressed me as a polished politician. I suspect that his companies already have games in development for the new AppleTV ... It wouldn't surprise me if they were demoed at the Sept 9 event.



    I'm not a gamer -- casual, social or advanced console (whatever these definitions really mean). But I do think there is room for a genre that involves multiple players gathered around a big screen. These players are not obsessed with gaming -- rather they are interested in ad hoc sessions of challenging games as part of social contact with friends and family.



    Did you ever get together with friends to play penny-ante Poker;  Canasta:  Pinocle;  Spades;  Gin;  Dominos;  Monopoly  etc.?



    The game wasn't the objective -- it was a means of entertainment and social interaction.



    This could be what Apple is targeting!





    As to console gaming:



    I did some research, and came up with the following:











    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that advanced console gaming (units sold) topped out in 2000-2001, and has been declining since:







    Then, there's this:






    So, I buy a generation 4 ATV, and I'm speculating that it will be 4k, and it has ethernet (NAS / Mac media storage), WiFi, Bluetooth and HDMI. There's a new keyboard, and the first gaming controllers are shown Wednesday. My first thought is, how do I interface all of my USB / flash devices into the ATV if their is no USB?

     

    This is a rhetorical question as there are plenty of solutions that aren't ideal. On the other hand, if Apple does include USB, especially Type C, then all of the sudden, and with the expected full app support, there's the equivalent of an iOS Mini at a price point hundreds of dollars lower than the Mac Mini, but with many of the advantages of a traditional desktop computer, especially a large screen for my aging eyes, but configured for casual use. 

     

    I don't know that I would want to upload DSLR images and edit them on screen with the use of an iOS device and ATV, but it would be possible, and possibly even useful for group input. Same with video.

  • Reply 103 of 136
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    I do think there is room for a genre that involves multiple players gathered around a big screen. These players are not obsessed with gaming -- rather they are interested in ad hoc sessions of challenging games as part of social contact with friends and family.

    Did you ever get together with friends to play penny-ante Poker;  Canasta:  Pinocle;  Spades;  Gin;  Dominos;  Monopoly  etc.?

    The game wasn't the objective -- it was a means of entertainment and social interaction.

    This could be what Apple is targeting!

    I definitely think social gaming is something that other gaming devices are lacking in. There are limits to how far you can take it because in things like card games, you can't have the cards on the TV or everyone could see everyone else's hand. If they had e-ink controllers then these could show up there but display panels add to the expense. There's an e-ink display panel on Amazon for $35. e-ink would let you have custom layouts and even a keyboard input on the controller.
    As to console gaming:

    I did some research, and came up with the following:

    1000

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that advanced console gaming (units sold) topped out in 2000-2001, and has been declining since

    The XBox One is at 13m units and PS4 at 25m. You'd have to look at the sales rate over time, not absolute numbers. The following lists numbers for a lot of consoles:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_million-selling_game_consoles

    Playstation = 102m in 12 years = 8.5m per year
    PS2 = 155m in 12 years = 13m per year
    PS3 = 84m in 9 years = 9m per year
    PS4 = 25m in 2 years = 13m per year

    Nintendo DS = 154m in 10 years = 15m per year
    3DS = 53m in 4 years = 13m per year
    Game Boy number isn't for a single console but the series
    Wii = 101m in 7 years = 14m per year
    Wii U = 10m in 3 years = 3m per year

    XBox 360 = 84m in 10 years = 8m per year
    XBox One = 13m in 2 years = 7m per year

    The buying rate for high-end consoles has remained roughly the same. The last-gen consoles are still for sale so you have to wait for those to wind down production and more people will buy the new ones.
    techlover wrote:
    That is an interesting take, but I don't think I would go for it personally.

    Maybe with force touch or some other new technology they could make it usable for more than just casual games.

    Buttons, triggers and analog sticks work so extremely well for so many types of games.

    Then again you might be right and casual gaming will be the main thrust for Apple.

    I think it could handle more than casual games because when you use a normal controller, your two thumbs control every button on the face of the controller so you only ever press two at a time. The first two fingers on each hand then use the shoulder buttons. All that's needed to match it is 6 simultaneous inputs. Where the iOS devices fail at this is only having two simultaneous inputs. They are multi-touch and allow for more but people have to hold the device.

    This controller with gestures, gyro, accelerometer and shoulder buttons, possibly pressure sensitivity can offer at least 6 simultaneous inputs. It would be able to work with Fruit Ninja, StarCraft, Call of Duty and be able to control a web browser which no standard controller can do. In a game like Street Fighter, they can use fluid and intuitive gestures for moves. So you don't have to remember combos, if you swipe down on the left side, and draw out an oval on the lower right, it knows to do a lower sweep kick. Up on the left with lower oval on the right would be a roundhouse kick. Down on the left with a circular sweep from bottom to top would be an uppercut kick. A sweep up in the upper side right would be an uppercut punch. Roll would be circular sweep on the left.

    Game like FPS games are little more than move and shoot so movement is the left touch pad, look is the right, aim is the left-side of the left shoulder button, fire is the right-side of the right one. You can make it so that duck is touching the bottom of the right pad, change weapon can be swiping along the top of it.

    They'd round the edges off like the iPhone 6 so the glass was curved and the back would be curved white plastic like the Magic Trackpad. The shoulder buttons would be analog but initially flush with the body. There can be a USB C or lightning plug for charging or it can just sit on top of the ?TV box for wireless charging.
  • Reply 104 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

     

    I guess that's what Hey Siri give us a hint meant.

    We'll control our games by giving commands to Siri.

    "Hey Siri, joystick right."

    ;)


    That should be fun.

     

    "Siri, joystick right"

     

    "Ok, I'm going to move the joystick to the right."

     

    "Ok"

     

    "I cannot move the joystick to the right.  Pac-man was eaten by a ghost 10 seconds ago"

  • Reply 105 of 136
    Marvin wrote: »
    I do think there is room for a genre that involves multiple players gathered around a big screen. These players are not obsessed with gaming -- rather they are interested in ad hoc sessions of challenging games as part of social contact with friends and family.

    Did you ever get together with friends to play penny-ante Poker;  Canasta:  Pinocle;  Spades;  Gin;  Dominos;  Monopoly  etc.?

    The game wasn't the objective -- it was a means of entertainment and social interaction.

    This could be what Apple is targeting!

    I definitely think social gaming is something that other gaming devices are lacking in. There are limits to how far you can take it because in things like card games, you can't have the cards on the TV or everyone could see everyone else's hand. If they had e-ink controllers then these could show up there but display panels add to the expense. There's an e-ink display panel on Amazon for $35. e-ink would let you have custom layouts and even a keyboard input on the controller.
    As to console gaming:

    I did some research, and came up with the following:

    1000

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that advanced console gaming (units sold) topped out in 2000-2001, and has been declining since

    The XBox One is at 13m units and PS4 at 25m. You'd have to look at the sales rate over time, not absolute numbers. The following lists numbers for a lot of consoles:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_million-selling_game_consoles

    Playstation = 102m in 12 years = 8.5m per year
    PS2 = 155m in 12 years = 13m per year
    PS3 = 84m in 9 years = 9m per year
    PS4 = 25m in 2 years = 13m per year

    Nintendo DS = 154m in 10 years = 15m per year
    3DS = 53m in 4 years = 13m per year
    Game Boy number isn't for a single console but the series
    Wii = 101m in 7 years = 14m per year
    Wii U = 10m in 3 years = 3m per year

    XBox 360 = 84m in 10 years = 8m per year
    XBox One = 13m in 2 years = 7m per year


    I got my numbers from the individual Wiki sites for Xbox and Playstation.

    Interesting ... Our numbers jibe quite well -- though yours are more current for the PS4 and Xbox One. I didn't include any Nintendo gear because the gamers here don't consider it at their level.

    The buying rate for high-end consoles has remained roughly the same. The last-gen consoles are still for sale so you have to wait for those to wind down production and more people will buy the new ones.

    If the buying rate remains the same in an expanding economy and population -- it signals a no-growth (at best) situation for the hardware. I've read that MS and Sony use the Razors and Blades business model -- break even (or lose money) on the console hardware, and make profits on the games.

    If that is so, are they making enough on the games to sustain a meaningful, profitable business? Or, are they ripe for disruption?
  • Reply 106 of 136
    tmay wrote: »
    So, I buy a generation 4 ATV, and I'm speculating that it will be 4k, and it has ethernet (NAS / Mac media storage), WiFi, Bluetooth and HDMI. There's a new keyboard, and the first gaming controllers are shown Wednesday. My first thought is, how do I interface all of my USB / flash devices into the ATV if their is no USB?

    This is a rhetorical question as there are plenty of solutions that aren't ideal. On the other hand, if Apple does include USB, especially Type C, then all of the sudden, and with the expected full app support, there's the equivalent of an iOS Mini at a price point hundreds of dollars lower than the Mac Mini, but with many of the advantages of a traditional desktop computer, especially a large screen for my aging eyes, but configured for casual use. 

    I don't know that I would want to upload DSLR images and edit them on screen with the use of an iOS device and ATV, but it would be possible, and possibly even useful for group input. Same with video.

    I assume you mean 4k video capable.

    The current AppleTV has a mini USB port -- used for some software updates, but not available to the user.

    I would like to se an USB 3.1 port on the new AppleTV.

    Also, I think Apple might be amenable to exposing the File System on the AppleTV -- and maybe even as an option on the iPads and gasp iPhones ...  Times, they are a changin'

    Since iMovie already runs on iOS, it should run fine on the AppleTV.


    So, what you say could be possible!

    The big question is: Will the new AppleTV Hardware be robust enough to make it practical?


    I especially like the idea of group input to a video -- and maybe even group collaboration creating videos ...
  • Reply 107 of 136
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,228member

    If they launch an app store they will beef up storage options. imo we get 16g at $149 and we get 64g and 128g options.  It will obviously have the horsepower to support 4k, which would be nice.

  • Reply 108 of 136
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,228member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    I got my numbers from the individual Wiki sites for Xbox and Playstation.



    Interesting ... Our numbers jibe quite well -- though yours are more current for the PS4 and Xbox One. I didn't include any Nintendo gear because the gamers here don't consider it at their level.

    If the buying rate remains the same in an expanding economy and population -- it signals a no-growth (at best) situation for the hardware. I've read that MS and Sony use the Razors and Blades business model -- break even (or lose money) on the console hardware, and make profits on the games.



    If that is so, are they making enough on the games to sustain a meaningful, profitable business? Or, are they ripe for disruption?

     

    Consoles use PC style hardware while Apple will use its mobile line of chips, which they already sell in very high volume.  imo Apple can make a profit on hardware and still sell for a lower price than consoles.

  • Reply 109 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Nintendo is failing to convince people to keep paying the high prices. They are still trying to sell games and consoles at next-gen prices. 8GB basic Wii U is $300, 32GB is $330:



    http://www.amazon.com/Nintendo-Wii-Console-8GB-Basic-U/dp/B0050SVHZO



    This is likely down to the display controller.

     

    You do know Nintendo sells Wii U's direct from their website with 2 games for as little as $200 right? And thats from the 32GB Deluxe model. 8GB Basic model has been discontinued.
  • Reply 110 of 136
    Just for grins ...

    Doing a little surfing, I found that:

    Total PlayStation 4 games sold as of January, 2015: 81.8 million

    PS4 was released in Nov 2013


    So, 81.8 / 14 * 12 ~= 70 million PS4 sold games per year.

    Lets assume the average price per game is $50, then 70 million * $50 == $3.5 Billion Revenue for all PS4 games per year.


    IDK how that revenue is divided among Sony, the Developer, the Manufacturer/Distribution/Licensees, the Reseller ...

    So let me guess:
    [LIST]
    [*] 30% - $15 * 70 million == $1.05 Billion Revenue to Sony
    [*] 50% - $25 * 70 million == $1.75 Billion Revenue to Developer
    [*] 10% -   $5 * 70 million == $0.35 Billion Revenue to Manufacturer/Distribution/Licensees
    [*] 10% -   $5 * 70 million == $0.35 Billion Revenue to Reseller
    [*]
    [/LIST]


    With me so far?

    OK the above is probably valid for the year when a game is first released -- but likely demand tapers off in later years -- which leads to discounts.


    So I used the Best Selling PS4 game as an example:

    [B]Killzone Shadow Fall:[/B] 2.1 million games sold between November 2013 and January 2014 at $60 each

    Currently, it sells on Amazon for ~$29 -- or, ~50% discount.


    IDK, but I suspect that most of the hit is borne by Sony and the Developer -- as Manufacturer/Distribution/Licensees costs and Reseller costs are relatively fixed.


    Then, I've read where it takes about 4 years to develop a quality advanced console game.

    IDK the cost of Development nor the Monies (if any) advanced by Sony to the Developers


    Let's assume that both Sony and the Developers expect a 10% net profit ... So the first year:
    [LIST]
    [*] 30% - $15 * 70 million == $1.05 Billion Revenue * .10 == $105 Million Net Profit to Sony
    [*] 50% - $25 * 70 million == $1.75 Billion Revenue * .10 == $175 Million Net Profit to Developer
    [*]
    [/LIST]

    And, for 2 subsequent years, a 5% net profit because of the discounting:
    [LIST]
    [*] 30% - $15 * 70 million == $1.05 Billion Revenue * .05 == $53 Million Net Profit to Sony
    [*] 50% - $25 * 70 million == $1.75 Billion Revenue * .05 == $88 Million Net Profit to Developer
    [*]
    [/LIST]


    IDK if these assumptions are realistic -- but it's an attempt to understand the economics of the advanced console game business model.


    But, I'd ask if this is a viable, sustainable business?


    References:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PlayStation_4_video_games

    http://www.amazon.com/Killzone-Shadow-Fall-PlayStation-4/dp/B00BGA9YZK
  • Reply 111 of 136
    herbapou wrote: »
    If they launch an app store they will beef up storage options. imo we get 16g at $149 and we get 64g and 128g options.  It will obviously have the horsepower to support 4k, which would be nice.
    herbapou wrote: »
    Consoles use PC style hardware while Apple will use its mobile line of chips, which they already sell in very high volume.  imo Apple can make a profit on hardware and still sell for a lower price than consoles.

    I suspect that you're right on both counts!

    I'd like to see them offer 64GB at the $149 price and offer up 256GB.
  • Reply 112 of 136
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member

    What I find interesting is that the AppleTV has sold 25M total units when you consider:

    - No advertising for it.  

    - There might be one unit in an Apple store in a somewhat obscure location.

    - Updates many years apart, and little changes in those.

    - Streaming content quite variable per country (mostly US based)

     

    A new ?TV with broader use cases (some gaming, app store, home kit hub potential, more streaming services), together with some marketing/advertising push, could easily double that rate in short order (couple years).  Perhaps the largest would be an App Store which would allow streaming services in countries where there is little "video streaming" reason to buy an AppleTV.

  • Reply 113 of 136
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    are they making enough on the games to sustain a meaningful, profitable business? Or, are they ripe for disruption?

    I used the Best Selling PS4 game as an example:
    Killzone Shadow Fall: 2.1 million games sold between November 2013 and January 2014 at $60 each.

    I'd ask if this is a viable, sustainable business?

    GTA V is probably the best-selling game on PS4 with 7.45m units:

    http://www.vgchartz.com/game/83196/grand-theft-auto-v/

    Sony's profits are doing well from game and hardware sales:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33714127

    The big studios Ubisoft, EA, Take Two (parent of Rockstar and 2K) and Activision are healthy. Some make losses but all have healthy balance sheets.

    The revenue model for high-end games is very risky and one wrong move has wiped out gaming companies that have been around for a while, mainly ones that rely on fewer franchises:

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/12/11/20-studios-we-lost-in-2012

    It's about balancing the size of the staff with the sales potential of the product. This is the case for most companies but big games take a long time to get to market so they start on losses, which is why they try to get people to preorder well in advance and smaller teams use Kickstarter. Big studios offset production of different franchises like movie companies so that they get revenue every year. There's an article from a studio here that talks about scaling studios up and down:

    http://www.polygon.com/features/2014/7/16/5891551/the-astronauts-adrian-chmielarz
    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-05-29-the-astronauts-in-2014-usd60-for-a-game-is-a-little-insane

    The team called People Can Fly had 70 staff. They were commissioned to make a game called Come Midnight by THQ (one of the 20 studios that went under in the above IGN link). THQ cancelled the game so People Can Fly lost the funding to pay staff. They were working on a game engine, which is a long process and so they had to scrap that plan and use a commercial engine. They went with Epic's Unreal engine. They asked Epic to look at what they'd done and this contact led to contracts for Bulletstorm and Gears of War. Eventually Epic bought the studio of 120 people.

    This team went on to develop Fortnite, which is the game Epic showed off at WWDC this year using Metal on the Mac:

    http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/26/8851443/fortnite-gameplay-video

    The person in the above articles who was a creative director and co-owner of People Can Fly has written about the downsides of the AAA development model and how he left the studio after selling it to Epic. He scaled down to an 8 person team (called The Astronauts - http://www.theastronauts.com ) to deliver the game the Vanishing of Ethan Carter in 2 years (first year spent on writing and design):

    http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2015/07/09/5-weird-tales-from-the-development-of-the-vanishing-of-ethan-carter-out-next-week-on-ps4/

    They benefitted from using a commercial game engine and there aren't many characters to interact with in the game but it shows what a small team can do. They outsourced voice production, animation, motion capture and marketing to keep the core team at 8 people.

    The larger People Can Fly team has become independent again:

    http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/24/8838307/people-can-fly-returns-no-longer-owned-by-epic-games

    Every team has their own goals. Having a small team is less risky but it means you have limits in what you can achieve. The Astronauts team tried for example to use Unreal Engine 3 to publish Ethan Carter on PS4 as they originally developed for the PC but couldn't as Unreal 3 didn't support the PS4 and they didn't have the resources to fix it. Instead they had to remake the game in Unreal 4 and will port this new version back to the PC. A big studio with the development resources would be able to deploy however they wanted.

    For studios that manage to get the big franchises like Call of Duty, GTA, Battlefield, World of Warcraft, Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed, they can survive on those franchises. Some of them make over $1b with development budgets below $300m. That's very much sustainable for now.

    It seems like the gaming industry is splitting in two where small studios like The Astronauts will focus on smaller games and rely on commercial engines like Unreal and Unity and the big studios will stick to the big franchises. This is leading to fewer high quality titles and masses of poor quality Indie games with rare exceptions.

    I don't think people will ever stop wanting the high production values games but if people abandon the platforms where they make the money, it could lead to a bad situation for them. The hardware performance of mobile platforms will keep improving so this isn't an issue for mobile taking over. The hurdle that developers will need to overcome is convincing people to pay a high price for software on a platform that has built an expectation of free-to-play. It's the same hurdle the music industry is taking on because of Spotify/Pandora, how to get people to pay for something that they expect to be 'free' (monetized differently).

    For now, the next-gen consoles have demonstrated a strong, stable market and casual gamers have decided to migrate to iOS and Android with almost equal combined revenue in each. If publishers can get mobile users to pay higher prices then they'll be able to use mobile as a tier-1 platform for bigger production values games. Both ecosystems can happily co-exist though - Apple has the Mac platform that gets the bigger budget games, they just don't get as many as Windows.
    supadav03 wrote:
    You do know Nintendo sells Wii U's direct from their website with 2 games for as little as $200 right? And thats from the 32GB Deluxe model. 8GB Basic model has been discontinued.

    I see 32GB models for $300 with 2 cheap games, sold via resellers:

    http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu/buynow

    It's a better deal than the one I linked to but still, you'd only need $100 more for a PS4 bundle with a AAA game. If there's a Wii U deal for the console at $200 with 2 decent games then that would be a more suitable price.
  • Reply 114 of 136
    pmcdpmcd Posts: 396member
    I guess we will all know more tomorrow, but I also feel that the emphasis on the ATV as a casual gaming device is a mistake. As someone has already mentioned casual gamers are happier on mobile devices. Will games purchased for the ATV be payable on iPads? If so will there be separate pricing? In any case:

    1- There is more to media than gaming. Fine for younger folks but that's about it. Moreover I suspect this type of instant gratification has turned people into impatient types incapable of enjoying anything that requires an effort.

    2- Casual gaming has been around on TV's for ages. Heck, even Commodore had the CDTV, a CD based media console running the Amiga OS, with games and Phillips had their CDi platform. Neither was a success. Same with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, Android TV. None of these has done well from a gaming perspective.

    3- I suspect Apple may be emphasizing gaming simply because it doesn't know what to do on the media front. They have to get their video and music acts together.

    4- If they bring out a reasonably interesting App Store, and by that I don't mean interesting games, then there will at least be a point in upgrading the ATV. It's not as though we need yet another option to watch Netflix.

    Apple needs to do something radical. They are turning into the IBM of old, without the research capacity.
  • Reply 115 of 136
    pmcdpmcd Posts: 396member
    brucemc wrote: »
    What I find interesting is that the AppleTV has sold 25M total units when you consider:
    - No advertising for it.  
    - There might be one unit in an Apple store in a somewhat obscure location.
    - Updates many years apart, and little changes in those.
    - Streaming content quite variable per country (mostly US based)

    A new ?TV with broader use cases (some gaming, app store, home kit hub potential, more streaming services), together with some marketing/advertising push, could easily double that rate in short order (couple years).  Perhaps the largest would be an App Store which would allow streaming services in countries where there is little "video streaming" reason to buy an AppleTV.

    The 25 million figure is over 8 years. Recently the ATV has fallen behind both the Roku and Amazon Fire TV in sales. I agree that an App Store would be a major plus, assuming it is not totally crippled or completely gaming oriented.

    It makes no sense for someone living outside the U.S., and perhaps a few other countries, to buy an ATV except as an AirPlay device. In effect, it is a fine accessory to an iDevice. Maybe they should bundle it for free with iPhones.

    Apple does not have its cloud act together. It is confusing, expensive for consumers and forever changing. Photos, music, iWork, videos, ... that horrid Apple Match that has caused nothing but grief for years, email, .... That is, anything related to the Internet. They need someone to go in with a wrecking ball and come out with a rational and appealing offering. Otherwise Google, Amazon and Microsoft are just going to pull so far ahead they will never catch up. Does no one at Apple get the Internet? This by the way is nothing new. It has always been awful.
  • Reply 116 of 136
    Marvin wrote: »
    are they making enough on the games to sustain a meaningful, profitable business? Or, are they ripe for disruption?

    I used the Best Selling PS4 game as an example:
    Killzone Shadow Fall: 2.1 million games sold between November 2013 and January 2014 at $60 each.

    I'd ask if this is a viable, sustainable business?

    GTA V is probably the best-selling game on PS4 with 7.45m units:

    http://www.vgchartz.com/game/83196/grand-theft-auto-v/

    Sony's profits are doing well from game and hardware sales:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33714127

    The big studios Ubisoft, EA, Take Two (parent of Rockstar and 2K) and Activision are healthy. Some make losses but all have healthy balance sheets.

    The revenue model for high-end games is very risky and one wrong move has wiped out gaming companies that have been around for a while, mainly ones that rely on fewer franchises:

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/12/11/20-studios-we-lost-in-2012

    It's about balancing the size of the staff with the sales potential of the product. This is the case for most companies but big games take a long time to get to market so they start on losses, which is why they try to get people to preorder well in advance and smaller teams use Kickstarter. Big studios offset production of different franchises like movie companies so that they get revenue every year. There's an article from a studio here that talks about scaling studios up and down:

    http://www.polygon.com/features/2014/7/16/5891551/the-astronauts-adrian-chmielarz
    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-05-29-the-astronauts-in-2014-usd60-for-a-game-is-a-little-insane

    The team called People Can Fly had 70 staff. They were commissioned to make a game called Come Midnight by THQ (one of the 20 studios that went under in the above IGN link). THQ cancelled the game so People Can Fly lost the funding to pay staff. They were working on a game engine, which is a long process and so they had to scrap that plan and use a commercial engine. They went with Epic's Unreal engine. They asked Epic to look at what they'd done and this contact led to contracts for Bulletstorm and Gears of War. Eventually Epic bought the studio of 120 people.

    This team went on to develop Fortnite, which is the game Epic showed off at WWDC this year using Metal on the Mac:

    http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/26/8851443/fortnite-gameplay-video

    The person in the above articles who was a creative director and co-owner of People Can Fly has written about the downsides of the AAA development model and how he left the studio after selling it to Epic. He scaled down to an 8 person team (called The Astronauts - http://www.theastronauts.com ) to deliver the game the Vanishing of Ethan Carter in 2 years (first year spent on writing and design):

    http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2015/07/09/5-weird-tales-from-the-development-of-the-vanishing-of-ethan-carter-out-next-week-on-ps4/

    They benefitted from using a commercial game engine and there aren't many characters to interact with in the game but it shows what a small team can do. They outsourced voice production, animation, motion capture and marketing to keep the core team at 8 people.

    The larger People Can Fly team has become independent again:

    http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/24/8838307/people-can-fly-returns-no-longer-owned-by-epic-games

    Every team has their own goals. Having a small team is less risky but it means you have limits in what you can achieve. The Astronauts team tried for example to use Unreal Engine 3 to publish Ethan Carter on PS4 as they originally developed for the PC but couldn't as Unreal 3 didn't support the PS4 and they didn't have the resources to fix it. Instead they had to remake the game in Unreal 4 and will port this new version back to the PC. A big studio with the development resources would be able to deploy however they wanted.

    For studios that manage to get the big franchises like Call of Duty, GTA, Battlefield, World of Warcraft, Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed, they can survive on those franchises. Some of them make over $1b with development budgets below $300m. That's very much sustainable for now.

    It seems like the gaming industry is splitting in two where small studios like The Astronauts will focus on smaller games and rely on commercial engines like Unreal and Unity and the big studios will stick to the big franchises. This is leading to fewer high quality titles and masses of poor quality Indie games with rare exceptions.

    I don't think people will ever stop wanting the high production values games but if people abandon the platforms where they make the money, it could lead to a bad situation for them. The hardware performance of mobile platforms will keep improving so this isn't an issue for mobile taking over. The hurdle that developers will need to overcome is convincing people to pay a high price for software on a platform that has built an expectation of free-to-play. It's the same hurdle the music industry is taking on because of Spotify/Pandora, how to get people to pay for something that they expect to be 'free' (monetized differently).

    For now, the next-gen consoles have demonstrated a strong, stable market and casual gamers have decided to migrate to iOS and Android with almost equal combined revenue in each. If publishers can get mobile users to pay higher prices then they'll be able to use mobile as a tier-1 platform for bigger production values games. Both ecosystems can happily co-exist though - Apple has the Mac platform that gets the bigger budget games, they just don't get as many as Windows.


    Wow!

    It took a while, but I read the articles.

    The thing that struck me was the comparison with making a game to making a movie.

    It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dave Winer sometime in the early 1980s. Dave said that writing an app (Apple ][, Apple ///, or PC in those days) could be likened to making a movie -- a creative team was assembled specifically to produce the movie or app. After the process was completed, the creative team disbanded and moved on to other opportunities (apps require ongoing maintenance and updates -- but that is handled by a team with a different skill set).

    In the models you described, there are:

    1) The large studios with different creative teams working concurrently on different projects -- and have a [more or less] continuous pipeline of games to release.

    2) The small, hungry core (Indies?) who assemble a smaller team of creatives, outsource everything they can -- and have only one game in production -- kind of a [purposeful] boom and bust cycle.

    I would think of 1) as predictable, "old reliable"

    Would consider 2) riskier, but more agile and more timely.


    And, like movies, it appears that there is room for both.


    Surprisingly, I think Apple may be able to utilize both -- by hiring 2) to build, say, $10-$20 games -- and leveraging 1) to port [to the extent practical] existing hits to the $20-$30 price range (arbitrary SWAG prices).

    Thoughts?
  • Reply 117 of 136
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,600member
    Direct competition? Doubtful unless they get rid of or de-emphasize games like Candy Crush, Farmville etc and can get some high quality first-run titles.

    They'd need to invest in some hard-hitting game dev studios, partnering or purchasing them. Or create some from the scratch - probably even more expensive.

    As it is, they are like Lumia of gaming world - late to the party. Others - MS, Sony, Nintendo, numerous PC gaming devs - had time to evolve naturally from small setups making little games for hardware with limited power, to big studios developing games with blockbuster movies budget and production values. Apple would have to overcome all they missed and jump in premiere league as quick as possible.
  • Reply 118 of 136
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    The thing that struck me was the comparison with making a game to making a movie.

    It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dave Winer sometime in the early 1980s. Dave said that writing an app (Apple ][, Apple ///, or PC in those days) could be likened to making a movie -- a creative team was assembled specifically to produce the movie or app. After the process was completed, the creative team disbanded and moved on to other opportunities (apps require ongoing maintenance and updates -- but that is handled by a team with a different skill set).

    In the models you described, there are:

    1) The large studios with different creative teams working concurrently on different projects -- and have a [more or less] continuous pipeline of games to release.

    2) The small, hungry core (Indies?) who assemble a smaller team of creatives, outsource everything they can -- and have only one game in production -- kind of a [purposeful] boom and bust cycle.

    I would think of 1) as predictable, "old reliable"

    Would consider 2) riskier, but more agile and more timely.

    And, like movies, it appears that there is room for both.
    Surprisingly, I think Apple may be able to utilize both -- by hiring 2) to build, say, $10-$20 games -- and leveraging 1) to port [to the extent practical] existing hits to the $20-$30 price range (arbitrary SWAG prices).

    That's a good summary of the two models. The larger studios also tend to be public companies so they have investors to satisfy quarterly. Being able to sell shares gives them a source of capital, which Indies don't get.

    Indie development is also rough round the edges a lot of the time. Steam has started attracting more of them with Greenlight and it's making Steam more like the App Store:

    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/browse/?appid=765

    You have to then deal with things like this:


    [VIDEO]


    Check at 0:40, the developer ran out of money so they just randomly ended the game with some text wrapping up the plot so it got pulled and people got refunds. There are things like this:

    http://steamcommunity.com/app/313360

    where they put out part 1 and take over a year to develop part 2 because the team has to develop it in their spare time while working full-time jobs. A big studio satisfying investors wouldn't get away with that. An old-school developer is dealing with Indie funding with his new game:

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-09-08-monkey-island-developer-ron-gilbert-breaks-down-the-funding-of-an-indie-game

    When it comes to prices, I don't see the games being able to sustain even $10. Over 90% of the $14b per year Apple makes is from freemium apps. People just aren't buying apps outright. This can change if buying habits get adjusted:

    http://www.macworld.com/article/2032847/a-5-app-isnt-expensive-customers-need-to-help-fix-the-app-store-economy.html

    To do this, there needs to be a quality assurance process that buyers can rely on. Some people don't like the idea of big studios having their apps in a separate section because they can put out poor quality apps too but it's far more likely that a handful of developers will put out an app that is lower quality than a big studio.

    The way I think Apple should go about getting decent games is to actually commission game ports themselves. Pay the studios to port the games over to iOS. They make 30% of it back anyway and they can even agree to take back 100% until the port is paid for and 30% afterwards. Just take 100 of the top games made in the last 10 years or so and port them over (to the Mac too). They can set the price at whatever they want but if they showcased these ports together, they should be able to get $5 per game and just 1 million copies would cover the porting cost.

    It would help good Indie developers if Apple could filter the really poor apps out and start convincing buyers that there are good games worth paying for. When you come across a dozen or more really terrible apps, it completely erodes the buyer's confidence in paying for anything. It almost needs two separate stores. You'd have one that is a discovery store and another that is a quality store like an App Showcase or Premium Apps. The discovery store would be an unsorted pile with undiscovered and low rated apps and the quality store is apps that people like or play a lot. An app would only make it into the Premium Store if it satisfied certain criteria of high production values, good publisher, highly rated etc - it wouldn't have things like fart apps or flashlight apps at all. Looking through over 1 million apps for any individual is impossible so why not crowd-source the curation so that the best 5% get moved into a separate app and buyers at least have a chance of finding good apps within the top 50,000. That will build confidence for buying apps and encourage developers to actually make an effort to get their app recognized as being premium where they have no incentive just now.
  • Reply 119 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post




    Indie development is also rough round the edges a lot of the time. Steam has started attracting more of them with Greenlight and it's making Steam more like the App Store:

     

    While Apples App Store is the biggest overall these days, it was Valve with Steam who first successfully got that ball rolling as far as games are concerned. Steam established a platform of online digital distribution and publishing of games before any of the current popular app stores were around.

     

    So in that sense I would say it's Apples App Store (regarding games) that seems more like Steam than the other way around. 

  • Reply 120 of 136
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    techlover wrote: »
    Indie development is also rough round the edges a lot of the time. Steam has started attracting more of them with Greenlight and it's making Steam more like the App Store:

    While Apples App Store is the biggest overall these days, it was Valve with Steam who first successfully got that ball rolling as far as games are concerned. Steam established a platform of online digital distribution and publishing of games before any of the current popular app stores were around.

    So in that sense I would say it's Apples App Store (regarding games) that seems more like Steam than the other way around. 

    What I mean is Steam was originally a high quality game store where you just didn't see really poorly made games. Now it has thousands of them by opening it up more to small developers. The following aren't in the store yet but are the ones trying to get in:

    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/browse/?appid=765

    Fortunately it hasn't gotten to the point of being unmanageable like the App Store (which has over 1m iPhone apps and nearly 0.5m iPad apps) because they ask people to vote games into the store but the number of apps getting in is increasing quite quickly:

    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/217675/More_games_have_released_on_Steam_so_far_in_2014_than_all_of_last_year.php

    It's nice to have open publishing platforms but there has to be quality control and general consumers don't all want to be part of that quality control process. This is what happens with Android phones and PCs, they put out so many varieties and brands and it just overwhelms consumers so they end up picking the big name brands anyway but a lot of people get stuck with really bad quality products because nobody is telling the bad manufacturers that they haven't done a good enough job.

    Steam currently has 6062 games total with 3417 games labelled as Indie games.

    There are some App Store stats here:

    http://blog.scottlogic.com/2014/03/20/app-store-analysis.html

    60% of all apps have no ratings. Out of the 40%, half score 4 or 5 out of 5. So 1/5th of the store is highly rated. If those could be separated out, it would be a lot easier for people to find good apps. There's also a graph on that page that showed the higher rated apps generally had a higher price. People will pay more if they have the expectation of good quality.
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