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The increasingly tricky business of video games

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The increasingly tricky business of video games

Old 03-04-24, 10:26 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

I wonder how much the game subscription model figures into this problem. I've long felt these services, and specifically Game Pass really hurts game sales. I have an XSX and haven't purchased any games for it (besides a couple of Deluxe Editions that were mispriced digitally) because I can play all their (too few) exclusives at launch via Game Pass. I don't know why MS would expect people to pay to own their games if they're avaliable on the subscription model. It and PS Plus has really curtailed my purchasing of even smaller indie games because it's likely it will end up on one or the other service before too long.
Old 03-04-24, 11:00 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

It probably does hurt game sales, especially 1st party Microsoft sales, but then there haven't really been all that many and people probably don't do the smart thing and unsubscribe when they're done, they keep it around, so I can see it being profitable for them, particularly if people don't take advantage of the deal loopholes (which they've been slowly closing). At full price Gamepass probably let's them keep a chunk of change that doesn't have to be shared with retailers.

I have no idea how good the payout is for indy developers but it must be fine if they keep agreeing to it.
Old 03-04-24, 11:41 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Originally Posted by fujishig
I have no idea how good the payout is for indy developers but it must be fine if they keep agreeing to it.
I wonder this, too. Like Decker, I've only bought one game in 10 years or more, and that was just the Lego Avengers game for my kids at a super steep discount. For myself, once I picked up PS+ back shortly after it first got started, I stopped buying games. I wasn't a big purchaser of games in the first place since I take a long time to play them, and generally play to as close to completion as possible. Once I started PS+, I play a ton of games, way more than I ever had when I was actually buying them. I assume developers and studios are getting a decent deal out of being put on the service, but sometimes I wonder if Sony strongarms them, and whether or not that plays a part in a lot of these layoffs.
Old 03-04-24, 02:58 PM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Seriously, how much does it cost to develop a game like Starfield or Forza Horizons 5? There's probably no way they recoup those costs without moving a large number of full priced games. I can't imagine the fraction of revenue of monthly GP subscriptions could compensate for the lost income.
Old 03-04-24, 10:57 PM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

I dunno. Maybe! I legitimately don't know. A few things:

It came out during the FTC hearings that most people pay full price for Game Pass, even with as easy as it is to game the system for cheap subscriptions or just get 'em for free via Microsoft Rewards. For someone paying $16.99 a month for Game Pass Ultimate -- I'm assuming anyone playing Starfield via Game Pass is paying for online -- that's $203.88 a year, or nearly the price of 3 full-price $70 games. Plus there are expansion packs, DLC, yadda yadda. I got Forza Horizon 5 for "free" but paid $49.99 for the premium add-ons. People were doing the same with Starfield. So they're still getting some portion of subscribers to open their wallets, and they haven't really "lost" anything unless people play more full-price games than Microsoft is really releasing.

Even though Starfield was available for "free", it still wound up being the best-selling game of September. Forza Horizon 5 set a franchise record as the best-selling Forza game in its launch month, and it was the #3 best-selling game period on Xbox and #4 across all consoles (behind Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Pokemon) for Nov. '21.

These subscription services have pretty well stalled in terms of growth, so the impact on game sales presumably stalled somewhat as well. Personally, I've only played one Game Pass game in the past 12 months -- two if you count me watching my wife play Venba -- and I could've bought them both for like $35 total. If I'd paid $200+ in that time (which I didn't; thanks MS Rewards!), Microsoft would be well in the black on me. I haven't played any PS+ games in the past year and never touched Nintendo Switch Online's game selection. I know that's anecdotal but I'm not sure it's uncommon. There are probably a bunch of people who subscribe to these services and just let the meter keep running, doing little to nothing with them. (My main interest in subscribing to NSO and PS+ in particular are cloud saves plus online.) No doubt there are individual players who are seizing full advantage of the all-you-can-eat thing, but I bet typical players are only playing a handful of these games a year per service and still putting plenty of money in corporate pockets, between subscription fees and DLC. Again, anecdotal, but I know from one relative who I gifted Game Pass to and multiple friends online that they get overwhelmed by the selection, would rather play what they want to play when they want to play it (rather than choose from a pre-determined list), dislike keeping up with when games come on and when they might lose access to something they're playing, and that the whole thing just starts to feel like work. For every player that's loading up on "free" games every month from their paid subscription service, it wouldn't surprise me if there are 3, 5, or maybe even 10 or more who are nowhere close, with the difference shaking out in Microsoft's advantage.

The story used to be that Game Pass inclusion wound up increasing sales for indies, but I'm not sure if that's still the case. The idea was that subscribers would discover games on the service, crow about them to their friends, and then their friends would buy them. So devs were getting money from Microsoft to include their games, plus they were benefitting from that amplification factor. Though maybe that's all past tense at this point.

Because Game Pass is missing its targets in terms of growth, it wouldn't surprise me if the menu starts to get less expansive or if day-and-date games are shifted to a more expensive tier. I'm skeptical that Game Pass would have a huge impact on the industry at large since it encompasses relatively few full price games, and since Premium Plus doesn't have full price games (I'm not counting less expensive titles like Stray and Tchia being day-and-date), I'm sure it's working out for Sony.
Old 03-05-24, 10:12 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

I suppose that's probably true. Many people have PS+ strictly for online access. I also see on the New Monthly Offerings posts that Sony puts out where half of the comments are "I just bought that last week." Maybe I'm short sighted based entirely on my own experience with PS+, in that I don't play online, nor do I buy any games while just playing what they have available. I don't really have any personal friends who game much, so I wouldn't have their regular input.
Old 03-05-24, 10:48 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Horrible news from WB Games (who put out the biggest-selling game of 2023)
Old 03-05-24, 11:57 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

WB is Looney Tunes
Old 03-05-24, 10:12 PM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Originally Posted by Music
WB is Looney Tunes
Fixed.
Old 05-01-24, 04:39 PM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Take-Two Interactive plans to shut down Intercept Games (Kerbal Space Program 2) and Roll7 (Rollerdrome, OlliOlli World) as part of a mass layoff https://bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-05-01/take-two-interactive-shuts-down-two-game-studios

Old 05-07-24, 08:26 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Old 05-07-24, 08:33 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

For those who are like "who the heck is that" Tango is the one who did Hi-Fi Rush, so that kind of surprises me. There also is no mention of moving them to other teams, maybe a geography thing (they are in Tokyo)? Still ugh.

Arkane supports Redfall. There is mention of some of them joining other teams. No more DLC for Redfall.

Roundhouse games is being absorbed into the Elder Scrolls Online studio.
Old 05-07-24, 08:38 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

That fucking sucks.

Hi-fi Rush was so much fun. I liked what I tried of Ghostwire Tokyo, Evil Within, etc.

Arkane Austin released Redfall. So there’s that. If reports around a year ago were true, the studio barely had anyone left from the team that made Prey in 2017 anyway since so many jumped ship before Redfall came out, but still… such a massive disappointment to shut them down. I guess Arkane Lyon (responsible for all the other Arkane games thus far) is safe… for now.
Old 05-07-24, 09:13 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Originally Posted by Dan
That fucking sucks.
It does. I can't wrap my head around wanting to flush the studio behind Hi-Fi Rush -- Microsoft's only Japanese studio, right? -- down the toilet. Hi-Fi Rush is the only Xbox first-party title that's really excited me in...I don't even know how long.
Old 05-07-24, 09:21 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

I don't know what sort of metrics they use to judge a game's success, but as I've said, if you give access to your new releases via Game Pass membership, it shouldn't be game sales.
Old 05-07-24, 09:29 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner
It does. I can't wrap my head around wanting to flush the studio behind Hi-Fi Rush -- Microsoft's only Japanese studio, right? -- down the toilet.
as far as I know, yeah. I guess they have more interest in making deals with Altus and other 3rd party Japanese studios instead of fostering growth internally.

Hi-Fi Rush is the only Xbox first-party title that's really excited me in...I don't even know how long.
I can understand that. I have a handful of others, like the new games from Ninja Theory, Compulsion, and Machine. I figure Machine is safe with Indiana Jones and more Wolfenstein (eventually), but the other two?? Unless those games are commercial hits on PC/multiplatform, which seems highly unlikely, they’re going to be at risk too.


Anyway, more folks should go play Hi-fi Rush now. It’s a gem.

Old 05-07-24, 09:33 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

Originally Posted by Dan
aI can understand that. I have a handful of others, like the new games from Ninja Theory, Compulsion, and Machine.
Oh, sorry, I meant games that are out now. I'm sure I'd enjoy Pentiment and some others, but as far as I can remember, Hi-Fi Rush is the only (then-)Xbox exclusive I've played since High on Life at the end of 2022, and -- excluding retroactively first-party games like Call of Duty -- it's the only first-party Xbox game I've played since Halo Infinite (more than two years ago!). My Xbox still gets plenty of use, but it's from multiplat titles and Game Pass.
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Old 05-14-24, 10:56 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

This ongoing Twitter thread is a good reference point for all of the closures, layoffs, etc.

Click on the tweet linked below and scroll up to see how depressingly long the thread already is.

Old 05-23-24, 06:59 AM
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Re: The increasingly tricky business of video games

To put the Embracer carnage in perspective (though, admittedly, this isn’t 100% layoffs and includes things like Gearbox being sold to 2K):

Swedish conglomerate Embracer Group reduced its headcount by 4,532 employees over the past year.

As noted in the company's fiscal report for the year ended March 31, 2024, Embracer's total headcount dropped by 27 percent to 12,069 employees in Q4 FY24–down from 16,601 in Q4 FY23.

Embracer explained 3,727 of those departures were "game developers" and noted it also cancelled 80 game projects during that time.

That colossal headcount reduction comes with Embracer having completed a sweeping restructuring program that resulted in widespread layoffs, studio closures, project cancellations and huge divestments–including the sale of Gearbox Entertainment and Saber Interactive.

Embracer is now preparing to begin a "new chapter" that will see it split its business into three individual, publicly listed entities. The company intends to release 70 projects during the current fiscal year ending in March 2025, including "at least three important unannounced titles."

In its latest financials, Embracer said that process is "tracking according to plan" and will unleash "significant untapped potential within the group."

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