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Can Black Ops and Kinect save the game?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:45 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

For an industry that is always teetering on the verge of hysteria, this is a week where the PR has reached new levels of hype.

We are seeing the launch of the "fastest selling product in entertainment industry", followed by the arrival of a technology that is going to transform our relationship with the screen.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

 

I'm talking, for the uninitiated, about Call of Duty: Black Ops, the latest edition of the games industry's most lucrative franchise, and Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox, a sensor device which turns your body into a games controller.

But no wonder the PR folks are getting excited - this has been a pretty mediocre year for the games industry, and they are desperate to give things a lift in the run-up to Christmas.

If you want to know how well an industry which was supposed to be recession-proof has come though the last year just have a look at the share price of the UK retailer Game. A year ago it stood at £1.60, now it's hovering around 80p.

Game blamed a lack of big releases in the first half of the year and lower revenues from Nintendo's Wii, and now it's pinning all its hopes on a Christmas boost from Call of Duty and Kinect.

But what we appear to be seeing is a major upheaval in a business where nobody is quite sure where they are heading next. Some of the middle ranking operators must be wondering whether they can stay in the game. Only a few giant companies can afford to make a blockbuster like Call of Duty.

It's estimated that developing and marketing the last version, Modern Warfare 2, cost around $250m. That's fine when you've got a game that recoups more than $1bn in revenue, but as we've seen in the UK in the case of Realtime Worlds, if it under-performs it can kill a company.

Farmville

 

Then you've got a different ecosystem where businesses like Playfish and Zynga make online and casual games on a skinny budget. A whole new breed of gamers are finding everything from Farmville to Angry Birds to Plants versus Zombies a compelling way to pass 20 minutes every day without shelling out for a packaged product at their local Game store.

On an even smaller scale, you have bedroom developers rushing to make games for the app stores now servicing hundreds of millions of smartphone users.

Meanwhile both Microsoft with Kinect and Sony with its Move motion sensor are trying to bolster their gaming platforms and take business away from the Wii. Already some of the hardcore Xbox gamers are sneering at Kinect as being useless for the kind of titles they play - which is surely missing the point.

Microsoft hopes to reach just the kind of family audience now served by the Wii and is also using the Kinect project as a laboratory for all sorts of smart technology which may end up elsewhere.

By contrast, Nintendo's console, launched as the family friendly alternative, will be home for the first time to the Call of Duty franchise - will Super Mario Galaxy fans really graduate to an 18-rated game with a Cold War plot?

To sum up, everyone in the industry - developers, publishers, console makers and retailers - is wandering around an unfamiliar landscape.

It's a world full of promise and danger, where the bold can grab unimaginable riches, where the little guy can come from nowhere to destroy an experienced player - and where the rules seem to change every five minutes. Now that could be a great game.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "this has been a pretty mediocre year for the games industry"

    This 'problem' is of the industry's own making.
    The big publishers all decided this year to launch their blockbusters for the Christmas market based on previous years, knowing that people buy more games at Christmas.
    It's meant that gamers have had fewer big releases all year and now must decide what title to buy and which developer loses revenue.

    We've seen the emergence of social gaming with Farmville at the forefront to fill the void. this model is still in it's inflancy and we're yet to see the genre defining second generation of social games. Farmville 2 anyone?

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't think that it has much to do with the games themselves but rather the cost of games. There have been some great games in the last twelve months.

    Console games are still around £50 brand new and this is a big hit to the purse during a recession. People are getting fussy about what they buy and when. Most people I know buy games second hand on ebay as it's much cheaper and you can sell them on for nearly as much as you paid for them. That makes more sense in this economic climate than paying £50 for each new game and to let them gather dust on your shelf once you have completed or got bored of them.

    Kinect is looking great but I will wait and see how effective it is before I purchase it for Christmas. Saying that though, I will buy it online as it will be cheaper. I can't remember the last time I bought a game from GAME. Way too expensive.

  • Comment number 3.

    It has been a mediocre year, but as long as the rehashed, big-selling sequels keep making loads of money, why change?

    One of the few genuinely fun new things I've played was Bayonetta. Aside from that, it's been a horrible, horrible MW2 addiction that's seen me through. Now I get to do it all again in Black Ops! Joy.

  • Comment number 4.

    This year hasn't been that bad.

    Alan Wake
    Mass Effect 2
    Civ V
    Red Dead Redemption
    Splinter Cell Conviction

    To name just a few.

    I do agree that games publishers (especially Activision) need to stop milking their titles like CoD. Its just going to end up with them losing more talented devs like they lost Inifinity Ward.

  • Comment number 5.

    "By contrast, Nintendo's console, launched as the family friendly alternative, will be home for the first time to the Call of Duty franchise"

    COD3, COD: Modern Warfare and COD: World at War were released on the Wii. Albeit, they were rated 15 not 18 as with Black Ops.

  • Comment number 6.

    "this is a week where the PR has reached new levels of hype"

    As a gamer, I think you may be a bit over-cynical on this one. Kinect *is* a pretty exciting technology. Controller / keyboard free gaming? Posture sensitivity? Pretty space-age stuff. I can give or take the CoD series, but a motion-sensing technology which isn't aimed at kids / families (I'm looking at you Wii) - and could eventually work for proper FPS's - definitely one to watch.

  • Comment number 7.

    The price of games is certainly prohibitive, although when you consider the size of the development teams they must require to make the big games (especially in comparison to the days of Sonic The Hedgehog on the Megadrive), then it's hardly surprising. Also, to be fair, the price of the top games hasn't really risen all that much since the 90s - I'm sure I was shelling out £40 a time for some Megadrive games, and you didn't even have budget re-release ranges back then.

    I used to buy a new game every couple of months or so when I was a child/teenager, leading to a vast array of Megadrive games and a very substantial number of Playstation games. The release of the PS2 coincided with me turning 18, which of course meant I was spending much more of my time out socialising rather than sitting in my bedroom playing games, so game purchases were limited to big titles like Grand Theft Auto and the occasional PES or WWE game. I got an XBox 360 and played it relentlessly when I got a new game like Assassin's Creed but then went months without going near it, so it wasn't until this year that I really got back into gaming. I think the release of Heavy Rain kick-started that, as me and my sister clubbed together to buy a PS3 specifically to play it. Then there was Red Dead Redemption, which essentially took up the whole of June, and since then there has been FIFA 11 to take up my time. The title I'm most looking forward to at Christmas is the third installment of the Assassin's Creed series (which I must say is very stupidly named - I saw the adverts and initially assumed it was just a spin-off title like Bloodlines, rather than the next installment in the main series).

    For me, the problem with the gaming industry is that far too many big titles are either first-person shooters or driving games, neither of which I have much time for. If you don't like FPS games, then the plethora of titles like COD and MOH are just going to be of no interest to you, but these are the games that the development houses are spending their time on, meaning they're not spending their time on other things. Heavy Rain was a great game, because it seemed as if it was a genuinely new type of game, something I hadn't felt since Guitar Hero, GTA3 or MGS before it. I suspect that, like MGS, GTA3 and GH, there will now be a deluge of Heavy Rain clones in the coming years. Still, gaming seems to be the one cultural outlet where "more of the same" does satisfy you - RDR was essentially GTA on a horse, but it was still engrossing. I put that partly down to the vastly improved plot-lines of games these days. Still, it would be nice to see more genuinely original games being produced, but as you say, the sudden demise of Realtime Worlds highlights the importance of guaranteed hits. I suppose it's the same as the film industry, where blockbusters tend to be superheros, action films and epics, because these generally perform well. The only real answer is to have big titles bankrolling the development of more experimental titles.

  • Comment number 8.

    Incidentally, does anyone actually still play their Wii? Every Wii owner I know pretty swiftly went back to their XBox or PS3. As a result, I don't see me purchasing either Move or Kinect anytime soon and I'm just wondering what sort of appetite there really is for motion-sensitive controllable games.

  • Comment number 9.

    Looking at Game is not really relevant. Many gamers now buy online which is cheaper and easier than going to any shop, not just Game.

    The fact is, online retailers can deliver before the game is released so you can have it installed and ready to go as soon as servers go online and fast connections make digitally buying games a perfectly acceptable model. Why would anyone go to a shop to buy Cataclysm when they can have they game downloaded and patched automatically ready to play as soon as the servers are live. Game (the shop) will suffer but Activision will make a fortune as they do every month i would think.

    Cutting out unnecessary middle men is the nature of progress.

  • Comment number 10.

    A lot of people last night were trading in their Medal Of Honors + £7.99 in exchange for Black Ops, which isnt much money. I exhanged MAG and Medal of Honor, and got a few quid back!

    Although Call of Duty may shift off the shelf, people will play this none stop for months, and not buy any other games.

    BTW i feel relieved that i no longer have Medal of Honor, such a dreadful game, the lag made the gameplay unbearable. Everyone last night was slagging it off. Such a shame coz Frontline was a amazing.

    To answer your question, overall - jan-jan, i dont think there will be a massive increase in gaming sales. The kinnect and PS Move might improve them a little, but they will level out again once people realise these gimmicks are as rubbish as the Wii.

  • Comment number 11.

    At 11:00am on 09 Nov 2010, Douglas Daniel wrote:
    Incidentally, does anyone actually still play their Wii?
    -------------
    Not really, I have a very occassional game on it, but even then it's playing something non-kiddy like Resident Evil 4.

    As for some of the above comments about the cost of games being prohibitive, it's really not. Last year I got MW2 for about £27 from a certain supermarket, since then I've played it online for... many days. I don't think there are many other forms of entertainment that offer that kind of value for money.

    That said, the £55 RRP for some new games is just silly. Does anyone actually pay that?

  • Comment number 12.

    At 11:11am on 09 Nov 2010, CyBerPuNk wrote:
    Although Call of Duty may shift off the shelf, people will play this none stop for months, and not buy any other games.

    ----

    You might be on to something here. Games these days take a very long time to complete or to find out all there is in the multiplayer matches. so if you buy something to fill in some free time you will probably be using it for a long time. and during that time you probably won't buy much else. Buy a GTA or similar open world game and you will play it for quite some time. And just when you are about to try something else a new version comes out, grabs your attention and you continue playing the franchise.

    So it would be difficult for others to grab gamers attention during their playthrough. Unless the do it with some short games or games where you can click, play a bit and leave such as farmville. It is quite obvious why titles in "the middle" have difficulty at breaking through.


  • Comment number 13.

    I got wise to GAMEs deal of the week scheme, Paid £24 for RDR. No bother to me having to wait a few weeks, plus it gives time for the patches to be released.

    I don't play Wii anymore, but conincidentally my PS3 got RLOD 2 days later (after 3 1/2 years daily use with PlayTV) and I have a PS Move now. But I won't rush to buy any Move games.

  • Comment number 14.

    PS. If you want a laugh, check out the Kinect Injury clips on Youtube

  • Comment number 15.

    No wonder PIRACY is rife, the prices of these new mega releases is beyond most household budgets.........Only the legal and non-legal fraternity WIN/WIN! Try as I might, I urge my youngling to wait and pick up a reduced previous owned title, but like most he's wants everything yesterday! Already put the deposit down months ago for the Kinnect thingy! For sure it won't help him with his preferred shoot them up's!

  • Comment number 16.

    All shoot-em-up games should require that any 'player' who kills an opponent should be forced to write a heartfelt letter of condolence to the mother of the victim.

    No ifs and no buts, these games encourage violence and the consequences of violence needs to be drummed into all the players.

  • Comment number 17.

    P.S. Can't get Xbox on line, the signal into our house is 0.25mps. For sure it saves me some do$h..............

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree with other comments on here that most games can be found online for a decent price, much lower than the RRP.

    I just wish the trend for developing and producing games for all formats wasn't applied so liberally to all titles. Some games such as Call of Duty should be developed for the pc and ported to Xbox and PS3. The majority of games are now developed to be instantly portable to all other formats which leaves developers reducing some of the unique features available to certain formats (noticeable in games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto).

    Games suffer from this 'all format' approach in terms of losing their specific or individual characteristics and in terms of the need for retailers and developers to spend much more in advertising and garnering media attention, thus leading to bi-annual hot spots for releases...

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    John_from_Hendon, above. The day I commit an illegal violent act (which would, of course, be down the 25 years or so I've been playing games) I'll be perfectly willing to write letters to all of the mothers of the tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of people, aliens, animals and other assorted creatures I've brutally murdered in that time.

    Deal?

  • Comment number 21.

    I hadn't actually realised the BBC knew any games other than World of Warcraft existed.

    The games are too expensive. I can't stand "shoot the soldier in the head" games, they are just too much the same as all the others and I'm not going to spend out £50 to play a game I probably won't pick up that much.

    Nope, I'll stick to Final Fantasy XIV (thats an MMPORG other than WoW right there BBC) and Fable 3 once I've been able to afford it.

    I can't get my head around why people want to play 10 different versions of the same game

  • Comment number 22.

    @John_from_Hendon: I'm sorry - I would, but I don't speak Space Invader. In fact, do they even have mothers? Ditto for the beings in Galaxians, Galaga, Super Stardust, the titular Centipede, etc.

    Or were you referring to first-person / tactical shooters? In which case, my apology would consist of, "Sorry I clicked on your progengy before they clicked on me."

  • Comment number 23.

    Apart from being rehashes or clones of each other, the biggest problem with modern games is that only players from a single platform can play together online.

    Given that most games are built to run on all platforms, and the content is usually the same, the only technical hurdle is the console manufacturers enforcing the use of their own network, e.g PlaystationNetwork.

    There is nothing worse when buying a game say for the PC and finding out your mate has bought the same game for the PS3 and you can't play on-line with them.

  • Comment number 24.

    @1 MyVoiceinYrHead, you are dead right! I am sick of developers focussing on the christmas period! Last year some of the best games were delayed merely because of "The Modern Warfare Effect" to the start of this year. In the months of June and July or so there were no new games that i wanted so i was playing Mass Effect again from 4 years ago, but now i have around 6 or 7 games on the go while 2 of them are epic 50-60 hour RPG's, if i had infinite money i still wouldnt buy more games because i dont have the time to play them and this is coming from a guy with a rather small social life! Ive never bought a Need For Speed game before as its not usually my thing but the new one this year is made by the Burnout developers im very very interested...but where am i supposed to find the time to play it!? Surely loads of christmas season games this year will suffer because of Black Ops...so why focus so hard on this period?

  • Comment number 25.

    @ aardware, I'd wait to see how Final Fantasy XIV unfolds first my friend, initial reports are baaaaad, some research before purchase is most definately in order :)

    Is it just me or is Microsoft marketing Kinect all wrong. When a parent or someone who doesnt usually play games wants the Wii they say "£150 is much cheaper than the other consoles, i can see myself paying that much for a Wii" But with Kinect it costs £180, plus you need an Xbox 360 to play it! which is yet more cash to lay down...very offputting to these groups of people. So who are these people who are likely to purchase Kinect? People who already own an Xbox 360, the people who are generally known to be more traditional gamers and as Rory rightly said "some of the hardcore Xbox gamers are sneering at Kinect as being useless for the kind of titles they play" And can you blame them with the launch titles that are available? I'm no business analyst so i could be so wrong...but surely Microsoft needs to show the hardcore gamers what kinect can do for them or it is doomed to fail!

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Battlefield Bad Company 2? With massive maps, destructible environments, squad based teamplay, 'on-the-fly' tactics, it is a far superior game to all the Call of Duty offerings. Also, the Vietnam expansion, and the four upcoming free maps for VIP owners makes it a Call of Duty beater hands down.

    As for Kinect, I hear they are releasing Steel Battalion for it, a very adult game. Hopefully that'll keep the core gamers amused, alongside all the 'Wii-style' family games I see joining the launch of the peripheral.

    Who was it who said games beget violence? I've been playing 'violent' games for thirty years now, and haven't committed any real life acts of violence. What a load of nonsense.

  • Comment number 27.

    At 1:56pm on 09 Nov 2010, aardware wrote:
    I hadn't actually realised the BBC knew any games other than World of Warcraft existed.
    -----------
    true, it would be great if the bbc had a dedicated weekly programme to video games, rather than little inserts on five live or the usual 'violent video games' stuff.

    if its true that the video games industry is 'bigger' than the music and film industry why cant there be a show? there are programmes for books, films, gardening, music, motor cars etc .. c'mon rory make it happen!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Don't worry John from hendon, I'm make sure to after I go on a killing spree.....


    The sooner those kind of moronic statements vanish the better.

  • Comment number 29.

    "16. At 12:43pm on 09 Nov 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    All shoot-em-up games should require that any 'player' who kills an opponent should be forced to write a heartfelt letter of condolence to the mother of the victim.

    No ifs and no buts, these games encourage violence and the consequences of violence needs to be drummed into all the players. "

    This must be the reason why for ~16 years of playing FPS (from Wolfenstein 3D through to modern games such as COD:MW2) I have committed a grand total of 0 violent crimes (or any crime for that matter). As #28 says it's time for this moronic idea that games encourage violence to disappear.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re. the price of games these days...

    To be fair, if you consider a new release DVD will probably cost something like £10, is it unfair to say that a game such as this will not provide 5 times the entertainment (maybe more like 3 times if bought online)? Especially when you consider the amount of people who were still religeously playing the last one up until yesterday. How many times can you watch the same film in a year before it gets boring?

    I think this is another example of the something-for-nothing mentality that seems to be about today. Its not like brand new games haven't been 40-50 quid going way back to MegaDrive/SNES days and particularly when the first PlayStation came along.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just to add to game makers' confusion, there's the results of the Humble Indie Bundle project earlier in the year.

    http://www.downloadsquad.com/2010/05/24/humble-indie-bundle-proves-gaming-on-linux-is-commercially-viabl/

    Basically, it showed what other small, independent companies with the cajones to experiment have found. Linux gamers are willing to pay for games. What's more, they make up a significant portion of the total sales and where there is an option to pay whatever amount you feel is fair - they pay more on average!

  • Comment number 32.

    "Rory - If you want to know how well an industry which was supposed to be recession-proof has come though the last year just have a look at the share price of the UK retailer Game. A year ago it stood at £1.60, now it's hovering around 80p."


    The games industry is not best judged by high street retailer share prices, as other people have eluded to. Despite some reported problems the industy as a whole continues to grow and post profits.

    But there is one big problem that Game and the industry as a whole are missing the point on - these days a lot of gamers are put off buying a new game until they've seen reviews, videos, their mates playing it etc.

    I personally don't wish to buy a new game at £40+ on the Xbox 360 without having a playable demo, that is representative, or as near as, of the final product, first.

    This is where PC gamers have an advantage because they can pirate a game as a "try before you buy" copy. Many would sneer at piracy but it's a very useful way of saving yourself money whilst deciding which game to buy.

    And this is happening more and more because companies just will not release playable demos, therefore you either spend your hard earned £40+ on a game, like fore example MoH, and find it's rubbish, or you pirate the game first on PC (or Xbox 360 if you have a modded console) and save yourself £40+.

    If more games companies released a proper playable demo instead of trading on their name, perhaps places such as Game might get a bit more revenue.

    Kinect - pah. Just more dilution of the games industry by a gimmick aimed at the "casual, only plays at parties" kind of gamer. I have yet to see anything that any established gamer would find it useful for.

  • Comment number 33.

    This reference to Game's shares? Is this just their high street stores? Or the Game Group as a whole? If its just their stores then no wonder the shares are down...they can be up to £10 more per game than online stores, Game stick too rigidly to the RRP for the savvy gamer to bother with.

  • Comment number 34.

    Games tend to last much longer nowadays, particularly if you are trying to get 100% in them like I try and do. Trophies on games certainly doesn't help this matter, so I don't really need to buy "brand new" when I've got 25 PS3 games on disc and more on download flavouring from Demon's Souls to Flower.

    Since games don't really need that long to be considered "old" then why buy new? Sure, if its a game like The Last Guardian or Heavy Rain then I'll happily shell out money new but for other games then not so much, and there's also such a thing called a backlog of titles. Heck, I'm even considering getting a Dreamcast with the hits such as Shenmue, Samba Di Amigo and Jet Set Radio! With those options why would I even consider getting a new Call Of Duty, especially when it fills the pockets of folks like Robert Kotick rather than the developers?

    On the whole, if the maintream games industry truly break out of their popular trend bubble and embraces diversity like the indie developers then I'll grab new more often. Until that happens my purchases can wait. Money is too tight right now to consider otherwise.

  • Comment number 35.

    I buy *a lot* of video games... I don't buy them from Game and haven't in years as I mostly buy them from Amazon or via a digital distribution service like Steam, as do all my game playing friends, so I'm not sure that the Game share price is an accurate barometer for the state of the industry.
    I suspect the share price of a company like Activision Blizzard is.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    " At 12:43pm on 09 Nov 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    No ifs and no buts, these games encourage violence and the consequences of violence needs to be drummed into all the players."
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    John_from_Hendon: That attitude is frankly ludicrous and poorly conceived reactionary claptrap my friend.
    I'm 42 years old and have been playing "violent" video games since I was about 10 or so years old.
    I'm married, have a mortgage, a career in IT Management, loads of friends of the same age (some of whom play, some of whom don't), I've picked up a live firearm once in my life (at a clay pigeon shoot) and it terrified me and I couldn't wait to get away from the damn thing. I've never broken the law (to my knowledge!) or been arrested and I don't have a violent thought in my stable and well adjusted, middle class head.

    Games and movies and rock and roll and comics don't make people violent. Stuff like bad parenting, poverty and mental illness will. There's no easy to fix bogeyman that you can run from, sorry.

    You'll not read that in that Daily Mail though.

    /discuss.

  • Comment number 36.

    @35 Good Post

    If a game influences someone to kill, they were mentally ill in the first place it wasnt the game that created the mental illness and if games didnt exsist they'd probably be inspired by movies, music, televison, or maybe even watching an animal hunt in the wild...

  • Comment number 37.

    By contrast, Nintendo's console, launched as the family friendly alternative, will be home for the first time to the Call of Duty franchise - will Super Mario Galaxy fans really graduate to an 18-rated game with a Cold War plot?

    Whoops indeed as Povester in post 5 has pointed out.
    CoD:WaW was pretty awful on the Wii too.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm and young 47 year old who plays eve-online, this game in my opinion has cost me £1000's over the 6 years I've been enrolled, bear that in mind when paying for your game and then the annual or monthly subscriptions if it’s a MMORPG’ (admittedly I have 2 accounts)
    But I really don't mind paying for that as it includes free updates and expansion packs and I perceive that as good value. Games now days are more realistic than some films and will improve year on year as technology grows, so be kind to the games houses as they have to invest hugely for their returns. Lasting game play doesn’t come cheap and to hire people with the imagination to create lasting game play is a huge drain on recourses. If I have one concern it would be this, don’t price yourselves out of the market guys, but do keep up the good work you developers.

  • Comment number 39.

    @36 Why thank you :)

    @38 Bravo, I'm not a player of Eve Online myself, but I have friends that have dabbled and I always try to catch news of the big corporate raids and backstabbings that go on - genius stuff.

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    27. At 2:52pm on 09 Nov 2010, CyBerPuNk wrote:
    if its true that the video games industry is 'bigger' than the music and film industry why cant there be a show? there are programmes for books, films, gardening, music, motor cars etc .. c'mon rory make it happen!!
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd echo that. The *real* games fraternity are mature, sensible, everyday people who do this stuff for giggles in between working and paying their licence fee - where's our coverage BBC? ...and I don't mean the usual cliche' "whacky" colourful, noisey show aimed at 10 year olds.

    Why not a film 2010 style show for gamers?

  • Comment number 40.

    @John_from_Hendon
    He's winding everyone up. No-one actually can believe things like that, right?

    @39
    Nice idea about the film 2010-a-like show; don't think they'll have enough quality games to sustain that format though. I don't think the amount of games released in any way reflect the amount of films released and reviewed. It'd need to be a 10 minute thing maybe.

    @The Point at Hand
    Kinect could be real groundbreaking technology (will find out when I get my hands on one) and the gaming scene still seems to be breaking more ground than most other areas of IT.
    I'm a software developer, and am keen to understand what I can do to bring that kind of technology into the workplace.

  • Comment number 41.

    I used to buy from Game, but fact is I don't like going shopping, I don't like waiting and I don't like having lots of packaging from old games I'll never play again lying around. So now I only buy games online.

    I have noticed fewer good games coming out on the PC in recent years. There was a time when decent PC games were being released pretty much every month of the year. But these days good PC games are getting rarer.

    I could blame consoles because console games tend to be overhyped rubbish (mirrors edge omg) and PC games are definitely becoming more infected with console-isms. Like sometimes you might go to the setup menu and there will be a (disabled) option to change from keyboard and mouse to an inferior "gamepad controller"....yeah...and then you realize why aspects of the physics and movement in the game are so simplified.

    I could blame PC gamers more though. Pirating on PCs is rife. PC game companies can make a good game and yet barely make enough to fund the next game. You have to wonder how that works. There are enough PC gamers to keep a larger number of development companies afloat than actually exist. Now we get all these indie developers flooding PCs with cheap and cheerful games because the model of quickly develop lots of little games on the cheap is becoming more tenable than 4 year projects to make a decent game. For how bad the piracy is I found out some PC gamers were even pirating a bundle of indie games being sold at just 1p...

    Console games are of course a lot harder to pirate. I wish it was as hard to pirate PC games as console games. Developers are switching to consoles because the target market pays more. Console games also tend to cost a lot more too so again more profit.

  • Comment number 42.

    #35. Furious_Orange
    #29. timage_
    #40. bobhoskinsbrother

    Gentlemen and Ladies -

    Do you really see video games as totally abstract?

    Do you really think that killing virtual enemies is any different to killing real ones? If so why? Be careful with your answers!

    Violence is abhorrent in real life and the deadening effect of virtual violence is even more abhorrent.

    Why do you think that game players should NOT be forced to confront their own violence and the consequences of their violence?

  • Comment number 43.

    @John_from_Hendon

    Why do you feel moving a controller stick to remove one pixellated enemy is anything like actual real violence?

    Do you feel you should confront your own violence when you watch afilm like Apocalypse Now, or read a crime/thriller novel where the protagonist inflicts violence on another?

    Have you been involved in real violence? Have you hit anyone? Have you trained in any kind of martial art or other self defence class? Has anyone hit you with a stick? Has anyone punched you in the face? Have you ever had five guys stamp on your head?

    I can assure you, my friend, there is a world of difference between a computer game and your last thoughts as you slip into semi-consciousness as the result of an unprovoked attack.

    If you want to discuss why violence seems on the rise these days I suggest you take a walk through some of the run-down areas of my town. Once you've seen the poverty, lack of employment, and the effects of drink you will soon realise computer games are as far removed from committing acts of violence as home ownership is from starting a war.

    I've only been on this planet 37 years, and in that time I've seen so may scapegoats for society's ills - comics, rock music, dungeons and dragons, video nasties, and now, inevitably, computer games.

    I mean, seriously, get a grip.

  • Comment number 44.

    Call Of Duty Gamers: Temporarily blind and disorientate your opponent by unexpectedly ripping open his bedroom curtains.

  • Comment number 45.

    @John_from_Hendon

    Having also played for over 30 years I can safely say it is more likely people like you who would end up doing real life violence.
    I can release all my anger with good gaming session. Someone who has no safe channel to let it loose and is far too uptight will eventually come to the point of explosion.

    I hope you learn to chill out as I've learned to do and wish you all the best.

    On topic: Here in Finland more and more people have learned to purchase their games via steam and from play.com for example. The prices in here are so high that I can't buy a new game from here and I have two jobs.
    Steam is helping also small companies to get their games sold and is a good channel when lacking a huge PR budget.

    BR
    VanhA

  • Comment number 46.

    John_from_Hendon, your question "Do you really think that killing virtual enemies is any different to killing real ones?" indicates that there is no point in discussing with you. But, out of politeness, I will.

    I cherish all life - I try to not even kill mosquitoes (in semi-tropical Brisbane), even though I was seriously ill for several years with a mosquito-borne disease.

    The Buddha noted three levels of action: mental action, e.g. thinking of killing someone; vocal action, e.g. abusing and threatening that person; and physical action - attacking the person, perhaps killing them. The mental volition is critical; with wholesome mental volition, you will not utter unwholesome speech or take unwholesome action.

    To harm others, your mind needs to be filled with animosity and hatred. PC etc game-players are interested in entertainment and exercising their skills. There is no animosity or hatred involved when I attack an orc in a RPG, and it does not desensitise me as regards real-life violence.

    Of course, killing virtual enemies is totally different from harming real, living beings; there is no comparison.

    If someone has psychopathic tendencies (fortunately not common), it may be that exposure to violent films or games will strengthen the tendency; alternatively, it might provide a cyber outlet which lessens the likelihood of real-life violence. I can't say that in my 25 years of gaming (of course, no graphics in the early years), anyone I know has become more prone to violence as a result of games-playing.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is no doubt that the recession has had an effect. When you are laying out between £30 and £50 for a game, you are going to be more picky when the cash is tight.

    Actually I don't mind paying for a game if it does indeed provide some value for money. Both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas have provided me with hours and hours and hours of entertainment - well worth the £30 or so I paid for them online. On the other side of the coin, something like Medal Of Honor was a rip-off ($40 for in the region of 4.5 hours gameplay).

    I never buy from Game - the high street retailers are just too expensive.

    Not sure about Kinect - I am not sure it will work in my room anyway (it's quite small and I run a projector). Excellent piece of technology though and I will be interested to see what they do with it.

  • Comment number 48.

    "If you want to know how well an industry which was supposed to be recession-proof has come though the last year just have a look at the share price of the UK retailer Game. A year ago it stood at £1.60, now it's hovering around 80p."

    This completely ignores services like Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam which bypass the highstreet. Digital downloaded content is having a notable effect on highstreet chains, which means they can no longer provide an accurate picture of games retail health.

    The games industry is NOT struggling, quite the contrary, Jagex Ltd has gone from strength to strength during the past few years thanks to a low price point and widely available platfrom distribution (Java). Broad genaralist statements won't include them though as they don't release on the major consoles.

    "To sum up, everyone in the industry - developers, publishers, console makers and retailers - is wandering around an unfamiliar landscape"

    It would seem that way to outsiders, but I think you underestimate the savvy of directors and corporate leaders in this industry. The truth of the matter is that it is an industry, which means which it has a predictable level of output and input, and can be managed to success or failure. Bobby Kotick (the most hated man in Activision) may be cynical in his approach to franchises, but each Call of Duty iteration is a guaranteed seller, a triple-A title every time. Its not a risk, its playing it safe.

    Not to be too harsh Rory, but I'd suggest you do a bit more research into what is effectively the largest entertainment medium on the planet before swiping at generalist thinking and first-point search results. Read a few issues of MCV for example.

  • Comment number 49.

    Just because there isn't a clear monopoly going on in the games industry (like the portable .mp3 /music industry that we have all come to love!) doesn't mean we're 'wandering around an unfamiliar landscape'. May 'modders', gamers and game developers always be FREE to create games on every level to suit every pocket - that's what makes the games industry so exciting, fast and unusual.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    John_from_Hendon, I would like to know how you find posts 43 and 46 "violent, agressive and personally abusive". I can find nothing in either of those posts that indicate anything like what you are suggesting is present.

    I would also like to ask you a question. Taking your "rules of engagement", in that you would like to see all video-game players write letters to the family of the other players who's virtual polygons have been "killed" in games, do you also feel that the veterans who's lives we remember tomorrow during Rememberance Day should also have been forced to write such letters to the soldiers who were killed by the allied forces during both world wars and the current conflicts in the world?

  • Comment number 52.

    Almost two years ago to the day RCJ posted this

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2008/11/uk_stops_listening_starts_play.html

    How quickly things change, and people forget.

  • Comment number 53.

    @16 John_from_Hendon wrote:

    "All shoot-em-up games should require that any 'player' who kills an opponent should be forced to write a heartfelt letter of condolence to the mother of the victim. No ifs and no buts, these games encourage violence and the consequences of violence needs to be drummed into all the players."

    John,

    I was 40 a few weeks ago.

    As a child, we used to play "Cowboys and Indians", which not only glorified violence, but promoted the idea that it was OK to shoot people for no reason other than that they had a different skin colour.

    Should I write a letter of condolence to everyone killed in ethnic violence?

    Or is your objection solely to computer games?

  • Comment number 54.

    Kinect will not save the industry it will help it's demise. Motion controls are a gimmick used to sell junk to people who know nothing of the industry. Nintendo has already made a killing of them and they're starting to wise up, they won't be buying Kinect or the shovel-ware that will come for it.

  • Comment number 55.

    What I think has been overlooked is the impact of DLC (downloadable content) that are now available for games. Take MW2 the two new map packs game at just the right time and easily extended its playing life. With Red Dead Redemption there have been several DLC's that have extended the multiplayer side and the most recent DLC "Undead Collection" is practically a brand new game.

    The problem for places like Game are that the DLC's are priced reasonably and you don't\can't buy them from a shop, its straight from the (in my case) XBox marketplace. When you also consider how easy that is and that XBox are also promoting more and more games available for direct download and play - usually at similar or cheaper price than a shop - its easy to see the demise (or at least quite a reduction) in vendors such as Game.

  • Comment number 56.

    Games are just too complex to create now. They take a year to write with large teams of developers. The cost and risk is so great that there aren't any risky or experimental games any more.

    Most of the games are shoot em ups, car driving games or sports.

    You have to look to the iPhone to see new and exciting games, they cost less to produce and buy so it is possible for one or two people to write a game just like the good old days.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ Giles Jones
    I agree with the sentiment of what you are saying, but you don't have to look to the iPhone. Just have a look at things like XBLA or Xbox live Indie games and you'll see stuff that is new and interesting.

  • Comment number 58.

    Does gaming need saving? I've had fantastic games on PS3, incredible experiences like Uncharted2 and GodofWarIII never thought imaginable...

    Perhaps it's just the Xbox that "needs saving"???

  • Comment number 59.

    I see there has been a robust debate on the violence of computer games topic. I have sympathy with some of the sentiments of J-f-H but the replies from various others are sensible and valid.

    However I hate the idea of Black Ops dominating the run-up to Xmas. I just gave my 11 yr old son an Xbox for his birhtday and thought he would love it. Instead, in the space of 3 weeks there have been arguments regarding him playing games rated above 12, which I wont allow. Its not helped by "all his friends" seemingly playing Modern Warfare and no doubt looking forward to Black Ops for Xmas.

    I won't do it because I dont agree that such games should be a part of kids time (whats wrong with FIFA 11!). I'm really genuinely interested in hearing other views on this as no-one wants to see their kid in tears for feeling left out (no matter how this sounds so much like middle class angst and a lack of perspective!!).

    We will now be bomarded with adverts for 15/18 games all the way to Xmas - making parents lives difficult.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think we should also consider the iphone as a console. A lot of gaming companies here in northern ireland only specialise in apps. cheap set up, small staff, and quick turnaround.

    Here is the gaming 'giant' Dave Perry explaining a few months back how social networking is where the money is at... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10154989

    Shops like HMV and Game may struggle in a few years time as games become download only. No-one will be able to trade. They will be hardware only shops.

    I think what Virgin is doing is very interesting, and may be the future of how we play games. That we play via their servers and win (or lose) money.

    "Can Black Ops and Kinect save the game?" - is strange question. The gaming industry isnt going to go bust. If these two things didnt exist, there would still be a gaming industry.

  • Comment number 61.

    The only people who buy games from retail outlets are kids who don't have a credit card to use on the internet or parents who don't realise you can get it cheaper online. Everyone else buys and sells them online and a quick google search will reveal the cheapest prices.

    I don't agree with Rory's comment about game sales being mediocre this year. If anything we've seen huge resurgence in AAA list games -

    Black Ops
    Fable 3
    Fallout New Vegas
    Dead Rising 2

    but to name a few.

    As an avid XBOX fan, I managed to obtain my hands on the Kinect console today and can't wait to try it out later tonight!

    PS I'm happily married with children, 30 and work as an IT Developer in the financial sector.

    PPS John_From_Hendon is a troll, so just ignore him!

  • Comment number 62.

    @10 Nov 2010, TheGingerF wrote

    Your fear is pointless. That is unless he indends to spend all his free time playing the game. In that case even FIFA (i am not a fan of these as they are all the same) can be a bad idea.

    Ratings are baseless. Maybe if they would be for over 18 years i would consider them in your case, however over 12?! I mean 1 year? besides who can make a broder that will fit to all individuals?

    I used to read various books when i was in primary school. even those that people thoght it would be too difficult for me to understand. yet i did. i even read books in foreign language. i was subscribed to an english and german magazine ment for highschool students yet i was 11 at the time. supposedly i was below designated rating, but magazines for 11 year olds were just too childish to me. i was also reading newspaper. and by the time i was 14 i probably saw most of classic horror movies. my point is these ratings are more guidance then rule. the child can be more adult (mentaly) than the ratings for average would say.

    it would be much better maybe to join in the play or at least talk about it with him. that will be much more valuable than any rating. and you can keep him under control. oh an make him read a good book from time to time.

  • Comment number 63.

    From January up until September the games I wanted were spread out over this period. I bought 8 games during those months. From October to December there are 6 games coming out that have garnered my interest.
    There is no balance at all - it's ridiculous, and to say that games take longer to complete, it's simply not true. Most games these days can be completed in 10 hour, excluding optional stuff. Some games have an in-game 'guide' making the challenge obsolete.
    I don't buy into all the hype, no amount of hysteria will get me more interested in a product. I said from the get go that the Wiimote is a gimmick, and still maintain that. Same for the Kinect and Move. I play single player games. Playing games is a hobby, and If I want to work out I'll go to a gym.

  • Comment number 64.

    Games companies aren't stupid - games used to cost £40 but when online stores started to heavily discount them to £30 on release, the companies just increased the RRP to £55. Online stores now "reduce" their prices by 30%, customers think they are getting a bargain but they are really just paying £40 for a game that would have been discounted to £30 a year or so ago.

  • Comment number 65.

    This just made me mad. I'm fed up of reading from established news corps. how they know better because they have an editor for technology. We've had a cracking year this year. Lots of big releases, lots of commercial success, great reviews and a MASSIVE E3. New technology announced, new technology released, updates to the existing platforms and a huge expansion in DLC that is changing the way we play games. Digital Distribution has gone massive and Indie developers have exploded. Minecraft has made over a million, Garys Mod has made over a million, Angry birds has stormed the iPhone and Facebook has become a viable gaming platform.

    Games shares have dropped nearly 50% because they've fully taken over Gamestation now, they're financially accountible for the gaming highstreet in the UK and the highstreet is still suffering! The recession meant that people just wanted cheap and Amazon is blowing every company out the water with that. You can get the same game you want, before you go to work on release day and at 15 to 20 pounds cheaper.

    Microsoft are in for a fantastic christmas, the Wii will be in great supply for anyone thats missed out and it's expected that next year, Sony could possibly close the gap on the 360.

    Gaming is healthy and theres more out their for all of us. Its an unfamiliar landscape to you arrogant 'journalists', irresponsible Parents and feckless Daily Mail readers that haven't a sodding clue what you're talking about.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ John_from_Hendon

    I think your comments have amused a number of people on this blog. Though instead of chastising you, I would perhaps try to persuade you to change your opinion. Instead of thinking about how many gamers are violent, think about how many violent people are gamers. It would certainly be an interesting statistic, if violent prisoners could be quizzed on if they play(ed) violent games. Of course I have no idea on the numbers, but I would imagine it to be very few relatively. It is because the unemployment, financial difficulties, stress, lack of skills/educated, poor upbringing, drug/alcohol problems etc. that are associated with violent criminals, are also causes of poverty. And you can't afford a PC/console, internet connection, and games when you're poor!

    As to the main point of this blog. Is the game industry struggling? The falling share price of the company Game is certainly no indication of a struggling industry. Digital distribution, online retail, DLC all push towards the failure of high street gaming retailers, but also push to greater profits for the games developers.

    Games can be expensive sure, but they are also excellent value for money, and this is something so often overlooked when assessing media industries. The best thing about the gaming industry is that other than the occasional franchise (COD), great games do well and poor games do badly. Simple as that. Fashion does not come into it. And even games that churn out new versions based on past successes (COD) must constantly be developing and pushing the boundaries, otherwise users will happily drop them like a rock. Perhaps even first person shooters will become stagnant over the next few years as players get bored with the same old stuff.

    As for Kinect, well it's an interesting piece of kit. One that I hope will do well, but will not be buying myself and I imagine core gamers will not bother with either. Right now it is still too child/family orientated because the technology isn't at the level where it can offer much more. But the potential is enourmous, and if this does well it can be a stepping stone to much greater things that core gamers would be very interested in. Futuristic style virtual reality suites are not so far around the corner...

  • Comment number 67.

    "Gaming Industry" and "Console Gaming" are two very different things. The gaming industry is in no danger of faltering - its been steadily encroching the film and music industries for years and I believe it already surpassed them both in 2009.

    Console gaming, on the other hand, has always been somewhat hit-n-miss and the entire concept of a single games console, along with its incredibly high game prices (especialy compared to identical games on the PC that are often £20 cheaper), is clearly on its last legs. It is essentialy un-sustainable, but then the music industry has been un-sustainable for over 50 years and its still going.

    As for the Kinect and whether it can compete with the Wii as a family console, I think the answer has to be a big flat no.

    Younger kids and parents will still be looking to buy a Wii this Christmas, not an XBox, and I am fairly certain it will be the same for many Christmas' to come. Likewise the people buying an XBox will be the same people that have always purchased an XBox - the Kinect is not going to drive a new market for the console.

    Ask a fairly simple question: Will a Kinect game top, or in any way dominate, the XBox Christmas chart? I think we all know that the answer will be a resounding no.

    That is where Kinect falls flat on its face.

    Yet if you were to ask the same question of the PS Move, there is every possibility that a PS Move game will top or dominate the PS chart simply because the device is better suited for working with practicaly any new PS3 game. As such the device lends itself naturaly to improving sales, but just like the Kinect it certainly won't make any leeway on the Wii sales as being "family orientated".

  • Comment number 68.

    @64

    I don't think that is something to fear just yet, Only a handful have games have hit the £55 mark and most retailers charge less than that anyway. I dont think ive paid over £35 for a (non special edition) game in years...

  • Comment number 69.

    Actually make that 40...35 is a little optimistic on my part lol

  • Comment number 70.

    #66. jizzlingtons wrote:

    "I think your comments have amused a number of people on this blog"

    Amusement was not my aim and I am sorry that it has amused people. When I choose to be amusing I can wrote in such a manner, but this was not such an occasion.

    War and killing is always bad and to provide encouragement in the direction of making it acceptable via the medium of games, films or indeed books that portray violent behaviour as acceptable is wrong. 'Exterminating' a game player's triangle encourages extermination as being an acceptable pastime - it isn't!

    War like simulations are identical to formula one car simulators - they are there to teach and make acceptable extermination or to race a formula one car. Gamers are deceiving themselves if they truly believe that they are not being trained to be violent and to find violence as a legitimate way to progress a disagreement. You are all in danger of joining those lunatics that seek to bomb and exterminate their enemies.

    If you find it amusing that there are opinions that are contrary to yours and by deciding that they can be categorised as amusing find a way for you to dismiss them then you are terribly mistaken.

    One of the reasons that military training trains people to kill and obey orders is that they have to crush rational thought and objectify the enemy - this gives rise to a terrible problem of readjustment when people leave the forces. Form what I have seen from you and your fellow gamers you have already been trained to kill and you are at a serious risk of becoming, if you are not already a menace to civilised society.

  • Comment number 71.

    John, just becuase I'm curious (and to continue this frankly bizarre discussion); why would it be in Treyarch's interest to change their userbase in to violent killers?

    Surely if all the people that play their games get locked up, then they're out of business? The shareholders would never stand for it!

  • Comment number 72.

    Actually, disregard my last comment. I just re-read your last sentence and, though I already suspected you were only being semi-serious, I can't get the smile off my face.

  • Comment number 73.

    Come on everyone, it is time to just ignore John. Being against violent videogames is a valid belief, but he is clearly a troll out to annoy us, no one with a shred of intelligence could have reasoning so rediculous, he's resorted to conspiracy theories now like we are being trained for some kind of uprising...id argue that the world was a hell of a lot more violent place 100 years ago or more when games didn't exsist but he is clearly not here to debate he is here too preach so its pointless.

  • Comment number 74.

    John_from_Hendon 'War and killing is always bad and to provide encouragement in the direction of making it acceptable via the medium of games, films or indeed books that portray violent behaviour as acceptable is wrong.'


    Forgive me, John, but just how far would you take this?

    Would you ban chess, for instance, for encouraging war and regicide?

  • Comment number 75.

    John_from_Hendon

    I had written a longer reply but it got lost so I'll summarise:

    The amusement which I refered was not to the contrary opinion, but your sweeping generalisations and your general attitude.

    Not all war is bad. Many wars have resulted in positive outcomes that would not have otherwise been achieved. To label violence as bad is too simplistic.

    Do you have any evidence of people being trained to be violent by these games, or any evidence of people playing then believing that violence is acceptable behaviour in reality? Or this just your opinion?

    What makes you the judge of what is an acceptable pastime and what is not? In a civilised society, we are completely capable of making our own decisions.

    'You are all in danger of joining those lunatics that seek to bomb and exterminate their enemies.'

    Really? Do you ever stop to think that these 'lunatics' are people fighting a greater cause? Their training gives them the tools to perform their acts of violence, but it is their situation in life which gives them the mind set to do it. I guess you just pass them off as lunatics with little care, but I would remind you that these people are usually involved in a much larger more important struggle to what is contained within video games.

    'Form what I have seen from you and your fellow gamers you have already been trained to kill and you are at a serious risk of becoming, if you are not already a menace to civilised society.'

    You seem to want censorship based on your opinion on what should be right and wrong. Censorship (and more importantly people like you) are much more a 'menace to civilised society' than any video game player ever will be. And I would suggest that the restriction of freedom that you seem to be proposing is much more likely to cause war and violence than any video game.

  • Comment number 76.

    As many have stated the decline of high street gaming sales is due to the fact that you can pick up games at a much cheaper price from many different online retailers, at the time of writing this for example you can buy COD:Black Ops for £44.99 from Game online or from Amazon for £36.97, Game aren't even competing on a e-commerce level so no wounder there share prices are dwindling.

    The Wii in my opinion was highly disappointing, the Wii promised a lot but delivered very little due to the hardware not actually being capable of what Nintendo were saying it was. With Kinect however the technology is pretty amazing but developers have to find interesting ways of using the tech that expands on gaming as a form of entertainment, rather than just regurgitate what games have been doing for the last decades but with a new controller. Games such as "Dance Central" and "your shape: fitness evolved" may not be exciting to some but they show the potential of what can be capable in the future.

    @John_from_Hendon
    I can understand your viewpoint but disagree with it completely. There is a tiny minority that are effected by games in a negative manner that you are describing but they are most likely mentally unsound and would have been effected by another outside influence in the future be it movies, books, music, politics, religion or a conversation. However the majority of the population isn't like this, they can distinguish the difference between a bunch of pixels that have no emotions or feelings and only move because of programmers, stop moving at the press of the start button or disappear from screen if the computer/console is turned off. I suggest you actually play a game and if you still cant distinguish the difference then maybe you should see a doctor (no offense intended). However i do agree that there is way too much violence in games and is a massive lack of imagination within the industry and i can think of many solutions that would still make enjoyable intense games that don't rely on virtual violence.

  • Comment number 77.

    Rory! Just what are Super Mario fans? We're not all 10-year olds (i'm 32!), we're actually pretty discerning gamers, we appreciate the quality that comes from the Big N and don't get sucked into the hype for the next generic bald space marine shooting brown aliens in brown world.

    I'd also like to remind you that Wii has seen three Call of Duty games release - each selling 1m+ units. Thats successful, on any console thats pretty profitable.

    On the issue of Kinect itself, i'm failing to see attraction, despite its promise. From what I've seen the lag is horrific (the delay between you doing it, and the screen reacting is too much) - and this will be compounded further when plugged into lower specc'ed TVs which may already have some delay due to picture processing. This may have been mitigated had Microsoft not removed the on-board processor for the unit. The physical area required for play is prohibitive. The unit needing to dictate the lighting in my lounge, what I wear... its just too much (and arguably, not very casual).

    Having seen people buy and ultimately ignore some of Wii's more casual experiences, I fail to see how anyone will make profit from Kinect. Kinect's strengths lie in its navigation of menus, not gaming.

    Its just too late for either Microsoft or Sony to make impact and ultimately profit from the casual market. Casual gaming has migrated fairly rapidly to mobile devices and browser based applications, Nintendo themselves seem to have reeled back on the casual stuff this year, with hardcore mascots like Kirby and Donkey Kong making well deserved returns.

  • Comment number 78.

    To be fair to the games industry, it is only really the CoD franchise that has sold its games at over the top prices (bear in mind that I am a PC gamer). I tend to buy games either on Steam or from Amazon/Play depending on what is cheaper. I play a wide variety of games and agree with posters that the plot of many games is far superior to most of the trash spouting out from Holywood. The only thing I would like is for the single player campaigns to be harder and longer (but without making them a chore). I have just started playing Crysis Warhead and am finding it fairly straight forward on Delta.

    I also agree that whilst things like Kinect may be good in terms of press exposure, most 'hardcore' gamers will discount them as a gimic. Also, note that hardcore games don't have to be violent. There are a lot of people who still play Pokemon for instance, simply because it is a great RPG for handhelds.

    The thing with games is that although they may be pricey, the good ones can soak up your time for months, I've got over a month's gameplay on FM2010.

    Finally Rory, I think it is best to let you know that CoD games have been available on the Wii for quite some time.

  • Comment number 79.

    Personally I have a PS3 and an Xbox 360. I think the reason behind the gaming industry is down to a lack of general plot lines and story based games. There seems to be an abundance of FPS's available, and as someone who isn't a big fan of shooters and also doesn't play on-line very often, nothing really interests me. 2 of the games this year I have actually sat down and completed are Assasin's Creed II and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Both very much single player orientated games. Red Dead Redemption is another one which interests me but with it being such a large open world game, and working full-time, I haven't had time to sit down and play it properly. Grand Theft Auto is the same, brilliant if you have free time, but too large to actual complete story wise (without cheats).

    Also, of course the recession has a big impact on game sales as they are mostly luxury items but you could say the same for the film industry but they are not suffering as much as games, although they tend to be cheaper at launch and drop in price fairly quickly compared to games. Especially Call Of Duty which can stay £40 or there about for a year or more.

    Kinect, being typically MS-priced, is really overly expensive. £125 for an add on is rather steep, especially for people with families, who ironically is who it is trying to draw in. As well as £30 a game currently which is another put off. Nintendo have declined as of late as well, which could be put down to there lack of real "gamer" games. A lot of games are more suited to small children which has always been the way, only really the DS and Wii Fit have changed the demographic of users, which is now stereotyped as young children and bored housewives who's kids have left home and left them with lots of free time.

  • Comment number 80.

    Someone mentioned the iPhone as a great gaming device, and something that illustrates how alive and well the game industry is. I couldn't agree more! We have a device with a massive userbase upon which it is very easy to write fantastic script for a stunning variety of games. On my iPhone I have one page of traditional apps, and four pages of games, ranging from time-consuming RPGs, to five minute wonders that amuse you on your break at work, and every other type of game inbetween. It also has motion control! One of my favourites is called Game Dev Story, which actually simulates an up and coming game development studio. As well as being incredibly addictive, pushing you to create a triple A title, it also takes sly digs at established industry figures and companies. It's very funny, and a perfect example of how independent games will always find a way, while the large publishing houses push out Gears 3, God of War 3, Call of Duty 256 etc etc.

  • Comment number 81.

    People keep mentioning how "game sales are suffering" and how "the film industry is not suffering as much as game sales" but this is a complete and total miss-truth and is a distortion that the Media has been working on for a while.

    Game sales are massive and there is yet to be any actual evidence that game sales are in any way reducing. Quite the opposite in fact. Game sales continue to be high, and the Gaming Industry is already competing with the profit base of the larger Film Industry.

    I believe even the BBC had a piece earlier in the year about how Games sales had actually surpassed Film sales by the end of 2009.

    The Games Industry, and Games Sales, are not in any kind of slowdown or trouble. The Games Indistry is also arguably the least-hit media/entertainment industry by the credit crisis.

    It is specificaly the Console industry, and Highstreet Sales, that are both in slowdown and have been effected by the global financial issues and considering how much more the games cost on the High Street as aposed to places like Play or Amazon it is hardly surprising.

    When a game costs 49.99 in Game as aposed to 32.99 via Play it is quite evident who is going to make the better sales. While you can argue that Game retains the higher price in order to recoup the cost of running the stores, the fact that Game's online entity also retains the same over-the-top prices compared to other Online retailers only helps to emphasise why stores like Game are having problems shifting games.

    Simply put, the amount at which a store can sell games and the amount of games that actually sell across the entire spectrum of retail, do not add up to the same figure.

    The fact that games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Star Wars Unleashed can sell 100,00's, or even 1,000,000's, of units in the first week of release goes to show how big the Gaming Industry has become and proves the point that it is in no way in any kind of trouble.

    Even big blockbustre movies can struggle to sell that many units in the first few days.

    Gaming Industry in trouble? Hardly. The fact that even low-end games are starting to introduce various methods of Pay to Play features to continue earning profits beyound the original sale of the game only strengthens the amount of money each individual game is bring back to the developer. So even though the development of a game has increased expenentialy, the level of profit that the game can generate has as well.

    Smaller development companies may well be finding it hard to break into the industry, and perhaps that helps to distort the look of how successful it is, but again that in itself shows the success of the industry as a whole - because those smaller companies are finding it hard due to the massive degree of success that the big companies, Ubisoft, BioWare, Ea, Codemasters etc, are reaping - and the same issue is evident in any highly successful market.

    Game sales continues to grow year in year out and I am willing to bet that early next year when the 2010 game sales figures are released it will have improved on the incredible figures from 2009.

  • Comment number 82.

    some people have raised the issue about violent video games.

    just wanted to throw into the mix that the worlds first ever entertainment release, and possibly the biggest seller, the old testament makes black ops look like a romcom.

  • Comment number 83.

    What's interesting are unbelievably poor sales of another Xmas blockbuster which no-one here has mentioned: Rock Band 3. Undoubtedly one of the biggest and most hyped (in gaming press anyway) games of the year, and it's tanked. Sure, there has been no marketing for the title but I think this is down to more than just genre fatigue. I think the recession has had more effect on the industry than some will admit. It would be interesting to hear people's thoughts on RB3 because it was genuinely expected to do blistering business, and it hasn't.

    On a sidenote, all this talk of Call Of Duty is making me angry. It's one of the most vastly overrated series I can think of, perhaps second only to Metal Gear Solid (if you can even call it a "game"). Fair cop to the fine person who mentioned Bad Company 2. It's superior in every way as well as not having game breaking bugs and annoyances. When will people realise that Call Of Duty is the gaming equivalent of a Michael Bay movie? Vacuous and braindead in every way.

  • Comment number 84.

    ... whereas some people find BC2 incredibly tedious and enjoy the fast-paced nature of MW2, whilst being well aware of (and having accepted long ago) how totally broken it is.

    People can get very precious about the things they like. If someone else enjoys something that you don't enjoy, why the need to attack them for it? What's the problem?

  • Comment number 85.

    I totally agree that developers should stop milking their titles, but to be fair this has been going on for years. I don't think it's anything to do with the decline of the gaming industry. However, I do think a lot of gamers, myself included, are becoming rather disillusioned with the focus on mindless and repetitively dull games like COD which charge a premium price for not much product.

    While I understand the trials facing the industry, and the fact that in order to profit your game should appeal to as many folks as possible, I'd rather pay £50 for a half life than a COD anyway. The lack of depth in games is what's turning me off the mainstream releases, as I don't want to pay £50 for a six hour campaign and then an online component which is full of twelve year olds and gets old very quickly.

    I will, on the other hand, pay £30 a month (or in context, £360 a year) for two EVE online accounts where I can enjoy a deep, engaging gaming experience which doesn't dry up in two weeks. I know I'm the niche market, however with a little more effort from developers developing games on all fronts then I think we could see a healthy industry built on more satisfied customers.

    The fact that throwaway, joke titles like Farmville that admittedly have mass appeal can provoke serious discussion in the gaming market speaks volumes in my opinion.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 83, 9Barr

    You make interestings points about Rock Band 3 and i would be very interested to read a professional analysis on the reason for the low sales.

    If you want a thoroughly unprofessional analysis (ie me :)) I'd suggest the reason why Rock Band 3 was to be 'revolutionary' was the pro mode which would minimize the link between a game and a real instrument. However these pro controllers are (understandably) extortionately priced, even compared to the old high priced band kit. So surely the price is a big turn off for most gamers, the mass appeal of these music games are to feel like rockstar without having to put in the hours and hours of practice it takes to become competent, these are hours in which most people may not have or even want to spend. So take the group of people who are willing to take the time to learn and see how many of them are put off by the price and you are left with a rather small demographic.

    So who will buy Rock Band 3 then? Perhaps the people who already have a full band set that was used with previous versions of Rock Band and Guitar Hero...but why bother when the main selling point of Rock Band 3 they wont even use and the new Keyboards are an unessential bit of fun anyway? They may stick to Rock Band 2 where the majority of the tracklists for all 3 games are online DLC so they arnt really missing out on RB3's tracklist.

    In my thouroughly unprofessional opinion, Harmonix and MTV games have thouroughly misjudged the mass appeal of the pro mode and therefore Rock Band 3 as a whole.

  • Comment number 87.

    I thought I would just mention regarding the problems for Game stores that they are also competing with the Supermarkets for new release sales also at a big discount.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ Pumpkin_Escobar

    I'm not attacking anyone who enjoys CoD: BO, it's the series I'm attacking. I'm not being precious about anything either. But to deem BC2 as tedious does rather sound like you haven't played it. Considering that you can ride in vehicles for starters on maps many, many times larger than any on CoD, and with a much bigger emphasis on teamwork and communication (not the abusive kind), and almost completely destructible environments which is a huge component of gameplay, how can you call it tedious? Activision are pi55ing in your faces and laughing all the way to the bank. Why change what sells, eh, no matter how ruinous it is to one's enjoyment?

  • Comment number 89.

    I saw a guy selling 6 Kinect at CEX today.. Man he must have been loaded especially since it was launched last week

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 9barr

    I have played BC2 (though not extensively, I will admit) and as much as I wanted to like it, I just didn't. I can't really describe why, but when a game can't make driving a tank through a building fun, then it's not really speaking to me. Anyway, it must just be me, I'm developing an alarming habit of enjoying shallower and shallower games as I get older. Weird.

    I'm all too aware of how much Activision are taking us for a ride, but it's a hard habit to kick, and they know it :)

  • Comment number 91.

    "This has been a pretty mediocre year for the games industry"

    You must be joking, 2010 so far.

    Red Dead Redemption
    Halo: Reach
    Starcraft 2
    Fifa 11
    Super Mario Galaxy 2
    Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City
    Battlefield: Bad Company 2
    Mass Effect 2
    Dead Rising 2
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Red Steel 2
    BioShock 2
    Heavy Rain
    Assassin's Creed II
    Supreme Commander 2
    Sid Meier's Civilization V

    I'm sure there are some more but all of the above were recieved by industry ciritcs and sold well in varying amounts. 2010 has hardly been a poor year.

    "Game blamed a lack of big releases in the first half of the year"

    I blame the fact that their shops offer nothing over play/amazon and their staff are often quite rude and pushy. I thought games were outselling films as of 2009, so why are they suffering?

    I feel sorry for the staff but I really won't miss the shops after they suffer for failing to adapt.

  • Comment number 92.

    Just a thought, but don't you think it's telling that all but two of the games you mention above are sequels? Perhaps even one, when you consider that RDR is a spiritual sequel (though that's pushing it a bit). Perhaps Rory meant mediocre as in not very innovative.

 

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