The Montreal International Game Summit recently wrapped up, and keynote speaker David Braben of Frontier Development really took the industry to task on everything from the business model (broken!) to retailers (killing longevity of games!) to the 'online myth' of the next gen consoles. He makes some interesting points, though I'm not at all convinced of the veracity of some of them. Here's his take on the retail model:
"As an industry, we're in denial about the problems with retail," Braben argued, citing a common myth that online distribution will become the norm in the coming generation.
"Retail is killing the longevity of our titles," he said, with the massive used game market contributing to the problem. "The industry sees none of this" when it comes to preowned sales.
Meanwhile, the retail film industry puts its new films front and centre, and the stores in which movies are sold are often more attractive and inviting than game stores.
"What's worse, if you ask for a new release, they'll offer you a used one, and it's not even much cheaper," said Braben. "What it's doing as an industry, means the long tail, which is what games rely on, is going to go away. And relying on online is killing ourselves."
Braben suggested selling higher-priced copies of games to rental stores, then lowering the prices of not-for-resale copies — thus making new games more affordable for players, while introducing additional revenue streams for rentals.
"We can add value for people who have actually bought the game," he said — designers should come up with additional content that rewards those who buy games new.
Well, I'm not sure if his suggestions are necessarily going to fix things (certainly won't make it any easier on retailers), but Braben sounds pretty passionate and inflamed about a lot of these topics. It's a quick and pretty interesting read, even if you don't agree with his solutions.