Games

Go Read This | Tesco’s Blinkbox sees festive sales rise 245% | The Drum

From Tesco's published infographic

From Tesco’s published infographic

So Tesco has sold 400,000 tablets in just three months. The company says it is planning a new edition of its HUDL device and that it could have sold even more tablets before Christmas had they had them in stock. It’s interesting in the context of books and my recent post on Barnes & Noble’s Nook troubles that all of these sales took place without an ebook offering to bolster or encourage buyers (Blinkbox books is to launch in 2014, but is not yet live), cementing the very clear evidence that ebooks are not the biggest motivator for tablets (nor were they ever). Some impressive data on increased sales from Blinkbox itself too:

Tesco’s TV and movie streaming service Blinkbox saw sales spike by a massive 245 per cent year-on-year over the festive period…

New Year’s Day was the biggest day ever for the service with sales up by 266 per cent year-on-year, while mobile sales have increased by 674 per cent and smart TV sales by 465 per cent.

Ahead of Christmas, Tesco launched its own Hudl budget tablet and reported sales of 400,000 in the three months to December. The supermarket brand now plans to launch a second edition of the device later in the year.

via Tesco’s Blinkbox sees record festive sales with rise of 245% while mobile sales rocket by 674% | The Drum.

Go Read This | The null set – The Domino Project

Short and to the point as ever with Seth Godin. I’ve been saying for a while that the biggest competition online for publishers is everything else and that we need to respond quickly:

When we juxtapose an ebook with a movie, Instagram or pigs that attack turtles, the ebook often loses.

One of the very real truths of our culture is being hidden in the dramatic shift from paper to ebook–lots of people are moving from paper to ‘no ebook’. For now, this is being concealed by the superreaders, ebook readers who are on a binge and buying more books than ever before.

via The null set – The Domino Project.

Go Read This | Gamebooks, branching narratives and adventure

Well worth reading and thinking over and over and over!

And it is all these things that make gamebooks great, and unique. While there have been plenty of things that are similar, very few have proved quite as uniquely engrossing or successful at marrying the pretending to the rules as has the branching narrative. The early ‘80s turned out a lot of treasure hunts, and while Masquerade was beautiful to look at, readers weren’t enchanted by the magical escapism so much as caught up in an explosive collision of puzzle fever and expensive prizes. Picture puzzle books came in every shape and size in those days, Fighting Fantasy author Ian Livingstone even wrote one, but none of them had the same power to gleefully hijack your identity as the CYOA and FF-type gamebooks. In fact, in my view, the closest thing to a gamebook isn’t a book at all; it’s not even Dungeons&Dragons. It’s the text adventure video game – and its modern young nephews, the Interactive Fictions and all the text-based online games that seem to co exist happily and modestly in the same niche today.

via Gamebooks, branching narratives and adventure.

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 02/05/2009

Eoin Purcell

Some fascinating data about iPhone app downloads and how they flow.
Story on Techcrunch & Original Source

The Digital Market is worth £80million in the UK according to this piece in the Bookseller.

A pretty interesting build-your-own-textbook offering from Norton is the US. The story is here and the actual etextbook website here.

A really interesting piece by Tim O’Reilly on books and reinventing them for the web.

A great post by Michael Hyatt on building a platform for authors!

Enjoy the bank holiday if you have one!
Eoin

Tad Williams, Online Gaming and the future

Eoin Purcell

Tad Williams’ Otherland is to become a MMORPG*
I read about it on Orbit’s excellent blog:

It sounds, from the interview in particular, as though Otherland the MMORPG will be a highly original take on the online roleplaying concept, one that puts the key element of interactive story-telling right at the heart of the gaming experience. Pre-order those virtual-reality goggles now…

And there is much much more on Tad’s blog:

Seriously, I’m really looking forward to this game, although it’s still probably a year and a half away, at least. (The release date is 2010.) It’s being made by RealU in Singapore, published by dtp entertainment, and it’s a major project. The entire Singapore studio is devoted solely to the game, and they’re approaching eighty employees. More importantly, though, they’re doing a beautiful, fascinating job, not just duplicating or doing a pastiche of the books, but trying to take what is original and interesting in the work and opening it out into an entirely new realm, the MMORPG. Into the virtual world, that is, and what could be more appropriate for OTHERLAND?

I like this
I like it a lot. What is more it makes sense. Where we once had games flowing from books, now we have online games developing. I can think of three worlds off hand that I’d be likely to spend serious time in were they to go virtual:

    Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld
    George RR Martin‘s Ice & Fire universe and
    Steven Erikson‘s Malazan Empire

The book I’m reading now offers some hope too, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind is really excellent and the world is very impressive.

Longer term, more strategic thoughts

Looking at this development a number of queries arise.

There is the cost issue. Based on just the evidence we have from Tad, The entire Singapore studio is devoted solely to the game, and they’re approaching eighty employees., this is going to cost a lot of money. Development costs are high for gaming, Halo 3 for instance cost around $30 million to develop and around the same to market!

No small scale publisher can do that (indeed even the big ones will be hard pressed). That means this is an area where at best publishers will licence further work rather than direct or engage in the action themselves.

Then there is first mover advantage problem. I’d suggest that if current online games can improve and deepen the experience over time then they have a fair chance of retaining players rather than losing them to new entrants. In fact there is a very good article in the New York Times about this point:

Warhammer is no “WOW killer,” which is what many gamers and industry executives seem to be waiting for. With its international player base and dedicated development team at Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft isn’t going anywhere.

But for a lot of online gamers, Warhammer is providing the most significant competition for their leisure hours in many years. It’s about time

New games face two hurdles, one in getting gamers to try them and two in getting them to stay with them once they have tried! neither is insurmountable but are no inconsequential, especially when the entrenched opposition is so good.

The question then becomes what is the potential size of the market, how many new games are likely to make it through development to the market and onto achieving viability? and that is essentially an issue of time and attention. Suppose I like the idea of five worlds to play in online, can I really spread my attention across them? No I can’t. I’m already reaching a point of distraction with social networks and online groups as it is, games would suck too much of my time.

Perhaps future generations will be comfortable spending many of their leisure hours playing online games, but I would suggest that the market is limited to a core of heavy players making the liklihood of many games reaching that sustainability /profit point low.

Where does that leave us?

All told this ads up to a realm that most publishers will avoid because of costs, inexperience in the market and a feeling that the rewards are just too risky. yet the potential benefits are huge and the authors will no doubt be aware of this.

I cannot help but feel that as an industry publishing is watching an opportunity slip by and in reality there is not much we can do to change that except licence others to exploit our content and that of our authors.

I need to think more about this but I’m nearly certain that for the industry, that is not good.
Eoin

*What is a MMORPG
In case you are wondering a MMPORG is a: massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a genre of computer role-playing games (CRPGs) in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world. The term MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima Online, the game credited with popularizing the genre in 1997 (for more read the rest of the wikipedia entry here).

Irish game publishers face challenges

Eoin Purcell

Games are not all child’s play
This is an interesting piece though I’d have liked a little more meat, why are really good in depth feature pieces so rare in Irish journalism (I’d love an Irish magazine that promoted long form journalism, 5-10,000 word pieces):

The barrier for entry to the lucrative multibillion dollar cross-platform gaming business may be too high for Irish firms and if the industry is to have any chance of future success clever niches in areas like casual gaming and other supporting fields must be identified.

Still the parallels between book and games publishing are interesting (as are the obvious differences). One of the things that is increasingly frustrating to me is the way Irish people and economic actors simply surrender space to foreign competition. 20 years ago people would have said that Disney’s animation business was protected by enormous barriers to entry and a remarkable catalogue of movies, hello Pixar.

Surrendering territory to rivals can be a wise decision, often it is the correct decision, but there seems to be a tendency in Irish creative industries to surrender space simply because rivals are better funded, longer established and hold greater market share. Are there no opportunities to take some of that share through innovation, smarter products or even, god forbid it, better ideas?

Lots to work on today,
Eoin