07/11/2014 04:34 AMTruth is the whole gaming industry, due to profit margins needing to increase and title prices holding constant....becoming a piecemeal made in India story.
Posted by Houzi
That's not entirely accurate. It's a tough time to be a AAA publisher, true, but indie game developers are thriving
, possibly because they're willing to make smaller games, targeted at niche audiences, and leverage the power of the internet to reach them. Every indie game may not be a best-seller, it may not make all the money in the world, but they do make money, and the money that they're scooping up is money that the big players are just leaving on the ground.
That's why Square Enix decided to return to their roots, and resume making the kinds of games that made them a success in the first place -- Bravely Default showed them the value in making some money with each title, gaining a greater share of a narrower slice of the market with each game, rather than homogenizing their entire catalogue to chase a mythical mass market ideal of game design which doesn't seem to actually exist.
Ironically, Blizzard have a Bravely Default of their own: Hearthstone, which is a quirky little game, made for very little by AAA standards, and designed to appeal to a narrow, niche audience (World of Warcraft players who also enjoy Magic The Gathering), and which has managed to become a huge hit. Unlike StarCraft 2, which is still only catching on slowly as an e-sport, and then only after Blizzard spent heavily to promote it as such, Hearthstone already has its own rapidly-growing tournament scene, created entirely by the game's fans, and costing Blizzard nothing.
Sadly, though, I'm not seeing any signs of Blizzard having a Square Enix moment, and deciding to "return to their roots" as a result of Hearthstone's success clearly demonstrating the potential upside in just making good games that please all of the players who pick them up, rather than making less-good games that are cynically designed to appeal to as many gamers as possible, while actually pleasing fewer of them. Square Enix were losing money each quarter, and thus motivated to change their business practices; Blizzard still has millions of WoW subscribers dumping $10 a month each into Blizzard's bottom line, and they won't see a need to change until that flow tapers off much more sharply.