Preview of 1999
One thing that is clear is that although 1999 should be a
great year for original and innovative games (Anachronox
and Homeworld for example), the vast majority of the games
on our wish list are sequels! Duke Nukem 4Ever, Quake 3 Arena,
Diablo 2, Turok 2, Age of Empires 2, Team Fortress 2...
Gestalt sees this as a symptom of the current boom in computer
games. "It seems that either everybody is fresh out of new
ideas, or they're all banking on an established brand name to
raise their next offering above the others in what is sure to
be a crowded marketplace next year."
Joost agrees - "We're going to be seeing more and more sequels
and expansion packs to sustain interest in a product and keep
the development times down."
"With so many new startup companies forming, there are _tons_
of new games due out in the next 18 months. Have we passed the
critical mass? Can each new developer still sell enough copies
to stick around for a 2nd title?"
"The good news for the consumer is more variety through more
titles, the bad news for the developer is they have to work
extra hard to make their products stand out."
Bastard is also worried about how to make "products stand out"...
"When I walk into a retail game store all I see generally is
a confusing mess. Rarely are there computers setup so I can
try the games before I buy. I can walk into any record store
around here and pre-listen to a $15 CD, but I can't try a $50
game unless they release a demo on the net."
"Most gamers aren't internet freaks like us... so they are
reduced to a hit and miss approach. UGH! I can't help but
think that a better retail approach is needed - and internet
sales are going to have to beat the crap out of retail stores
until they change their approach."
Gestalt is even more enthusiastic about taking business online...
"Internet sales are the way to go. You can cut out all the
middlemen - the distributor, the publisher and the retailer -
and sell direct to the public yourself. That means a much better
return per unit, most of which will go directly to the developers,
who are after all the people who really deserve the money!"
"At the moment there just isn't enough volume in internet
sales for most games to be sold that way, though obviously
it's a great way to sell multiplayer only games. Also, all
the established publishers are tied to retail still. If one
of them tried to sell their games direct over the internet at
a price that undercut the big chain stores, the retailers would
have a fit... ;-)"
"It isn't going to happen, so we need someone to come out of
leftfield and short circuit the whole system to give the retail
publishers a good kick and get things moving. Watch for some
developments in this area in the coming months!"
That's All Folks!
So, that's our preview of 1999. I'll leave you with a final word
from Mark "Bastard" Surfas...
"We are in what I think is the first "golden age" of online
gaming. The games are GREAT, the Internet is ALMOST FREE,
the game servers ARE FREE and thousands of people are
"Does it get any better than this? 1998 saw massive growth
in the online game community - I can't wait to see what
happens in 99."