Xbox Co-Founder: Future Doesn't Have To Have Publishers

Xbox Co-Founder: Future Doesn't Have To Have Publishers

A lot of things changed with digital distribution.

"Who knows if there'll be big publishers in the future?" asks Xbox project co-founder and FigurePrints man Ed Fries. "There don't have to be." Maybe it will be a bunch of smaller studios, banding together for the larger projects, or pursuing individual interests when a large project isn't in the works. "That's where great games are going to come from," thinks Fries, because the value is in the game, not the publisher. Players don't care as much about developer brand equity as developers might like to think; players follow games, not the companies which make them.

It's distribution that's going to change the industry, according to Fries. In times past, retailers set the pace. The big distribution chains didn't want to deal with a thousand small studios; thus the larger development studios were created, in response to Walmart's need for a fixed supplier. Big developers had to exist in order to pay the costs inherent in a large supply chain. But brick-and-mortar's day is done, and digital distribution is the way forward. Digital doesn't have the overheads, or the supply problems, of a large retail chain. Digital can deal with smaller studios, without significant problems. This isn't so much fun for the developers, which now have to rely on constant, risky innovation in the hopes of pleasing a fickle audience. "That may be the future we're facing," says Fries. "We just have to accept that."

"The challenges with technology are often not guessing what the future's going to be and then building it," Fries thinks, "it's being in the right place at the right time with that technology." The innovator's dilemma isn't what's coming next, it's when, and how much change will need to be embraced in order to get to a point where the right place at the right time is right now, for you.

Source: alistdaily

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Would be funny to see it happen (apart from the accompanying unemployment, of course) but I doubt the big publishers would go down without a fight. I could see most of them pulling every trick to shape the industry into still needing their prescence.

Karloff:
Maybe it will be a bunch of smaller studios, banding together for the larger projects, or pursuing individual interests when a large project isn't in the works.

That sounds like a meta-hivemind equivalent to Valve's development side.

Karloff:
Players don't care as much about developer brand equity as developers might like to think; players follow games, not the companies which make them.

I'd like to see that change, because I wouldn't argue that most loyalty these days is to the franchise more than the studio (although say with Obsidian - cherry-picked example, granted - there will be folks who are stoked for their next game just because it's Obsidian).. take Pixar as a movie equivalent and ignore some of their recent output. New Pixar film? Don't care, already sold!

What a weird comment. The big "publishers" (EA, Ubisoft, AB) changed from publishers to holding companies for development studios several years ago. They already know that small independent developers don't need them for financing and distribution.

I sure hope it doesn't because I think Publishers are what's ruining this industry right now.

But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?

canadamus_prime:
I sure hope it doesn't because I think Publishers are what's ruining this industry right now.

No silly that's Pirates

DVS BSTrD:
But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?

canadamus_prime:
I sure hope it doesn't because I think Publishers are what's ruining this industry right now.

No silly that's Pirates

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

canadamus_prime:

DVS BSTrD:
But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?

canadamus_prime:
I sure hope it doesn't because I think Publishers are what's ruining this industry right now.

No silly that's Pirates

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

If the publishers aren't getting money from them it's the same thing! :P

DVS BSTrD:

canadamus_prime:

DVS BSTrD:
But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?
No silly that's Pirates

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

If the publishers aren't getting money from them it's the same thing! :P

Oh yeah right, of course it is. ¬__¬

canadamus_prime:

DVS BSTrD:
But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?

canadamus_prime:
I sure hope it doesn't because I think Publishers are what's ruining this industry right now.

No silly that's Pirates

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

That's a funny way to spell mobile games.

I think we may have discovered the one man who could've sold the original Xbox One if he was still working there

MCerberus:

canadamus_prime:

DVS BSTrD:
But without Publisher shareholders to impress, how will we know what's supposed to sell? What trends shall we follow? What franchizes do we milk dry and homoginize?
No silly that's Pirates

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

That's a funny way to spell mobile games.

No way, Publishers are all over mobile games. At least Square-Enix and EA are anyway.

I agree with some parts of what he says and disagree with other parts. The future may well not have publishers, or not very many, and the interesting thing on that is that it is the publishers who are working more to put themselves out-of-business, not disruptive technologies like digital downloads. Publishers have been working super hard in the areas of anti-consumer policies, deceptive marketing, cost mismanagement, and decimation of creativity such to ensure that the market has a thorough distaste and dislike for their existence.

Even saying this, I doubt the future will ever be entirely devoid of publishers, even large ones. They may be significantly reduced, in both size and number, but I doubt they will completely go away.

As far as the genesis of the larger publishers, in my opinion, that was the result of buyouts, aggregation, and assimilation motivated more by a need to dominate the market, rather than any adaptation to increased costs in supply chain. There may have been some of that in the mix, but that's probably more a case of smaller studios selling themselves to larger publishers in order to gain access to a larger supply chain; however, I would expect that to have been the rarer case and the more dominant case to have been rampant buyouts on the part of the large publishers.

For gamers not following particular publishers or development studios, in my opinion, that is categorically false. Gamers are quite aware of which publishers and studios they like and don't like, and which publishers or studios tend to create the kind of games that they like. While a number of games have become homogenized from the viewpoint of the graphics and general aesthetic (this was not so true in the old days when a publisher/studio was almost instantly recognizable from the graphics and art-style), the gameplay, game mechanics, themes, and pacing tend to have some signature uniqueness among the different publishers/studios.

I think one of the biggest mistakes being made with gaming today is this constant push for mass, market-wide appeal. That's just not possible with ANY creative work. There's always going to be a core set of fans to whom the work most appeals, a periphery of enthusiasts who have general interest in the work's genre, and then a far layer of experimentalists and one-time buyers. I think developers should focus more on maintaining and evolving the work with an eye toward those aspects that attracted the core base of fans and enthusiasts and let the experimenters and one-timers take care of themselves. Don't water-down or pollute the core aspects by shoe-horning mass-market appeal that doesn't actually fit in with the work. Not every game has to sell to every gamer on the planet, and I think it's a categorical mistake to have such an expectation of any game. Trying to create something that appeals to everyone only results in something that appeals to no one at all.

Digital distribution has certainly been a boon to the small studios and has lead to their rise in the market. However, it need be not the death knell for the larger publishers/studios. Unfortunately, the larger publishers/studios have taken such a fearful, risk-averse, anti-consumer approach to digital distribution that it has become a disruption to their business model. Their failure to properly understand and embrace digital distribution from an early point, I think, is what is costing them.

I will agree with his last statement that the key to a new technology is not trying to develop the next big thing; it's trying to figure out where it fits and what it will take to get there.

Publishers will ALWAYS exists, there's no getting around that. Things may change and evolve, but publishers are never going to go away.

The quality of indie games has certainly exploded. However, IP management and AAA titles generally require real resources. Perhaps development studios will get big enough to manage those themselves but that makes them moreso self-publishers.

Perhaps there will be a day where available source engines and programmer utilities will make games easy to develop and will base them around the stories, but there's a lot of things mr. moneybags that is the publisher helps games with. This would be akin to saying that the future of movies could be without publishers too. It's possible, but unlikely, especially across the board and as long as these publishers own development studios and are making money off of them, which they are when they budget properly.

Yes it does because once companies get enough cash they can just leech off peoples interests without providing any sort of service other then being a door man, a billion dollar shit eating door man, ask Timewarner

canadamus_prime:

MCerberus:

canadamus_prime:

No no, you must be thinking of used game sales.

That's a funny way to spell mobile games.

No way, Publishers are all over mobile games. At least Square-Enix and EA are anyway.

EA is so obsessed with mobile games they tried to bring mobile game stuff to consoles!

http://www.destructoid.com/dead-space-3-has-microtransactions-because-mobile-gamers-243152.phtml

Given the hard time indies are having with M$ I wonder about this. If there are no massive publishers I wonder how heavy handed the platform makers will be.

Also I greatly hope this doesn't happen. I want big triple A games. I can't think of the last indie game I cared about. I doubt there are 5 total I care about.

Desert Punk:

canadamus_prime:

MCerberus:

That's a funny way to spell mobile games.

No way, Publishers are all over mobile games. At least Square-Enix and EA are anyway.

EA is so obsessed with mobile games they tried to bring mobile game stuff to consoles!

http://www.destructoid.com/dead-space-3-has-microtransactions-because-mobile-gamers-243152.phtml

Case in point. Sometimes I hate being right.

How about we bring the future to you now Microsoft, and have ALL publishers not exist.. just. for. you.

Eat it.

 

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