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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another crappy game

Wave of Video Game Fatigue Afflicts Sales, Not Thumbs

Published: February 6, 2006

n November, Activision released True Crime: New York City, a video game that seemed to have all the makings of a hit. It was the sequel to a well-received game, it had the violent aesthetic of the popular Grand Theft Auto series, and it featured licensed songs from name acts like DMX and Public Enemy. Activision promoted the game heavily, with full-page advertisements in mainstream magazines.

The hard-to-get Xbox 360, getting a workout in the Columbus, Ohio, home of Eric Cagnoli, left, with his brother and a friend.

By the end of December, however, the game had sold only 348,000 copies — more than the 210,000 that the first game in the franchise sold in the same time period when it was released in 2003, but significantly below expectations.

For a new video game, the last two months of the year is a critical period that usually represents almost half of annual sales — like the summer and the holiday season combined for the movie business. When a highly anticipated game does not hit its numbers in that period, its publisher cannot rely on it to offset any revenue shortfall in weaker releases.

For a big-budget game, publishers typically need to sell about half a million copies to earn a significant profit. While True Crime: New York City could still make money for Activision, its ultimate contribution is likely to be far smaller than the company had wanted or expected. (Activision declined to comment for this article.)

True Crime: New York City was not the only big release to fare poorly this year, underscoring bigger problems in the industry. Over the last several years, it has become accepted wisdom that as the music industry has struggled and the movie box office has shrunk, the video game business has been ascendant.

From 2000 to 2004, sales of gaming software and hardware in the United States increased to $9.9 billion, from $6.7 billion, according to sales figures compiled by the NPD Group, and the video game industry likes to claim that it is now bigger than Hollywood (which is only true if movie box-office figures alone — a single slice of movie revenue — are considered).

Of course, the article doesn't describe the fact that most of the games are derivative of Half-Life, Halo, GTA, Everquest and the Sims. Originality is not prized and games which could lure people into gaming beyond the usual suspects aren't given wider exposure.

The clever use of the Total War engine for BBC TV shows is one step in the right direction.

But considering the infantile management at many gaming companies, this is hardly a shock. Most of the men who run them have some of the most regressively sexist and immatgure behavior imaginable. The genius in gaming comes from experienced game designers, but they have to get their work published by the big companies, and like gatekeepers everywhere, they go for the retread and the quick dollar

posted by Steve @ 12:58:00 AM

12:58:00 AM

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