Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 28, 2015

Customers pay for Assets, not Gameplay

Riddle riddle on the wall,

Tell me, Reader,

Who’s the Greatest One of All,

We say, “Gameplay! Gameplay! Gameplay!” yet keep paying for Big Industry Games who are mishmashes of gameplay, stale and rank with little innovation. “It will change!” you say. The following years go by just as they did ten years ago, twenty years ago.

You point to your Super Nintendo and declare, “This little console has more brilliant games than the entirety of Modern Gaming!” Your audience applauds. Yet, people keep paying for Next Generation Consoles.

And what of these Next Gen Consoles? Where is the innovation? Where is the gameplay? “But lookz theeese GRAPHICS!” What is this? What have we here?

Compare the Remaster to the Rerelease. The Remaster (in HD or whatever) comes out, and you declare, “This game is amazing! It sells today because of its amazing gameplay.” But if that were the truth, then rereleasing it its original form should create sales, should it not? But this is not the case.

Look at the Free-To-Play MOBAs. What are people paying for, aside from new heroes? They are paying for hats and skins which have NO gameplay value whatsoever. In fact, games are given for free but the ASSETS are sold independently from the gameplay. Is this not strange?

Even I, a huge lover of kickass gameplay, find it hard to shell over money to ‘brilliant indie games’ yet do not find that hesitation to a big budget game with many art assets.

The conclusion is very simple: customers pay for assets, not gameplay. During the map modding scene, no one will ever want to pay for ‘brilliant gameplay’ maps such as Tower Defense or DOTA (invented during Warcraft 3). They will pay, however, for new art and sound assets.

Each generation tends to ‘evolve’ itself toward new art and sound assets as opposed to new gameplay. This is a sobering realization.

When I was pointing out how Unreal Tournament 4 could foreshadow free games goring certain companies, what I fully meant by that was not ‘free games’ but more of ‘free assets’. We have always had free games. What I find curious is how Unreal Engine 4 is a Current Generation engine, very expensive to develop for, yet the art and sound assets are being made free (though the sound assets need help in UT 4).

It is not ‘free games’ that is the huge threat, it is ‘free assets’. What happens when tons of copyright free sounds exist to be used? How many different explosion, gunfire, and screaming sounds do we need? In terms of graphics, what happens if there becomes tons of copyright art assets available to be used?

“But Malstrom,” you say, “I do not see your point.”

I am not a fan of ‘user generated games’ like Mario Maker or Little Big Planet where you just play maps from amateurs. Yet, despite this, I know great talent can emerge as I’ve been around the PC modding scene. Free assets would cause interesting chaos in gaming. Consider Warcraft 3 modding scene again. Essentially, all of Warcraft 3’s art and sound assets were up for grabs for any Warcraft 3 map maker. Generally, the games made within Warcraft 3 were limited to those art and sound assets yet a good amount of stuff could be made. Even the ‘new stuff’ put in had to match the Warcraft 3 asset mythos. You could just throw in some science fiction in there because that wouldn’t mesh well with the rest of the game.

What I’m saying is that art and sound assets are going to become a commodity just as it has occurred to gameplay. What is left? The programming of the engine? And how far off is that?


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