Epic: Movies and cheap apps are killing traditional games

Mike Capps, President of Epic Games, has again added his voice to those prophesying doom for traditional games in the face of app-style gaming. In an interview with IndustryGamers, Capps puts aside financial issues to concentrate on the impact of new-media phenomena from a perspective less of market share and more of mindshare. He says releases like Gears of War 3 and the well-reviewed but unprofitable Bulletstorm could be threatened by the ability of cheap apps and on-demand movies to command players' attention.

%26ldquo;I think the biggest competition for Shadow Complex was Netflix,%26rdquo; says Capps, referring to the company's first foray into Xbox Live Arcade. He says the title's problem wasn't the big names of download gaming like Castle Crashers or Limbo: %26ldquo;If you fired up your dashboard, right there if you already bought Netflix, you have tons and tons of awesome content that's bite sized in 1.5 to 2 hour chunks. So that was our competition.%26rdquo; By the same token, he says, %26ldquo;If you think about what many people are doing... If I have 30 minutes to game, what am I going to play? That [time] more and more gets taken up with mobile games."

Where once, the marketers' work was done as soon as kids (or their parents) had been persuaded to buy a title, the goal now is increasing a game's mindshare: tying the gaming experience into a brand that lodges in the player's head and doesn't leave. Capps says %26ldquo;a really good 99 cent game that occupies you for hours and hours on end%26rdquo; is able to take a big chunk out of the mindshare once enjoyed solely by big-budget, big-hype, full-price games.

Titles like Epic's own $6 Infinity Blade take some of the pressure off traditional publishers: %26ldquo;I think there will always be room for a premium SKU on a mobile platform.%26rdquo; However, this too points to a changing market. %26ldquo;I do worry about what it means for the next generation of console games. Are people really going to want to spend $60 on a game? I mean, we're spending tens of millions of dollars making those games... it's not a sustainable business model. I'm not sure how it all ends up.%26rdquo;

Jul 26, 2011