Articles of Interest

Interesting Gamasutra article discussing ways to maximize your revenue as a flash game developer.

Raph reports on an absolutely wonderful story out of Eve Online. Quick summary: Eve has been dominated by a huge player alliance for a while now. A single double-agent, working for a competing alliance, found a way to disband and utterly ruin this mega-alliance, completely changing the balance of power in Eve and setting off an explosive free-for-all. The best part, aside from the fun of the story itself, is that this outcome is probably best for the long-term health of Eve. As Raph puts it: “what is fun about EVE is the struggle, not the victory condition. The victory condition is boring.”

Seth Godin offers five useful tips for better online surveys. (Surveys, like focus groups, are a pet peeve of mine. It’s much harder than most people realize to design a good one. Getting the data you need, without accidentally biasing respondents by asking the wrong question at the wrong time, is really quite challenging. I’ve met a few developers who were convinced their game was awesome because of a poorly-managed focus group or survey… these turned out to be costly mistakes.)

An article in Slate provocatively asks, “What’s Killing the Video Game Business?” An overly-dramatic (and misleading) title, but I liked the following conclusion: “EA doesn’t need to find its own Grand Theft Auto — it needs to let 1,000 Portals bloom.” Reminds me of a post I wrote back in 2007 arguing that publishers should place more bets, even if it means spending less per bet. Still one of my favorite GT posts.

Some insights into the business model of Quake Live. Bottom line: pay a premium to run your own game servers, host private games, call time-outs in games, have referees, etc.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this elsewhere, but anyway: researchers argue that increasing the number of competitors in an ecosystem can decrease competitive motivation and degrade individual performance. I bet someone could easily write an entire book just dissecting the implications of this for online game players and (economically-speaking) for digital game ecosystems.

For those of you unfamiliar with the basics of free-to-play game business models, Soren has written a good primer. is now selling used games, and accepting trade-ins. Customers ship games to Amazon for free with a printable shipping label, eventually receiving an gift card. I suspect that Amazon will have more success than other companies that have tried to challenge
in this market. That said, it seems from forum posts that many users are adopting the following attitude “If I have to print a label, ship my game, and wait a few days to get paid, I might as well sell the game on eBay where I’ll get more dollars per game.” Seems like a reasonable perspective to me; I wonder how effectively Amazon will be able to overcome it?

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