When the new iPhone 5 came out, I decided to try Verizon. I had been with AT&T from before the release of the iPhone, back when I was a Blackberry devotee. The fact that it was the only GSM network in the US meant I could take my phone anywhere and just switch out the SIM card. Or roam if I were on some lavish corporate account. However, the quality of AT&T’s network was always its weakest point. When I actually did switch out the SIM in England, the call quality jumped to near landline proportions. Which was surreal to say the least. But back home in San Francisco, I had dead spots in my loft. Including my entire bedroom. In order to get a signal there, I bought, for $150, an AT&T microcell to piggyback the cellular connection over my own broadband connection. This parasitic solution gave me a signal 50% of the time, with a fatal transition between cells.
Something extraordinary happened this weekend, that set off a cascade of thoughts and experiences that left me utterly humbled. But if I write about that now, I will be breaking my word to you, gentle reader, to respond to Shawn’s recent article asserting that the most successful games will be those that are designed to their platforms. And to be fair to the new topic, I do need a couple of days to process just what happened. But in the meantime, let’s take a look at this Social Game Darwinism approach. Shawn states that one cannot consistently have the same social game on both social networks and mobile and have them both be successful. Instead, the successful companies will be those that specifically build to mobile. He is not alone in this. I would say most social developers have adopted a specialist approach, narrowing down on platform with almost religious fervor. Crowdstar for one has converted from Orthodox Facebook to the Church of Latter-Day Mobile in the space of a few short months. I don’t mean to criticize the decision, certainly mobile has ongoing growth opportunities where social is more mature as a market. But the idea that developers must tailor their games to the platform to achieve true success is a philosophy that best serves the platform. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good platform, some of my best friends are platform people. But I prefer a philosophy that best serves the player.
XBLA, PSN, and Indie developers, that ship has sailed. Your work was voraciously consumed and heroically touted by a handful of fanatics who truly, deeply appreciated your artistic and emotional contribution. It looked promising with some early successes trending up. But then it flattened. it never got big. It stayed niche. And then it dipped. Part of the issue is that the console that does everything never even admitted on television that it had an App Store. Oops. But also, even if everyone who connected their consoles downloaded your games, the business model in operation would rarely get you a Tesla. Well, maybe one of you. But in general, people’s attention went to the other big console that nobody calls a console. But don’t hate, just think different. Behold your silver bullet, your red pill, your blue ocean – the magical iPad. Or Android tablet device.
Last Sunday I was in the basement of Old Navy looking for size 4T basic pants. Girls’ clothes as well as men’s for that matter were relocated to the basement, during reconstruction of the third floor. And of course, they had nothing in stock in basic pants, other than capris and leggings. The rest of the selections were all swimwear, novelty T-shirts, and sandals. It’s 53 degrees out in San Francisco, and Old Navy wants me to think I want to buy summer clothes. It was then that the immortal words of Gary Whitta wafted back through my brain. No, not his brilliant dialogue from The Book of Eli. But rather, his pithy Google+ summation of IRL retail, “Best Buy is an awful, customer-unfriendly dinosaur that needs to die.”
GDC is next week. Don’t panic. Here is your cheat sheet for taking on the biggest game industry business opportunity of the year. This article will be your walkthrough, your ultimate guide to uncovering all the easter eggs, as you are in the hands of experts. You see, I ran GDC from 2004-2008. I then managed developer deal meetings at GDC for the top game publisher, from 2008-2011. I now speak, run parties, and sponsor a booth at GDC, representing a leading multiplatform social developer. And Shawn, well, he’s been to my parties. So between the two of us, we know what it takes to win GDC.
SF: The EA VIP was the highlight of my GDC. Jamil knows how to throw down. Continue reading
Why did I freak out over big cable? One thing that really sent me over the edge – there is another – was the fact that paying for television violates both the traditional square deal, and the new understanding. In the traditional square deal, you “pay” by watching commercials. That advertising value covers the costs of making and presenting your broadcast entertainment. Everyone accepted this. Then cable said, we’ll make this a little better, but you have to pay. A few monopolies and some cash handed to free market politicians, and all of a sudden regular taxpayers have a $200 monthly bill for something that used to be free. Cable has come under fire by cord-cutters, a visceral label I actually enjoy. But cable isn’t the only one testing the traditional deal. Let’s take a look at the rest of our lives, and let’s exercise a little dollar democracy.