Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Show Me The History

ShowMeTheGames has an interview with Chris from muzzy lane software here:

They make the strategy game ‘Making History’, which is used, a bit like Democracy 2 is, to teach kids history in schools.

I’m not really sure how to promote ShowMeTheGames. Hopefully, the RSS feed works now, but getting news sites to link to it is naturally problematic, because some will see it as a competitor to them. Hopefully the site can grow organically over time anyway. Feel free to quote the site or link to it when appropriate. I really want it to be the #1 site for showcasing indie PC games that you can buy direct from the developers. My heart sinks every time I see a cool new indie game and realise that the developers have an exclusive deal that you can only buy it from a third party. That just seems so lazy, and short-term. I’m sure everyone thinks they can always rely on their third party partners, and everything will be fine, but then, who predicted last week that impulse would get sold?

Gamestop buy impulse. what does it mean?

So the big news in online games selling circles is that US retail giant gamestop have bought out impulse, the online games portal owned by Stardock. What does this mean for gamers, game developers, and indie devs like me?

Disclaimer: I sell my games through Impulse right now.

There are some possible good points in this, and some possible bad ones. The good ones, as I see it, are these:

1) A sign that retail gets that PC games are big business. I don’t bother going into retail stores for a PC game, because they hardly bother stocking any. This could be a sign that they have finally worked out that PC gamers didn’t die out, they just spent their money online. Could this be a sign of a turnaround for stocking pc games?

2) This is a big investment in a competitor to steam. I love steam, and have to admit it’s probably the most user-friendly games portal, if buying from a third party is what you want :D. However, monopoly is never a good thing. Monopolies can be very dangerous, and anything that helps balance out the market has to be good in the long term

Possible bad news…?

1) Impulse used to be a nice developer-friendly portal owned and run by some guys who were basically indie devs themselves. I’ve always found the guys at stardock really great to work with, and easy to get hold of. Will that remain the caseĀ  when the company bloats out with gamestops money, staff and working practices? Hard to say.

2) This is another case of big money coming in and showing how you cannot really sell games online unless you have ten trillion dollars to spend on building up your site. It makes my feeble effort (, in it’s own way) look even more feeble.

3) This could spark a price war, meaning games prices will drop. I am not confident that this can happen without developers losing out. Games take time to play, and gamers time is finite. If all games get cheaper, there is a limit (maybe we are at it now) where no more games get bought, and total revenue could fall. Some indie devs won’t survive that.

On balance, I think it’s probably no real change, positive or negative. I can see the active competition could be great for the industry, maybe even for develoeprs (after all, we are the guys who theoretically control the supply of games. Developers can exist without publishers but not vice versa). The flipside is, I can see a short-run price war (bah) and possibly it getting harder to deal with one of the big portals. I’m happy to be proven wrong about that.
We live in interesting times