Controversy over 2nd Mighty No. 9 Funding Campaign?

Outraged Gizmo

Last year, comcept USA, LLC raised over $4 million for their 2D platforming game Mighty No. 9. Over 60,000 backers plus whoever contributed through PayPal are looking forward to this Mega Man-inspired project to get completed, and the development team has been periodically releasing their work to show how much progress has been made, such as this Mighty No. 9 work-in-progress video released last month:

It’s generating quite a bit of excitement, and as the developers realize that this game has a large and dedicated following, they decided to capitalize on it.

Announced at the 2014 Anime Expo, there is a new funding campaign:

More details about the announcement are at the Mighty No. 9 website, but the general idea is that the original funding is enough to make the game and it will still be made, but this new campaign is to fund bonus content. The first announced stretch goal is full English voice acting.

Apparently some people are outraged about this second campaign. People are complaining that producer Keiji Inafune is greedy. “You’ve already got $4 million, and now you want even more money?!” Some people have compared it to Exploding Rabbit’s Super Retro Squad, which met its very conservative funding goal easily, yet the developers were inexperienced and realized during its development that making games is hard.

But Mighty No. 9 is getting made. The people behind it know what they are doing and are fully-funded. The new campaign isn’t to help finish the game. It’s to add more bonus content to the game.

There is a very strange entitlement issue that some vocal Internet denizens seem to share. Kickstarter is a way to invest in something, and it’s entirely possible that it will fail. You contributing $5 or $500 does not mean you will get what is being made. A project may also turn out completely different than originally planned.

And when Mighty No. 9 is looking like it is well on its way to being exactly as advertised, the hostility lobbed at the developers for what some people misunderstand as greed is even more bizarre.

Making games in full view of the public is like being an umpire at a Little League baseball game in which all of the parents watching are drunk and boisterous and occasionally violent. Oh, and they don’t know how the game is played, yet have no trouble telling you how you are doing a terrible job in very colorful language.

Is it just business, though? Are people merely getting insight into what it is really like, now that funding is crowd-sourced? Or is it the nature of business on the Internet?

I imagine Bill Gates long ago learned to put a filter on the content he reads to keep his sanity. It’s hard to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry if you are going to read about how you are the Devil incarnate on a regular basis. I suppose before the Internet you just had to worry about a harsh opinion piece in the newspaper because most publicly-available forums were professional in nature.

Being an indie developer has appeal for many partly because you are not beholden to someone else. You have no boss but yourself. You have no constraints on your vision but your own. You have no deadlines but the ones you impose.

Yet, crowd-sourced funding puts you in this strange place. It enables you to not only do market research and connect with fans, but it can also give those fans a sense of ownership in your independent venture. And if the expectations aren’t clear upfront, there can be a lot of pain.

An Inspiring Indie Story: Team Football’s Licensing Deals

Team Football Logo

With the World Cup happening this month, there are bound to be some soccer games made to take advantage of the attention it brings. While most will be terrible, and many will be nothing more than “swipe to take a penalty kick” games, a few will be good.

Of course, without the official FIFA license that EA has locked in until 2022, even good soccer games will have a hard time getting noticed without something unique to offer, such as zombies or combat or familiar faces such as Nintendo’s Mario or Capcom’s Mega Man. Otherwise, it seems only Konami has a serious contender in terms of official licenses. It probably isn’t likely that other publishers, let alone independent game developers, will be able to negotiate a deal to offer any official content in their own games.

No one told indie studio Team Football, who managed to secure the official license to England national team for their game Official England Football (which is only available in England). The small startup also managed to work out a licensing deal with France, Japan, China, and Brazil, and Official Brazil Soccer is supposed to be available around the world, although I couldn’t find it at the time of this writing on my Android tablet.

Many aspiring indie developers start out realizing that games don’t appear fully-formed, that someone had to make the games in the first place, which means it is possible that they can make games. Suddenly, they are excited by the possibility, and some get burned when they bite off more than they can chew.

Eventually, they stop deluding themselves into thinking they can make the the best MMO RPG/FPS/RTS EVAH! They internalize the lesson that they need to be “realistic.” The common advice is to cut down on your scope, to recognize that you can only do so much by yourself and with your limited resources.

But being realistic is also a good way to sell yourself short. You may have the capability to achieve something fantastic, but if you assume you can only accomplish something mediocre, you’ll stop before you should.

Granted, some indies have access to different levels of resources. Some managed to save up hundreds of thousands of dollars, others inherited, some borrowed, some are leveraging income from their day jobs, and some are struggling to make ends meet. Some have a team of talented individuals, others toil away in solitude.

Team Football benefited from Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future incubator, funding from Creative England, and some good contacts in the industry.

But they showed what’s possible if you go out and chase after what you want. An indie game development studio with official licenses for their sports games is able to stand out among the crowd, and in a heavily-saturated market, getting that attention is precious.

Are you setting supposedly-realistic expectations for yourself, or are you imagining what’s really possible?

Advertising Your Game on YouTube

YouTube Channels

A few years ago, I read that search engine optimization (SEO) wasn’t just a way to make sure Google and Yahoo! can find your website. iTunes is also a search engine, so if you had a podcast, you know where your content needed to be listed.

Similarly, YouTube is a search engine. Are you optimizing your marketing efforts there?

You have two opportunities here: leverage existing channels and publish your own.

Leveraging Existing Channels

There are quite a few channels focused on games, and some of these channels have dedicated viewers.

In the article Advertising Through YouTubers, Kevin Harwood makes the case for introducing your game through one of these influential channels by endorsing them so they review and play your game for everyone to see.

I was a bit turned off by the “let me show you the numbers” part of the article:

It would be completely within reason to pay $250 per video made and commission four 20-minute game play videos.

100,000 viewers

$1000

even if only .5% of the viewers go forward and purchase your game for $30 on Steam (you earn only $20)

You have earned $40,000 in revenue

No this is not a “get rich quick article”. I’m simply showing the ROI on a basic initiative like this.

Now, this article was not published years ago. The race to the bottom in game pricing has already occurred. Most indies are not selling their game for $30 on Steam, and I’m sure a 0.5% conversion is one of those things that doesn’t just happen.

Still, I don’t think the basic principle is off. YouTube videos are bite-sized content that your prospective customers are actively searching for. The same may or may not be said for your game’s website. If you can do more than merely send a link to a channel’s owner, you have a better chance of your game getting featured and in a positive light.

Harwood suggests incentives to encourage the reviewer to play the game with a goal of achieving some level. It would be terrible if your intricate strategy game was reviewed by someone who didn’t seem very invested in trying and misunderstood some key aspect of it. Saying something like “If your playthrough gets past the Cow Level, you can get three free copies of the game to giveaway to your viewers” means that your exciting and awe-inspiring Cow Level has a better chance of being featured than if you merely hope the reviewer gets that far and discovers it.

Obviously you can’t control how other people will enjoy your game, and if you pay to get your game endorsed, there are even laws governing disclosure. See the FTC’s 2013 PDF dotcom Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.

The goal isn’t to deceive people into thinking that an influential reviewer loves your game. The goal is for the influential reviewer to give your game a fair chance, and you want to put in some work to make sure that your game is shown in the best light.

If you do nothing but spam emails to these video reviewers, having no relationship with them in the first place, you are just another faceless game developer. It is random chance if your game is reviewed in the first place, and if it is, who knows how the reviewer will play it.

Imagine if a game such as Mario Kart 8 was reviewed by someone who didn’t know that you can use the items that you pick up on the track. That is, this person picks up banana peels, or mushrooms, or a boomarang plant, but didn’t know to press the button that actually makes use of them. One of the key features of the game is completely ignored in the review, and suddenly the game looks somewhat flawed and confusing.

So no, getting your game featured on popular YouTube channels is not a guaranteed way to make your game popular. You still have work to do, and Harwood has some creative ideas for making it work out well for everyone involved.

Publishing Your Own

If, on the other hand, you want to make your own videos to similarly take advantage of YouTube as a search engine, there is a separate article on how to make videos for games by Alconost co-founder Kirill Kliushkin you would want to see.

My favorite piece of insight was how scripts are timed so that voiceovers are matched to on-screen events. I also really appreciate how the entire process is purpose-driven. The first question they ask is “Why do you need a video?” and the process flows from the answer.

Kliushkin covers teasers vs trailers vs in-game video intros, scripting and storyboards, and the importance of professional-quality voiceovers, among many other topics. Even if you plan on hiring someone else to make the videos for you, this article seems like a good primer on the basic things you need to keep in mind to create the right video for your marketing needs.

Video of My Talk On The Importance of Purpose, Mission, and Vision

On May 29th, I gave a lunch and learn presentation at StartupCity Des Moines titled Playing the Long Game: The Vital Importance of Purpose, Mission, and Vision to Your Business.

It was a post mortem of sorts. I’m running this business part-time as I have a day job again, but I ran GBGames as a full-time independent game developer from 2010 to 2012…poorly. There were some major lessons I learned about running a business, and the idea was that by sharing the cautionary tale of GBGames, other business owners could benefit from my experience.

If you couldn’t make it to my presentation, don’t worry! There’s a recording uploaded at http://youtu.be/jtsE6lGp-Pw:

I also uploaded the slides with notes in a few formats:

The presentation itself is about 35 minutes long, and then there was some quality question-and-answer time with the audience. The energy I got talking about the impact I wanted to have in the world really brings home the point I was making about the importance and benefits of having a clear purpose, mission, and vision.

It was a great experience, and my talk was well-received. I hope you get some value out of it.

Reminder: Come to My Lunch and Learn Presentation on May 29th

If you can make it, please come to my Lunch and Learn post mortem about my time running GBGames full-time on Thursday. I hear it will be a good one.

Playing the Long Game: The Vital Importance of Purpose, Mission, and Vision to Your Business

Gianfranco Berardi will share the major lessons that can be drawn from his experience running an independent game development business full-time.

He’ll explain what happened between the time he delivered his two weeks’ notice to his day job in 2010 until 2012, when a lack of funds forced him once again back to part-time business owner status. See how a lack of strategic planning resulted in a business with no focus and a business owner feeling out of his depth. More importantly, learn how doing the hard work of identifying your Why, How, and What pays off both immediately and in the long-term.

WHEN:
May 29th, 2014 at noon

WHERE:
StartupCity Des Moines
317 6th Ave, Suite 500, Des Moines IA, 50309
p: 515-868-0473
e: info@startupcitydsm.com

It’s a free event, and I’d love to see you there. Register for it at https://tikly.co/-/2510.

A Recipe for Meaningful Gamification

Gamification has been quite the buzz word for the last few years, although I haven’t seen too much in the headlines recently.

Sebastian Deterding defined gamification as introducing game design elements in non-game contexts in the presentation below:

Deterding has since been upset at how gamification is thought to be nothing more than using incentives to reward people (press button, receive points/badge/achievement) for doing what the designers want them to do, and he argues that good game design and a larger purpose behind it all is still needed to make it successful.

Gamification isn’t new, and people have been talking about it for decades under different terms. Deterding has since preferred “Gameful Design” as a term instead.

I recently learned about Scott Nicholson, associate professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. He researches learning through games, and he’s the director of Because Play Matters Game Lab, which is meant to create transformative games and play for informal learning environments.

Nicholson is interested in Meaningful Gamification, which he defines as “using game design elements to help users find meaning in non-game contexts.”

So, you are trying to establish long-term change and making such effort intrinsic rather than relying on rewards to keep it going. There’s a lot of research on compensation in the workplace. The old carrot-and-stick approach seems logical. If you want people to produce more, you reward them with more pay. If you want to stop some behavior, you punish. If you take away those rewards and punishments, people will revert to behavior you don’t necessarily want.

But for some time there has been the idea that extrinsic motivation actually reduces productivity. A person told that he/she will be rewarded for doing an activity will be more likely to stop doing the activity when the reward stops than a person who was not presented with an award.

Nicholson created the following recipe to help create meaningful gamification:

  • Reflection – assisting participants in finding other interests and past experiences that can deepen engagement and learning
  • Exposition – creating stories for participants that are integrated with the real-world setting and
    allowing them to create their own
  • Choice – developing systems that put the power in the hands of the participants
  • Information – using game design and game display concepts to allow participants to learn more about the real-world context
  • Play – facilitating the freedom to explore and fail within boundaries
  • Engagement – encouraging participants to discover and learn from others interested in the real-world setting

I think choice is interesting, because a lot of gamification interest comes from the idea that if you create a game that everyone in your organization must play, then it will drive the behavior the organization wants, when it’s not actually the case.

More information about this recipe is at the Because Play Matters Game Lab website.

See Me Present at StartupCity Des Moines on May 29th

StartupCity Des Moines

NOTE: If you couldn’t make it, the presentation is available online.

Des Moines, Iowa has a coworking community called StartupCity Des Moines. It’s a pretty neat place, and there’s a lot of exciting things going on there. It’s the only entrepreneur hub I know of in the area.

Over a month back, I went to a lunch and learn on entrepreneurship given by one of the founders, Christian Renaud.

About halfway through his talk, he mentioned the idea of sharing your failures with the community. While successes are great to share, giving a post mortem for failed business also helps make the entire community of businesses better for the future.

“I would strongly encourage you, just for the betterment, to not make central Iowa suck for startups over the next 20, 30, 50 years. Till that back in. All the good things you learned, all the bad things you learned. Till them back into the soil, because God knows we need them.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking that I have something to share from my experience running GBGames full-time and failing to get it self-sustaining before running out of money.

I’ll be presenting at the end of the month:

Playing the Long Game: The Vital Importance of Purpose, Mission, and Vision to Your Business

Gianfranco Berardi will share the major lessons that can be drawn from his experience running an independent game development business full-time.

He’ll explain what happened between the time he delivered his two weeks’ notice to his day job in 2010 until 2012, when a lack of funds forced him once again back to part-time business owner status. See how a lack of strategic planning resulted in a business with no focus and a business owner feeling out of his depth. More importantly, learn how doing the hard work of identifying your Why, How, and What pays off both immediately and in the long-term.

WHEN:
May 29th, 2014 at noon

WHERE:
StartupCity Des Moines
317 6th Ave, Suite 500, Des Moines IA, 50309
p: 515-868-0473
e: info@startupcitydsm.com

It’s a free event, and I’d love to see you there. Register for it at https://tikly.co/-/2510.

Ship on iOS or Android First?

iOS vs Android

When I talk about making apps for Android, the question I invariably get, occasionally with shock or disdain, is “Why not make apps for the iPhone/iPad/my precious device?”

To be fair, I tend to bias against what’s popular.

But not in an obnoxious way. I not that guy who insists on not having a television and makes sure to tell everyone each chance he gets. And, I’m not a counter-culture activist consumer. I run GNU/Linux, but I do so on a Dell laptop. While I don’t shop at Walmart, I do shop at Target. I make games for GNU/Linux, but I also port them to Windows because it is easy to do.

I just get suspicious when there is a rush to own a piece of something, such as the iPad, or the original iPhone before it, or the iPod before. Camping out to be the first to own a piece of consumer electronics that will be patched and/or obsolete within months is not for me. The same goes for new game consoles or games. I can wait.

I am very clearly not an early adopter, nor am I all that interested in owning an Apple product. I was fairly happy with my Linux-based computing at home, and the idea of buying something I couldn’t tweak or configure bothered me. Of course, the idea that it “just worked” and didn’t need configuration appeals to a lot more people, so Apple has been very successful.

Eventually, I got a a smartphone. It was an Android device, an HTC Evo Shift II. It had a slide-out keyboard, which meant I could text and type easily without needing to learn some gesture-based input. It was bulkier, but I never had to worry about buying an external case for it. I liked it, although eventually I started running out of memory for the thing, and that’s when I learned about how fragmented the Android market was. Also, I ran into the problems with the U.S. market in that my phone is tied to the carrier and not just a device that I can plug the carrier’s SIM card into. That means updates to this phone’s OS were never going to happen unless I jumped through a bunch of hoops.

I now have a Samsung Galaxy S4, but I kept the Shift because when it is connected to my wireless, it’s still a relevant computing device. Plus, I could use it to test any apps I make for Android.

So now I have two Android devices. No, wait, I have a third: the Google Nexus 7 tablet that my wife got me for Christmas last year, my first tablet if you don’t count the EXOPC Slate I got after GDC 2011. That’s three different Android-based devices that I can use myself as well as use as test devices for apps I create.

Android today has a much larger marketshare (so much for biasing against what is popular), but it is common knowledge that iOS apps average more revenue for developers than Android apps. The thinking is that people who are willing to spend the Apple premium are also willing to pay for apps, and the numbers getting reported tend to indicate it is true.

Apparently if someone switches from iOS to Android, it is news. For major app releases, it is very common for the iOS version to be released before the Android version, if a port comes at all. I wonder how Microsoft feels being the Linux of mobile in this regard. If the app gets updated, it is possible that the Android version will lag behind, or have an unnatural UI, or will be otherwise inferior. Now the trend seems to be changing so that Android-first is becoming more common, but not everyone is happy.

The Fallacy of Android First documents one developer’s experience with trying to go Android first. Emu is a messaging app, and apparently Dave Feldman found that Android’s fragmentation was still an issue and the development tools were not as robust or stable as Apple’s. The larger potential audience doesn’t always translate into more users of your app, especially once you take into account backwards compatibility.

Feldman says:

Running a startup is all about learning. This has been a huge lesson for us, one I wish we’d learned faster…but perhaps our experience will help others to make a more informed decision. Android’s flexibility, and its greater strength in certain markets, still make it a far better platform for certain types of product. But it’s a difficult road, and best to travel with your eyes open.

He links to Steve Cheney’s post Why Android First is a Myth from last October which similarly describes a more complex development experience for startups developing on Android, especially those who rely on venture capital.

All that said, what’s it look like for games?

iOS is still dominant in terms of revenue earnings for developers, and if you are selling apps instead of doing a free-to-play model, Apple has demonstrated that they have paying customers. Plus, there’s very little variation and customization, which means you don’t have to do nearly as much work to ensure your game will work on an iOS-based device, and when you do, you have a significant chunk of the market.

Google announced cross-platform Google Play Game Services so that developers can create apps for both Android and iOS more easily. In fact, Google is using services to provide new capabilities without a need to fragment the userbase more than necessary. So, it is getting better there. And with a F2P model, more potential users means you don’t have to worry about how stingy your players are.

But is it really that hard to release simultaneously? If you use a library like libSDL or an engine like Unity, you can have a single code-base that ports more or less seamlessly.

In any case, for my next game, I’m currently wondering if not having an iOS device and a way to develop for it is going to hurt me. I’m looking into my target market to find out if my convenience of using devices I already own to develop the app will coincidentally line up with their own needs, but more and more I’m thinking that I will need to invest in some Apple hardware if I am going to be relevant to my customers.

Do you release for iOS first, Android first, or simultaneously? What has your experience been?

95% Off for Game Development Course Bundle

A colleague told me about a deal he found online: 95% off for a bundle of game development courses.

After learning how to replicate Flappy Bird and Candy Crush, this bundle will give you an education in developing for both Android and iOS, a beginner’s guide to HTML5 game development, and a quick-start guide to creating a game with Stencyl.

Some people are turned off by the focus on essentially cloning two very popular games, but if you think about it, artists learn to create great paintings only after they all learn how to paint bowls of fruit.

I don’t plan on getting the courses myself, but then I’m not starting from scratch. I’ve made games, and I have in fact worked with Stencyl, and many of the topics I see covered are things I can look up on my own, such as how to sell apps.

Still, the idea of focused courses on topics related to making games that look very much like “real” games and even learning how to sell them is appealing.

But what do you think? Is it a good deal for beginners?

A Shameful Game Backlog, or a Glorious Library?

Last week, cliffski once again went on the offensive against the trend of selling games at deeply discounted prices. In We Need to Talk About Unplayed Games, he argued that the constant sales of games results in bad news for everyone.

People buy games based on almost nothing but a screenshot and a low price in an almost Pavlovian response to the announcement of a deep discount. They don’t even play the games, which sit on hard drives and rarely get considered. In fact, some people buy the games over and over again simply because they are in bundles with other games or they forgot that they already purchased them.

The results? Players Game buyers don’t value quality, the organizers of sales become gatekeepers, and the games themselves are devalued. If developers optimize for results, what role does game development have? Most players won’t see even a small percentage of the actual game, so why focus there? It’s similar to the concerns about narrative in games: if people don’t finish them and never see the story play out to completion, then why invest so much on game writing and elaborate plots in the first place?

It becomes less about the games themselves. People buy into the deep discount, no matter what is being offered, and for what? A backlog of games they ignore? That’s terrible!

Or is it? Ben Kuchera thinks otherwise in Your stack of shame is a lantern for your future, and a gift to the industry:

We respect people with large libraries of books, but we tend to look down on people with shelves and shelves of games.

Oof. When you put it that way, yeah. I suppose when I look at my shelves, I see books I haven’t read yet, as well as games that I obtained partially because they weren’t at full price. I have a copy of Civilization III still in shrink wrap when I found it at the store for only $15. Two incarnations of the series have since been released. I also have a number of Neal Stephenson books that are waiting for me to read them.

Kuchera’s argues that even if you don’t play the games now, what you are doing is sending a message to the developers and the industry about what kinds of games you want to support.

On the topic of sales, both cliffski and Kuchera agree. They work. To illustrate, I was at a party recently talking about these posts (I’m a pretty wild and crazy guy!), and a colleague told me that you don’t have to look further than JCPenny to see what happens when you buck the trend there.

In early 2012, JCPenny changed its pricing strategy. Instead of markups and sales, there would be “every day” prices.

Late last year, the company announced it was reversing the decision, citing dismal sales figures.

So, JCPenny discovers the hard way that despite the logic that a low price is a low price, there is some psychology to a sale price, to the idea of getting a bargain. Now we get to benefit from that information.

But Kuchera says the biggest benefit is that increasing your catalog of games is good for you.

Maybe you’re not ready for the pace of a game like Gone Home today, but you can never tell when the game will satisfy an itch you don’t know you had. Buying games on sale allows us to browse our own selections, be surprised at something we had forgotten we had bought, and find that finally, we’re ready for that game.

I can relate. When I was a child and had no way to earn money but a weekly allowance, I would save my money for months in order to go to Toys R Us and browse the game selection. One time, I picked up Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. I might have been 10 years old at the time. I had no idea what the game was, but the back of the box had illustrations of dragons, knights, and skeletons. COOL!

I tried to play it, but I couldn’t figure it out. I mean, I understood the mechanics of walking around the first-person maze, entering selections to fight, and casting spells. But I had no idea what I was doing. I would fight incredibly tough enemies and have a total party kill before I knew what happened. It was too much, and the game wasn’t what I expected at all.

It was a few years later when I pulled it out of my collection of games to try it out again, and my more mature self was able to grok it way better. Oh, I have to map out the maze I’m exploring! I need to make sure that I gain experience and skills and purchase good equipment before venturing too far into it. It all clicked. It all made sense. I wasn’t ready to play the game when I bought it, but I’m glad I did all those years ago because the Wizardry series became one of my favorites.

I appreciate what cliffski is concerned about. It would be nice if when a new piece of entertainment is released that everyone played it together. Around 10 years ago, I bought Total Annihilation and Homeworld: Cataclysm due to the recommendations of a friend, both times years after the games had come out. Cavedog’s Boneyards and Sierra’s WON.net were mostly empty before eventually being shutdown entirely, but I was told that they used to be filled with active gamers ready for your challenge. Had I bought the games on release, I might have experienced it, but as I was late to the party, I missed out.

It’s captured perfectly in this xkcd comic.

The alt-text: “I remember trying to log in to the original Command and Conquer servers a year or two back and feeling like I was knocking on the boarded-up gates of a ghost town.”

Similarly, the Steve Jobs biography that was all the rage a couple of years ago? The local library had a high double-digit long waiting list. I never ended up reading it, although I still want to. But when I do finally get to read it, it would have been years after the book was topical. Am I similarly missing out by reading it so much later than everyone else?

Or isn’t that the point of books, that they are there for me to read whenever I feel like it?

And so it is with games. For years, I’ve always wondered how people can be so comfortable selling their old games to get credit towards the purchase of new games. I, on the other hand, still have my Atari 2600. I still have my NES, SNES, N64, and original Game Boy. Despite being able to play any Gamecube games on the Wii, I still have my Gamecube.

But more important than my inclination to keep consoles beyond the point that might be reasonable, I still have the games I bought for those systems. I’m still unhappy with the discovery that my father gave away the Apple II c+ from my childhood to his coworker, which means I lost my copies of Troll’s Tale, Snooper Troops, Below the Root, Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set, and other games. Some of them were beyond my capabilities at the time, but I’d be ready for them today.

But being able to pull out my older consoles and play games from almost two decades ago is a capability I enjoy having.

I currently have two large six-shelf bookcases in my office filled with books. I have a computer rack with a few shelves taken up by CD cases for computer games. In the living room are the console games. In another room is a set of shelves filled with boardgames and card games.

I used to fantasize about having an entire room of a house dedicated to being a library, with books and games stored from floor to ceiling.

Video games these days end up being in the cloud. I have 30 games across 7 virtual shelves on GOG.com, quite a few Humble Bundle bundles, and a few games in Steam. If not you then people you know have much larger catalogs of games stored as bits on a server.

It’s not as tactile, but we still enjoy having those collections to pick up and play whenever we allow ourselves to do so.

What I am not sure we’re seeing is a change in the game design efforts of developers, which is I think cliffski’s biggest concern. While some developers put out buggy and shoddy games, I don’t think they last long. Even if most games don’t get played, I don’t think a pretty screenshot and a sale is enough to get people to reward the developer. Reputation still matters.

How do you feel about your backlog? What impact, if any, do you believe the constant sales and discounts has on game design and the efforts of a developer?