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Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning

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Disruption is becoming an overused term in the tech and games industry. Many don't even know that it refers to a specific, well-defined academic principle as laid out in 1997 by Harvard Business ...

Disruption is becoming an overused term in the tech and games industry. Many don't even know that it refers to a specific, well-defined academic principle as laid out in 1997 by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen in "The Innovator's Dilemma." Formal disruption, as defined by Christensen, is designed to be applied as a real methodology in real world projects. In this talk, Ben describes how he directly applied the principles of disruption to the development of his new studio's first game, the revolutionary tablet and smartphone FPS The Drowning, by using Christensen's ideas to help make key decisions on what platforms, what partners, what technology, and what game design principles to use in its creation.

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Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning Presentation Transcript

  • WEAPONS OF MASS DISRUPTIONBen Cousins, GDC 2013@benjamincousins@thedrowning
  • WHO ISTHIS GUY ANYWAY?
  • CONTENTS•Questions I asked on the way•Process I went through to find answers•The answers to those questions
  • DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION
  • “We are bringing disruptive innovationto the franchise and we are doing it onseveral fronts.”MISS-USE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  • Great game!Not disruptiveinnovation‘SustainingImprovement’
  • DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION DEFINED“A kind of innovation that improves a product orservice in ways that the market does notexpect.”“Innovations that result in worse productperformance, at least in the near term.”“Cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, moreconvenient to use.”
  • CORRECT USAGE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  • “On several fronts, the Call of Dutyfranchise is becoming worst performing,cheaper, simpler, smaller and moreconvenient”CORRECT USAGE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  • Performance
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime
  • 2010
  • 2010
  • 2010Incumbents
  • 2010Incumbents Potential disruptors
  • 2011
  • QUESTIONS• Do new platforms fit the patterns of a disruptive innovation?• Which of those platforms should I focus on?• What sort of organization should I create/join?• How should we design our product?• What level of product performance should we target?
  • CASE STUDY
  • DO NEW PLATFORMS FITTHE PATTERNSOF A DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION?
  • IDENTIFYING DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION“I would graph the trajectories of performanceimprovement demanded in the market versus theperformance improvement supplied by the(disruptive) technology.”
  • PerformanceTime
  • PerformanceTime?
  • I CHOSE GRAPHICS• Shows the technical performance of platform and code• Shows the budget and staff quality for the project• Acts as an easily-identifiable proxy for other improvements like physics,AI etc
  • BUT...
  • BUT...
  • BUT...
  • COMPARISONS2005 2011
  • COMPARISONS2005•Graphically impressive PS2 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browser shooter2011
  • COMPARISONS2005•Graphically impressive PS2 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browser shooter•Graphically impressive PS3 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browser shooter2011
  • CONSOLE2005 2011
  • CONSOLE2005 2011
  • CONSOLE2005 2011
  • SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  • SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  • SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  • BROWSER2005 2011
  • BROWSER2005 2011
  • BROWSER2005 2011
  • DO NEW PLATFORMS FITTHE PATTERNSOF A DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION?Yes!Console games = sustaining innovationMobile and browser games = disruptive innovation
  • WHICH OFTHOSE PLATFORMS SHOULDI FOCUS ON?
  • THE ‘SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP’•Facebook gets $550m annually through FB Credits, $375m comes from Zynga•Zynga accounts for 12% of Facebook revenue•Zynga spend $70m annually on ads in Facebook•Zynga has an exclusivity agreement to use FB accounts for games•In exchange FB have agreed to help Zynga hit certain growth targets for games
  • IPAD EATS LAPTOP SALES
  • WHICH OFTHOSE PLATFORMS SHOULDI FOCUS ON?
  • WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  • Join an incumbent?No!Incumbents very very rarelysucceed at surviving disruption
  • Join an incumbent?No!Incumbents very very rarelysucceed at surviving disruptionFound a startup?No!By 2013, it will be much harder tosucceed as a small company inmobile
  • WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  • WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  • WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  • HOW SHOULD WE DESIGN OURPRODUCT?
  • WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?“First, I would acknowledge that, by definition,electric vehicles cannot initially be used inmainstream applications because they do notsatisfy the basic performance requirements ofthat market.”
  • WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?They do not satisfy the basic performance requirements of that market.
  • WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?They do not satisfy the basic performance requirements of that market.
  • WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?“Historically, as we have seen, the very attributesthat make disruptive technologies uncompetitivein mainstream markets actually count as positiveattributes in their emerging value network.”
  • ‘UNCOMPETITIVE’ATTRIBUTES•Batteries produce fewer watts than mains electricity, meaning mobileCPUs and GPUs are less powerful•Mobile devices have smaller screens because they don’t connect to atelevision screen
  • POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
  • POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
  • WORK ‘WEAKNESSES’ INTO STRENGTHS•Game should satisfy core gamers, but be designed to work insituations where console literally couldn’t compete•Don’t try to go head-to-head and make a better CoD/BF/etc•Aim to become a ‘trojan horse’ - so engaging that eventually we wouldcompete with console hours and dollars
  • HOW SHOULD WE DESIGN OURPRODUCT?• Play to the strengths of the platform. Make a mobile game• Action game rounds last no more than 2 minutes• Played in 30 minute sessions• Played with two fingers on one hand• No in-game cutscenes, lulls in action, few little scripted moments• A strong element of collection, crafting, inventory management
  • WHAT LEVEL OF PRODUCTPERFORMANCE SHOULD WETARGET?
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY“The cycle of evolution itself is driven by thephenomenon of performance oversupply, that is,the condition in which the performance providedby a technology exceeds the actual needs of themarket. Historically, performance oversupplyopens the door for simpler, less expensive, andmore convenient—and almost always disruptive—technologies to enter.”
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY• Incumbents get trapped in a cycle of ‘sustaining improvements’• Trying to compete with other incumbents• Trying to improve last year’s model• Performance improvements go beyond the point they are meaningful to the averagecustomer• At that point, consumers seek out other improvements (price, size, convenience)
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTVHARDWARE
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTV
  • PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTV?
  • ARE GAMES OVERSUPPLYING?
  • 1991
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  • 1997
  • 1999
  • 2002
  • 1991
  • 2002
  • 2011
  • WHAT LEVEL OF PRODUCTPERFORMANCE SHOULD WETARGET?• Console/PC graphics are close to reaching Performance Oversupply• For each doubling of power, the perceivable increase in quality for the averageconsumer is less and less• When things hit oversupply, the average consumer turns to something with thesame quality, but cheaper, simpler, more convenient• So we should create great graphics, but not worry that mobile is less powerful thanconsole/PC
  • RECAP• Are new platforms going to disrupt the coregames industry?• Yes!• Which platform should I focus on?• Mobile!• What sort of organization should I create/join?• Big company with startup attitude• How should we design our product?• Turns weaknesses of the platform intostrengths• What level of product performance should wetarget?• Make it as good as possible, but coregames are close to oversupply
  • QUESTIONS?@BENJAMINCOUSINS@THEDROWNINGBEN.COUSINS@DENA.COM