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 ...
Great game!Not disruptiveinnovation‘SustainingImprovement’
DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION DEFINED“A kind of innovation that improves a product orservice in ways that the market does notexpec...
CORRECT USAGE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
“On several fronts, the Call of Dutyfranchise is becoming worst performing,cheaper, simpler, smaller and moreconvenient”CO...
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...
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 t...
PerformanceTime
PerformanceTime?
I CHOSE GRAPHICS• Shows the technical performance of platform and code• Shows the budget and staff quality for the project...
BUT...
BUT...
BUT...
COMPARISONS2005 2011
COMPARISONS2005•Graphically impressive PS2 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browse...
COMPARISONS2005•Graphically impressive PS2 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browse...
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 gam...
WHICH OFTHOSE PLATFORMS SHOULDI FOCUS ON?
THE ‘SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP’•Facebook gets $550m annually through FB Credits, $375m comes from Zynga•Zynga accounts for 12% ...
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...
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 i...
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 uncomp...
‘UNCOMPETITIVE’ATTRIBUTES•Batteries produce fewer watts than mains electricity, meaning mobileCPUs and GPUs are less power...
POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
WORK ‘WEAKNESSES’ INTO STRENGTHS•Game should satisfy core gamers, but be designed to work insituations where console liter...
HOW SHOULD WE DESIGN OURPRODUCT?• Play to the strengths of the platform. Make a mobile game• Action game rounds last no mo...
WHAT LEVEL OF PRODUCTPERFORMANCE SHOULD WETARGET?
PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY“The cycle of evolution itself is driven by thephenomenon of performance oversupply, that is,the con...
PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY• Incumbents get trapped in a cycle of ‘sustaining improvements’• Trying to compete with other incum...
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
1992
1993
1994
1996
1997
1999
2002
1991
2002
2011
WHAT LEVEL OF PRODUCTPERFORMANCE SHOULD WETARGET?• Console/PC graphics are close to reaching Performance Oversupply• For e...
RECAP• Are new platforms going to disrupt the coregames industry?• Yes!• Which platform should I focus on?• Mobile!• What ...
QUESTIONS?@BENJAMINCOUSINS@THEDROWNINGBEN.COUSINS@DENA.COM
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning
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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 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.

Weapons of Mass Disruption: Creating The Drowning

  1. 1. WEAPONS OF MASS DISRUPTIONBen Cousins, GDC 2013@benjamincousins@thedrowning
  2. 2. WHO ISTHIS GUY ANYWAY?
  3. 3. CONTENTS•Questions I asked on the way•Process I went through to find answers•The answers to those questions
  4. 4. DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION
  5. 5. “We are bringing disruptive innovationto the franchise and we are doing it onseveral fronts.”MISS-USE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  6. 6. Great game!Not disruptiveinnovation‘SustainingImprovement’
  7. 7. 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.”
  8. 8. CORRECT USAGE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  9. 9. “On several fronts, the Call of Dutyfranchise is becoming worst performing,cheaper, simpler, smaller and moreconvenient”CORRECT USAGE OF ‘DISRUPTION’Eric HirshbergCEO,Activision publishing
  10. 10. Performance
  11. 11. PerformanceTime
  12. 12. PerformanceTime
  13. 13. PerformanceTime
  14. 14. PerformanceTime
  15. 15. PerformanceTime
  16. 16. PerformanceTime
  17. 17. PerformanceTime
  18. 18. 2010
  19. 19. 2010
  20. 20. 2010Incumbents
  21. 21. 2010Incumbents Potential disruptors
  22. 22. 2011
  23. 23. 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?
  24. 24. CASE STUDY
  25. 25. DO NEW PLATFORMS FITTHE PATTERNSOF A DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION?
  26. 26. IDENTIFYING DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION“I would graph the trajectories of performanceimprovement demanded in the market versus theperformance improvement supplied by the(disruptive) technology.”
  27. 27. PerformanceTime
  28. 28. PerformanceTime?
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. BUT...
  31. 31. BUT...
  32. 32. BUT...
  33. 33. COMPARISONS2005 2011
  34. 34. COMPARISONS2005•Graphically impressive PS2 shooter•Graphically impressive smartphone shooter•Graphically impressive browser shooter2011
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. CONSOLE2005 2011
  37. 37. CONSOLE2005 2011
  38. 38. CONSOLE2005 2011
  39. 39. SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  40. 40. SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  41. 41. SMARTPHONE2005 2011
  42. 42. BROWSER2005 2011
  43. 43. BROWSER2005 2011
  44. 44. BROWSER2005 2011
  45. 45. DO NEW PLATFORMS FITTHE PATTERNSOF A DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION?Yes!Console games = sustaining innovationMobile and browser games = disruptive innovation
  46. 46. WHICH OFTHOSE PLATFORMS SHOULDI FOCUS ON?
  47. 47. 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
  48. 48. IPAD EATS LAPTOP SALES
  49. 49. WHICH OFTHOSE PLATFORMS SHOULDI FOCUS ON?
  50. 50. WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  51. 51. Join an incumbent?No!Incumbents very very rarelysucceed at surviving disruption
  52. 52. 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
  53. 53. WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  54. 54. WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  55. 55. WHAT SORT OF ORGANIZATIONSHOULD I CREATE/JOIN?
  56. 56. HOW SHOULD WE DESIGN OURPRODUCT?
  57. 57. 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.”
  58. 58. WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?They do not satisfy the basic performance requirements of that market.
  59. 59. WHERE ISTHE MARKET FORTHISTECH?They do not satisfy the basic performance requirements of that market.
  60. 60. 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.”
  61. 61. ‘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
  62. 62. POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
  63. 63. POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES
  64. 64. 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
  65. 65. 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
  66. 66. WHAT LEVEL OF PRODUCTPERFORMANCE SHOULD WETARGET?
  67. 67. 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.”
  68. 68. 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)
  69. 69. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  70. 70. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  71. 71. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY IN MUSIC
  72. 72. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTVHARDWARE
  73. 73. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTV
  74. 74. PERFORMANCE OVERSUPPLY INTV?
  75. 75. ARE GAMES OVERSUPPLYING?
  76. 76. 1991
  77. 77. 1992
  78. 78. 1993
  79. 79. 1994
  80. 80. 1996
  81. 81. 1997
  82. 82. 1999
  83. 83. 2002
  84. 84. 1991
  85. 85. 2002
  86. 86. 2011
  87. 87. 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
  88. 88. 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
  89. 89. QUESTIONS?@BENJAMINCOUSINS@THEDROWNINGBEN.COUSINS@DENA.COM

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