Issues raised by Media OwnershipWho owns what in videogames? Licenses, brands, technology, software, hardware, the intellectualproperty (IP). What effect does this have on the industry.Rockstar own the GTA brand – their developers are part of the same company so they also own thegame code as well. No one else can make ‘GTA’ branded games.Rockstar have created the characters themselves.Rockstar created their own game engine (RAGE) enabling them to make uniquely realist graphics.However they had to license other technologies such as Euphoria and Bullet.Rockstar had to license all the songs in the game at the cost of approx $5000 per track. They had tolicense the TV footage such as Ricky Gervais’ comedy show.Microsoft paid $50 million for the exclusive rights for the GTA 4 downloadable content (DLC) – soobtaining the right media ownership can be used to sell consoles.Rockstar would have had to pay the console manufactures a licensing free of between $3 to $10dollars for each unit (copy of the game) to Sony and Microsoft.Some other issues with Media OwnershipPublishers have to pay for ‘licenses’ from other intellectual properties such as films (Bond, X-Men,Spider-Man), sports stars and events (FIFA, Tiger Woods), car designs (Gran Turismo), TV shows (XFactor), songs Guitar Hero. These all cost money – more you spend on licensing that may attract sales,the less you have for development.Developer allow consumers to access their technological IP - Valve who make Team Fortress and HalfLife give fans access to their development tools so they can create their own maps and games.Apple allow developer to get the Apps Software Development Kit (SDK) for free so they can makeIphone apps (but then take 30% of the revenue).With OnLive or Gaikai publishers may not have to pay console manufacturers licenses as consumerswill just stream their games over the net.There can be disputes between developers and publisher about who owns the IP. The developers mayhave created the game, but the publisher legally owns the rights to the ideas. E.g. Infinity Wardcreated COD: Modern Warfare, but the publishers Activision own the names and the game. Theyrecently had a falling out (see here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity_Ward)Importance of media convergence.What happens when different types of media come together? What new experiences do we get? What arethe advantages?Rockstar use licensed music (such as Kanye West, Ice Cube) in GTA 4 for the radio stations, this enablethe games to be realistic and atmospheric in a movie-like way.Rockstar had TV channels in games with comedy sets from Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams. Just likethe music this adds realism but also could attract attention from gamers.The licensed music in Vice City and San Andreas helped set the games in a time period (80s and 90srespectively).
Rockstar used media convergence for marketing. For instance the coordinated their online trailerswith the release of magazine articles and TV ads.The viral marketing used convergence so you had information on old media marketing (wantedposters) being spread by new media: fan blogs, websites and social networking.Combing videogames with the online world has a significant effect:Games can be multiplayer – allows for online communities to develop, new maps to be available (DLCmeans more revenue), gamers get more value from the game.Gamers can create content and share it with other gamers – (e.g. machinima, levels (Little Big Planet).Games can be distributed online (download DLC, possible streaming online (OnLive, Gaikai).Great example of the power of cross media convergence – FarmvilleWhen games and social media meet you get games such as Cityville, Farmville etc. And they can onlyexist because of media convergence as they are:Distributed via FacebookMarketed via Facebook (predominately through viral marketing)Consumed (played) on FacebookThe gameplay is also dictated by social networking as it’s all about showing off your farm to friends onFacebook.Proof that media convergence can change the industry.Importance of SynergyWhat the effects of releasing products at the same time in production, distribution and marketing?ProductionThere is pressure on the developers to complete a game for simultaneous release on differentconsoles – so Rockstar were under pressure to make the same game for 3 different formats: PC, PS3,Xbox 360, each with their different problems. It was rumoured that the reason for GTA 4’s delay wasthat Rockstar were struggling to perfect the PS3 version.Releasing games simultaneously on different formats is a costly process.If games are released to coincide with the release of a film/TV show, this brings its own problems: astrict deadline that can’t be avoided. You can’t have the Harry Potter game coming out six monthsafter the film.DistributionSimultaneous release means that the distributers have to organise discs and packaging for thousandsof copies of the game, for the various formats. Logistically and financially, this is a big undertaking. Ifsuccessfully done it can lead to a big opening weeks. If not it can lead to shortages (consumersfrustration) or (if the game is unpopular) masses on unsold discs.Because of this, digital distribution (downloads, OnLive) is an attractive option for publishers as theywouldn’t have to create as much boxed copies.MarketingFor synergy in marketing it is best to use cross media convergence - so instead of using just havingmagazine coverage, why not combine it with other media coverage – synergy in release of informationto increase its effectiveness.E.g. The first magazine coverage of GTA 4 came out as the same day as the release of the first trailer onthe internet. (This is tactic used for many big games, COD, FIFA, etc).Synergy in marketing is important ensure it spreads information about the game in a carefullycoordinate chunks. E.g. When FIFA 11 is coming out you get magazine coverage, conventionaladvertising, and interview with the box stars (Rooney, etc) in the mainstream press - in the same
week/month.A bit of controversy helps as well (think COD: Modern Warfare 2 airport level)Implications of Proliferation of hardware and content.What are the problems/positives of having loads of games and game machines?Positives for institutionsLots of different consoles give chance for innovation (DS, Wii, etc) – make different type of games.The fact that you can play games on the phone and internet mean smaller companies can makedifferent types of games and not compete with the console big boys.Games developers/publishers can create content for numerous different machines and so notcontrolled by the console manufacturers. (like they were by Nintendo in the 80s).Negative for institutionsThey have to spend more on marketing and advertising – as there’s so much other content out there.Pressure to sell means that it could result in less risk and less innovation (give the public what hassold before – just get loads of sequels).Have to create different types of games for the different machines (GTA4, GTA Chinatown War – alsothere’s over 9 different versions of FIFA 1, all have to be created)Positive for consumersMore choice .Competition keeps the price down.Can play games where ever you want – phone, home, on the go, on Facebook.Negatives for consumersConfusion – what console do I buy? Which motion controller do I get (Wii, Kinect, PS3 Motion)? Thiscan lead to consumers losing interest.Have to buy several machines to get all the different games.Significance of technological convergenceWhat is the significance of having digital devices/platforms that can play games and consoles that haveother uses.Lets look at the main three consoles:PS3 – DVD, Blu-Ray player, can store digital information (photos, music, films, TV), BBC Iplayer, webbrowser, PS Home, PS Store.360 – DVD, Xbox Live store (download, films, music, demos, new games), web browser, connect tofriends through facebook, Last FM,Wii – Virtua Console (download old Nintendo games), online play, web browser, Iplayer.All these machines are now ‘home entertainment centres’ as they can play different types of mediathis is significant:
It opens up the market – consumers who might want a Blu-ray player might get the PS3 as you canalso play games in, while otherwise they might not have invested in just a games machine.It positions the games machine in the lounge (family room) rather than in the bedroom. Now theconsole is a family possession and encourages family to invest in family games (Mario Kart, WiiSports, Singstar, Kinect).The most significant part of technological convergence is fact that all these console are online whichallows for:Online playOnline sharing of ideasDownloading new content and new gamesAlso it allows for most of the media convergenceNow lets look at digital devices/platforms that now play games mainly i-Pod Touch, i-Pad and SmartPhone.This opens up a huge new market for games companies as there is a limited amount of people whowould buy a machine that only plays games (DS, PSP) but nearly everyone has a phone and don’t mindpaying £0.99 for short, fun game.Also it allows small, independent developers to make money from making games without the need forpublisher funding or worrying about the cost of distribution. (This is much the same as developercreating content for Xbox Live Marketplace and the PS Store).Media ConsumptionHow have yours and others gaming habits changed due to the changes in the industry?Where do you get your games? Still from the shop? Do you download? Stream online? Get themthrough piracy?Where you do play your games? In the bedroom? On the bus? In the lounge?Who do you play your games with? Your mates? Your mates online? Strangers online? With yourfamily? On your own?What do you do you make the game your own (become a ‘prosumer’)? You could customise the game(costumes, levels, types of games played)? Do you create content and share it with others? Do youmodify the game?Other stuff to mentionMachinima – making films from games e.g. Red vs Blue, the contributions to Rockstar TV.Cos-Play – dressing up as games characters, role playing and using games to create fan fiction etc.Modification – modifying game code to create new types of games.Professional gaming – playing Starcraft has almost become a sport in Korea.