Breen Fortress, Part 1
So, my column on Friday was about Civilization V being released as a Steam exclusive. It’s gotten to the point where I dread bringing up Steam, because the discussion always ends up in the same ditch. No matter how much sugar I add to my thoughts on Steam, we always end up with:
1) I never have any problems with Steam, therefore people who complain about the service not working are either lying or stupid.
2) I have 24/7 broadband internet and don’t mind online activation, therefore people who object are wrong.
3) I enjoy Steam, therefore your concerns over the future of the platform and its effect on the industry are just Steam-bashing.
4) I’m sick of you talking about DRM. Don’t you write about games anymore?
Usually they’re less direct, but this is the general gist of it. Some people don’t like to have other people not like their favorite things. (I honestly don’t know how we’re going to get through another twelve weeks of Fallout 3 Spoiler Warning without a homicide.) I suspect a lot of the above points come from young people who are trying to boil my column down to “Steam is good / bad” and aren’t interested in ruminations on stuff like “industry trends” and speculations on where the business will be in five years.
But I’m fascinated by the changes we’re seeing. The entire videogame market is changing right in front of us. It’s a bit of a free-for-all at this point (or would be, if the Steam rivals hadn’t given Valve a three year head start) and this could lead to a lot of major shakeups over the next few years. I have no idea what those changes will be or who will end up as winners and losers, which is one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by it.
Look at where the industry is right now: A few publishers run the show. All of the major development houses are now owned by publishers. The PC hardware mayhem of the last four decades has hit a plateau and the technology has stabilized. Games are now more or less part of mainstream culture. This is the point where you might expect the industry would begin to settle down. But instead the simultaneous rise of digital distribution and casual games is creating all of this uncertainty. We can see the publishers doing all sorts of odd stuff, like paying $300 million for casual game portals or launching hilariously inept online platforms. They can see that major changes are coming. They know they want to be in on this new market. They have lots of money and power, but they don’t know what to do with it.
Their missteps often hurt enthusiastic gamers, but it’s still hilarious to watch them dance.
Breen Fortress, Part 1
Crash Dot Com
Back in 1999, I rode the dot-com bubble. Got rich. Worked hard. Went crazy. Turned poor. It was fun.
What did web browsers look like 20 years ago, and what kind of crazy features did they have?
The Biggest Game Ever
How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?
Two minutes of fun at the expense of a badly-run theme park.
The Witch Watch
My first REAL published book, about a guy who comes back from the dead due to a misunderstanding.