The past few years have seen a rise of a new type of game; dubbed “freemium,” these games basically advertise as being free to play, but if you choose to pay, additional options are unlocked. Depending on the game, the charges are based on a monthly subscription, usually around $15, or a one-time fee that might give you one item, like a hat or weapon.
You have probably played some of these games without even knowing it. Popular titles such as Angry Birds and Farmville are both examples of freemium games. With huge social media outlets like Facebook, Android and iOS hosting these games, they have reached a substantial user-base in a short amount of time. Even though most of these games are free, with revenues generated by in-game advertising or virtual-good purchases, the money being made is so substantial that the question for these companies isn’t whether to go public, but WHEN.
Facebook and mobile games are one example of freemium gaming and would fall under the category of “one-time fee.” Another category would be the subscription based. DC Universe, Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online would all fall under the second category. These games offer huge amounts of content and provide hundreds of hours of game play…for free. The monthly subscription comes into play for the hard-core gamers who “need” that extra mission or weapon or character class.
If you feel that the gaming market is saturated, you’re right. There are a lot of games out there, and it can be very difficult for a game or developer to get noticed. Going, or starting out as a freemium title ensures that price won’t be an issue in attracting an audience. Going freemium can be used as a reward to the user base of a very successful product, as with Team Fortress 2. It can also be a response to a crowded market, as with DC Universe Online, going free to play in the crowded MMO market. Games can also be freemium by design, as with the famous Angry Birds. Once you have the user base in place and emotionally invested, you can charge them for that little extra something. They will end up shelling out for free games.
- Create a fair contract for publishers/developers.
- Raise awareness for the product.
- Allow indie developers to self-publish without assigning a producer to oversee.
- A better system for updating instead of forcing TCRs(technical certification requirements)
- Get rid of the exclusivity requirements for the developers.
- Get rid of the greenlight process and open development to anyone.
- Give every console the ability to develop.
- Automate everything for the developers. They should be able to submit, set price and set a release date all from a web interface.
- Get rid of the current ESRB system and allow developers to set the rating on their own.
- Don’t force developers to make game-related avatar-items.
In the days of arcades on the beach, and Pong, game controllers had about as much complexity as Velcro shoes. Joysticks were one of the earliest controllers out there, their appeal being their versatility. They worked very well with a multitude of games. This was the case with the majority of early inputs. But there were some out there that had the insight to make use of game specific peripherals, like the light gun, steering wheel, and Power Pad.
As time progressed and the popularity of games increased, the precision and specialized inputs did as well. Games were moving from the arcade to the home. When the NES first launched, one of the premium packages included the Zapper, R.O.B., and a controller. By the time SNES and the Sega Genesis were launched, no peripheral controllers were offered in the packages. They were becoming more specialized, the Dreamcast Fishing Controller for example. As flight simulators gained popularity in the 1990s, so did the need for more extensive joysticks. Theold-school ones were no longer complex enough due to the rise in 3D gaming. By the turn of the century, the Dance Dance Revolution franchise became popular and brought with it the dance pad. Then came an explosion of peripherals with the release of the Wii and the hugely popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises.
The progression of the gaming peripherals brought things we would normally do outside, into our homes. Running track, fishing, hunting, driving a race car and flying a plane can now all be done from the comforts of your living room. Now, some interesting new simulations are being made that incorporate peripherals in new ways.
These two examples are bringing the game to a whole new level. For a man, being able to feel what it’s like to be pregnant is a brand-new and interesting experience that could help us be more understanding of our spouses. It could possibly deter young women from getting pregnant before they’re ready. And who doesn’t like the idea of a video game built into a urinal? It’s much better than just staring at a wall. Sorry ladies, nothing has been developed yet for stalls.
The term “cloud” is being thrown around the internet and gaming scene quite often these days. Simply put, cloud gaming is a game that’s being streamed directly to your computer from a server. A cloud-based service can be used for many different things. Services like email, Google word, Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Some major gaming platforms like Steam, XBL, and PSN use cloud integration.
The major difference between cloud gaming and other forms of cloud-based services and/or content is that the processing power required for gaming is more taxing than most other computer operations. This means that, despite Google documents processing power in the cloud, it’s still just doing word processing or streaming audio and video in the case of Netflix, whereas cloud-based gaming relies on dynamic generation of audio and video in response to player-constructed inputs. (i.e. mouse and keyboard).
The advantages to using cloud-gaming are numerous. The necessity for big, expensive, hardware such as computers and consoles would be a thing of the past. The server supplying the game would handle all the processing. Theoretically, you could play on laptops, tablets, TVs or even smartphones. This could be offered as a subscription service (i.e., Netflix) rather than having to buy games individually.
Now here’s the real issue. Is cloud-based gaming a viable option for the future, or is it just a pipedream? With the demand for streaming audio, video and online gaming growing exponentially there are already concerns whether the bandwidth required is available. Even with the huge leaps forward that have been made in internet speeds in the past 10 years, cloud-based services have come to represent a formidable portion of internet traffic. How much data can we shove down this pipe and not experience latency? Current cellphone plans are based on data usage. Cell phone companies already rely on ISPs to help with their capacity issues. This could severely hamper or even make it impossible for cloud gaming to be successful.
As it stands now, cloud gaming only applies to single-player games. But recent games have been steadily incorporating multiplayer options. To the point that single player often takes a back seat to multiplayer with popular franchises like Call of Duty and Counter Strike. This could lead to some serious problems for companies like Gaikai, OTOY, and OnLive. Being able to support multiplayer games is a must for gaming companies. With the bandwidth concerns they are already facing, a viable solution will need to be found to be able support anything more than single player.
Cloud-gaming could be the wave of the future. It could change when, where and how we game…if the internet speed, bandwidth issues and server capacity/processing power catch up enough to support it. That’s a few too many could’s, should’s and if’s for me though. Guess I’m stuck with my bulky Xbox for now. But so are all my friends.