2017年度大盤點:遊戲業最具影響力的5大事件

2017年度大盤點:遊戲業最具影響力的5大事件

原文作者:Alex Wawro 譯者:Megan Shieh

時光飛逝,一年又過去了。回顧2017年的Gamasutra報道,我們發現有5大事件也許會影響到遊戲產業未來幾年的格局,它們都在某種程度上推動了2017年遊戲產業的主要趨勢。我們把這5大事件整理了出來,並對其進行了簡要分析。

(一)任天堂的Switch主機引起了巨大的轟動

任天堂的Switch並不是今年推出的唯一一款新主機,但它是大多數開發者談論的唯一一款。去年的這個時候,許多行業分析師對Switch的潛力持謹慎樂觀態度。迄今爲止,任天堂Switch全球銷量突破1000萬臺,甚至時常賣到脫銷,這一現象也印證了分析師們的觀點。

Switch的熱門程度對任天堂而言是一件大事,對於那些想要提高遊戲曝光率的開發者而言,也是一件好事(這在一定程度上要歸功於相對簡單的移植過程)。

在像Steam、PSN、Xbox Live和Apple App Store這樣的平臺上游戲越來越多,在這些擁擠的遊戲市場中,要想脫穎而出、吸引用戶的注意力很不容易,而Switch的出現恰好給了開發者們一個展示自己遊戲的機會。目前爲止,至少有一款遊戲(《神奇小子:龍之陷阱》)在Switch發佈時的銷量超出了其他所有平臺(PC/PS4/Xbo xOne)的銷量總和,而且據說許多開發者都在該平臺上取得了巨大的成功。

目前還不清楚這種情況能持續多久。Switch平臺上的遊戲發佈數量似乎每週都在增長,就連Square Enix和Bandai Namco這樣的大型遊戲公司也都越來越多地將焦點放在Switch身上。

Switch的巨大成功對整個行業來說似乎只有好處沒有壞處,至少在2017年是這麼個情況。

Steam-logo(from withoutthesarcasm.com)

Steam-logo(from withoutthesarcasm.com)

(二)Steam Direct取代Steam Greenlight

Valve今年對Steam實施了一系列重大的改革,其中最具影響力的是用一種新的收費提交系統“Steam Direct”取代了由用戶社區驅動的“Steam Greenlight(青睞之光/綠光)”。

僅這一聲明就在2017年引起了開發者們的熱烈討論:遊戲分銷平臺該是什麼樣子的?需要花錢才能把你的遊戲放到市場上嗎?什麼價格會使預算拮据的獨立開發者望而卻步?又得標什麼價格才能把山寨/抄襲遊戲拒之門外?此外,發行遊戲是否真的需要付費評價者、公衆或任何人的批准?

Valve爲Steam定的新規則是,每款遊戲需要繳交100美元的提交費(在遊戲收入達到1000美元后可以退還),需要上交一些簡單的文書並通過Valve的粗略審查。此前,Steam聲稱Steam Direct的提交費用可能會高達5000美元,這一消息嚇壞了很多開發者,相對較低的提交費用(100美元)安撫了這些開發者的情緒,然而目前還不清楚這種變革是否會從真正意義上改善Steam的提交審覈流程。

Steam Direct已經運行了五個月了,而Valve似乎也已經實現了它的既定目標——讓在Steam上發佈遊戲的過程變得更加簡單。至於此前那些通過在綠光系統上灌水,從而得以上架的爛遊戲,我們還不知道Steam Direct會不會針對它們進行整改。

(三)IGN收購Humble Bundle

2017年,知名慈善包站Humble Bundle宣佈了一個令人震驚的消息,在運營了七年以後,IGN以仍未披露的價格收購了這家以獨立遊戲分銷業務爲主的公司。

這是一件大事,因爲這一鉅變很有可能會震盪整個獨立遊戲行業。此外,該公司的業務範圍已經遠遠超出了最初的捆綁包業務,現在他們還開啓了遊戲發行業務、資助開發者爲Humble Bundle的訂閱用戶製作遊戲、運營在線遊戲訂閱服務Humble Trove,同時運營自己的在線遊戲商店。

然而去年10月發佈消息時,IGN高管Mitch Galbraith表示:“此次併購只是爲了滿足Humble Bundle的資源需求,我們願意提供支持來讓他們繼續做現在在做的事情,該公司的人員和業務模式都不會因此有什麼重大的變更。”與此同時Humble Bundle的聯合創始人 John Graham表示,整個公司以及公司中的開發人員都能從ING的支持中獲益。

效果好不好,我們會在未來的一年裏知道。不過,此後ING評測的傾向性可能會比較難掌控。總之,獨立遊戲開發領域的一個長期支柱現在有了新的老闆。

(四)近20年後,Visceral Games解散了

許多優秀的工作室都在2017年解散了,但是EA關閉Visceral Games的決定,再加上對其正在負責的《星球大戰》項目作出的改革,大家都不禁開始懷疑:單人遊戲是否正在走向消亡?

當然,答案是否定的,一個項目的改革並不能代表整個遊戲行業的趨勢。但是如果你認爲某個項目不會按照理想的方式實現,那麼你當然可以扼殺掉這個項目。就像去年10月的時候,EA宣佈將Visceral工作室之前負責開發的一款《星球大戰》相關的“線性故事冒險遊戲”改成一款“玩家會一直想回來繼續玩的遊戲”。

於是,一家自1998年以來就在製作遊戲(《未來戰警:LAPD》、《死亡空間》、《戰地:硬仗》)的工作室就此解散,該工作室此前負責的、尚未公開的這款《星球大戰》遊戲將會由EA溫哥華團隊接手。

只有當局者才知道其中的真正原因,但從表面上看,其中一個很大的原因似乎是《命運2》、《守望先鋒》和其他標價60刀的“遊戲即服務”遊戲的巨大成功。這些遊戲會讓玩家們不斷迴歸,讓玩家們不停掏腰包,而隨着它們和《DOTA2》、《大逃殺》等在線遊戲盤踞各大媒體頭條和營收榜,我們很難不把Visceral Games的解散、高預算單人冒險遊戲項目的強制轉型和“單人遊戲正在走向消亡”聯繫到一起。

(五)EA砸下4億美元收購了《泰坦隕落》的開發商Respawn

Visceral Games的關閉可能也與這一決定有關,EA今年斥資4.55億美元收購了《泰坦隕落》的開發商、EA的長期合作伙伴——Respawn Entertainment(重生娛樂)。

遊戲行業是靠金錢運作的,騰訊去年斥資86億美元收購了Supercell,動視去年斥資60億美元收購了King,雖然與這些大型併購交易相比,這筆交易的數額算不上很多,但這足以引起我們的注意。

此外,媒體報道稱EA是在Nexon首次出價收購Respawn之後才做出這一決定的,那麼這兩家似乎越來越重視“遊戲即服務”概念的大公司,爲什麼會想要收購這麼一家工作室?畢竟重生娛樂的核心產品《泰坦隕落2》屬於叫好不叫座的類型。

答案很簡單,至少對EA來說很簡單,那就是《星球大戰》。Respawn和EA合作製作《星球大戰》項目已經有一段時間了,爲了整頓《星球大戰》系列,EA似乎不惜一切代價。

上述變化在2017年已經影響到了多家工作室的許多開發人員,它們將對行業的未來產生什麼樣的影響還有待觀察。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

As the year winds down around us, it’s nice to pause for a moment, take a breath, and reflect on what we’ve come through.

So much happened in 2017 that many weeks felt like months, and some months felt like years. Within the game industry we saw grand openings, grand closings, big debuts and seismic shifts in the business of making games.

In looking back over Gamasutra’s coverage of 2017, we found five big events that seem likely to influence the shape of the game industry for years to come. Many were key parts of larger trends that defined the game industry in 2017, and so here we give them their due and reflect on what effect they’ve had on how people make and sell games.

Nintendo makes a big splash with the Switch

Nintendo’s Switch wasn’t the only new console to launch this year, but it was the only one most devs were talking about. This time last year a lot of industry analysts were cautiously optimistic about the Switch’s potential, and that was borne out in spades as Nintendo proceeded to sell out stock and ship over 10 million units worldwide to date.

The Switch’s popularity is a big deal for Nintendo, and it’s proven to be a boon (thanks in part to the relatively straightforward porting process) for developers looking to get their games in front of an audience.

As it grows ever more difficult to get noticed on overcrowded game markets like Steam, PSN/Xbox Live, and Apple’s App Store, the Switch’s barren storefront has given devs room to shine. At least one game sold more on Switch at launch than on all other platforms (PC/PS4/Xbox One) combined,  and many devs report outsized success on the system.

It’s unclear how long this can continue. The number of Switch game releases seems to grow larger every week, even as big-budget game companies like Square Enix, Bandai Namco, and (presumably) Electronic Arts slowly turn to focus more heavily on Nintendo’s latest.

But in 2017, at least, the outstanding success of the Switch (which Grasshopper’s Goichi “Suda51″ Sudacalled “a punk console” made by someone who “must have something wrong with them”) seems to have been nothing but good news for the industry at large.

Goodbye Steam Greenlight, Hello Steam Direct

Valve made some significant changes to Steam this year, and one of the most impactful seems to have been replacing the community-powered Steam Greenlight with a new, fee-based submission system: Steam Direct.

The announcement alone provoked a lot of important discussion among devs about what a game distribution platform should be in 2017. Ought it cost a fee to put your game on the market? How much do you charge to dissuade the smallest share of devs and the largest number of asset-flippers and copycats? Should market submissions require approval by paid evaluators? By the public? By anyone at all?

For Valve, the respective answers seem to be: yes, $100 per game (recoupable), and a submissions processthat involves a bit of paperwork and a cursory review by Valve. The (relatively) modest submission fee seems to have mollified many devs who got spooked by talk the Steam Direct fee could be as high as $5,000, but it’s not clear that it’s had much effect on the “noise” in Steam’s submission pipeline.

Steam Direct has been live for five months, and while Valve seems to have achieved its stated goal of making the process of getting on Steam more straightforward, it’s hard to say whether Direct has done (or will do) much to quiet the cacophony of games screaming for attention and money on Steam’s storefront.

IGN buys Humble Bundle

The folks at Humble Bundle surprised many of us this year by announcing that, after seven years in business, the bundle company built by indies would be acquired by IGN for a (still) undisclosed sum.

This is a big deal because shake-ups at Humble are likely to reverberate through the indie game industry. The company has expanded well beyond its (still significant) bundling business to now publish games, pay devs to make games for its subscription-based monthly game club, operate asubscription-based online game trove, and run an online game marketplace.

However, when the deal was announced back in October IGN exec Mitch Galbraith told Gamasutra that “the idea is just to feed [Humble] with the resources they need to keep doing what they’re doing.” Meanwhile, Humble cofounder John Graham suggested the company — and perhaps, by extension, the devs it works with – would benefit from having the support of IGN.

We’ll see how that bears out in the year ahead. Regardless, editorial types at IGN now have more to worry about when it comes to disclosures — and a longstanding pillar of the indie game dev industry now has new owners.

After nearly 20 years, Visceral Games shuts down

Many good studios met their end this year, but Electronic Arts’ decision to close Visceral Games and overhaul its big Star Wars project was especially notable because of how it prompted the game industry to ask: are single-player games dying?

The answer, of course, is no. You can’t kill an idea. But you definitely can kill a project because you think it won’t work out the way you want it to, which is basically what EA seemed to do when it announced back in October that it was changing the Star Wars game Visceral had been working on from a “story-based, linear adventure game” to more of ”an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come.”

With that, a studio that had been in business of making games (Future Cop: LAPD, Dead Space, Battlefield Hardline) since 1998 was effectively shut down as its big project was handed over to a network of EA teams led by EA Vancouver.

Dead Space protagonist Isaac Clarke demonstrating the grim work of carving up an unfinished project

Only those involved know all the reasons why, but from outside it sure looks like one of the big ones was the rampant success of Destiny 2, Overwatch, and other $60 ”games-as-a-service” titles. These are games that keep players coming back, keep players paying, and as they (alongside other live game mainstays like Dota 2 and the newly ascendant PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) dominate headlines and earnings calls it’s hard not to see the death of Visceral Games and its planned big-budget single-player adventure as a portent of things to come.

Electronic Arts drops a cool half-billion on Titanfall dev Respawn

Electronic Arts’ decision to close Visceral Games may also have been influenced by the fact that it apparently put up as much as $455 million this year to acquire Titanfall creator (and longtime EA partner) Respawn Entertainment.

The game industry runs on money, and while EA’s decision to spend roughly half a billion to snap up Respawn isn’t quite as hefty as some big buys in previous years (Tencent spending ~$8.6 billion on Supercell last year, Activision buying King for ~$6 billion the year prior), it’s enough to make us sit up and take notice.

The fact that EA reportedly made the decision after Nexon first offered to buy Respawn is even more intriguing; what do these big companies, which seem ever more focused on games as a service, see in a studio whose latest game appears to have been critically acclaimed but commercially overlooked? A game that (unlike its predecessor and most triple-A games) shipped with a critically-lauded single-player campaign packed withinteresting, one-off mechanics?

The answer, at least for EA, may be as simple as Star Wars. Respawn has been working on a Star Wars project with EA for some time, and here at the end of the year it sure looks as though EA has moved heaven and earth (and budgets, and projects, and people) to make sure its Star Wars ducks are all in a row.

These shifts affected scores of developers across multiple studios this year. What effect they’ll have on the industry going forward remains to be seen. (Source:gamasutra.com