Godfather: The Game

My friend from EA got me into a focus group to do a bit of playtesting of Godfather: The Game (the EBgames product page says it is due for release in October). While I can't say anything about what I saw (say "NDA" with me!), I can say that the experience of seeing a game before its release is quite cool. To be able to provide feedback to the developers, and to hopefully see some of that incorporated into the game.

They set us up (there were about eight of us), let us run through some of the game, and then asked us a lot of questions. I'm hoping that with all the games that I've played, that I was able to provide some detailed and coherent feedback.

Especially if it means they ask me back for more playtesting :-)

Platform Exclusives

I think that "platform exclusives" are a dying breed. One of the few reasons that I powered on my old PS2 was to play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Or maybe a round of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy with a few friends. Of course, as an Xbox Man, I enjoyed all of its exclusives such as Halo, Morrowind, and most recently Jade Empire.

But in the future? There will be much fewer. Most of the "exclusive" Xbox titles have been ported to the PC (no wonder given the similar architecture between an Xbox and a PC). But I'm also talking about crossovers between the Playstation series of consoles and the Xbox series of consoles. (go sit in the corner if you thought, "what about the Gamecube?")

Consider the economics of the situation. Game development costs are rising. Let's say you spend $5 million to produce a game. You get $4 million for selling it into each of the Xbox and PS markets. Net profit of $3 million. Sweet! But if you go exclusive, then you lose a million bucks. Of course, exclusive deals occur because the platform vendor pays the developer to make it that way. Let's say Microsoft pays the developer $2 million to be exclusive. Fine, they turn a profit of a million bucks. But they are still short of the multi-platform profit!

As game development costs continue to rise, game developers will have to go cross-platform to recoup those costs. As a corollary, it will cost the platform manufacturers more and more money to "buy off" the exclusivity, so they will be less inclined to do this over time (particularly for "first time out" titles that are unproven). That said, it is also possible to argue that the platform vendors will have more money overall, so they have more money to buy off developers. Possibly. But the idea is to turn a profit. If they sink their new-found profits into payoffs, then they really aren't ahead, now are they?

Take a look around. More games recently are multi-platform. With these new generation consoles and their huge capacity for visuals and artwork and animation capabilities, they are going to move dev costs through the roof. Just watch: next-gen games will tend to be cross-platform.

Goodbye, garage game developer.

Buy a PS3?

So I'm definitely going to get an Xbox 360 when it comes out, but a friend asked me an interesting question a couple days ago:
Are you going to get a PS3 when it's released?
Tough one. I used to own a PS2, along with my Xbox. After I realized that 99% of my gaming was occurring on the Xbox (except for GTA or DBZ), then I went ahead and sold off the PS2.

However, a recent AnandTech article (an an interesting ArsTechnica followup) said that the two systems might be roughly equal in terms of power for this go-round. If they are about the same, then I could easily see owning and using both consoles.

It is really going to depend on "is there a game available only for the PS3 that I just have to play?" For the Xbox, that was Morrowind. As the PS3 release approaches, I'll just have to see what's up...