Happy New Year!
So, Roger Ebert finally accepts that he “…was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place.” But, he isn’t convenced that some game, somewhere might be art, just leaves that it is possible, maybe.
Here’s a game that I have no doubt is art: Every Day The Same Dream
I knew when Amazon.com bought Reflexive that my game shoppee’s days where numbered. It is a big reason why I left Vermont and found a “real” job. Today, my instincts where proven correct, by this email:
Dear Valued Affiliate,
I wanted to write to you today to thank you for your participation in the Game Center Solution Affiliate Program and to inform you that as of June 30, 2010, Reflexive Entertainment, Inc. will be terminating the Game Center Solution Affiliate program to focus entirely on game development.
Between now and June 30, 2010, the Game Center Solution Affiliate Program will continue its business as usual. We will continue to provide web service and support and pay referral fees on every qualified sale through June 30, 2010. We will stop processing sales after that date and our agreement with you governing the Game Center Solution Affiliate Program will terminate on June 30, 2010.
You will continue to have access to the Control Center until July 31, 2010 at which time we will distribute your final royalty report to the email address we have on file and our agreement with you governing the Game Center Solution Affiliate Program will terminate. Please be sure your contact information is current in our system.
We wish you all the best and hope that we will have more opportunities to work together in the future.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO – Reflexive Entertainment, Inc.
Moral of the story: Don’t build a business based on something someone else can pull the plug on.
Imagine, there is a treasure worth $10 million buried at the bottom of a 150 foot hole. It was put there by someone who does not want anyone else to have it. There are lots of tricks, traps and other things that make getting to money next to impossible. Let’s say you have already spend $9.5 million to get 130 ft. It is the final push, the last 20 feet, but there is a problem. The final obstacle is going to cost you $700k. Do you keep going?
In business and economics, the concept of sunk costs is taught. It should be taught in all disciplines, because, no matter what endeavor you undertake, the dilemma of sunk costs will be encountered. So, what are sunk costs? Sunk costs are time, energy and money you have already spent. It’s the resources you can’t get back no matter what. The permanence of this unrecoverabilty is very important in understanding the true dilemma of sunk costs.
So, back to the Money Pit. Do you keep going? A lot of people would answer, “Yes! Absolutely! You’ve spent $9 million dollars, how could you stop!” This is faulty thinking. Those $9 million dollars are gone, spent, fineto! There is no getting them back. The question isn’t what you’ve already put into the project. The question is, what is the cost of moving forward? Is it worth investing? This is the phenomena of sunk costs. Sunk costs is the investment we’ve already made. Pyscologically, this past exerition of effort and use of resources increases our committment to the project. This committment clouds our judgement and often leads us down the path of wasted time, and money. Instead of giving up while we are ahead, those sunk costs push us further down the path, and we waste more time, energy and money.
Now, that we are aware of sunk costs what is the true decision on the treasure we are facing? Is $700k worth more or less than the treasure at the bottom of the pit? Clearly the answer is yes and we should move forward. If on the other hand we weren’t sure and there was risk involved it might not be the clear answer. If there was a good chance that no money was at the bottom of the pit, and only small chance of $10 million, you probably should just walk away.
So, next time you are facing a decision, remember. You’ve got to let the past go. You can’t get it back and if you let it cloud your judgement then you are going to find yourself pouring more and more money, time, blood, sweat, and tears into a losing proposition. Don’t believe me? Read the sad tale of 3D Realms, Duke Nukem Forever, 12 years and countless millions spent with nothing to show for it.
PS. If you are interested, the Money Pit is a real thing, check it out.
I discovered http://whitneyhess.com/blog/ thanks to http://www.gaminghorror.net/ today and watched her presentation Evangelizing Yourself. It’s interesting, and I don’t disagree with anything she said, but I do wonder if it really applies to everyone. I think programmers and game designers do blog a lot about their field, but I also think evangelizing is a goal in itself. Writing isn’t easy and promoting yourself might not be where you want to spend your time. But, you should still watch it, you learn a little about marketing and even more about networking and confidence.
I’ve opened the door to my new website Game Legend It is a place for video gamers to ask for help and help others.
The city builder game Dawn of Discovery was released at the end of June and I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about it. It even got a Metascore of 84. It seems like the kind of game I would really like. I almost purchased it but then I noticed some fine print: “TAGESTM 3 machine activation limit.” I was shocked. Some research shows that it has caused a lot of backlash, earning it 1.5 stars on Amazon.com. I wonder, how much this has hurt sales?
After some research I found some hearsay that they’ll raise the restriction if you contact them and are a legitimate user. That’s good, but it still doesn’t easy my fears. I’ve found in general that support issues like that eventual disappear and you are left hanging. I’m the kind of user that plays games for years after they’re release. I’ve installed Medieval Total War countless times. When I buy a game it is more of an investment, and an activation limit reduces its value to me. If it was only $15 to $20 then it might be worth only playing three times. I hope in a year or so it comes out on Steam without the activation limits, and it’ll probably be cheaper too.
I wonder, how will this change Ubisoft’s profit formula?
Update: I’ve heard rumors that the 1.1 patch removed the DRM, but it appears to only apply to European Retail versions.
I’ve created a new logo for the blog part of the site. What do you think? I think it looks pretty good. I guess my programmer art skills are improving. I wonder if one day I’ll graduate to the next level? I wonder what it is call?
You might also have noticed that I moved the 3rd party games I sell to there own subdomain: games.mrphilgames.com. Changes in the market place have reduced the reward of running that part of the site and so I’ll be deemphasizing it over the next few months. This is good because my energy is going into Iron Roads instead (and hopefully other strategy games titles down the road.)
I’ve also decided to use SilverLight for Iron Roads, which means you’ll be able to play it in the browser. There are two main reasons I choose this. One, is I wanted to work in C#. It is a language I know well, enjoy working in and has the benefit of all the smart people at Microsoft continually improving it and its’ tools. Second, I want the Mac People to be able to play. That’s right! SilverLight works on Apple’s browser too!
There is a sort third thing that was in the back of my mind when I made this decision. SilverLight 3.0 will have an offline mode, that will let applications install to the Start menu. So down the road people will be able to play even if they aren’t connected to the internet!
Reflexive Arcade is doing something amazing for its affiliates! They are allowing us to participate in the launch of Ricochet Infinity. This means I have a brand spanking New Release that not even Big Fish Games or PopCap have! Sweet. In honor of this special moment I’ve made Ricochet Infinity Game of the Moment! It is a pretty cool game, very polished and full of action. It makes my brain buzz. So, it is definitely worthy of the honor. Here I’ll even ad an image. That’s how excited I am! Okay… it’s late… Must… go to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.