People, including Miles Jacobson, kindly mentioned that in its day my Football Manager was innovative in concept and design. There was nothing else like it and it set a new direction and genre of games. I was unfettered by having to match what is popular, and trying to vary on that. Before smart phones came along and disrupted the games industry business models there was a lot of “playing safe” with designs. It’s understandable. If you are investing millions into a game development, then you want to be sure of a return on it. Whilst being radical in design will perhaps (that is the point, perhaps!) produce a better game, playing safe and cloning a current games model will at least guarantee that a percentage of the market will like it.
I didn’t have to play safe then and I don’t have to play safe now. I am not trying to copy anything else, I am just trying to produce something I am proud of, and to my own standards. It’s pretty damned healthy motivation actually!
I was running the company selling Football Manager, we had a number of companies distributing our product. It was not an easy environment because the whole industry was new, nobody had a track record you could check.
I hired a woman in sales and she found a new distributor for the game. They wanted to order 3,000 units, a nice starter order! But they wanted to be on credit and pay later (typically 60 to 90 days later!). I told my new sales woman that we must get cash up front for the first order as a sign of goodwill and that they are solvent – with no track record for companies because they were new, you could not credit check them.
She went back to the company and came back to me “They won’t do cash up front it’s against their company policy”. I reminded her it only applied to their first order and insisted. The distributor would not budge on this.
My sales woman said to me “I got the sale for 3,000 units and you are blocking it!”. I stuck to my policy. What happened next was interesting. My saleswoman was busy overnight and the next morning as I walked in, 3,000 units were stacked and boxed in reception with the distributors address on it. I didn’t budge and had to step over those boxes every day for 3 weeks.
What happened after 3 weeks? The distributor went into liquidation.
My sales woman never argued with my policies again!!
I have had my own intellectual property pirated(I have heard all the excuses and justifications). It’s tough to take, but, the solution being put through the US law process at the moment is wrong. It will mess with the Internet and damage freedom of expression. Big, powerful companies will exploit it to bully and get what they want, just as they do now with Patents etc.
Why should it be? Because we are surrounded right now by doomsayers. The demise of the Euro, global recession, austerity measures, no future for young people, the coming year will be the worst, etc etc.
Let’s make a football analogy. If you send your team out saying they are going to lose and there is no hope, what will happen? They will lose.
But what if you say the other team is vulnerable, that if we raise our game we can beat them. Then you might just win.
The point is, inspirational leadership is needed. And we lack that right now. Leaders yes, no inspirational leaders.
So I think we have to lead ourselves. My resolution for 2012- try and see the positives and ignore the gloom merchants!! Have a great year!
It’s going to put us all through a decision. Apple are well under way with it for iOS and many other companies are adopting it. – Putting all our files on remote servers(the Cloud). Then we can synchronise different machines from it, our files are available everywhere, and when our computer fails, we don’t have to panic about whether we backed up.
But, all of our files held by someone else? Can we trust them? What if they misuse our files? What if THEY lose them? Some of these things have already happened.
I’ll tell you what I think – we’ll have to treat it like banking. We put our money in banks for them to look after for us. We trust them, but they do fail. So we spread the money around different banks to reduce the risk, and we keep some at home too, for emergencies.
So spread, and duplicate too, your important files into different clouds. Keep critical copies at home. And always think about what happens when your Cloud supplier(Bank), no matter how unlikely, fails!!
I do believe games creation is an art form, a technical art form. We are in an era now, where there are similarities to when I started writing games. Individuals are writing and publishing games themselves. Of course people have always continued to do that, with flash games for example. But often for no financial return. It’s a romantic idea the struggling artist, but it’s not great for productivity and continued output.
The ‘someone publishing for me’ is a model that has been around for a while too. Sadly I have seen many cases where that did not work too, with artists not being paid having made sometime millions for their publishers.
Maybe in this Internet enabled world we are going to see viable self publishing models develop. What a great boost for artistic output it will be if we get that to work.
I have recently been reading about app entrepreneurs- those who have made their businesses based around the App Store. It’s now evolved to the state where people are wondering where it’s going to go from here. Judging by my experience in the early computer games market it will start consolidating now. – Some companies will combine to gain economies of scale, and some, with weaker ideas and products, who just jumped on the bandwagon of the App Store, will disappear. Over time the market will have the stronger and the better.
But, there are differences. It’s possible to have an app in the App Store without doing much investment in it. It can just tick over and be present. So the company selling it can continue quietly.
And, whatever happens, it’s still great that individual developers with great ideas can sell direct to their customers at a low distribution cost, and therefore they don’t have to sell themselves to a publisher to get their ideas to market.
Someone asked me yesterday about the programming languages I know. They said “you’ve used a lot of programming languages” – I have – ” which one is your strongest?”. Objective C was my answer, the language for developing on the iPhone using XCode. But, of course I have done years of Java, it’s just that Objective C is my current language, so that is freshest. But you can’t forget all that Java. And the Android uses it, which will be interesting in the future. It seems likely that those two formats, iPhone, and Android are going to dominate the mobile market. Whilst the iPhone is great, and Apple have done a great job in many aspects with it, experience tells me that we all do better with some healthy competition.
At present Apple is definitely in the driver’s seat but Google Android will catch up fast, and that will prevent Apple getting lazy like Microsoft did with Internet Explorer etc. Consumers will benefit.
This has been rejected by the Premier League. It is something that often comes up. No other clubs besides these 2 have won the Scottish League for 24 years! Basically, it’s like having Chelsea and Manchester United permanently playing in League One. When you realise that, you have to have sympathy with the Old Firm. There’s a lack of real competition and a lack of revenue.
It’s a problem for all of the big clubs across Europe. They are all businesses, and their aim is to make the maximum profit. They get that most by playing other big teams. So the best thing for their success and prosperity is a European league of the big clubs and to leave their national competitions. Celtic and Rangers would join that in an instant. But there is a problem that comes from this..
..It’s the problem that afflicts the Premier League. Once you get into that top competition your club makes the most money and gets bigger. And the same is true for the other 19 clubs. So you have 20 successful businesses together and if they leave that league they will lose a lot of money. So much so that the Premier League provides parachute payments to soften the blow.
So what is the problem then? The teams inside the Premier League want to pull up the ladder and keep the competition for themselves, banning promotion and relegation. Of course they want that, it is best for their businesses. But it is not best for Football. It’s only the Football Association and FIFA that are preventing this happening. The clubs would do it given the chance. Probably a closed Premier League, then a European League, then a World League. And only the top clubs in it and barriers to entry from smaller clubs.
Promotion and relegation is what makes league competitions so much fun, and it needs to be preserved. Without relegation from top leagues the top clubs will become slack because they have nothing to fear.
But, maybe a real European League, as the next step above the National Leagues, with promotion and relegation, is the way the future will go.
It took me a long time to decide to add donations to my website. But, I am an independent games developer like many others, and it seemed a good idea. Why is it a good idea? To make money? – That is only a distant possibility. What finally triggered me was listening to Richard Stallman talking on the radio about funding creative people. He described how good it would be if, when we liked something, a piece of music, a book, or computer games, etc, that we could then send $1 to the author. Not to a corporation, a record company, a publisher, just direct to the author.
It’s certainly what I would like to do when I like something. But he also highlighted that there is no infrastructure, no way to do it, no way to get the money through. What is needed is some kind of donations account which you can use easily with accessible creative artist identities so you can choose who you are donating to, and do so cheaply.
As far as I can see Paypal donations is the best way currently to do so. Until someone creates a donations bank that is the best there is. So now I am in the system, I am taking donations to fund me to continue writing more games, or as recognition for the entertainment my games have provided you in the past. Thank you.