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电子游戏价值编辑本段回目录

去年在Game-Wisdom播客中,我们讨论了游戏行业中的游戏设计质量的过度饱和问题,以及进行客观游戏评价的问题。我们所见到数学发行和销售的崛起的同时,电子游戏价值却在每况愈下,这是行业最大优势之中的一个问题。

客观vs主观价值

与任何消费者产品行业一样,决定产品货币价值的因素有二:主观价值和客观价值。

主观价值是消费者对产品的看法,例如:它看起来如何或者它是否属于流行品牌?

客观价值则涉及产品的技术或固定值层面——产品是否稀有或者属于质量最佳者之一?

例如,让我们看看经典汽车市场以及这两个价值的重要性。在1980年以前,汽车市场很庞大,拥有许多价值上千、上万或数百万倍于其最初价值的汽车。

主观地说,经典汽车的车主喜欢的是老式车的风格和美学设计。而现在人们已经不再推出像70年代大功率高速汽车这种设计,想要这种款式的车主只能通过这一市场获得。

客观来说,虽然这些保存完整的车子所拥有的马力和功能并不能与现代车相提并论,但它们的稀有性令其抬高了身价。

很显然,我们提到身价数百万美元的车子时,主要指的是拥有较高主观和客观价值的汽车,例如法拉利或原版Shelby Cobras。这些车拥有惊人的设计,出众的品牌,并且是以当代最佳材质制作而成。

同时考虑主观和客观价值,我们就可以看到汽车是如何以其定价门槛来保持自身价值和市场地位。

不幸的是在游戏行业,我们更难决定游戏的价值。

Tomb-Raider-3(from gamasutra)

Tomb-Raider-3(from gamasutra)

主观性的玩法

电子游戏行业最棒的一个方面就在于游戏设计的多样性与自由性。我们可能拥有分割游戏的题材,但却没有多少元素是一款电子游戏所“必需”的。

随着行业的成长,我们看到题材如何借用其他作品的机制和系统来创造一些惊人之作。例如,《Souls》系列结合ARPG和rogue式设计,《军团要赛2》中的Meta游戏设计。

但是,这却产生了一个定义电子游戏价值的问题,例如:你如何为玩法加上一个客观价值?

现在,重要的是我们要分清自己并不是在讨论关于游戏的漏洞、控制方式或连接性等技术层面的问题,而是玩法问题。

当我们严格讨论游戏设计的时候,就会发现不存在游戏设计的客观判断。例如:有没有什么客观方式确定《New Super Mario Bros U》或《超级食肉男孩》是因玩法而成为更棒的2D平台游戏?

在任何行业,制作产品的材料或部件都可以增加客观价值:可以输出400马力的引擎客观上的确优于只能输出200的引擎。但在游戏设计中,我们却没有什么考核玩法的客观方法。

虽然图像是质量的一个主要决定因素,但图像力量与美学之间还是存在一个足以让我们另起一文来讨论的巨大差别。我们可以找到许多拥有很棒美学价值的游戏案例(游戏邦注:如《Bastion》、《生化奇兵:无限》)以及那些拥有美观图像但却没有真正风格的游戏(如《死亡空间3》、《使命召唤》等)。

每篇撰写的评论都是主观的,取决于作者自身技能水平和对设计的偏好。有位评论员水平不高所以被迫放弃游戏,而其他评论员却可能轻松闯关。

因为玩法是主观的,所以成为游戏定价的主导因素。

在90年代时,每月仅有数款游戏面世,其中的杰出之作更是少之又少了,游戏定价也一直居高不下。

我记得有个时期,新款电子游戏售价甚至可能达到70至90美元,消费者们居然也欣然接受了。

但随着过去十年数字时代的发展,游戏通俗性及质量的提升,行业中大部分的游戏主观价值暴跌,并对AAA开发领域造成实质性的影响。

市场竞争激烈

自从Steam等数字渠道问世以来,独立游戏市场就一直在成长,甚至已达到堪与AAA市场比肩的水平。由于发行的便捷性和免费游戏引擎的力量,任何掌握了一定知识的个人和团队都可以制作和发布一款电子游戏。

但市场上充斥大量好游戏,我们已经达到一个膨胀点。客观来说,如果某人想玩一款FPS,在能够找到30美元或者更廉价游戏的情况下,为什么还要去花60美元的游戏?

也有一些并不以数量取胜的公司推出的杰出作品。像任天堂和Atlus每年就只发布一些公司自主开发并且能够让维持长久价值的游戏。

此外,关注小众题材(如是战争或战略游戏)的独立开发者仍然可以推出售价40美元甚至更高的游戏。

原因就在于,这些游戏的市场实在太小了,所以其开发者能够以物以稀为贵的姿态给游戏定价。

FTL Awesome(from gamasutra)

FTL Awesome(from gamasutra)

而与NFL的独家合作也是《Madden》系列维持其高价值的一个主要因素。但是市场上大部分热门题材的游戏却并非如此。每年独立开发者和AAA工作室究竟发布了多少RPG、动作冒险和FPS游戏?

虽然每个游戏系列都有自己的死忠粉丝,他们会持续购买自己所忠爱游戏的最新版本,但由大牌游戏主导市场的年代毕竟已经过去了。因为游戏通俗性和可翻版性的加强,AAA游戏愈加难以绽放光彩。结果我们就看到大量游戏系列不得不开始取悦更广泛的用户群体(如《死亡空间》、《盗贼》、《古墓丽影》等)。

因为AAA游戏开发动辄需耗资数百万美元,发行商就会想尽一切方法回收制作和广告成本,如果某个系列销量很可观,其他发行商也会向其伸出橄榄枝。但如果独立开发者、手机和社交游戏设计师能够以较少的成本推出丰富的内容,人们就很难再花费60美元购买一款游戏了。

尽管AAA开发商和发行商表示:电子游戏价值在缩水并且将保持这一趋势。任何认为提升AAA游戏制造商零售价就可以改善情况的人无疑是傻子,因为这个市场太庞大了,并且极具主观性。

实际上我们看到的是游戏的出售价值在缩水。

过去20美元的游戏就可以视为廉价商品,消费者也不会对其质量抱有太大希望。现在我们看到售价5美元或10美元的游戏都已经具有极高的价值了。

索尼宣布向独立开发者开放PS 4平台无疑是件大事,因为让独立开发者进入家庭游戏市场将进一步向消费者证明,价格不再是游戏质量的决定因素了。

随着众筹运动的持续发展,以及游戏发行的流行解决方法,独立市场的继续成长,AAA开发者和发行商将不得不适应市场的变化,否则就将面临一个充斥大量游戏,无人理会至少售价60美元巨作的残酷市场。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Josh Bycer)

The Challenge of Appraising Game Design

by Josh Bycer

Last year on the Game-Wisdom podcast, we got onto the discussion of how over saturated the game industry is with quality game design and the problems with making objective game reviews. As we’ve seen with the rise of digital distribution and sales, the value of video games has been steadily going down and the problem is one of the game industry’s greatest strengths.

Objective vs. Subjective Value

With any consumer product industry, there are two factors that determine the monetary value of a product: The subjective value and the objective value.

Subjective value is the consumer perception of the product, with questions like: Does it look good or is it from a popular brand?

Objective value is the technical or hard coded aspects of the product — Is the product rare or are the parts of the best quality?

For an example we can look at the classic car market and how both values equate to big bucks. There is a huge market for cars before 1980 with many of them valued at several thousand, hundred thousand or millions of what they were originally worth.

Subjectively speaking, classic car owners love the style and aesthetic design of older cars. Designs like the muscle cars of the 70s aren’t being made anymore and for people who want that particular look, there is only one way to get it.

Objectively speaking, while the cars completely restored may not have the horsepower or features of today’s comparative versions, they are still incredibly rare which makes their parts have value.

Obviously, when we talk about cars worth millions of dollars we are referring to the ones that feature both high subjective and objective value, like Ferrari’s or original Shelby Cobras. These cars featured incredible designs, from a well known brand and were made with the best of the best parts for their time.

Taking both subjective and objective value into consideration, we can see how cars have pricing thresholds that help retain their value and segment the market. Someone buying a family minivan with all the features today would still spend a hell of a lot less compared to someone wanting just an original frame for a Shelby Cobra.

Unfortunately with the game industry, it is a lot harder to determine the value of games.

Grading Gameplay:

One of the best aspects of the video game industry is the variety and freedom of game design. While we may have genres that segment games together, there are very few elements that could be considered “required” in a video game.

As the industry grew, we saw how genres started to make use of mechanics and systems from other ones to create some amazing titles.  As an example, the combination of ARPG and rogue-like design in the Souls series, or Meta game design in Team Fortress 2.

Indie titles like FTL were released cheap enough to still make a profit, without losing money due to the drop in value of video games.

However, this presents a problem with defining the value of a video game, namely: How do you put an objective value on gameplay?

Now, it’s important to make the distinction that we are not talking about the technical aspect of a game such as bugs, controls, or connectivity, but the gameplay.

When we are talking strictly about game design and nothing else, there is no such thing as an objective measure of game design. For example: Are there any objective ways of determining if New Super Mario Bros U or Super Meat Boy’s gameplay makes it the better 2D platformer?

In any other industry, the parts or materials that make up a product lend themselves to adding objective value: An engine that puts out 400 horsepower is objectively better than something that only puts out 200. But with game design, there is no objective way of examining gameplay.

While graphics have been a major determining point of quality, there is a huge difference between just graphical power and aesthetics which we could spend an entire article discussing that alone. There are plenty of examples of games with a great aesthetic value (Bastion, Bioshock: Infinite) vs. a game that has great graphics but no real style to them (Dead Space 3, Call of Duty.)

Every review written is subjective, based on the writer’s own skill level and preference of design. One reviewer’s impossible level that forced them to quit, is another’s easy time that they blew through.

Games like Dark Souls with a high difficulty curve led to polarizing reviews based on the reviewer’s skill level.

Because gameplay is subjective, it has been the predominate factor in game pricing.

During the 90s when there were only a few games being released a month and even less considered amazing and in response, game prices were on the high end of the scale.

I remember a period where a new video game could cost anywhere from $70 to $90 and people were fine with that.

But as the digital age grew in the last decade and both game availability and quality grew, the subjective value of games has taken a nosedive for the majority of the industry and has caused a substantial affect on AAA development.

Too Much of a Good Thing:

The Indie market since the rise of digital distributors like Steam has grown to the point where it rivals the AAA market. Thanks to the ease of distribution and the power of free (or commercially licensed) game engines, anyone with the know-how and team can make and release a video game.

But with so many games flooding the market, we have reached a point of inflation when it comes to games. Objectively speaking, if someone wants to play a FPS, why should they spend $60 on one when they can find ones for $30 or less?

Spec Ops  was made to appear like your standard FPS on the market, however it was anything but. Yet word of mouth still did not help it in the market.

There are notable examples to this from companies that don’t flood the market. Developers like Nintendo and Atlus only release a handful of company developed titles a year that allows them to keep their value longer.

Also, Indie developers that focus on very niche genres like war games or grand strategy still put out games for $40 or more.

The reason is that the market for those games is so small that the developers can price the titles high as they are usually the only game in town.

Incidentally, the exclusivity contract with the NFL has been a major factor in the Madden series keeping their high value… at least until the newest version comes out. However the same can’t be said for the majority of popular genres on the market. How many RPGs, action-adventure and FPS games are being released each year, both from Indies and AAA?

While every series will have die-hard fans that will continue to buy the latest iteration of their favorite game, the days of being the only big name game on the market is behind us. Because of how accessible and reproducible games have become, it has made it harder for AAA games to shine. In return, we have seen a number of series altered to appeal to a wider demographic (see Resident Evil, Dead Space, Thief and Tomb Raider as examples.)

With AAA development in the millions, publishers want to do everything they can to recoup the cost of production and advertising and if one series sells incredibly well, other publishers want to capture that. But when you have Indie, mobile and social designers providing a variety of content at a fraction of the cost, it’s hard to spend $60 on just one game.

Despite what AAA developers and publishers say: The value of video games has decreased and will continue to do so. Anyone who thinks that raising the MSRP for AAA games will improve things is a fool, as the market is just too big and subjective-based for it.

Atlus is one of the few console and handheld developers that their titles retain value for a long period, thanks to their originality.

Instead we’re seeing a case where the price value for games is decreasing.

Once, $20 for a game was considered the “bargain bin” price where you knew you weren’t getting a high quality game. Today we are seeing games at $5 or $10 with amazing quality to them.

Sony’s announcement of opening up the PS4 for Indie developers was a big deal as allowing them onto the home market will further show consumers that price is no longer the determining factor of game quality.

As crowd-funding continues to grow as a popular solution for game publishing and the continuing growth of the Indie market, it will be up to AAA developers and publishers to either adapt to the changes in the market, or face a market that is too flooded with games to care about their latest $60 blockbuster.(source:gamasutra


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