What’s Wrong with the Business

What’s Wrong with the Business

Here at Game Theory, we make no secret about being outspoken in terms of our opinions. It’s a philosophy shared by the entire crew, who believes that video games, and the games industry, should be held to a higher standard. But if the field is ever to evolve and mature, it has to change first.  And so we put the question to several members of the team: If you could fix just one aspect of the gaming business, what would it be? Per the crew’s rather heated responses below, the answers may surprise you.

Chris Tsambis – Co-Director/Co-Producer and Founder, Abstract Pictures – “Nothing upsets me more than the ongoing conversation about whether or not games are art. It’s shocking to me how precious and protective some people can be with that ‘art’ label. It’s my suspicion that the reason for this is that if you keep the definition of such a ‘sacred’ word so narrow, you can use that definition as leverage somewhere down the road. I mean, I could get paid  to tell ‘lesser’ minds what is and isn’t art! But I digress. Here’s the deal: It’s all perception. Art is only valuable because we believe it’s valuable. Would money cease to have value just because I didn’t believe in it? No, because enough people believe it has value that their shared perception makes it an objective reality. It’s the same with art. In other words, video games are art because I perceive them as art, and that’s reality because I’m not alone in my perception. Now that we’ve settled that, please don’t ever let me hear that ridiculous conversation again.”

Eden Soto – Motion Designer, Lifelong Gamer – “If I could change one thing about the game industry, it would be the existence of third-party console exclusive perks. I can completely understand first-party exclusives (they’re necessary to drive console sales and build brand loyalty), but for third-party content providers to favor one system over another with exclusive downloadable content (DLC), timed exclusive DLC or limited editions, I think it ultimately leads to consumer frustration for choosing one system over another. If a third-party game is being released on multiple platforms, the experience should be consistent regardless of system.”

Tracy Ryan Peterson – Video Production and Founder, One Two Many –  “I firmly believe that the fastest road to success is to make games that are fun and accessible. Video game developers enjoy a luxury that they can direct media coverage by maintaining tight control over PR and marketing assets. Unfortunately, some get complacent and forget that high-quality games are most important and instead focus on “sell sell sell” as a result. Fun is paramount, accessibility secondary and marketing/franchising is absolutely the last thing that should be worried about. Hopefully one day the industry will mature enough to see these qualities as quantifiable and important. Then again, we might well see Dogs of War 46 instead, but with any luck, it will get released alongside other games that I might actually play and enjoy.”

Chris Morris, Veteran Video Game Journalist – “Personally, I’d like to see publishers give developers the green light to take more risks – and I’d like to see more gamers embracing that innovation. The industry has gotten caught up in a safe zone, where the cost of games and their chances of success at retail are the determining factor in what gets made. I get that. Really I do. But I still wish reality allowed for a little more leeway.”

Olly Quinn, Video Production – “I truly wish publishers would allow development studios to be more transparent about their process and the journey they take in making a game. In doing so, they’d engage more with the audience and non-fans alike. What Chris Taylor is doing right now with his video blogs is a wonderful example to be followed.”

Alas, we’re well aware: These tweaks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to players’ wish lists for reshaping the status quo. What other changes would you make? Reach out and tell us: Inquiring minds want to know.

About Scott Steinberg
Scott Steinberg is CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global, and a noted keynote speaker and business expert. Hailed as a top tech expert and parenting guru by critics from USA Today to NPR, he’s also an on-air analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN.


  1. The changes I’d make:

    – Game companies that realize that the teenage male isn’t, shouldn’t, won’t be their primary buying/playing audience. Players grow up and it’s time the images games present us do the same.

    – Game companies that realize that technical breakthroughs aren’t as important as good storytelling. I’d take a well-told story in 16 colors before a no-story, latest-technology game anytime.

    – Gamers that realize that other gamers are women, people of color, not their age, not from their country, not heterosexual, etc. and talk in-game (or in forums) in a way that acknowledges the existence of other realities. For a good example, see the Real Name debate at Blizzard : people who understood what an issue publishing real names could be for women, non-heterosexual, people who don’t want their boss to know they’re playing WoW, people who don’t want to be harassed in real life like they may be in game… they got it. The ones who said “Well, if you’ve got something to hide…” They didn’t get it.

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