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You would think the big studios function this way, but they don't. Movie studios produce a range of content. Tent pole movies sustain other movies, and it's all give and take up and down the chain.
TS: But you never know. Because as much as you might say you know what's going to be a hit, no one really knows.
LP: I mean that's the story of Easy Rider and most of the '70s. It was like, "That's a hit? Where'd that come from?"
To me it seems odd that there aren't more -- I mean you're starting to see some of it... The cost of any boxed game... They may think these smaller games are risky but when they're spending 1 million or 2 million dollars on a small game. Okay, so maybe the market's still evolving and there aren't a lot of people who make money on that. The most you're going to lose is half that, or whatever, potentially.
But the bare minimum for any boxed game that's going to sell seems like it's in that sort of 15, 20 million dollar range. And it's really hard to even break even. So, to me, it seems like if there's an evolving market, this is the time to try and get quality developers involved in it.
Not to imply that indie guys aren't quality, but it's a different range of games you can make with a full experienced dev team than a couple of guys with Flash experience. And I think they should have a place at the table too, but it'd be nice for us to expand that range a little bit and see all the different things that can be done in that space.
And to me, if I were a publisher, I'd be making some more bets there, because the potential downside is much smaller to the potential upside I think, especially if you're trying to get involved in a market.
You talked about your desire to appeal to a lot of people. And I think that because publishers are hedging their bets with the big boxed games now, you're going to see, if anything, less of an attempt to appeal to a wide variety of people with boxed games, and more of a concentration.
Especially if there's the perception, "Oh, people are going to iPhone, people are going to Facebook." This concentration is going to just hone in on whatever the publisher thinks their target demographic is.
LP: The problem always has been that, that's usually the same "18 to 34 year old male" hardcore action twitch audience. And that's great. I mean, I enjoy playing those games too, but there's only so many games that audience will buy. And it may be more than my grandma, but they're not going to buy the flood of games all coming out in that space.
Especially if they can play the Call of Duty multiplayer for a year before the next one comes out. And not really have to worry about playing anything else in between that's like that.
TS: I just feel like we're on the mission to reach people who are not being reached by games right now. Whenever I think of like, "Who would really like Stacking?", a lot of it is someone who's in the house of the gamer, you know what I mean? There's someone who has the Xbox or the PlayStation and they're playing games, but there's someone else in the house not playing games. And my hunch is always that person will be the one who would like Costume Quest or Stacking, and I would love to draw that person over towards the box and get them playing.
You think someone might show this off to their girlfriend? God, that sounds like such a stereotype. I was trying not to say that, but I couldn't!
TS: Yeah, but we got that so much with Costume Quest. Like, "Oh my God, my girlfriend, my wife loves this game." It is a stereotype, but it's one that it's great to be on the side of getting them playing it.
LP: Yeah, it's not like we're exploitively targeting a particular demographic. I really didn't want to think the game in terms of like, "Okay, it's 12 to 14 year old males!" I was like, "No, it's someone who wants this type of experience. That could be male, female, it could be any age." And I think a lot of those ways of describing the marketplace are a bit antiquated.
I've come back to this frequently, and I've talked to about it. You don't hear quite as much anymore -- "core versus casual". That is not really a very helpful distinction. At all.
LP: It doesn't really mean anything. I think there are certain qualities... Really what you're trying to encapsulate is qualities that aren't necessarily always paired together. It's tricky.
A developer I was speaking to told me about difficulties with marketing on a game, a boxed product. Even though the developer has experience drawing in people of different demographics and different interest levels, or different genders, they've been instructed to ignore that and concentrate on giving the game "more violence and tits", essentially.
LP: Even if you said we're going to target the core male audience, there's a lot more to it than those sort of like sophomoric, frat boy descriptions of the audience. There are other things than just tits and violence. I mean, I'm fine with tits and violence, too, in some games, but there's more depth to the 18 to 34 year old male audience, there's a lot other stuff there.
TS: I was an 18 to 34 year old male at one point.
LP: In 1960.
TS: I was fucking deep, let me tell you.
LP: But even the movies that target them, they're not all the same mold of movies; there's other stuff you can do there. You kind of feel like it's just an excuse... It's not even really a form of risk aversion, it's not really thought out well. It's just sort of a kneejerk thing to say, I guess. Even from a publisher standpoint of, "Fine, we're going to target this demographic."