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Aspyr problems (aka disturbance in the workforce)


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#21 jackdawsson

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 04:33 AM

View PostJanichsan, on December 19th 2008, 11:05 AM, said:

I think the million was just for HL2. For the whole Orange Box, he'd probably ask for $5 million. I suppose, he'd buy hamburgers for all that money.
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Yeah, he may well be a greedy b*****d  :)  but, frankly, if I was in charge of Apple I'd still have tried to negotiate a deal here, maybe giving him, let's say, $2 million. That's still some serious money for any game developer. But what would that amount mean to Apple?  At that time, not even nearly the annual return of interest on their reported $25 billion.  

Then I'd have invested (I think that's the right word) a few million more & brought the likes of Activision on board to port all the Total War games to Mac. Then how about releasing a mid-tower Mac? Then maybe other game developers starting climbing on board, etc. Then things could really start mushrooming.  PC/Mac gamers don't only buy games, but lots of other software for their chosen platform.

Most gamers look for computers with reasonable upgradeability, but understandably reject the Mac Pro as too expensive & complete overkill. A Mac mid-tower would also appeal to gamers more so than an iMac, as it would to some non-gaming Mac users as well. I know the bigger picture here is obvious & that Apple won't ever do it with Jobs at the helm, but in future, you never know.  Going by current rumours, I wouldn't put money on Jobs still being Apple's CEO in 5 years time & I won't exactly be crestfallen when he goes (obviously hopefully to go on to live a long life, rather than expiring).

#22 teflon

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 06:05 AM

what I wouldve done is bought Valve just because he insulted me and force them to make games based around kittens and watermelons.
when gabe inevitably leaves to create a new company, rinse lather and repeat. once he retiresm have them all make decent games again.
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#23 jackdawsson

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 06:41 AM

Maybe add a few (sour) grapes & a human-eating hamburger or two to those "games based around kittens and watermelons".   :)  It could be a wonderful idea for an iPhone game.

#24 the Battle Cat

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 02:33 PM

Wasn't Pacman based on Gabe Newell touring the Necco Wafer factory?
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#25 The Liberator

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 05:33 PM

Oh, that would have been funny if right now, Mac gaming was not dying at all, but had the upper hand, as it owned Activision, Valve, and maybe something else. OH, that would be funny, as as all of the little girls would love Valve for ever!!!

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#26 hambone

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:13 AM

View Postcharmin, on December 19th 2008, 08:37 AM, said:

OH MY GOD IT'S THE END OF MAC GAMING!
No, the end of Mac gaming was when BootCamp came out.

What you are seeing here are "the embers."

iPhone gaming, on the other hand, is fabulous.

#27 jackdawsson

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:38 AM

Despite all wishful thinking for it to be otherwise, something that was quite foreseeable at the time. Even if only 5%-10% of Mac gamers resorted to Boot Camp, the writing would be on the wall for some already financially-pressed Mac developers.  :(  I guess that the true figure for those Boot Camping it is probably much higher than 10%.

#28 Brad Oliver

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:18 PM

View Postjackdawsson, on December 21st 2008, 10:38 AM, said:

Despite all wishful thinking for it to be otherwise, something that was quite foreseeable at the time. Even if only 5%-10% of Mac gamers resorted to Boot Camp, the writing would be on the wall for some already financially-pressed Mac developers.  :(  I guess that the true figure for those Boot Camping it is probably much higher than 10%.

First, from which orifice are these percentages originating?

Second, and at the risk of getting myself in trouble, I'll speculate that a non-insignificant portion of the problem Aspyr has encountered stems from a lack of focus on the Mac (and some of our traditional PC port work) at the expense of branching out to avoid being blindsided by a Boot Camp exodus that seems to have in hindsight not been all that bad. Irony or just bad luck? Someone should ask Alanis.

Case in point: I was told the other day that Call of Duty 4 is selling like the proverbial hotcakes for us. It's a year old and excludes low-end graphics cards even.
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#29 Brad Oliver

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:28 PM

View Posthambone, on December 21st 2008, 10:13 AM, said:

iPhone gaming, on the other hand, is fabulous.

My personal opinion? iPhone gaming is flooded. Perhaps this is good for the iPhone owner, but I don't believe it's a great market to be in unless you shipped a quality game on Day One and got into Apple ads. ;) The ratio of crap to good on the iPhone now is a very large number, which doesn't bode well for most developers. The gold rush has clearly passed.

It's further complicated because use of OpenGL for any sustained amount of time drains the battery pretty quickly, so your game must be casual and the inputs must be fairly simple and limited. I actually think iPhone gaming is a lot like Wii gaming - everyone has one and the games are of roughly the same quality and novelty. ;)

Snarkiness aside, I think it's good for Apple because it gives them a great foundation to build upon for the future, and clearly an investment in the platform now will pay off if Apple can take the hint and build on this with future iPhones/iPhone-like devices.
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#30 devSin

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:50 PM

View Postlala, on December 22nd 2008, 09:18 PM, said:

Second, and at the risk of getting myself in trouble, I'll speculate that a non-insignificant portion of the problem Aspyr has encountered stems from a lack of focus on the Mac (and some of our traditional PC port work) at the expense of branching out to avoid being blindsided by a Boot Camp exodus that seems to have in hindsight not been all that bad. Irony or just bad luck? Someone should ask Alanis.
This sounds more accurate (and is definitely more palatable than these "If I were Apple" posts, barf). I would wonder if the percentage of Boot Camp users is higher simply from the total absence of MacSoft and Aspyr (Boot Camp's existence isn't driving users to it; you guys are)?

I might dispute Aspyr diversifying mainly because of some fear of a mass exodus (as opposed to the natural evolution of business and the promise of the $), though; I'm sure it makes a great excuse now that the lack of overwhelming success can be shown, but I think there's more than simple circumstance behind Mac-first one day and Mac-'whenever we can get to it' the next (it doesn't sound at all a cautionary principle to just completely shake things up on an arbitrary date because something somewhere might be different at some time possibly maybe).

#31 Brad Oliver

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 12:22 AM

View PostdevSin, on December 22nd 2008, 10:50 PM, said:

This sounds more accurate (and is definitely more palatable than these "If I were Apple" posts, barf). I would wonder if the percentage of Boot Camp users is higher simply from the total absence of MacSoft and Aspyr (Boot Camp's existence isn't driving users to it; you guys are)?

That's not an unreasonable scenario. A lack of Mac titles from us in the recent past certainly doesn't help. It's of course hard to say with any certainty but that's no reason to stop endless speculation. :)

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I might dispute Aspyr diversifying mainly because of some fear of a mass exodus (as opposed to the natural evolution of business and the promise of the $), though; I'm sure it makes a great excuse now that the lack of overwhelming success can be shown, but I think there's more than simple circumstance behind Mac-first one day and Mac-'whenever we can get to it' the next (it doesn't sound at all a cautionary principle to just completely shake things up on an arbitrary date because something somewhere might be different at some time possibly maybe).

I may be exaggerating a bit about Boot Camp as a motivating factor, sure (see armchair quarterbacking, above). Aspyr is not a large company compared to many so a move to non-Mac work (for growth, or promise of $ or whatever) means a not-insignificant shift internally. Remember that unlike your average game studio that develops for a larger publisher (e.g.Activision) we do take care of QA, packaging, publishing and retail distribution for most of what we take on.

In any event, perhaps my opinion is better phrased that we tried to reach for greater heights and simply fell short. I suspect we'll try again in the future and learn from this, but I see a "return to basics" strategy taking shape and that *does* excite me. As I said earlier, our Mac team is more or less intact and our plate appears to have much more on it for next year than this past one.
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#32 jackdawsson

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 05:13 AM

View PostArtist Formerly Known As Brad Ol, on December 23rd 2008, 05:18 AM, said:

First, from which orifice are these percentages originating?

I think those figures come from my conservative orifice  ;)  &, funnily enough (be it indirectly), from one of your colleagues. I  believe it was Glenda who said last year that despite the introduction of Boot Camp, Aspyr's Mac sales were stable, neither up nor down. In a way, a disingenuous comment, though probably not intended.  As a seasoned observer, my figures are a reasonable deduction suggesting otherwise.

Quote

Second, and at the risk of getting myself in trouble, I'll speculate that a non-insignificant portion of the problem Aspyr has encountered stems from a lack of focus on the Mac (and some of our traditional PC port work) at the expense of branching out to avoid being blindsided by a Boot Camp exodus that seems to have in hindsight not been all that bad. Irony or just bad luck? Someone should ask Alanis.
But surely the reasons for Aspyr doing this are germane to my point? Let's not just "speculate", but look at some facts.  

Before the switch to Intel (circa 2005), Steve Jobs cited the Mac user base to be about 19 million.  When Glenda made her comment, that user base had grown to well over 20 million. Now it's about 25 million. So one of 3 things is happening for Mac game sales not to be increasing as incrementally as the Mac user base.

1. Most of the millions of switchers from PC to Mac never game on their Macs - I think that's highly unlikely.
2. As older Mac gamers abandon gaming completely, just as many - no more, no less - gaming switchers buy Mac games rather than Boot Camping it - again, most unlikely as it relies too much on the coincidence of parity of numbers assumed to be joining & leaving.
3. That most switchers to Mac have continued gaming via Windows & are now being joined by more older Mac gamers doing likewise. But only now are Mac developers feeling the full effect of that loss, the damage done by Boot Camp & are slowing development for the platform as a consequence.

I think the latter point seems to make the most sense.  For eg., "Imperial Glory" on Mac (a 2-yr old game) is selling here in the UK for 29.99 (the cheapest I can find). On PC, the same game new is only 2.99. That's 27 or about $40 difference!  Even though I don't Boot Camp it (YET) & already have the Mac version, which copy would I buy if I'd already had Windows on my Mac?  You guessed right.  My loyalty would be firmly to my wallet.  I think that's what we're seeing generally with gaming on the Mac, as evidenced by all the growing Windows-gaming threads on most Mac fora. Gaming on the Mac is doing well & will continue to do so as Apple improves GPUs on all Macs.  Mac gaming (something different) isn't doing well, not least thanks to Boot Camp.

Quote

Case in point: I was told the other day that Call of Duty 4 is selling like the proverbial hotcakes for us. It's a year old and excludes low-end graphics cards even.

Sorry, but one game's word-of-mouth sales really means very little, even less so without figures.  :)  It's like saying to people "look, Mac gaming is doing great! The Sims sold well over 100,000!" blah, blah, when the truth is that most Mac games don't reach anywhere near those figures (according to MW's Peter Cohen, who regularly talks to people in the industry).

#33 teflon

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 06:08 AM

Glenda previously said that a good selling port will hit around 50,000 units sold. Of course, stuff like The Sims and CoD4 will sell quite a bit in excess of that. So long as Aspyr can pull in these big big titles, theyll do fine.
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#34 DaveyJJ

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:34 AM

View Postteflon, on December 23rd 2008, 07:08 AM, said:

Glenda previously said that a good selling port will hit around 50,000 units sold. Of course, stuff like The Sims and CoD4 will sell quite a bit in excess of that. So long as Aspyr can pull in these big big titles, theyll do fine.

I'll be curious though to see, given that EA went with Transgaming/Cider for Spore and not a favoured external porting house like Aspyr, whether they do the same with the upcoming blockbuster (sales-wise) Sims 3. Why not just do it in-house again and save the hassle? Guarantees simultaneous launch, hybrid disks etc etc.

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#35 charmin

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:50 AM

Simultaneous launch? That's hardly a guarantee, given EA's track record with Cider.

Also, you guys are experts at pulling facts out of your arses and using them to back up your arguments. Arguments that I can't find a reason for sitting down and taking the time to type out.

For every vaguely interesting post here, there are 10 that are pointless and misguided speculation, and then one rant from me.

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#36 jackdawsson

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:56 AM

View Postcharmin, on December 23rd 2008, 02:50 PM, said:

Also, you guys are experts at pulling facts out of your arses and using them to back up your arguments.

That's just so... charming.  :cool:

#37 Brad Oliver

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:03 AM

View Postjackdawsson, on December 23rd 2008, 04:13 AM, said:

Before the switch to Intel (circa 2005), Steve Jobs cited the Mac user base to be about 19 million.  When Glenda made her comment, that user base had grown to well over 20 million. Now it's about 25 million. So one of 3 things is happening for Mac game sales not to be increasing as incrementally as the Mac user base.

1. Most of the millions of switchers from PC to Mac never game on their Macs - I think that's highly unlikely.
2. As older Mac gamers abandon gaming completely, just as many - no more, no less - gaming switchers buy Mac games rather than Boot Camping it - again, most unlikely as it relies too much on the coincidence of parity of numbers assumed to be joining & leaving.
3. That most switchers to Mac have continued gaming via Windows & are now being joined by more older Mac gamers doing likewise. But only now are Mac developers feeling the full effect of that loss, the damage done by Boot Camp & are slowing development for the platform as a consequence.

So one additional data point to plug into the speculation machine: PC game sales are down as more gamers there have moved to consoles. I'd speculate that flat Mac sales are a combination of all 3 of these issues you mention.

Edit: ah, I'm boneheaded but here's another potential factor for flat Mac sales. We've (more or less) stopped doing PowerPC ports. While those are not the majority of our customer base (and haven't been for a while) they still represent a percentage of Mac sales we are not able to tap into. And this ties into another factor: there are a lot of Macs out there that are simply not capable of running modern Mac games at any speed that's enjoyable. This didn't use to be the case before the Intel transition: the low-end cards then were proportionally more capable than the low-end cards now (think Intel GMA).

Quote

Sorry, but one game's word-of-mouth sales really means very little, even less so without figures.  :)  It's like saying to people "look, Mac gaming is doing great! The Sims sold well over 100,000!" blah, blah, when the truth is that most Mac games don't reach anywhere near those figures (according to MW's Peter Cohen, who regularly talks to people in the industry).

We don't release sales figures on the Mac as everyone knows, but Civ4 sales, Guitar Hero sales and CoD4 sales are great for us on the Mac. Is that better? The factors that go into making sales great include crossing the magical number of unit sales that makes a title a profit, in addition to sustained sales. The former varies (sometimes widely so) between Mac titles so it's not so easy to pull out a generic number and use it as a milestone, but certainly the threshold for "greatness" on the Mac is well below 100k units for just about every case I can remember. ;)
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#38 teflon

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:28 AM

View PostDaveyJJ, on December 23rd 2008, 02:34 PM, said:

I'll be curious though to see, given that EA went with Transgaming/Cider for Spore and not a favoured external porting house like Aspyr, whether they do the same with the upcoming blockbuster (sales-wise) Sims 3. Why not just do it in-house again and save the hassle? Guarantees simultaneous launch, hybrid disks etc etc.
I mean this kind of big title. I personally dont expect Aspyr to see another EA game for a long time, seeing as theyve brought stuff over to Cider. Whether or not Aspyr can manage to appeal to them on titles that theyre not really thinking of. Perhaps Red Alert 3 or something, well just have to wait and see.


View Postcharmin, on December 23rd 2008, 02:50 PM, said:

Simultaneous launch? That's hardly a guarantee, given EA's track record with Cider.
Also, you guys are experts at pulling facts out of your arses and using them to back up your arguments. Arguments that I can't find a reason for sitting down and taking the time to type out.

EA hasnt really got a track record at the moment. There was the original 6 titles that they released well after the fact last year, and since then its been quiet apart from Spore, which was a simultaneous release. Cider's main appeal is the simultaneous release thing, and that it can take older titles and get them running very very quickly (as shown by the numerous Cider based hacks out there).
Lets apply a bit of logic here. If EA are going to be publishing their mac version's of a game, then they will aim for a simultaneous release, simply so that the mac market can live off the hype and advertising that they pump out.

As for pulling facts out of my arse, Glenda said it, Brad has pseudo confirmed it, a good selling mac port will be less than 100,000 and more than 50,000. There is a lot of guess work when it comes to these things, and Ive pieced it together over time. Theres no reason for me to spout false information.
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#39 charmin

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:38 AM

View Postteflon, on December 23rd 2008, 03:28 PM, said:

Theres no reason for me to spout false information.

How else will you get a job at EDGE MAGAZINE? :P
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#40 Brad Oliver

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:47 AM

View Postteflon, on December 23rd 2008, 08:28 AM, said:

As for pulling facts out of my arse, Glenda said it, Brad has pseudo confirmed it, a good selling mac port will be less than 100,000 and more than 50,000. There is a lot of guess work when it comes to these things, and Ive pieced it together over time. Theres no reason for me to spout false information.

Let me try to be less circumspect here: a good break-even point for us is usually below 50k units (usually by a *lot*, sometimes not). It all depends on the game: the licensing costs, the middleware costs, the development costs, etc. It's always awesome to see sales explode well past that, but it's satisfying to me to see a lower-upfront-cost game pass a lower break-even point and enter the black. I imagine this low-cost/low-sales is the business model that makes Feral's legends line work. It would not surprise me to find that Feral is able to turn a profit on their Legends line on sales of 5k units, for example, if they can keep their costs way down during development (which is kinda hard, but they have some pretty experienced guys).

The dichotomy here between typical Mac game sales and the size of the Mac market is what a lot of new entrants into Mac game development should heed for their first time out. If you base your Mac development decisions on equivalent PC sales, you're sure to end the project bitter and disappointed.
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