Thursday, May 25, 2006

A question for those who work in publishing

There's something I don't understand about software publishers at the moment, and it is this:

* It's clear as glass that the business is becoming increasingly difficult in publishing because of costs. Even EA are spending a massive amount (slightly less than a billion) in development next year, and there's no end in sight.

* It is clear that this is caused by the generational leap. Said leap being brought about by three hardware companies changing the rules on the publishers. The so-called generation cycle is primarily driven by oligopolistic competition between the main players, and this means that their priorities effectively dictate the business of everybody else, and also take the lion's share of the profits.

* This places the manufacturers in the increasingly envious position of being the only ones who can afford to spend money on new and interesting projects, as they make the most profit from their release per copy (not having to pay a license fee to themselves) and can afford to pay for them from everyone else's hard work.

* In short, meaning that the 3rd party publishers are slowly getting boned by being unable to compete.

Here's what I don't understand. Why aren't the likes of EA and Activision actually doing something about this, either through some sort of collective pressure, through the spectre of legal action, through anything that would establish a market and lessen the oligopoly's hold? I don't understand their inaction.

In the film industry the content owners have commonly exert their influence in the market to bring about such things as the DVD Forum because they realise the value of collective behaviour on issues that affect them all. Why aren't the non-manufacturer gaming publishers doing the same?

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