God of War creator and Twisted Metal developer David Jaffe never hesitates to speak his mind, and in a recent interview with GamesIndustry International, the outspoken designer weighed in on the economics of the games business and how high price points are driving away consumers from the traditional space.
When we asked Jaffe about the impact of the used games business, he replied, "The retailers, the publishers/developers, and the consumers - I think they're all unhappy. They all have a valid point and I think digital distribution is going to go a long way when it becomes a bigger thing like it is on Steam. I think we'll see that bigger in the next gen and we'll keep seeing it until, ultimately, the brick and mortar retailers do become like the record stores became."
The customer is basically saying they're cynical, they think we're greedy, and they think they're not getting value for their dollar.
He continued, "I think, ultimately, that's the good news. But in the meantime, I think it's going to be a lot of pushing and pulling and changing to find something that feels fair and respectful. But I think the big thing that we have to listen to - it doesn't matter how this gets solved or what Sony does or Microsoft does - what does matter is that we need to listen to what the customer is saying. The customer is basically saying they're cynical, they think we're greedy, and they think they're not getting value for their dollar."
Consumers are migrating more and more towards smartphones and tablets because the games are cheap and are still entertaining. The retail environment, on the other hand, is becoming quite difficult to succeed in.
"Consumers feel games are too expensive.... and they shouldn't have to care about the machine behind the scenes of how they get their games. They should feel that they're getting great value for what they spend. They should feel that they're being respected by the people who make the games and that they're being entertained well beyond what they paid for their entertainment," Jaffe stated.
He believes that the current economic environment and purchasing patterns ought to be a warning call heeded by developers and publishers.
"However the specifics of this get worked out, I think we really need to hear - it's like, wow. The customers aren't happy. And there are going to be customers that just aren't happy unless they can just get shit for free and it's like, you know what, sorry. It's a business. What are you going to do? But I do think some of them who are complaining about pricing, we should listen. It's at our peril that we ignore that part of the conversation. We can disagree with their solution while still fully embracing the emotional component, which is that they feel that they're getting the shaft more often than they should, which really should be never."