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American McGee predicts end for "bricks-and-mortar retailers"

Alice creator on pricing and the future of selling games

Cult game designer American McGee has said he sees little future for physical retail stores, and a big change in the way players pay for their games.

"In the (not so?) distant future there wouldn't be much need for a bricks-and-mortar retailer," he told IndustryGamers.

"Why waste resources on a physical location and unreliable employees when the entire experience can be made sharper, cleaner and more entertaining in the virtual representation?"

He explained that big chains like Best Buy had become "nothing more than places to fondle physical goods you're going to buy online anyway."

The Spicy Horse founder also predicted more and more publishers taking a free to play route when it comes to pricing their games.

"Games will become free to play or variations of the free-to-play, freemium model," he said.

"Developers and publishers will take more learning and cues from real-world marketers, consumer behaviour specialists and retail experience designers. Pricing will vary -- some experiences requiring a "door charge," while others let you into the store for free. Pricing is all about what a given market will pay."

He was also enthusiastic about cloud gaming, and its ability to facilitate the movement of data between multiple devices, and the idea of a universal wallet, even tracking your every interaction online.

The designer, who recently moved into mobile development, was quick to point what he saw as the key things that game developers could learn from the casual side of the market.

"Faster, smaller development with quicker initial launches, frequent content updates -- and the end of "fire and forget" products. And an eye towards larger, more diverse gamer demographics."

American McGee is best known for his games American McGee's Alice and  Alice: Madness Returns, both published by EA, and his work at id Software on Doom and Quake. In 2007 he founded the Shanghai based development studio Spicy Horse, and mobile offshoot Spicy Pony.

Spicy Pony's latest project was Akaneiro for the iPad, a retelling of the Red Riding Hood story.

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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