The industry's being turned "inside out" - Hawkins

EA founder believes the extent of change in the videogames business is unprecedented

EA and Digital Chocolate founder Trip Hawkins has claimed that the rate that gaming habits are changing today is turning the videogames business "inside out," with big changes in behaviour from both new customers and core gamers alike.

And that's a sentiment that's been echoed by other industry luminaries, including Lorne Lanning and Will Wright, speaking in the first episode of Game Theory with Scott Steinberg, available on now.

"I've never seen a period like this, there's so much disruption going on - the industry is really being turned inside out," said Hawkins. "Not only are there a lot of new customers showing up and and becoming gamers for the first time, but we're seeing really big behaviour changes by traditional gamers.

"They used to camp on one platform, like the PlayStation, and now they're using a diversity of media. And they're engaging with friends, so they're doing a lot of things that are quite a bit more casual."

And Oddword creator Lanning believes that the big players in the industry are nervous about exactly what the future holds - and how they can adapt.

"A lot of the established players are very worried - the traditionally established players, whether it's the retailers or the big publishers," he said. "And they have good reason to be worried.

"People are finding experiences and product elsewhere, and different business models are emerging that these big infrastructure companies aren't used to adapting to. A lot of them won't be able to adapt to."

But The Sims creator Will Wright does think that, while the disruption is "disorienting," things will settle down again into a rhythm.

"Everything is shifting all at once - and that's what makes this so disorienting," he explained. "The demographics are shifting, the platforms are shifting, the business models are shifting - and the culture is shifting.

"We're probably on the steep part of the S-curve right now - I think about five years from now things will start settling down a little bit, and we'll start feeling like it's a bit more predictable, like it was. But this is probably the most exciting point in that curve."

For more industry opinion on the subject of business change, including insight from Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux, Chris Taylor, Clint Hocking and more, check out Game Theory episode one now.

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Latest comments (5)

Judy Shasek active mouse - FootGaming 11 years ago
People want to play games more often - and throughout the day. Our goal is to make it OK to play casual games at home, work and school because casual games can deliver exactly what the world needs - small sessions of getting up and moving every few hours. Check it out at
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David Spender Lead Programmer 11 years ago
This is something I've been looking forward to for years. I was a kid in the late 70's-80's and started playing games when they first became available. I was the first generation that grew up from grade school playing games. My generation is the first that regards gaming as a normal part of their entire life. We are heading in our mid/late 30's and are disrupting the traditionally young gaming demographic. I think this just coincidentally combining with a huge online shift has created even more disruption.

I only camped one platform when I was younger because that's all I could afford. Now I buy all of them. I tend to play casual games more. I still play hardcore games, a bit less, but I take advantage of all I can, anywhere I can. I think what's happening in the industry is great and I can't wait to see what comes from it. Although I still get stares when i play my lime green zelda decaled DS lite in public...
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 11 years ago
This doesn't surprise me at all and I'm totally with Lorne Lanning on this.

The current big players in the industry have come to rely (rightly or wrongly) on the market being predictable and they have manoeuvred the market to be that way over the past 10 years. This lead to the behaviour that EA were so famous for: find successful franchise and then replicate it til it dies a horribly horrible death.

This had several knock on effects including a stagnation of the market, isolating gaming from the general market and creating a retail environment that relies on that system.

It's no wonder that EA don't know what to do. They have never really understood what disruptive means and as a company they have not been brave enough to invest in something truly innovative with the exception of the Sims.

Sorry if this all seems a little aggressive but I get tired of the big people like EA complaining about not being able to make any sales when the carry on making ridiculous business decisions.
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Show all comments (5)
Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today11 years ago
I think a lot of people who were gamers have returned because they can play games that are fun and don't require 4 hours of tutorials to learn, 80 stats boxes to learn, 30 input commands and 70 hours of time to invest.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. DS are perfect examples that not every game needs to be 3D and overly complex.
Ms. Pac-Man remains a great game as are many 2D games that people add to there collection via virtual console, arcade, live and PSN. Pac-Man CE, SSHD, etc.
As a hardcore gamer with less time and more responsibilities than I had when I was a teenager and 20, I don't always have time to invest 2-3 hours to complete a single RPG task to advance my character or story so I play a game that provides great gameplay, but does not require hours of time, though I would not always call that a casual game.
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Michael Abraham game designer 11 years ago
a trend i've also seen is that with a greater ease to communicate in the world today, people want to be able to do so.
playing games with a small group of people (like the 4 person model used in L4D) seems to be a strong way ot taking advantage of this, as people can build up that social aspect, whilst playing a game that isn't exactly casual.
also to note is that gamers are growing up. they don't have time to play hardcore games (or alternatively don't have the desire or opportunity for whatever reason). hardcore, traditional games are quite antisocial, or clique'y and as people get older they generally want to branch out from that small group they interacted with when growing up (especially when no one at work has any idea what a nali warcow is)
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