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Industry needs 're-education' on digital console platforms

Vanguard CEO believes developers must push for new types of game designs and business models

The industry should be working on ways to evolve the console download platforms, with new game design ideas and business models needed if Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network are to move up to the next level.

That's the opinion of newly-installed Vanguard Entertainment Group CEO Arthur Houtman, talking to in an interview published today.

The company, which has released Greed Corp and is currently working with EA on Gatling Gears, will be looking at ways to bring some of the learning from the social games space into the core downloadable games market - but Houtman believes some changes are necessary if then can genuinely thrive.

"I feel it's a little bit stagnant where we are with the consoles, and even the console market," he said. "Looking back at the PSone and PS2, then where we are today with the market, a few years into this console cycle - and I haven't looked at graphs comparing previous generations - but I don't think we're doing as well as we should.

"I know that the manufacturers are trying to figure out where to go from here, and so I can only imagine that they need to evolve a little bit into that space. They are trying to figure it out - but I think one of the big things is the education of the industry."

He went on to explain that developers should think about a greater variation in how they bring games to market, instead of arguing for an 800 or 1200 Microsoft Points price - and instead think about whether they could argue for a 100 Point level, with a host of additional elements on sale for similar price points.

"I think that kind of model is going to be more interesting," he said, going on to explain why the responsibility doesn't just lie with the platform holders themselves to push through such changes.

"What I think is that we, as developers, have a role to work this further," he explained. "I think that developers themselves - I hear a lot from colleagues that Microsoft doesn't want to move, or Sony doesn't want this or that. Actually, I think it's different - I think they can't move without having really clear ideas, and people coming to them with concepts.

"I feel a little bit of responsibility lies with the development community, and not people just saying that's the way it is, and we're going to continue to put out games as we used to - without coming up with clever, new ideas that could be attractive, and some proof in them from what happens in the casual space. There's not a lot of that happening - we might be sticking out our necks a little bit, to say that we'd love to have Sony and Microsoft on board with these strategies..."

But Houtman was confident that, given such ideas, the platform holders would be amenable to an evolution of their respective downloadable games platforms.

"I think they will get there, I think they'll get there easier if they have people like us presenting ideas of how to get there. It doesn't have to be a direct switch - you can take small, baby steps and try things out - and that's where we need to be. So the responsibility lies on both sides."

The full interview with Arthur Houtman, which also explains some of how game design ideas should also be changing, is available now.

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