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Industry stuck in sequels "hamster-wheel" - Rare

New content and interfaces are crucial in finding new audiences, says Betteridge

The videogames industry will struggle to attract and keep new audiences - and genuinely compete with music and television - until it gets out of its sequel-driven "hamster-wheel mentality" and offers non-gamers more accessible content and interface options.

That's according to Rare studio manager Mark Betteridge, who told that it's one of the challenges that the developer is looking to embrace - and one that's vital as a first party developer.

"The Xbox 360 has got a great deal of support," he explained. "In the early days people were a bit sceptical about third party support, but the one thing you wouldn't doubt now is the third party support that it has.

"In our view, first party's job is to define the platform, to define the unique experiences on that platform, and that's something we're very excited about - and set up and geared to do, to do multiple products at the same time.

"The trouble with the business now is that we've got this sort of hamster-wheel mentality. If you look at the chart you'll see a lot of sequels in there, and people re-spinning those ideas for new sequels as fast as possible for next year.

"We'll never really attract any new audiences from doing that, and that's my problem with it. The box comes down cheaper, we'll get a few more people who were waiting on the sidelines, but the lady that showed us to our table today - I bet she's not got a 360, and has no intention of buying one.

"So to me, games are still somewhat of a niche experience compared with music, television and most art forms," he added.

And when asked what the key elements were in implementing change, Betteridge was clear: "It's the content and it's the interface, and they're both stunningly important," he said.

"Price point is key when you come through these first two transitions of content - you'll get the early-adopters that will buy anything to play the latest games. You'll get people who will upgrade their PCs to play the latest titles too, but that's a limited number.

"Then you'll get a lot more people who would really like one, but don't feel they can justify a certain amount, and they're the people that have been coming in through the last 12-18 months.

"Now we're at the stage where... if you look at the Nintendo DS, a lot of people will buy that and just Brain Training or Nintendogs, and be very happy with it as an entertainment device because of the price point. You can buy it in Tesco, and it's ready to go straight from the box, and you've never really had that with consoles."

The full interview with Mark Betteridge is available now.

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