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Traditional publishers need new consoles to grow

Former Activision exec Robin Kaminsky says publishers reliant on physical retail

Former Activision executive Robin Kaminsky believes that traditional publishers need a new console generation to remain competitive.

In an op-ed article for IndustryGamers, Activision's former executive vice president of publishing questions the value of an extended console generation for the industry.

"The traditional games market needs new, innovative hardware and content to grow," she writes.

"The question is can publishers afford to make games in the next cycle, and can console makers afford either the R+D investment that is required to create truly innovative new hardware or the losses that accompany their launch?"

Kaminsky cites the continuing decline of physical retail sales, with July the worst month for US retail game sales since October 2006.

"Many believe digital sales and the economy are the core drives of the decline. I believe a lack of innovation - actual stagnation in game development - is the real culprit."

The industry's biggest traditional publishers speak often about the importance of digital sales, but Kaminsky points out that, even with World Of Warcraft and Call Of Duty's lucrative DLC trade, Activision's digital trade only account ted for 37 per cent of revenue last quarter.

"EA, who has made significant investments to acquire digital scale, continues to rely on traditional game sales for the bulk of their business. Publishers need growth in console games to be successful, and those games remain primarily a retail business."

"John Riccitiello said that the fastest growing platform for EA is the iPad. This should be a concern not only for traditional game publishers but the console makers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. If Apple becomes the dominant piece of game hardware where does that leave consoles and console games?"

Kaminsky believes that all of the significant growth in digital is coming from companies like Zynga and Rovio, and new platforms like the iPhone and Facebook - the next generation of consoles should incorporate these trends to offer new experiences to consumers.

"The next generation of consoles and games should recognize that consumers are mobile and active, value the player regardless of where and when they play, consider short and long play sessions, optimise both hardcore and casual games, embrace button/controller led play and new interfaces, enable content to evolve so games are dynamic not static, encourage alternative payment approaches like free to play...drive increasingly social and community driven experiences, and perhaps even allow play across devices regardless of manufacturer or form factor."

Robin Kaminsky served at Activision from 2005 to 2008. She joined the board at cloud-based streaming service Gaikai in July.

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Matthew Handrahan

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Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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