Not trying to start yet another b-fest, but as I look at their recent mega-offerings I see one modern $100 game with a huge number of fixes in motion, another decade-in-development monster that shipped with no AI and a score of optional features greyed out on the load screen and a statement many would never be finished, and a 4X game shipped in alpha state with a "help us fund this unfinished product" pitch to real-life retail buyers. AE2 has a built in, massive buyer base and could sustain a $150 price point and not break a sweat. They're pretty bad at game publishing if they're not always, every month, talking about doing this project.
For a wargame, the fan base is very large for the WitP family. For a game, no wargame has a large market. Releases of video games like Grand Theft Auto and the other games you see on TV ads can sell more than 1 million copies in a few months after release. The best selling wargames (true wargames, not abstractions like Risk) have sold about 10,000 copies over their entire lifetime. Some mega hits like ASL sold maybe a little better than that, but probably less than 100,000 copies.
This is a niche market Slitherine/Matrix do a lot to dominate it like Avalon Hill did back in the days of board games. But it's still a niche.
When Avalon Hill sold out to Hasbro i read a very good analysis of the gaming market. Everyone who was an insider in the industry was scratching their head why Hasbro would be interested. Hasbro's worst seller game sold more in a year than Avalon Hill's best selling games did over their entire lifetime. In the end it was concluded that Hasbro had intentions of making multi-player online versions of some of AH's multi-player games like Diplomacy, but that never really happened. In the end it just prevented anyone else from doing it.
Hasbro buying AH though was akin to McDonalds expanding into Mexican food by buying out a tiny chain of Mexican taquarias as their new division.
I'm sure Matrix has made some decent money off of AE. I'm not privy to any of the financials, that is just my guess. It's probably one of the most popular computer wargames in history, but it's down in the noise compared to the big hitters. I doubt the typical fan of the latest style of computer games is going to have the patience to play a game like AE, or even an AE2 with a new engine. This topic does not lend itself to being a real time game. It's a very cerebral game that takes a lot of study.
When the Myers Briggs went around a few years ago, I noted that the majority of people who participated in the thread were INTJ with most of the rest being somewhat close in type. INTJ is the rarest of the 16 types and all the other types I saw were also rare. A group made up of rare types are probably never going to convince the rest of the herd that whatever they are into is interesting.
As an aside the type demographics here are very similar to the type demographics in Mensa which is around 24% INTJ and 16% INTP.
All good points, but points made myriad times already. Please note I am not advocating AE or any wargame try to be GTA. The latest made I think one billion dollars in gross revenue in its first two months. I get that. But constantly saying "niche" like it's a magic marketing death knell doesn't work for me. I know from marketing. I used to do marketing for Fortune 500 real players. I once worked on a $1.2 billion brand that had a $70 million ad budget in 1988 dollars. Big hitter. So I've done segmentation. I understand marketing strategy. And I also know that there are a lot of niche brands I could happily live on if offered a tenth of a tenth of a percent of their profitability. Ever heard of Tiffany's?
I know there are many definitions of "AE2." I also suspect, strongly from comments here by Matrix management over the years, that a major and perhaps insurmountable roadblock to the idea is intellectual property rights stretching back to Pacific War and GG (and maybe his 3x2 team in the WITP era.) I suspect Symon, given his real life profession, understands this roadblock far better than I ever will. But I have seen in my business life that few contracts can't be re-opened for re-negotiation. Sometimes, no. The holder of rights just is not interested. This can happen in creative fields more than in more mundane. I get that. But GG is still actively involved with Matrix/Slit. with WITW and WITE2. I do not expect he would be interested in any AE2. But he might allow it if conditions were right.
I see AE2 as the current game's guts lifted into a new shell. The design is fine. The OOB is done. The sounds, music, animation even would do. What any new team would contribute would be a true Windows interface, better interface mechanics (zoomable map, easier art swaps, etc.), some templates to speed things like TF formation, an easier consumer-level editor, and a non-scripted AI or at least a hybrid, with a better interface so historical geniuses but computer novices could do AI. That's all.
Such a team wouldn't have to be WWII grognards. They wouldn't be wtiting algorithms or designing new scenarios. They'd be coders, not designers. But really GOOD coders with deep experience in Windows. The AI stuff is the hardest obviously, but again, to do that one doesn't need to understand how main battery turrets in an Iowa-class load. They just need to look at the existing data.
The economics of it are hard, I grant. But a design document that started at a manhour budget and worked backwards to a volume and price point set would be nice. I see Matrix funding projects that have no installed fan base and asking three-figure retails for them. An AE2 didn't make sense in a recession-seared world in 2010 when computer games were forecasted to die by now, replaced by 100% console stuff. If Matrix needed to allieviate the risk by fan-sourcing or, shudder, doing a "Pandora" gig to ship an alpha to us all and ask for money to contine development, AE2 is the only, the single game in all the game universe for which I would sit still and participate. I know they're casting their hopes on the tablet market. Good luck with that. I've read their announcements, I've read their press conference notes. It might work. I don't think it will, but I've been wrong about markets many times. But my overall point is this is a product portfolio issue for them. It's about balancing risks. AE2 is risky in some ways and a solid gold lock in others. They just have to control the tendrils and let it be less of a jump than AE was from WITP. Incremental, not paradigm shifting. New news, new revenue, maybe some new players. That's all.
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 11/22/2013 1:39:46 PM >