David Jaffe: Customers Think Developers Are “Greedy”
In a revealing talk with GamesIndustry, future former Eat, Sleep, Play honcho David Jaffe took a break from his usual regimen of profane outbursts to acknowledge how gaming customers are feeling a bit screwed by the industry, and urge developers to do more to respond to those complaints.
“The retailers, the publishers/developers, and the consumers – I think they’re all unhappy,” he said. “They all have a valid point and I think digital distribution is going to go a long way when it becomes a bigger thing like it is on Steam.” Jaffe later notied that “what does matter is that we need to listen to what the customer is saying. The customer is basically saying they’re cynical, they think we’re greedy, and they think they’re not getting value for their dollar.”
Jaffe also noted that “consumers feel games are too expensive…. They should feel that they’re being respected by the people who make the games and that they’re being entertained well beyond what they paid for their entertainment… We can disagree with their solution while still fully embracing the emotional component, which is that they feel that they’re getting the shaft more often than they should, which really should be never.”
Jaffe did acknowledge that some customers will complain about anything they can’t get for free, but indicated not only that they’re a minority, but that the future of the business is getting things to them as conveniently as possible, noting that digital distribution will be “bigger in the next gen and we’ll keep seeing it until, ultimately, the brick and mortar retailers do become like the record stores became.” Ouch. He might have a point too. Music CDs were always horribly overpriced, but they only cost 18 bucks at their peak. The second a viable, and easier to get alternative came along, people flocked to it, and today the record store is a quaint throwback rather than an industry stalwart. GameStop doesn’t have even a remotely similar place in pop culture as a record shop.
The question is, what do you replace it with? Gamers are far more resistent to DRM than they are to high prices. It’s likely that if the industry insists on increasing silly DRM schemes like Origen, they’ll prolong the life of Brick and Mortar shops just by discouraging legitimate downloads. Whether this doesn’t contribute to further piracy, of course, remains to be seen.
There’s more, and it’s worth reading the whole thing.