社交及手机游戏的崛起，打破了电子游戏的行业格局，甚至比1984年《马里奥》在Nintendo Entertainment System面世，抢夺视频游戏用户的情况更具冲击性。但在本周的GDC大会上，1万8000名游戏开发者、设计师、程序员和技术员们却普遍抱有乐观态度，因为手机、社交及可下载游戏的发展，将在未来几年进一步促进整个游戏市场规模的扩大。
据游戏邦了解，苹果在2007年发布了iPhone手机，Zynga也在同一时期向Facebook平台推出了《Texas Hod’em Poker》。现在，苹果iPhone的销量已经超过了7350万部，App Store的应用下载量突破了100亿次，其中多数为手机游戏。据AppData数据显示，继《FarmVille》之后的又一个Zynga游戏力作《CityVille》，日活跃用户已达2000万人，月活跃用户更是高达9500万人。
PopCap Games公司CEO戴夫·罗伯特（Dave Roberts）认为，如果没有Facebook游戏、智能手机游戏以及Android移动设备，整个游戏行业不可能在七八年时间内，增加了成百上千万的用户，“如果你在十年前问一个50多岁的老妇人是否玩过电子游戏，她肯定会困惑不知道你在说什么，但现在她有可能不止玩过《FarmVille》、《宝石迷阵闪电战》或《Peggle》之类的iPhone游戏。”
Xbox 360到今年秋季就已经走过6年历程，PlayStation 3和Wii也有5年发展历史了，它们都已不能算是新的游戏运行系统。
不过这三者最近几年都添加了新功能，目前都支持下载游戏，在线播放Netflix视频，Xbox 360和PS3还可以连接到Facebook和Twitter。而新的体感控制器PlayStation Move和Xbox 360的Kinect，还提供了新的互动功能。
暴雪公司在2010年因《魔兽世界》和《使命召唤》地图包等数字内容的销售而创收15亿美元，但却在上个月叫停了《吉他英雄》、《Tony Hawk》、《True Crime》项目，以免因销售不济而出现亏损。除了该公司进行大量裁员之外，其他游戏开发商也采取了类似的行动。
现在，EA不但销售《Mass Effect》等可下载的游戏内容，而且还开发《Madden NFL》、《FIFA》和即将在春季发布的《Dragon Age》等Facebook游戏，EA Mobile还发行了多款著名的iPhone游戏。据Riccitiello所称，这种多元化的发展策略成绩斐然：数字内容的年度销售额超过了7亿美元，同比上一季度增长了39%。
Social Media and Mobile Devices Grow Game Industry
The popularity of games on Facebook and other social-networking sites coupled with the proliferation of games on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices is powering a mini-explosion in the video game industry.
More people are playing video games on more platforms than ever, even as hardware sales of traditional game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii — not to mention the games for many of those systems — have declined from $21.4 billion in 2008 to $18.7 billion in 2010.
The estimated value of social-gaming publisher Zynga, the force behind many of the games on Facebook, has zoomed to as much as $9.3 billion, more than the value of established game companies such as Electronic Arts, publisher of Madden NFL and The Sims.
“The business model is changing,” says Ray Muzyka, co-founder of game developer BioWare, which releases its fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age II next week. Not only is the way people play games changing, so are the platforms on which they’re playing them, Muzyka says. “The types of content (and) the length of the experience is always changing — and a lot of that is a reflection of where games come from, the technology and entertainment fusion,” he says.
Disruptive forces are buffeting the video game industry more strongly than at any time since 1984, when Mario arrived on the Nintendo Entertainment System and began siphoning players from video game arcades. Still, optimism reigns as more than 18,000 game creators, designers, programmers and technicians gather this week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. That’s because overall spending on games is expected to increase through 2014, with mobile, social and downloadable games driving the growth.
“What smartphones and social games is showing us is that you don’t need a year or two-year development cycle anymore to make a profitable game,” says GDC event director Meggan Scavio. “But those consoles are not going to go away.”
Video games are played by as many as two-thirds of Americans, says The NPD group, a market researcher. As many as half of U.S. homes have a console video game system. Meanwhile, one in five Americans age 6 and up have played games on social networks such as Facebook, according to NPD.
Then there are the 21 million-plus Americans who research firm ComScore says play video games on smartphones. “Maybe a decade ago, there were 150 million or 250 million people gaming, and now there are about 1 billion or 1.2 billion globally,” says John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts. “Every new device ends up being a game device.”
Getting Social and Mobile
In 2007, Apple brought its first iPhone to market, and Zynga launched Texas Hold’em Poker on Facebook. Since then, Apple has sold more than 73.5 million iPhones and 10 billion-plus apps, as many as half of them games. Zynga’s CityVille game, the successor to the popular FarmVille game, also on Facebook, attracts 20 million players daily and 95 million monthly, according to AppData.com.
Facebook games and games on smartphones, including Android devices, “have managed to do what the industry wasn’t able to do on its own for seven or eight years before that, to bring tens of millions of new people into the gaming fold,” says Dave Roberts, CEO of PopCap Games, which publishes Plants Vs. Zombies and Bejeweled. “If you asked a 50-year-old woman 10 years ago if she played video games, she would look at you like you are from Mars. Now, she is likely as not to play FarmVille or Bejeweled Blitz or Peggle on her iPhone.”
More than one-third of smartphone owners play games, according to a new survey conducted by Information Solutions Group for PopCap. Half of mobile gamers say they played more in the past 12 months, and 84% play at least once a week.
The mobile games do not seem to be cannibalizing traditional games, Scavio says. Many publishers of console and PC games are designing versions for iPhone and iPad. “They need to if they want to expand their audience. They need to go where those audiences are,” she says. “You saw Rage come out from Id Software. That looks like a console game on your iPhone. It really is just a new way for people to game.”
Console Systems Holding Pat
Console makers have had to adjust to market conditions. By past standards, all are getting long in the tooth.
The Xbox 360 will be 6 years old this fall, the PlayStation 3 and Wii, 5 years old. None are talking about new systems at this point.
All three have added functionality through the years. Each can be used to download games and stream Netflix videos over the Internet. The Xbox 360 and PS3 also connect to Facebook and Twitter. And new motion controllers, the PlayStation Move and Kinect for the Xbox 360, offer ways to improve those systems’ interactivity.
But cloud Relevant Products/Services-based systems that stream games to players could soon leapfrog console games. One such system, OnLive, already is in operation, and a competitor, Gaikai, is in the works.
“All the games or the vast majority of games are going to be distributed online or electronically,” predicts Alan Miller, director of North American operations for online game monetization firm GamesAnalytics. “I am concerned about the ability of the console manufacturers to keep introducing new, better-generation machines.”
Miller, a co-founder of the original Activision that published games for the Atari 2600, says the video game industry “is undergoing its greatest rate of change in the last 25 years, fundamentally generated by this transition from retail distribution to electronic distribution.”
Even publishers of the games made for consoles are having to adapt.
Activision took in $1.5 billion in revenue in 2010 from digital sales of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty map packs. Yet, last month it abandoned its Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk and True Crime franchises to stem potential losses because of lackluster sales of recent releases. It also announced layoffs, as have many other game makers.
Miller says Guitar Hero’s demise is a result of the “audience moving to online distribution” and the cost to “distribute the expensive peripherals that Guitar Hero requires.”
In the three years between leaving EA as COO and returning as CEO, Riccitiello says, his experience at private-equity firm Elevation Partners, which he co-founded, convinced him that the video game industry was going to have to transform itself “around these new devices and the proliferation of broadband.”
Today, EA sells downloadable content for games such as Mass Effect, as well as creating Facebook games for Madden NFL, FIFA and Dragon Age (due to launch this spring). And many of the top iPhone games are published by EA Mobile. The result: more than $700 million in annual digital sales, with a 39% increase last quarter, says Riccitiello.
“I don’t think it replaces console gaming,” he says. “Big blockbusters are still part of the movie industry. At the same time, you can watch a cat video on YouTube. I guarantee you, a decade from now, there will be blockbuster games, and there will be our equivalent of cat videos. We are going to run the full spectrum. The more interesting thing is that all games are social from this point.”（source:newsfactor）