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Will Luton谈影响游戏行业下个10年发展的趋势

发布时间:2020-01-19 09:01:54 Tags:,

Will Luton谈影响游戏行业下个10年发展的趋势

原作者:Will Luton 译者:Vivian Xue

(Will Luton,游戏行业管理咨询公司Department of Play创始人)

随着21世纪10年代接近尾声,各路媒体都在发布权威性的、回顾性的文章,如今是时候放纵一把,写点不准确、煽动性的东西——预测未来。具体而言,让我们试图推测20年代将发生哪些变化。

十年前的这个时候,第三代IPhone刚刚问世,第一批F2P游戏登陆App Store。《英雄联盟》首次发行,《愤怒的小鸟》也预备发行,Wii还处于鼎盛时期,独立游戏仍是新兴事物,没有人听说过腾讯公司。

与此同时,一名17岁少年在家中车库里摆弄着护目镜。他叫Palmer Luckey,10年后他将从无名小卒跃升为 VR行业英雄,而Markus ‘Notch’ Persson也成了亿万富豪。中国和手游市场开始呈爆发式增长,逐渐侵占传统主机和PC游戏市场。F2P模式大放异彩,尽管这趋势是好是坏尚不清楚。

十年对游戏行业来说是漫长的,唯一能确定的是变化。那么下个10年可能会发生哪些变化呢?

1. 人工智能(AI)使游戏制作更容易

上个月,Microsoft发布了一套新工具:AI辅助重构和线预测。Visual Studio为IntelliCode引入了一项提高生产力的AI,并将在14000多个公共存储库上进行训练。与此同时,通过3秒的音频样本训练,一篇学术论文被几近完美地转化为语音朗读出来。

这些渐进的技术发展预示着游戏开发下个10年的一个大趋势:AI工具和辅助。

上个10年,中间件(Middleware)使游戏开发达到了更高水平。下个10年,AI技术将使我们更少地思考如何制作游戏,而是更多思考做什么和为什么做游戏。AI应用还将扩大到编程以外的人工作业领域,例如动画制作、数据分析和关卡设计。

除此之外,随着技术和运算能力的提高,AI将创造出真正的互动对话和叙事。AI将催生形似MMO,但以纸笔式RPG为玩法的体验。语音将成为继手柄、鼠标后的常规控制方式。

这些将产生巨大的连锁效应。游戏规模扩大的同时,需要的制作人员数量将减少。这意味着更多独立工作室能开发出游戏大作,3A游戏的制作成本也将下降。

subway surfers(from gamasutra)

subway surfers(from gamasutra)

2. 突破性混合现实(XR)产品诞生

过去10年,VR被过度炒作,最终丧失消费者的兴趣。那些大力宣传VR前景的人都把重点放在硬件技术上,但技术本身已经够优秀了——至少就那些完全侵入式的VR而言。

下个十年将诞生一款突破性的混合现实设备,像IPhone一样,它的成功不是因为硬件技术的领先,而是对人们使用设备方式的深刻理解。混合现实——对现实世界的叠加,既便利又非侵入性——将是我们在硬件领域看到的最大变化。

XR游戏将融合我们的周身环境,利用我们的地理位置,让我们随时随进行游戏。我们可以坐在马桶上,在影院级尺寸的屏幕上玩传统游戏,或者在温暖、宁静的星球的云层中慵懒地飞翔中入睡。

3. 朝九晚五将成为过去

朝九晚五的上班生活将和传真机、吊顶以及激励海报一样成为过去。这种工作时间安排强度太大,并且随着通讯技术的进步,人们的集合方式也更加多元化。

下个10年,游戏开发者将离开拥挤、生活成本高昂的城市,移居到更宽敞、更经济实惠的城市,工作时间缩短,工作效率提升。5G将使通讯更为快捷,Slack、Google Docs及类似工具将使文字聊天和视频通话成为常规的开会方式。把员工紧紧拴在办公室里的公司将在人才竞争中处于劣势,并面临高昂的管理费用,强制的一周5日制工作会导致生产力下降、损害员工心理健康,增大员工对工作的不满。

事实证明减少工作时间(如实行一周4日制工作或分散团队)好处多多。例如,Facepunch是一个34人工作室,员工遍布12个国家,通过远程协作办公。许多人可能认为距离和时差会阻碍该团队组织工作和讨论,然而该工作室目前有两款游戏位列Steam同时在线玩家数量排行版前25名。

20年代将改变我们对工作方式的想象。远程协作将成为新兴公司的常规工作模式,现存公司也会雇佣更多自由职业者,工作时间的缩短将提升员工快乐感和工作成果。

4. 文化分界消失

观察全球游戏收入榜单,我们会发现自己熟悉喜爱的游戏——《部落冲突》和《使命召唤》,但也有一些我们大概从没玩过的游戏——《穿越火线》和《王者荣耀》。

尽管中国游戏市场取得了惊人增长,这种成功仍然具有地域局限性——玩家受他们独特的文化影响,会形成特定偏好。但是,这些流行游戏往往属于受全世界欢迎的类型,如射击类、大型多人在线和多人在线战术竞技类。

因此文化差异不是主要原因——好游戏就是好游戏——主要是中西方市场很大程度上互不相通。中国市场长期禁售家用游戏机,限制游戏发行,并且每个国家营销渠道的特性有着更细微的差异。

中国大公司正在大力投资西方工作室。显然,这使得他们能够把西方内容引回国内市场,但同时也向西方输入了他们的优秀内容。暴雪和Riot等西方发行商致力于扩大游戏的跨国影响力,为此他们打造了多元文化角色,并在世界各地举办电竞比赛。在手游领域,日本gacha系统被奉为设计模板,曾经被嘲讽的十字虚拟键盘也被许多畅销游戏使用。

互联网缩小了世界,随着中国融入全球经济,这些游戏未来会走得更远。尽管中国是这场全球趋势的一个风向标,未来我们还应该关注韩国、印度和非洲市场,它们都可能成为我们的下一个竞争对手和合作伙伴。

5. 平台界限被打破,商业模式融合

上个10年最突出的两个趋势是手游和F2P:一个新平台,和一个似乎凭空而起的商业模式,开拓了崭新的玩家群体。传统PC和主机游戏制造商一开始无视这种趋势,接着嘲讽它,最终对它燃起了兴趣。

随着时代转变,Department of Play的客户一半有着PC和主机游戏制作背景。这些厂商正试图把产品推向移动市场,采用移动平台上数据为导向的产品管理技术,或是利用F2中的内购设计。但这些工作室并不想模仿手游和F2P,而是想借此扩大他们现有产品的影响力。

《堡垒之夜》和《绝地求生》跨平台成功后,显然平台不应该成为游戏的障碍。Battle Pass重塑了订阅模式,相类似地,《FIFA》也推出了F2P模式“Ultimate Team”,该模式年收入达到8亿美金。与此同时,Xbox、PS4、苹果和谷歌也纷纷推出类似Netflix的订阅服务。

平台之间的界限,以及付费、F2P和订阅模式间的界限将更加模糊。在下个10年末,玩家的平台偏向性会减弱,玩家将根据条件选择手机、掌机、PC和主机等设备玩游戏。

6. 游戏成为一种优秀文化

上个10年末,Wii占领了1亿个家庭客厅,让老奶奶们第一次体验游戏的乐趣。但手游真正扩大了玩家群体。如今30亿人的口袋里装着可游戏的设备,我们面对三十亿玩家。

《精灵宝可梦Go》和《地铁跑酷》下载量突破10亿,说明游戏已经不是小众爱好,而是人类所创造的最广泛的娱乐方式。下个10年,全世界的领导者、评论家、作家、演员、歌手、画家和建筑师都将成为玩家群体的一份子。游戏将像电影、音乐或书籍一样影响社会和艺术,甚至产生更大的影响。

这一切将带来微妙而深远的实际影响:移动平台玩家会流向PC、主机平台,游戏类型将被扩展,新的利基市场出现,热门大作会吸引更多玩家。游戏将联结家庭成员,游戏首发也将成为人们共同期待、闲聊的时刻。

但最重要的是,游戏不再是格格不入的艺术。相反,它将成为一种大众文化载体。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

As the ’10s draw to a close and every outlet posts definitive retrospective lists, it’s a great time to do something as self-indulgent, inaccurate and rabble-rousing: attempt to predict the future. Specifically, let’s take a punt at the leap ’20s will bring us.

This time ten years ago we’d just gotten the third generation of iPhone and we were starting to see the first free-to-play titles hit the App Store. League of Legends had just launched, Angry Birds was about to, the Wii was at its peak, indie games were a novelty, and nobody had heard of Tencent.

Meanwhile a 17 year old boy was tinkering with goggles in his parent’s garage. Palmer Luckey would hurtle from zero to hero to alt-right villan before the end of the decade, as would fellow billionaire Markus ‘Notch’ Persson. China and mobile games exploded, eclipsing the revenues of the traditional console and PC markets. And free-to-play overshadowed everything, for good or bad.

Ten years is a long time in games and the only certainty is change. What could possibly happen in the next decade?

1. AI makes making easier

Last month, in a rather drab announcement, Microsoft dropped a new set of tools: AI-assisted refactoring and line prediction. Visual Studio’s IntelliCode tool is adding a productivity-boosting AI trained on over 14,000 public repositories. Meanwhile an academic paper showcased almost perfect text-to-speech impressions trained from as little as three seconds of audio samples.

These technologies foreshadow an incremental shift in what will be a bigger trend in game development over the next decade: AI tools and assistance.

In the last decade middleware has let game makers reach higher levels in the development process. In the next decade AI will go even further. Next gen AI will let us all concentrate less on how to make a game and increasingly more on the what and why. This AI assistance will extend beyond coding in to other manual tasks, such as animation, data analysis and level design.

Additionally, AI will offer us fully interactive dialogue and narrative for the first time as techniques and computation power improve. AI game-masters will let us build experiences that look like MMOs but play like pen and paper RPGs. Voice will be as commonplace a control method as joypads or mice.

The knock-on impact of this will be huge. Games can simultaneously be grander in scope and require fewer people to make them. This means more ambitious indie titles and cheaper overheads for AAA productions.

2. A breakthrough XR product

Virtual reality has been notable in the last decade for the hype, excitement and ultimate lack of consumer interest. Those most aggressively aggrandising the promise of VR are fixated on the current technical challenges of the hardware. But the technology is already good enough — at least for the intrusive, vision blocking VR.

A breakthrough device will arrive in the next decade which, much like the iPhone, succeeds not because of technically better hardware but because of fundamental understanding of how people will use that hardware. Some kind of XR (eXtended Reality) — which overlays on to our own world, that is convenient and non-intrusive — will be the biggest shift we’ll see in hardware.

XR games will blend with our surroundings, be always-on and make use of locations in our everyday life. We’ll be able to play more traditional experiences on cinema-size screens while sat on the toilet, or drift to sleep lazily flying through the clouds of warm, tranquil planet.

3. No more nine-to-five

Travelling five days a week to an office for the nine-to-five is a hangover from the time of fax machines, suspended ceilings and motivational posters. These hours are too intensive and the need for physical collocation has disappeared thanks to better communication technologies.

The coming decade will see many of us flee ever more expensive and crowded cities, to work fewer hours, getting more done, somewhere more affordable and spacious. 5G will mean ever-present fast connectivity, while Slack, Google Docs and similar tools make text and video call collaboration the default. Studios that tie employees to a physical location will lose out on the global talent pool and suffer greater overheads, while enforcing a five day work week will see reduced productivity, worse mental health and greater job dissatisfaction.

Evidence points towards the benefits of fewer hours, such as four day weeks, and the success that distributed teams can have. Facepunch, for example, is a studio of 34 people across 12 countries all working remotely. Many might think this remote, time-zone shifted team would struggle to organise work and discuss ideas, yet it currently has two games in Steam’s top 25 concurrents.

The ’20s will be a huge reimagining of how we work. Remote will become the default for new startups, existing teams will hire more freelancers, and shorter hours will result in happier staff and better projects.

4. Cultural divides evaporate

If you look at any given top grossing games list, you’ll see a bunch of products you know and love and a bunch you’ve probably never played. For every Clash of Clans or Call of Duty, there’s a Crossfire or Honor of Kings.

Despite the incredible growth of games across China, success is still regionally insular — the argument being that gamers have specific tastes influenced by their unique cultural heritage. Yet, it is often the case that these regionally popular games are in genres popular the world over: shooters, MMOs and MOBAs, for example.

The reality is less about cultural difference — good games are good games — as it is the fact that the Chinese and Western markets have been largely inaccessible to one another. This is both very literal in the case of China’s long ban on home consoles and restrictions on game releases, and more subtly in the peculiarities of each nation’s marketing channels.

China’s giant companies are investing heavily in western studios, creating an unprecedented portfolio of games. Ostensibly this allows them to bring Western content back home, but also to bring content from China’s best studios to us. Western publishers such as Blizzard and Riot continue to push their games to have cross-border impact, with multicultural characters and regional esports presence. In mobile we see design paradigms shifts with gacha coming from Japan and once derided virtual d-pads from China gracing many of our top grossing mobile games.

As the internet makes our world smaller and China becomes more and more integrated into the global economy, we can expect great games to travel farther. While China is the leading indicator of this global trend, as the decade progresses we should also be looking towards Korea, India and Africa as both our next players and next colleagues.

5. Platform boundaries and business models blur

If there were two standout trends of the ’10s, it was free-to-play and mobile: a new platform and a new business model that seemingly came from nowhere and produced a completely new audience. Early in the ’10s, traditional PC and console game makers eyed both with incredible trepidation. First they ignored the trends, then became somewhat sneery, and finally increasingly interested.

As the decade turns, half of Department of Play’s clients are from PC and console backgrounds. These businesses are often looking to understand how to bring their products to mobile, employ data-led product management techniques pioneered on the platform, or leverage in-app purchases like free-to-play games. But these studios are not looking to emulate mobile and free-to-play but rather augment their existing products.

Following Fortnite and PUBG, it’s increasingly obvious that platform boundaries are an unnecessary hindrance, while the Battle Pass has reinvented the subscription model. Likewise, FIFA’s Ultimate Team became a $800 million per year free-to-play game by virtue of being bundled with a popular paid game. Meanwhile Xbox, PS4, Apple and Google are offering some form of Netflix-like subscription service.

The lines between platforms, as well as paid, free-to-play and subscription models, will continue to blur. By the end of the next decade platforms will become a minor preference with players swapping between mobile, handheld, PC and console depending on circumstances, while paying (or not) incrementally.

6. Games become culturally preeminent

At the end of the last decade the Wii was on track to occupy 100 million living rooms, giving grandma her first taste of gaming. But it was mobile that really expanded our player base. Today we’re approaching three billion people with a game-capable device in their pocket at all times.

Three. Billion. Players.

And titles like Pokémon Go and Subway surfers have already broken the 1 billion download count. Gaming is no longer the niche for a small sliver of the population, but the most far reaching entertainment that humans have created. In the coming decades world leaders, critics, writers, actors, singers, painters and architects will all be game natives. Games will be as socially and artistically influential as movies, music or books, if not more so.

The exact impact of this will be subtle and far reaching. Players will drift from mobile to PC and console. Genres will expand, new niches become viable and hits will get bigger. Games will be the way families connect, and their premieres will be anticipated, water-cooler moments.

But most importantly, games will no longer feel like outsider art. Instead, we will be the default cultural medium.(source:Gamesindusty.biz

 


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