OPINION: Zynga warning can inspire change

Michael French
OPINION: Zynga warning can inspire change

I’ve said?this here before, but people sometimes accuse MCV of being overly negative about the trade.

No one likes bad news. But who are we to ignore a collapsing market?

Still, doubters may still see today’s warning from Zynga, the great nemesis of the console, as salt in a wound that’s widening 30 per cent year-on-year. 

But for some time we’ve all ummed and ahhed over whether or not you can draw a line between the explosion in apps and the implosion on console, and few have wanted to publically admit it’s the case. 

Yet the notion that the two are separate markets – one growing due to its own strength, the other shrinking due to its own limitations – never really held water. 

We’ve needed someone like Schappert to sound a wake-up call. He has worked in games his entire career, helped invent the Madden game franchise, and once ran Xbox Live. 

Expect more from him in next week’s mag, but the message this week is painful, and honest. Boxed games are hurting because they just don’t move quick enough. In truth, everything in the boxed business needs a boot up the bum, from the well-worn pre-order model up to post-launch downloadable content. 

Will the traditional parts of the business realise this soon enough and react? Sometimes, I wonder that many of them will not. I hope they prove negative old me wrong.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Of course, change is in the air. Codemasters is ditching everything but racing, Call of Duty’s getting a futuristic revamp, even Nintendo is talking of day-and-date digital releases.  

Some fairly big personnel changes lie ahead as well, one specifically being Mike Hayes’ imminent departure from Sega.

Hayes made Sega relevant in the West, ultimately becoming the leader for all of its Western interests and a one point the most powerful Brit in games. 

He brought in Creative Assembly and Sports Interactive and pushed for the bigger focus on download games. 

That latter point will surely become the core of Sega’s business, thus making Mike a man in demand as he moves on to non-exec advisory roles.

But consider his other career highlights – launching Game Boy, SNES and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles – in a similar post-Wii world dominated by handheld apps and Skylanders, and you’re reminded that while change is good, the best ideas never die.

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Tags: zynga , hayes , warning , schappert

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