David Perry, co-founder of Gaikai and Shiny Entertainment, has said that developers in the West aren't taking advantage of Asian markets and are missing out on open opportunities to monetise their games.
Micro-transactions, free-to-play games and in-game items are all innovations from Asian markets, said Perry, but Western developers are too fixated with older business models and established markets.
"Western developers just aren't exploiting this anything like as much as they should," Perry told the Develop Conference in Brighton today.
"That's a bit of a scary trend. A lot of developers rushed off to make an MMO but what's happening is they're forgetting all about Asia. They immediately start thinking 'we'll charge for a subscription, we'll put it in retail,' and what they do is kiss goodbye to China and Korea, and India – which is the new China. So they're leaving tons of money on the table."
Using Giant Interactive's MMORPG ZT Online as an example – "it looks like it was made ten years ago" – Perry said that simple games can still bank serious money without being hi-tech. The company is now worth USD 1.5 billion.
"If you're thinking about that space you want to make sure your games are welcome, there's a lot of money down there. They have been going through different generations of trying things with micro-transactions and the thing you must realise if you don't like these ideas, it's fine. Because it's like the Wild West and it's your challenge to create new ones," he said.
Perry also expressed concern that the West is continuing to charge more money for its games, excluding consumers unable to afford to play, and there's a real danger that the next big thing could be free, attracting millions of users.
"I call it the money wall. Each generation we keep increasing our prices and making the wall higher. I'm worried about the next-generation – are we going to charge another USD 10 or USD 20 for a game? Gamers have to keep climbing over this wall to continue to play. Many gamers and students can't afford to," he offered.
"My questions is what if a really good game was free? Halo-quality for free. There's been some really famous household name designers come out of Japan. Are you willing to bet there will not be a named person ever from China, Korea or India?"
"Because if there is, the games going to be free, and it's going to get huge numbers of players around the world. And you can bet investment is going to swing even more aggressively to their market. I can't see it not happening, it's just a matter of time," he concluded.
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