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Video Game Design and Development - Supply and Demand in the Gaming Industry
For game designers, the one lesson that was drilled deep into their membranes, to differentiate successful designers from the plenty that will be lost deep in game industry limbo, is supply and demand. In the financial world, supply and demand is a complex economic model based on graphs and mathematical equations with complicated formulas. To the everyday game designer, supply and demand begs only one question: Would you, your family and your friends play it? Economic model aside, in the video game world, there’s the ‘Blizzard model’.
In the world of gaming, very few match the mighty Blizzard. Every game designer, developer, 3D modeler and their mothers would go out and lose multiple limbs to work for the benchmark video game developer and publisher. Their business model, however, is surprisingly primitive. Tempt the rabbit (video gamers) with a carrot at the end of a stick (game trailers, alpha and beta versions of games), and lead them on a wild goose chase. Having already created video game heavyweight franchises in the likes of Warcraft and Diablo, the demand for anything Blizzard is off the charts.
Normally, to a video game company, this would cue the massive overbearing supply of products related to the game. Stuff toys, action figures and even game cards would be produced in great quantity. This would naturally lead to a windfall gain but the run would die an accelerated and unnatural death (think Sonic, Zelda and Super Mario). While there still would be fanatics, the video game, along with its quirky characters, would slowly be just another forgotten memory to the casual gamer.
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The minds working at Blizzard know better. Being gamers themselves, they know gamers are a loyal lot. They feed the gamers with new bite-sized content in the form of game patches to include new heroes, game maps and expansion packs with new story-lines. This gets the gamer to demand even more: new races (a type of playable group of units in the game), more content and even a new game in itself.
With the demand in place, the developers drop hints of an upcoming game in the franchise, release character artwork at various massively popular websites, release limited edition action figurines and upload game play videos of the yet unreleased video game on YouTube and other video streaming sites. Enough lure of a carrot to keep the desperate rabbit running. Tremendous demand, but barely enough supply to keep the train of interest puffing along nicely.
For those who are keeping track of Blizzard, the development company has announced their newest offering, Starcraft II since 2007 but as of yet there have been teasers, game-play trailers and screenshots of the game but a release date has yet to be announced. The same can be said of their development of the newest game in the Diablo franchise, Diablo III. Game-play footage was uploaded to their website but no promise of a release date has been mentioned. Release dates for both games are only mentioned when the games have met the quality standards of the company, according to Blizzard executives.
While the Blizzard business model is widely regarded as the best in the game industry, some industry giants tend to take a more commercialized path. Publishers like Electronic Arts tend to drop release dates early, prompting their developers to rush and release the game on time. While this gives gamers a specific date of when they can expect the game to be on the market and popularity can rise as the release date gets closer, the game might end up buggy and incomplete if it is released before it could be developed completely. Whatever path game developers tend to take, supplying gamers with an immersive experience should be the top priority of all game development companies. None of us want to play an awful video game after paying a good amount of money for it, right?