I read an article yesterday (via JurieOnGames) about the supposed difference between game development in China and the West. I’ll deal with the nationalism of the speaker who was featured momentarily, but the article itself did a good job of framing the issues anyone confronts when merging art and commerce. This is particularly true in light of attempts to monetize free content, which is being explored in both the interactive (online gaming) and non-interactive (publishing) markets.
As I noted previously, attempts to emphasize money above all else are ultimately pointless. If you’re in business to make money, yes, you should focus on making money. But saying that money comes before everything else is a literal lie if you are in the entertainment business, because everyone knows it’s a horrendously bad way to make money. Mining zinc is better. Building houses is better, even in today’s market. Making cereal is better.
The article in question focuses on “Zhan Ye, president of GameVision,” who was “speaking at the Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco on Friday.” In the article, Ye states that a new breed of Chinese developers is building games from the ground up that are focused as much (or more) on monetization as they are on art, entertainment or fun. He paints all Western development (including Western-trained Chinese developers) as failed precisely because monetization is not the primary focus during every step of the production process.
It’s tempting to dismiss Ye’s comments as either uninformed or nationalistic hype. But Ye is genuinely talking about a paradigm shift from creating and selling entertainment on the merits to actively exploiting customers. [ Read more ]