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KoolHndLuke

Commercialization of the Music Industry- How Much of this Will Happen to Video Games?

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I very often have thought to myself while listening to "modern" music- or music made in the last few decades- "Oh, great....another one of these cookie -cutter type jingles that was put together in about an hour." It seems to me that the musical offerings of today do sound very much alike in too many instances. The formula- if you will- seems to be a catchy beat, some cool sounding effects, a few witty lyrics and a chorus of one line or maybe even one word! and it's over in about three minutes. I listen to these songs and just cringe while thinking of the spectacularly talented musicians of the past that had very distinctive styles, thoughtful lyrics, intricate song structure, and sheer musicianship or talent with many types of instruments.

 

"Where did it all go wrong?" I think as I hear one bland, easily made song after another. I mean- I could make this shit!!!!!!! That's with me not knowing the first thing about how to write or put together a song!!

 

  Commercialization of the industry- that is where music has gone. But, when and where did it start? It started- I think- way back in the 1970's when record labels started to put together "The Formula". The aim was to make musicians agree to write their songs with the goal of much better record sales, totally ignoring much individual style or any kind of experimenting in favor of what some office executive that knew nothing about music had put together in a presentation of charts and graphs to show where the money was. Bands and individual artists were pressured into this formula calling to make an album with "x" number of potential hit single songs, and if the artists album did not meet sales expectations- they were given less money to produce each subsequent album and cut after their contract had been completed. Many labels did allow artists more leeway about what songs they made, but, slowly they all turned to the money making music machine that we have today that produces artists and songs with as little experimentation or creative freedom as possible. The record labels don't give a fuck about music anymore.

 

Don't you think games are headed in the same direction? How diverse is the offering of games today as opposed to a decade or two ago? And most importantly, what can we as consumers and artists alike do to stop this quickly moving over-commercialization of the video game industry? Is it too late?

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What do you mean by asking whether or not it will happen to the gaming industry as if it is still in the realm of the theoretical? Did we accidentally slip into a time warp to 1983?

The Great Crash happened largely because the industry was buried under a glut of shovelware meant to capitalize on the video game 'fad'.

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18 minutes ago, FauxFurry said:

What do you mean by asking whether or not it will happen to the gaming industry as if it is still in the realm of the theoretical? Did we accidentally slip into a time warp to 1983?

The Great Crash happened largely because the industry was buried under a glut of shovelware meant to capitalize on the video game 'fad'.

Well, then how do we stop the further commercialization of the gaming industry? Are consumers really this gullible to just buy whatever bland crap the publishers want to push? Is it natural for entire cultures to become artistically stagnant like this? There has to be a way to turn this shit around.

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As someone in the industry, I can safely say this has already happened, and it happened almost twenty years ago.

 

Also it isn't the music industry, it's the film model devs invested in. While the music industry has the supreme wage-slave and pay-for-play and pay for anything you've used you didn't make yourself down to the finest gnat's ass in fine print sharpness, you still pay and are paid for royalties. In the movie industry that only happens to very select few, and the rest is firmly gauged by the strength of your union.

 

And there ain't no vidya gaem union, and there's not a single corporation that would support one.

 

Anyway, back to the salient point, the video game industry had a choice circa the late nineties. Devs would shoulder the lion's work in both respects; in financial risk and pay out, with the clear understanding that when something failed the studio would take a bath, and hard, and immediately. The other option was rely on corporate or concern based publishers to shoulder the risk on a shit game and conversely take virtually all the money the game would make beyond operating costs for taking the risk.

 

Bear in mind this was mostly a western thing; japanese devs basically had a little romance indie thing in the early eighties and that shit ended quick to due social conformity pressures and the japanese need to have everything that isn't food or pets be a monolithic socio-corporate endeavor. 

 

Welp devs, being the idealistic and short sighted task focused idiots we tend to be, opted overwhelmingly for the publishing agent angle and here we are: video games are now a corporate mass consumed and mass produced commodity, and like any other commodity, the people producing them are by and large disposable, even the famous/talented ones like Amy Hennig and Chris Avellone.

 

Given the push for "services" aka the publisher controls everything about the game including when and if you're allowed to play it at all, you can expect the slow creeping corporate dystopia currently pervading A and AAA to continue, and you can continue to expect to see indies like pubg's original dev happily turn the control of his game over to corporate shells like Bluehole, which is basically a tencent turnover company at this point.

 

There will always be indie darlings that stay true to their original aims, but don't expect them to stay that way or last all that long. Making games is a hard ass business where introverted creative types basically get abused by design. (see: EA, Take 2, Zenimax, Tencent, etc) Extroverts that tend to be biologically unable to drink the kool aid will tend to fare better, but they'll only be as relevant as their next hit, much like any other medium.

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15 minutes ago, 27X said:

And there ain't no vidya gaem union

Could there ever be one you think? Where could united game artist and developers gain a foothold?

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I blame Napster. :P BTW, I still listen to 60-80s music. Right now I have 

running around in my head. :P 

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1 hour ago, KoolHndLuke said:

Could there ever be one you think? Where could united game artist and developers gain a foothold?

They tried in the early 00s and that went over liked a lead balloon, they're actually trying in the UK right now, so we'll see how things turn out this time.

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1. contemporary pop does not have witty lyrics

2. it is tailored to the audience

3. blame the audience for having absolutely no taste, not the business

4. no large company gives a fuck about anything other than money

 

it will go as far as the playerbase lets it go

if you dont like the mainstream then just look for something different, there's a lot to choose from

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14 hours ago, 27X said:

As someone in the industry, I can safely say this has already happened (snip)

Command and Conquer 4 illustrates this perfectly.

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2 hours ago, gregathit said:

Command and Conquer 4 illustrates this perfectly.

God, what a horrible game.. it even sits in my Origin library staring at me. I do think it was due to the proliferation of MP3s. How many people do you see browsing the music isle of Best Buy or other regional store? Not many. It was different before Napster, tons of people browsed music, so much so you rubbed each other while trying to look for music. The same could be said of the gaming industry, and Steam is partially to blame there, since it opened the floodgates to Greenlight/Early Access/etc 

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1 hour ago, Alkpaz said:

tons of people browsed music, so much so you rubbed each other while trying to look for music.

Ha! At first I thought you typed "robbed each other". I met some pretty hot girls while "rubbing" up against them in the music store.:tongue:

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It's all behind what ""they"" want the masses to use, hear, like and whatever XD

 

Here in Brazil the "mass" lsiten to a shitty and overly sexual """""""""""""music""""""""""""""" all the time. If you have a little bit of sense, you search for other things, and then you find a whole world of good music still being written and composed. It's just that the ""common people"" don't want anything outside of what they see in television or radios or whatever.

 

Everyone that wants a lot of money tries to hit the "mass". (obs: meaning making games that are easy for the ones that want to play casually or don't know how to play, lack deep history so everyone can understand without having to think much, cut content that may be offensive to some, including ""sexy"" content, or trying to attend to what people want instead of using their creativity only). Fallout 4 is an example of that. Damn, as it seens, Agony is an example of that. They start to leave some originality behind to try to appeal as many as they can. This is not something that is happening now, as our friends already stated. But if you search, we have lots of indie devs making games as they want. Same that happens with music. Maybe they are not that greeeeeat games, but i see that more and more indie studios are making good games, and maybe we will still see big companies breaking and turning to only publishers of dozens of small studios. Maybe this already happened, i can't really say, i am not reading much lately.

 

I can't say that Steam is a bad thing. Greenlight made a lot of games arise to the public awareness, and they wouldn't sell if they were not on steam. It is a fact that most people use Steam today. I see lots of artists selling their songs at a variety of sites and to Spotify. Having your album on Spotify makes more people be aware that you exist, in some way.

 

I do dislike the Early Access idea, though. You can make a page for the game in Steam, but don't sell something that others won't even be able to play.

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I rather miss the days of browsing game shops and/or music/film shops... those were good times. Can still do it now I suppose, but it just isn't the same. The hype around new games was so different too. For me the last glory days of gaming was in the 90s to early 2000s. There are still some good games here and there now, but it is nothing like it once was.

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Buying games here was not exactly a good thing, too much pirated content everywhere... At least with the digital sales, more people are now buying original ones. We had the magazines with CDs and official stores selling original games, but nonetheless the abundancy of ilegal stores that seemed to be legal never helped. I was a child back then...

 

But here is a word that is what is helping to kill games nowadays: hype.
We expect one thing, they come out different, instant rage. heh

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Hmm, well I think in part it has to do a lot with the way games used to be covered in the press. I remember owning a few Playstation mags when I was a kid, and I used to really enjoy reading their reviews and interviews with devs. I don't spend any time looking at gaming press anymore (and not just because of the controversy that happened a few years ago). Most of what I want to know or see about an upcoming game can be easily accessed from various other sources these days.

 

I don't get "hyped" like I did when I was a kid, mostly because the rose coloured glasses fell off at some point and I started feeling rather cynical about it 😅. It couldn't be any more blatantly obvious that big name devs are just about money and not about truly creative ideas anymore. I mean, yes, there are many well-made games in the AAA market right now, but it feels like they've sort of hit a wall. Nothing feels original, everything seems to look the same or play the same. I've gotten exceedingly tired of the "preachiness" of a lot of developers nowadays, like they have some sort of divine calling. They're making games, it's really not that serious.

 

I think that's where indies will shine, because they have a lot more freedom to do what the big companies can't. In a way new tech has enabled the consumer to directly support the developers anyway with stuff like Patreon. So that's a pretty cool step in the right direction.

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Can't add anything, i agree with you @Lady Horus. They make all promisses like if it was THE BIG THING and people all get hyped... in the end, they just can't do all that they talked about.

Patreon and these websites to back a project are reeeeeally interesting and indeed are the "light in the end of the tunnel". Many devs starting their projects this way.

You just remembered me that i did it with a band that i like. They started a campaign for the new album, selling things that would be shipped with the release of the album. They got the money, made the album and everything, and now i have my name printed in the "thanks" part of the lyric book lol

But devs must be aware and not fall in the religion of the big companies. As mentioned, it seens that Agony went all the wrong way and left a good angry mob, because they promised a lot, and didn't release it.

 

obs: you are THE Lady Horus, from Tera armor? Hey, thank you!! 😊

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@Di3sIrae I agree. Yeah... they hype people wayyy too much, but I don't know if I blame the consumer for being gullible (at least after so many let-downs) or the company. Although I really wish gamers were better at "voting with their wallets" than they are when it comes to practices regarding DLC, season passes and so on. I always hear people complaining about it and yet they'll still shell out $200 for exclusive pre-orders and whatnot. I sincerely doubt what they get out of it is worth as much as they pay.

 

Oh also, no problem, and thank you too. :)

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To be honest, I can't remember a time when any kind of recorded music wasn't affected by commercialization, with often a lot of vacant, soulless crap being high on the charts - even in the good old days. That didn't stop a hell of a lot of people from putting out good music, or people from listening to them.

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 Music was commercialized even before the Victrola was invented, back then you made your money from sheet music sales...

or rather the publisher did and the composers got fucked in the ass.

 

 The 60's had their share of made-up bands, the music was done by a bunch of studio pros who didn't want to tour because

they made a better living as a studio musician, with professional songwriters composing the material. Some of it wasn't too

bad, when you had people like Carole King and Gerry Goffin writing.  Now, there is a very small pool of people writing most

of the top 40 hits, and they stick to proven, money making formulas. The consumers are basically rats in a cage, drinking

sugar water from a bottle. The door isn't locked (yet) and if they bother to wander outside their little cage they can find more

interesting fare. Some of it may even require some intellectual effort to get into - oh! the horror!

 

 If you don't like what's on the menu don't pay for it, simple as that. I look at how many hours of entertainment I can get out

of a game before I pay for it. I might overlook that if I think the game will put me in an interesting head space.

 

 I'm waiting for governments to get in on the act, producing or manipulating game content intended to control their citizens,

if they haven't already done that already, beyond censorship. I'm sure the Chinese will be the first, or maybe the Japanese

will try to do something to get their young people to fuck each other and procreate 🙄

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11 hours ago, Lady Horus said:

Although I really wish gamers were better at "voting with their wallets" than they are when it comes to practices regarding DLC, season passes and so on.

 

I must say, i buy what i think is good. I have lots of games i never played here on my steam though... And i pre-ordered FO4 with the Season Pass... XD

Because i knew they would charge a lot for single DLCs later or even increase the price. But i did it because i had A LOT of fun roleplaying with mods in Skyrim and i loved FO3. I wasn't really hyped, i had something in my mind that they would screw with the game... And in the end, i guess that this thought made me like the game more thatn i ever imaginated. Because of mods, of course lol
But taht's it. People buy things without thinking before, and at the same time they swear all the evil against the devs for making crap games. For example, i'm not going to buy FO76 or TESVI... until i see that they made something better. But a lot of people, people that were saying "skyrim is sh*t" will dive in Beth's pockets for a pre-order of the game (which will probably come with a stupid extra).
Looking at what they are doing, i don't know what will be of the modding scene for these future games. I'm more "hyped" for the spacial game than the big titles. Let's see, anyway, i'm not buying a pre release this time, even not regreting doing it before.

 

The big problem that i see with this is that places like Patreon or Kickstarter will start to be filled with what we said, devs that are not going to fullfil their promisses. People are giving their money at projects that are not really going the way they should... So, a plataform that is great for indie devs will lose trust and people will start to stop (?) backing projects and so indie studios will ahve to find a good "real patreon" or publisher to pay for their time.

 

7 hours ago, panthercom said:

 I'm waiting for governments to get in on the act, producing or manipulating game content intended to control their citizens,

if they haven't already done that already, beyond censorship. I'm sure the Chinese will be the first, or maybe the Japanese

will try to do something to get their young people to fuck each other and procreate 🙄

With the amount of dating, sexual and rape content that you already find in Japan? I don't know. Guess they need to start adding pregnancy to hentai games lol
They could make games to make people stop having children here, though...

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As a developer I can offer this. ... Use your gaming money wisely and break the big publishers that infect gaming like a plague.

 

EA as example.

 

Don't buy from them. don't buy games with loot boxes or get into games with any form of "game service" this includes shops of any sort that require real world money for purchases. As long as people buy? Publishers will milk all they can from any form of sales.

 

Zenimax is not bad yet, but it's coming. They watch the markets believe me.

 

Do not ever pre-order.

 

Don't be afraid to bite steam and other online retailers for selling crap. Prove as one entity that gamers  wont be gamed.

 

 I'm a developer but more than that I'm a gamer girl. We can control what is done by controlling our dollars and rewarding good devs. We can hang EA and the others like EA by not giving them money. It's that simple

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I'm still waiting for publishers to realise that reduced distribution costs for digital music vs CDs should also mean reduced prices for consumers.  I haven't bought any music in decades and have no plans to any time soon.  Steam comes pretty close to getting the pricing right on games though IMO.  When a title first comes out it's full price.  In a year or so it's available at heavy discounts.  In 10 years you can find sales for 90% off or better.  Same should be true of digitally distributed music and e-books. 

 

I refuse to pay more than $1-2 for an e-book when I can get a used paperback for not much more than that.  Until then I'll just rip stuff from Youtube and the library for free.  Games I do buy because Steam is actually reasonable on the pricing, although anything I buy is usually at least 75-90% off.  I paid less than $20 for the Legendary edition of Skyrim, paid nothing for SE, less than $10 for the Game of the Year edition of each of the Fallout games up to but not including Fallout 4 (don't have that one yet), etc.

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On 8/23/2018 at 2:37 PM, Kirzol said:

EA as example.

I will never forgive them for their systematic assimilation and destruction of some very, very good devs! Bioware being the most prominent in my mind- still have fond memories of their games like DAO and the ME series. EA took over and everyone of any talent promptly jumped ship. Will never buy anything with an EA logo again because they are indeed a cancer in the industry.

 

 But, what worries me is that Zen is going the same way. Beth games are not what they used to be. FO4 looks better, but, it is definitely not a better game than previous ones or even as good according to most posts from ppl I've read. And once a game dev starts sliding, I've yet to see one turn their shit around. But, I really can't be sure how much of this is influenced by the publisher or if maybe the dev is just running out of passion and ideas.

 

 Beth would do much better I think to just make the games they want instead of any more Fallouts or ElderScrolls. If ya' heart ain't in it, then don't do it- because it shows when it ain't. I mean you can see when a dev is trying to do something and just misses as opposed to them just rehashing the same shit with very little spirit of innovation.

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5 hours ago, KoolHndLuke said:

I will never forgive them for their systematic assimilation and destruction of some very, very good devs! Bioware being the most prominent in my mind- still have fond memories of their games like DAO and the ME series. EA took over and everyone of any talent promptly jumped ship. Will never buy anything with an EA logo again because they are indeed a cancer in the industry.

 

 But, what worries me is that Zen is going the same way. Beth games are not what they used to be. FO4 looks better, but, it is definitely not a better game than previous ones or even as good according to most posts from ppl I've read. And once a game dev starts sliding, I've yet to see one turn their shit around. But, I really can't be sure how much of this is influenced by the publisher or if maybe the dev is just running out of passion and ideas.

 

 Beth would do much better I think to just make the games they want instead of any more Fallouts or ElderScrolls. If ya' heart ain't in it, then don't do it- because it shows when it ain't. I mean you can see when a dev is trying to do something and just misses as opposed to them just rehashing the same shit with very little spirit of innovation.

With EA? The list is long..... Lets just say: their people skills suck. We have had both EA and Zenimax in our studio. Offering sweets to sell our game (When it's completed)

 

 I could delve into what EA did but lets just say it was really bad. They don.t like refusal they don't want our game. They want the engine and AI.

 

Bethesda is/was a small gaming company. They are much bigger now then we are but our experiences are similar. We built our engine and the interactive AI before we started building the game. They had their engine and like us they planned to use the engine as long as possible. Maybe it was too long and FO4 got hurt by it.

 

 That said, I believe that Zenimax as a whole is far more mature than EA. And the reason I say this is because Zenimax/Bethesda/ et all, take a spanking by the public far better and learn from our input. They seem to be more interested in what the game is instead of what they can steal from small dev houses. EA is now and has always been about the money.

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On 8/17/2018 at 1:53 AM, KoolHndLuke said:

Don't you think games are headed in the same direction? How diverse is the offering of games today as opposed to a decade or two ago? And most importantly, what can we as consumers and artists alike do to stop this quickly moving over-commercialization of the video game industry? Is it too late?

I'm going to sound like SUCH a hipster so buckle up, get ready to mock me for being a hipster I guess.  I probably deserve it.  Also i'm going to address a few questions nobody asked so I can get around to answering the question at hand within context - so a long winded hipster I must be.

 

Video Games today (as music did in the 1980s, maybe 1970s) suffer from the problem of non-exclusivity.  In today's world we like to think of ourselves as inclusive - we want to allow everybody into the club, we bend over backwards to make sure people are allowed to feel welcomed no matter what.  This is great for building common spaces, and for developing a uniform culture. What it's bad for is uniqueness.

 

Think about a bowl of fruit.  Everybody can bring a piece of fruit if they want and put it in the bowl. We haven't disallowed any fruits from our bowl, so you can bring bananas.  You can also bring strawberries.  Kiwis. Dragonfruit - you get the picture.  The first few dozen people create a pretty interesting bowl.  If we took another dozen people we'd have a probably totally different bowl.  We could probably have a few bowls of very different fruit if we started them independently.   But after enough bowls  -with no fruits disallowed-  Our big room of fruit bowls going to look VERY homogeneous on large scales.  It's unstructured, unlimited.  After a few hundred we're going to notice patterns.  After a few million we're going to notice these patterns behave like fractals.

 

Any unlimited (or weakly limited) system is going to develop in a fashion similar to this when there's no exclusivity.  If literally any person is randomly selected to pick a fruit and bring it, there will not be any real structure or form - at least nothing that looks deliberate and unique.  This is why you want exclusivity if what you want is uniqueness, and not a common, homogenous pattern.

 

If you can limit the KINDS of people who can come drop off fruit, or can limit HOW people arrange the fruit, or can limit WHICH fruits they can bring (you can come up with your own interesting limitations I'm sure), you'll get structures that are preferable to the people who are participating.  The more limitations you place on the fruit bowls, the fewer people can or will show up and bring fruit.  But.. the people who still choose to participate will find the results of these limited fruit arrangements much more preferable to the big common fractal all-inclusive fruit room.  This is because things that do not suit their preference are excluded.

 

Gaming is now like the big room of fruit bowls, not the little room.  Gaming became popular, and less exclusive. More accessible.  

 

The rules used to be : nerdy enough to buy or build a home PC and install game using floppy disks, set up your own config files and allocate your own memory... these things self-selected a narrow crowd.  The games which were made were made for this focused, narrow group of people.  While most people didn't care for them, the fruit arrangements were much to the taste of this very exclusive group.  Nobody ever sat down and said "here's the kinds of fruit you can bring and here's how you can arrange them", yet the effect of gaming being niche and not easy to get into was indistinguishable from that. 

 

Over time, as gaming became easier to get into, the scene became less exclusive.  As it grew in popularity it became a legitimate phenomenon, and increasingly profit driven.  This drove the gaming industry to expand to untapped markets - to loosen the rules and let even more people call themselves "gamer" and start dropping their own fruit preferences in the bowls.

 

 

On 8/17/2018 at 1:53 AM, KoolHndLuke said:

Don't you think games are headed in the same direction?

Yes, I think games are headed in the same direction.  I think games are already there in fact.   This happened so fast it made my head spin - in the span of 5 years maybe.

 

On 8/17/2018 at 1:53 AM, KoolHndLuke said:

And most importantly, what can we as consumers and artists alike do to stop this quickly moving over-commercialization of the video game industry? Is it too late?

All you can do is setup a nice market.  You have to limit who "gets to play" in this niche.  It needs to be large enough to entice developers to invest the resources to make a game, but small enough, with enough barriers to entry that it's non-homogeneous - it keeps out people who want to disrupt the fruit arrangements.

 

A good example here is the cockpit-sim crowd.  People who play flight sim games.  (X-plane, DCS, Sturmovik, Rise of Flight, etc).  You gotta have a flight stick, have to be willing to learn very complex, conditional controls, gotta be willing to shell out 4x what it costs for a normal game (niche games that are any good need to cost more to make up for lack of sales), etc, etc.  The cockpit-sim community is as healthy as it ever was, and resembles just what it looked like 15 years ago because nothing came and disrupted it.  It was so exclusive the mad bull-rush of fruit-droppers never affected them.  Most people don't have the money, patience, attention span, or historical or technical interest to learn all the very-realistic details of these games - let alone possess ALL these qualities which is what is required to enjoy them.

 

Cockpit sims are about as exclusive and niche a gaming market as you can get.  But it's still doing well.

 

That's how you protect yourself and your creative integrity - you find a niche, wall it up, and keep the average joes with all their lame average joe fruits out.  Because everything that's non-exclusive just ends up looking like another fractal.

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