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Will Wright prefers high sales to high scores

Will Wright prefers high sales to high scores

Will Wright deliberately set out to make Spore as casual as possible, focusing on sales more than acclaim.

Will Wright's Spore came out late last week and players were finally given a chance to sample the full game, which has taken more than eight years to develop and suffered from being classified as vapourware again and again.

And what did most people think of Spore? While initial opinions seem good, there does seem to be a growing opinion among hardcore gamers that the game is perhaps a tiny bit shallow and casual for their tastes. That's certainly part of the conclusion we came to in our nine-page Spore review.

You know what though? Will Wright is fine with that, saying in a recent interview with MTV that Spore was envisioned from the outset to be a more casual game than people might expect. The reason? He wanted the game to have huge sales, not just huge critical acclaim.

"We were very focused, if anything, on making a game for more casual players. Spore has more depth than, let’s say, The Sims did. But we looked at the Metacritic scores for Sims 2, which was around 90, and something like Half-Life, which was 97, and we decided — quite a while back —- that we would rather have the Metacritic and sales of “Sims 2″ than the Metacritic and sales of Half-Life," said Will.

It's an opinion we can certainly understand. The world has a good number of excellent games which have been hailed by games reviewers such as ourselves, but which have struggled to sell well because of a percieved too-hardcore appeal. Just look at Psychonauts or Beyond Good and Evil.

What's your opinion on the casual / hardcore divide? What do you think of Spore? Let us know what you reckon in the forums.

26 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 8th September 2008, 11:20 Quote
When it comes to Spore, I spent most of my saturday afternoon playing it, I'd consider myself more towards the 'hardcore' end of the gamer scale. A friend of mine came over on saturday night, and spent most of the time playing it - He picks up a game when he's at mine, or when there is nothing (Up to, and including, sitting on the toilet) else to do. I'd say the game succeeds in that sense.

It frustrated me when I got to the space exploration stage, as there was no ****ing save option thanks to the endless ****ing tutorials that told you crap you had already worked out if you have more than half a brain cell.

The Spore forums made up for that, though, with the hundreds of people whining and screaming "omg keygens have given out our legal keys?!Oneoneone11eleven". Never laughed so hard in my life. Good ol' forums.
LeMaltor 8th September 2008, 11:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/09/08/wil-wright-prefers-high-sales-to-high-scores/1

Will Wright set out to make Spore as casual as possible apparently, preferring more money from high sales to bothering to produce something worthy of critical acclaim.

Fixed
pimlicosound 8th September 2008, 11:41 Quote
There's no way Psychonauts failed because it was too "hardcore"! Presumably it just didn't have the right marketing push, magazines/websites didn't give it front page news splashes and games stores didn't put copies on their main display shelves. Just a string of unfortunate coincidences. It had everything in it to make it popular and successful with all types of gamers.
UrbanMarine 8th September 2008, 13:46 Quote
Yeah, it's a casual game alright.
[PUNK] crompers 8th September 2008, 13:58 Quote
The Sims = Marriage designer for scary often overweight 15 year old girls

Half-Life = A game that will be remembered, discussed and compared amongst gamers (i.e. people who actually care about games) for many years to come.

I know which I would rather have designed, irrespective of profit margins.
impar 8th September 2008, 14:11 Quote
Greetings!

"Will Wright prefers high sales to high scores"

Guess he wont be happy with Amazon.com customers reviews:
http://imageshack.us
http://g.imageshack.us/g.php?h=139&i=revsm7.png

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FKBCX4
hodgy100 8th September 2008, 15:19 Quote
^^ XD ^^
Bauul 8th September 2008, 15:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

"Will Wright prefers high sales to high scores"

Guess he wont be happy with Amazon.com customers reviews:
http://imageshack.us
http://g.imageshack.us/g.php?h=139&i=revsm7.png

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FKBCX4

Ah that's harsh. For someone like me who doesn't care about DRM (really, I don't, I'm so bored with people going on and on about it I no longer care either way) none of the reviews are remotely accurate.
The Jambo 8th September 2008, 16:43 Quote
Maybe I should tell him that he lost my money, because of the DRM. I was going to buy it, then went and pirated it.

I would easily take >3 installations over online function.
Mongoose132 8th September 2008, 17:28 Quote
It's not very fun anyway, I've just returned my copy, It's not what I'd define as a 'Game', more of a sim, but an incredibly dumbed down quasi-world/creation sim, overly simple, limited by the DRM that turns it into a rental, essentially, as when EA takes servers offline, £40 paperwieght,

Just don't bother :)
Jordan Wise 8th September 2008, 18:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Jambo
Maybe I should tell him that he lost my money, because of the DRM. I was going to buy it, then went and pirated it.

I would easily take >3 installations over online function.

You're an arse.
CardJoe 8th September 2008, 19:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Jambo
Maybe I should tell him that he lost my money, because of the DRM. I was going to buy it, then went and pirated it.

I would easily take >3 installations over online function.

Echoing: You're an arse.

I don't like the fact that Tim's TV is so shiny - and I wouldn't buy it for that reason. That doesn't give me the right to steal it however.
Krazeh 8th September 2008, 19:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Jambo
Maybe I should tell him that he lost my money, because of the DRM. I was going to buy it, then went and pirated it.

I would easily take >3 installations over online function.

Echoing: You're an arse.

I don't like the fact that Tim's TV is so shiny - and I wouldn't buy it for that reason. That doesn't give me the right to steal it however.

While I don't agree with the OP's decision to pirate Spore can we please stop with the stealing analogies?? Copyright infringement does not equal theft.
LeMaltor 8th September 2008, 20:47 Quote
Yeah stop stealing ones and zeros Jambo.
supaste 8th September 2008, 20:50 Quote
Wow no way I'll be buying this as I like to clean up my computer every now and again when I havn't played a game in a while.
[PUNK] crompers 8th September 2008, 20:52 Quote
DRM DRM DRM, how yawnworthy
Stickeh 8th September 2008, 20:55 Quote
Wow, all the reviews on Amazon are regarding the DRM, so can hardly be a legitimate review if a reviewer hasn't bought the game and actually played it, just gave it a one start and complained about the DRM....

I can understand Will's reasoning for more casual-ness and more profits than a crazy amazing game, it just won't be as memorable as half life, but he'll have more money? So what? More people playing the game cant necessarily be a bad thing....
supaste 8th September 2008, 21:06 Quote
This is a subject that i get very iffy about. I like to have my rights, I'm in the same mildly pissed off state as when i heard the UK version about Fallout 3 could have censorship influenced by Australian board of censorship.
CardJoe 9th September 2008, 09:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazeh
While I don't agree with the OP's decision to pirate Spore can we please stop with the stealing analogies?? Copyright infringement does not equal theft.

Explain how it's different then without resorting to the flimsy "It doesn't equal a lost sale" arguements.

A team of people has elected to make something over a period of years.
To protect that creation they have added DRM.
You don't agree with DRM, so you decide you won't buy it.

All well and good until you add onto the end the bit where you illegally download the creation without paying for it on the basis that you don't agree with DRM.
impar 9th September 2008, 11:13 Quote
Greetings!

Amazon customer reviews:
http://imageshack.us
http://g.imageshack.us/img166/rev2rh1.png/1/

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Spore-Pc/dp/B000FKBCX4/ref=pd_sim_vg_5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stickeh
Wow, all the reviews on Amazon are regarding the DRM, so can hardly be a legitimate review if a reviewer hasn't bought the game and actually played it, just gave it a one start and complained about the DRM....
Its quite legitimate. The DRM comes with Spore so its "reviewable".

The same thing happens when you search for a house to buy, if there is a train passing out side that house every 15 minutes you give the house a bad review.
[USRF]Obiwan 9th September 2008, 12:03 Quote
The solution for the DRM problem: buy the game, and then download the 'cracked' version and play that. You can leave the 'original' game in the plastic wrap. And when you have played it you can sell it as a 'brand new' one.

Everybody happy.


the only and best 'sims' game ever was and still is "populous" all others suck with the exception of rollercoaster tycoon, but thats because I love coasters :D
[USRF]Obiwan 9th September 2008, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF
Obiwan]The solution for the DRM problem: buy the game, and then download the 'cracked' version and play that. You can leave the 'original' game in the plastic wrap. And when you have played it you can sell it as a 'brand new' one.

Everybody happy.


the only and best 'sims' game ever was and still is "populous" all others suck with the exception of rollercoaster tycoon, but thats because I love coasters :D


Besides that:

1) Name "one" game that is not pirated on every available platform (pc,xbox,xb360,ps,sp2,ps3,wii,ds etc)
2) The honest consumer who buyes games, filled with anti piracy constructions like DRM and such, always have troubles installing the game or have many other problems or get irritated because of the anti piracy constructions a game has.
3) The only problem that people have that install a pirated game, is where to find the folder on the dvd or mounted iso, where the key-generator or cracked executable is located.
4) The costs of all the protection codes and DRM constructions to protect the game is almost 1/6th of the price you pay for the game in the stores.
5) They can save a lot of money and production time by not including consumer unfriendly piracy protection, because it will be cracked long before or a few day after the official release.
6) They should award the honest buyers with lots of extra's out of the box and other interesting stuff. Because people who play pirated games do not care about the extra's they just want to play or collect the game.
7) They must stop assuming that a person who plays a pirated game, would have bought it if it did not was pirated.
8) A nice construction would be to refund for example 15% of the money if someone has honestly bought a game.
Krazeh 9th September 2008, 14:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Explain how it's different then without resorting to the flimsy "It doesn't equal a lost sale" arguements.

A team of people has elected to make something over a period of years.
To protect that creation they have added DRM.
You don't agree with DRM, so you decide you won't buy it.

All well and good until you add onto the end the bit where you illegally download the creation without paying for it on the basis that you don't agree with DRM.

It's different on the basis that copyright infringement and theft are two very separate legal matters. Creating an identical copy of an item and then taking that does not and cannot constitute theft simply on the grounds that you have not permanently deprived the owner of the original item. And frankly the "It doesn't equal a lost sale" argument is a lot less flimsy than the opposite argument used all the time to generate ridiculous estimates of the money lost to piracy.

I appreciate that morally it makes little difference whether it's copyright infringement or theft and that it's still wrong either way. However piracy as an issue, both it's causes and it's effects, can only be properly discussed when looking at it in terms of the actual legalities involved. Claiming it's something other than it is doesn't do anyone any favours and merely clouds the issue.
DXR_13KE 9th September 2008, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Echoing: You're an arse.

I don't like the fact that Tim's TV is so shiny - and I wouldn't buy it for that reason. That doesn't give me the right to steal it however.

question: if you do steal it with the same method software pirates use, were does the TV you are holding in your hands come from? who in the world is left with -1 TV?

edit: i also agree Echoing is an arse.

i would love to play this game, but i refuse to buy anything that uses this kind of DRM, i far prefer to have to pop the cd into the drive every time i play it instead of this crap.
thEcat 9th September 2008, 15:48 Quote
<chuckle, this reply has taken a life of its own, whoops>

DRM / Copy Protection:
I don't like it but if it goes some way towards preserving PC gaming then I'll learn to live with it. If you value gaming on your PC I suggest you do too, for now at least.

Piracy:
We can spend eternity debating the impact piracy has on sales. The fact is that there are some in the industry who use the some times quite imaginative piracy figures to justify their abandonment of PC game development. A new trend is to bolster their arguments with the declining figures for physical sales of PC games while ignoring the expanding sales via download. I'm sure they have their motive$.

...So, regardless of any justification you may proffer, in the current environment one simple fact remains. If you have an interest in PC gaming and you download or play illegitimate copes of PC games then your actions are moronic.

Casual Games:
What exactly is a casual game? Seriously, I would love to hear your opinions.

Look at a game like Peggle. It can be played in linear progression, you have many targets, limited ammo and some power ups.

Look at a game like F.E.A.R. It involves linear progression, you have many targets, limited ammo and some power ups, including different guns.

Now look at Spore. The simplicity of the interface is testament to good design and engineering, it does well to hide the many complexities of the underlying engine('s). Physics, consequences, dynamic economy and the balancing required for terraforming and stable ecologies, in short quite a learning curve. Yet Will Wright says it is a casual game so casual it must be.

The best definitions I can come up with for Casual Game are...
It is a game played by others, often colourful, often appearing simple to play, a term often used in a derogatory fashion.
It is a marketing term and I suspect this is how Will is using it here. Now all the self acclaimed casual gamers will want a copy.
It is a game that can be played in short bursts of, say, 5 to 20 minutes duration.

Casual Gamer:
The easy way to define a Casual Gamer is to say they are someone who plays Casual Games and I'm sure this is exactly the definition that marketing departments would love to see adopted by the media. Marketing departments love simple classifications, especially if people are willing to self certify themselves into said classification. Someone who enjoys computer games but abhors violence may self certify as a casual gamer, someone who is comfortable with carnage but abhors the intricacies of balancing a climatic model or stacking coloured jewels will self certify as a hard-core gamer.

In all other spheres of life the term hard-core would be synonymous with ardent, avid, fanatical and would relate to the amount of time a person dedicates to a particular subject or pastime. Using this definition if you spend less than, let's say, one hour on your average gaming session then regardless of the game, you are a Casual Gamer.

Why is any of this important ?
I'm witnessing a decline in PC gaming and I don't just mean the reduction in shelf space allocated by local stores. Some developers are bailing and many of the ones who remain are churning out shallow, hand holding, instant gratification cookie cutter drivel designed to appeal to the 20 minute casual crowd. Spore may not be the greatest game ever made but it is inventive, imaginative, accessible, well executed and in my opinion a technical tour d'force. If classifying it as casual increases customer, and here I mean parent, acceptance and promotes sales then I'm all for it.
impar 12th September 2008, 23:10 Quote
Greetings!

Amazon deleted all customers reviews ratings.
Last I saw were ~2200 total and ~2000 1-star.

PS: They are back.
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