Piracy can be solved...TS: Moving on then a little, I’m interested to hear what you think about DirectX 11. Obviously there are some new features in DirectX 11 and developers are already starting to look at how they can use the new features. How do you think the new API will push things forwards for gamers?
Well, one thing’s for sure – DirectX 11 will be important. What we need to do though is sit down and work with developer communities to ascertain how much of DirectX 11 makes a programmer’s life easier and how much of DirectX 11 pushes the boundaries to deliver new experiences for gamers.
I say this because if it makes the programmer’s life easier, they may adopt it at some point but they’re not going to be in any hurry. If, on the other hand, it allows them to introduce new effects or experiences into a game that will result in more sales, it’s more likely to see a faster adoption – that’s where I hope to see DirectX 11 sitting.
So going back to my point before, this is a business for publishers and they’re not messing around. They will ask the developers two questions – will it sell me more games, or will it make the game cheaper to develop? They’ll also say that if you’re going to tell me it’s going to take longer, it’s going to cost more, or heaven forbid it’s going to delay the game, we’re not interested and we probably don’t want the new technology.
Battlefield Heroes will use microtransactions to drive revenue instead of off-the-shelf sales.
TS: How are things going with anti-piracy in the PC Gaming Alliance?
It’s a very difficult problem, of the four sub-committees inside the PCGA, it’s the one that faces the biggest challenges but we're determined to try and tackle them.
TS: Is it the most active of the four sub-committees?
All of the sub-committees are very active, but in terms of progress there are a whole bunch of issues we’re trying to wrestle to the ground and they’re just not ready to go public on them at the moment. With regards to piracy, first of all, you can’t make the good guys, i.e. the legitimate purchasing customers, feel like they’re criminals and one of the issues right now with existing DRM methodologies or processes is that they can sometimes make the good guy feel like they’re not valued.
TS: I agree completely and I’m sure many of our readers will be pleased to hear you say that. You sometimes can’t even return the game if it doesn’t run because of problems with DRM and you’re left with a £30 drinks coaster. That frankly sucks.
Exactly, it’s a serious problem that we have to solve.
TS: I hope someone does work it out.
World of Warcraft has next-to-no piracy because it's more of a service than a product.
The second thing we’ve got to do is do one of two things. We can try and make it socially unacceptable to pirate games, in a way that certain behaviours are socially unacceptable.
Or, we just accept that it is what it is and it’s here to say and will never change. Going down that route means we’ve got to think about other ways to increase revenue and sales on the PC. Maybe we don’t need to sell games any more – look at Asia, the biggest PC gaming market in the world. They don’t sell games in Asia and revenue is instead driven by microtransactions, subscriptions and advertising. Most people think about advertising as in-game billboards, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s also product placement, portals, webpages and endorsements.
It's going to be interesting to see how Battlefield Heroes does as a free-to-play game. I also recommend reading David Perry's
'33 ways to make money from video games
We'd like to thank Roy for taking the time to talk with us at short notice, and if you've any questions or comments - feel free to drop them in the forums!