The Future of Gaming Is Purveying Sin, Says VC Tim Chang

7/23/09

“Gaming will save us all,” proclaimed Tim Chang this morning. A principal at Norwest Venture Partners, a venture capital firm out of Palo Alto, CA, Chang spoke at Casual Connect Seattle, the three-day casual video game conference that ends this evening. Chang’s topic was emerging trends in casual gaming, and as a proud gamer since 1980, he was happy to tell the crowded room that casual games, integrated into larger “metagames,” are not only the future of gaming, but the future of digital media as well.

Essentially, Chang said, instead of games and other media being sold and consumed in one lump, there have to be different kinds of activities available across different platforms to get and keep customers. Thus, Casual Connect is more important than ever, because other meetings, like the annual Game Developers Conference, are not taking notice of the rising meta and casual game trends. “GDC is stuck in old crusty console land,” he said. Rather than just developing a game and selling it, companies now have to use add-ons, episodic storytelling, and other ways of encouraging people to keep playing. “Everything has to be an ongoing service,” Chang said—and companies have to provide that service and make money from it.

It’s not just gaming that has to change the way it thinks, though. “Traditional media is dead,” Chang explained, as are their business models. The interactive and social components of gaming are rapidly becoming the obvious solution to the loss of interest in old-fashioned media formats. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are particularly good examples, Chang said, because people who wouldn’t pay 99 cents for the MP3 will gladly fork over a couple of bucks to pretend that they are a rock star playing the song at a concert. “We gotta get into gaming because we sure as hell can’t sell CDs anymore” is the only conclusion music label executives can draw, Chang said. And that approach applies to casual games just as much as console games, he said, because it’s the “affinity of a flashy lifestyle” that attracts customers, not necessarily the quality of the music.

Gaming’s real success, though, and the answer to the future of digital media is … Next Page »

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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  • http://www.dead.net Higher Powered

    While the appeal to our prurient selves may be one way to increase sales and get attention, the desire to be involved in something bigger than ourselves that solves problems or provides a feeling or sense of helping others is underestimated. There is a market for “good” that is untapped, and that is potentially profitable. A MMOG that is geared toward eliminating poverty or providing potable drinking water for the poor, or (insert your own high sounding idea here) needs to be looked at and developed.

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