Preface and Overview
Hand in hand with this rise to popularity, our entertainment software has become more complicated. Gaming hardware, from PCs to high-end consoles, has become more powerful, and the types of content have become much more involved. Gone are the days of single textured polygons or even basic hardware shaders. Simple LAN-style multiplay is long gone too, and an escalating war of feature brinksmanship is leading to ever more sophisticated ways to play. Input mechanisms have become more varied and sophisticated, with motion-sensing devices like the Wiimote and those fantastic little plastic guitars opening up new types of gameplay to all new audiences. The proliferation of mobile phones capable of running complex software has created new markets for casual gamers who don’t even own dedicated high-end hardware. At the same time, our users expect ever more accessible interface models, better matchmaking that is more transparent as well as more accurate, and so on. Finally, the profusion of different platforms, from PC to handhelds, means that it is no longer enough to build a great game on one gaming system. To reach massive commercial success, it often needs to be built for six or seven. As if all of that weren’t enough, the marketplace has become so crowded (because of the delightful profits I mentioned previously) that you need to have brilliantly marketed products. Moreover, all versions of those products need to simultaneously hit store shelves on the same day so you can get the most out of
those brilliant marketing dollars. Beyond that, you’ll need to have downloadable content, expansion packs, and sequel or franchise plans in place so you can ensure that your hit game isn’t a flash in the pan but instead starts a franchise dynasty that will have your investors rolling in the Benjamins until the next ice age.