I think we have over generalised music, games, art, tv, movies, and everything uploadable and postable as “content”,which has become a disservice to our culture.A comment by Tawny Graf on the “Video Game Industry Stalls, Stocks Plunge. What’s Going On?” article.
Battlefield 2 was last on sale on Steam and Origin in 2014. Then it was mysteriously removed. The inability to obtain a legal copy is hurting various mods and communities. Yes, there are “stand alone” versions of some mods but legally its a grey area. Some projects have tried to restore BF2 servers but have been shut down by Electronic Arts. This is entirely within EA’s legal rights. They are just protecting their “IP” (Intellectual Property), however the criticisms of them are justified. In fact we’re talking “$55 billion knocked off the market” justified. Yes you read that correctly …
$55 BILLION !
As the article describes, (also see here, and here1 and here) the video game industry is paying dearly for business practices that spectacularly missed the point of what exactly games mean to people. They are part of peoples life and culture. Think of your local baker, garage, cafe or pub. Is the business all about “selling product”. Of course not. People interact. The businesses are part of the community. Events happen. Culture happens. Yet the game industry has lamely been calling all of this “content”.
With Battlefield 2 the game was taken off the market as EA decided to pursue developing Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play4Free business models with micropayments systems and other approaches that are part of the reason for the enormous stock market losses. Ironically EA already had a “pay for free” system setup with Battlefield 2, before they took it off the market, with its modding system that has produced so much quality releases by the likes of AIX2 (and AIX2 Minimod), Forgotten Hope, Project Reality and countless other “mods” (and EA did not even have to make any of it themselves apart from the original modding tools !). Members and communities are still active even if they have dwindled a little due to the non-availability of BF2.
So this is where I can see things heading. Both EA’s Battlefield Heroes and Play4Free failed. Along with this spectacular failure of the video games industry approach, everything is coming back down to earth again with a big bump. EA executives and advisers will realise they they were being silly taking BF2 off the market. They had already created a successful business model, as well as a service to the communities of model makers, artists and texture artists, that was driving sales of BF2. This is why Relic re-released Company of Heroes 1 with Steam Workshop support. We have seen a succession of quality mods for COH1, that were languishing in obscurity, released on Steam. This is a good service for the community and our culture, as well as being a way to drive sales of classic/retro games. People see the enormous amount of free, quality creativity and innovation by mod teams and are drawn into buying the game.
It will also make Modern Combat accessible to the entire Steam community (and hopefully give the mod’s dwindling playerbase a shot in the arm).An example of this approach.
After all is that not what EA/DICE intended to do in the first place ? Encourage development of mods and then market the game on the basis of free mods being available ?
So I predict that EA will release BF2 again on Origin, Steam or both. If they really get it they will provide mod support either though Steam Workshop or some system of their own on Origin. This is what their market research will tell them. That products they own that are now at the “classic” and/or “retro” end of the market make money by leveraging the huge ecosystems such as Steam. The realisation that the blind pursuit of “top $$$” just alienates gamer’s will also sink in. There’s a lot of talent out there that expresses itself through the modding scene and I’l like to see Forgotten Hope or Project Reality (or whatever mod) on Steam where people who would otherwise probably never discover it will find it. Plus the ability to actually purchase the base game brings more people into modding communities that that have been established for years and have a lot of history behind them.
1. ^ That article covers the wider tech market. I’d suggest the fall there is for similar reasons such as politicising an approach to social media content as well as being dishonest about discriminating against certain viewpoints as exposed by Project Veritas.