Written by Zhong Liu Mike Fan
When I was a kid, I promised myself that one day I’d buy every game and game console available. What I didn’t realize was buying them was the easiest part. The hard part was to find time to actually play them all. So, I’ve been stacking games for decades. I probably still have a dozen brand new PS2 games somewhere in my cavern.
Last weekend, I finally found some time so I started playing Fallout 3. I’m only about a decade late – playing it on a former-generation console, to boot.
As a Fallout-fan, I was so excited. If you don’t know Fallout, it’s basically the kind of game where you can do almost anything you want. There is so much content in this game; you can play for hundreds of hours without getting bored. I spent my first hours reading everything I could find on the game, doing every single side-quest and talking to every single NPC (non-player character). I was hooked. It was so immersive.
Ok, so the game froze from time to time. I even got some drops in the frame rate, but the emotion attached to this game and my rabid fanboyism helped me to filter out these tech challenges.
And then, out of nowhere, the game crashed.
And I stopped playing. I went sailing instead.
I was furious.
Suddenly, every problem I encountered was replayed over and over in my head. My fanboy filter was no longer strong enough to justify the technical weaknesses. I was out of the zone. The suspension of disbelief was over. It was just me, holding the Sixasis controller and observing the cruel truth: the poor technical execution and related poor experience completely killed all of this game’s potential.
Over the few hours I played the game, I recognized all the qualities that make Fallout such an amazing franchise. The dialogues, the humor, the timing, the mise en scène, the character development… from the reviews I read about the game, I was not alone in my assessment.
And because of those great qualities, seemingly no one cared about the tech. Very few talked about the bugs, the freezing, the lag, the bad pathfinding or the crashes. And even when some reviewers mentioned them, the focus was always on the content. The game has a solid 4.5/5 on metacritic despite all the technical problems.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand you don’t ever sell a game by saying: “hey, my game doesn’t crash and doesn’t have any bugs!” – so content is important, but fundamentally, consumers assume that it will work. This is exactly why I was so upset – the game didn’t fundamentally work.
This applies to the online video industry as well. No one ever talks about the tech – only the content. Look at HBONow’s advertisement on the App Store: it’s all about Game of Thrones. Just like Netflix was all about House of Cards. “Content is king,” and viewers look for the biggest, richest, best catalog of content. Basically, they look for the promise of a great viewing experience.
But what about delivering on that promise?
I remember a few years ago, it was incredibly hard to find any content related to eSports (competitive gaming). And when companies figured out there was a huge market for spectator gaming (watching people playing games), dozens of live streaming services started offering it – Own3D, eLive, Livestream, Ustream, NicoNico Douga, etc. They were all competing to have the best content, the biggest catalog and the most famous names. Some of them were quite successful for a while, but eventually, TwitchTV came out of nowhere and won.
Even though TwitchTV’s catalog was still small, they had great content and a great revenue-sharing model. How did they win over Own3D, which actually had more content? They delivered a perfect experience. The viewers were given what they were asking for and what they expected – HD@60FPS, a great chat, very clean UI and a very easy set-up for streamers… all the facets of experience that aren’t usually mentioned but make all the difference when viewers are actually watching.
The entertainment industry is becoming more and more immersive with better graphics, better story telling, live capability, and the promise of a great experience. And even though viewers don’t necessarily care about the tech that enables these promises, it is our responsibility to deliver.
Fallout promised me 200 hours of game play, but I only played 3 hours. And I wasn’t happy.
How many hours of content do you offer in your catalog and how many of these hours are actually being watched? And ultimately, how many viewers are happy about their experience? To deliver on the promise of experience, these are answers you must know.