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Exclusive Denis Dyack Interview: Part 1

Exclusive Denis Dyack Interview: Part 1

Denis Dyack is one of the most well known figures in the videos games industry, both for his views and because he's the president and founder of Silicon Knights. He recently attended DIG London 2009 in London, Ontario, where he took part in a core values interview which was hosted by our very own Kyle Wynen.

However, before that session took place, we were able to catch up with Denis to get his views on the gaming industry as it currently stands. This is part one of the interview, and part two will arrive on the site within the next couple of days.

GamingUnion.net: With self publishing, direct download models like PSN, XBL, iPhone, Direct2Drive, Steam and XBL Games on Demand, developers can put out almost any kind of game, from small and casual to AAA. GTA4, Warhawk and others can be bought right from your console for example. So now finding a publisher is an option opposed to the only choice. If so why?

Denis Dyack: One of the things about the open market that people don't understand is it is open, but at the same time it's incredibly more competitive. What's happening with digital distribution and all these things going on is it's not a matter of whether developers are going to have more advantages or publishers are going to have more advantages, what's happening is a complete paradigm change. The way the typical business model for publishing and developing is being turned on its ear. We have to find new models, so to try to determine who's going to be on top and who's going to be on bottom, I think really what's going to happen is essentially every thing's going to change pretty radically, and developers as we know them and publishers as we know them may go away, it may turn into different entities. I do think that controlling IP, levels of piracy will be greatly reduced by digital distribution, and I think the cloud model as I've said earlier completely eliminates it. It's not because of anything else, it's because the economics alone on piracy, piracy, everyone talks about "why are these single player games multiplayer?" it's got nothing to do with anything else but piracy and used game sales, which to me quite frankly are very similar.

You know, when it comes down to making money, which is essentially survival, the market's going to find it it's own way. That's why when I always talk about a single console future or cloud computing, it's all where the economics are going to drive us. So my belief is that the traditional model between developers and publishers will probably [have] gone away in ten years. I don't know what's going to exist, but I know the models are changing pretty radically, even for us right now.

GU: What can you see publishers doing? They're like the big guys, and they're going to start losing means of profit.

DD: Well, that's already happening, it's becoming increasingly competitive, you're getting fewer and fewer publishers, there's being a lot more merges and acquisitions. Actually in 1996 I even started talking about then, we're probably going to start following Hollywood. In in Hollywood there used to be like two or three hundred independent studios, and then they merged into the six big studios that are still around today. That's probably going to happen [in the video game industry], however I think you're going to see other things as well, where the traditional role of a publisher, which is funding, marketing, and distribution, [will change]. Funding may become available to developers, marketing might become outsourced, and distribution is going digital, it [all] may redefine what publishers actually are, and how they work. I'm certain in some way, maybe they'll become funding entities or something, but it's going to be fundamentally different than it is today, because today the models don't economically work anymore.

GU: On used game sales, do you think micro-transactions are an effective means of combating used game sales? People that purchase DLC would seem more likely to hold onto their games than those that don't.

DD: All the movement towards multiplayer and DLC are absolutely to combat used game sales. In my mind there's no question, it's like a Cold War that's going on that no one wants to talk about, but there's a real, real problem when - in my eyes - when someone's making money off a product I'm making, and I see no revenue whatsoever, no possible revenue stream. So that's what that's going, is it going to be effective? I don't think so. I think in the end we're going to have to see different models, because in the end the cat's out of the bag, and we've established, this for bad I think, this methodology of when I go into a local video game I just look at there's more used game sales than there are new games out, there's something really really wrong with that. For someone in this industry, that's where we make our money, it's very depressing.

TAGS: Denis Dyack, Silicon Knights, DIG London, DIG London 2009


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