And here on this huge festival, it seems to us one was not up to fun. We do not play games, we do not drink soda Freestuff, we’re not going Fennec — we worked. With a backpack full of magazines (as a gift to our favorite companies and familiar to developers), with bags packed full demo disks and folders with information about new games, we crept from stand to stand and, like sponges, absorb the information, now to throw it for you, dear readers, rugged and muddy stream.
First I have to tell you how, by whom and why it all, that is all that freebies and all the noise that cost a lot of money, and made both of them, money, noise and freebies, obtained a new and much larger money.
At EZ is the owner, who is called Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), — it brings together a whole bunch of American and European toy companies. Uniting the old just three years — that three years ago the toy industry has found itself a strong and independent enough to break away from the annual US Consumer Electronics Show and arrange his own show — Electronic Entertainment Expo (in the people — EZ) — Electronic Entertainment Expo.
For two years, the exhibition was held in Los Angeles and is now moved to Atlanta. Only its many hotels, "Congress Hall" and giant stadiums, proven experience of the Olympics-96, able to accommodate the crowd of computer fans, journalists, developers and vendors of electronic games from around the world. The exhibition organizers proudly say that the area of exposure EZ Atlanta reached the value of 35 football fields, and these virtual fields their skills in interactive entertainment of the public showed more than 480 manufacturers and publishers from the United States, and (occasionally) other countries — 1500 products joke Do!
Personally, I have a word "35 football fields" still causes shivers in Kopenkov. Imagine: to find the right stand firm, even armed with a detailed map of the exhibition, sometimes had to spend almost an hour, full of people wading through a giant half-dark rooms and corridors. Especially nice look indicators — for example, dangling from the ceiling giant arrow "It stands 5000-7000"And next, in the same direction — "Stands 100-200".
In essence, do jogging on the exhibition with the heaviest backpack can be called interactive adventure games, and no computer for this nonweak entertainment was not required.
The principle "who is not with us — or against us" vengeance acts IDSA. The largest producer of games — the company CUC Interactive, united "Sierra", Blizzard and several smaller firms, the organization is not included and may therefore demonstrated their achievements elsewhere — that’s where the public were taken to a white limousine with bar and voditelnitsy Freestuff-Negro.
IDSA is able to take your money. The area in the giant halls of the Congress Hall and the stadium was so expensive that most manufacturers of games filmed here for three days at least a small cubicle (as did Sguo or Criterion Studios) was not expensive. At EZ dominated by giant companies, publishers — those whose names proudly adorn the toy box, dwarfing tiny logos of unknown developers.
Publishers in the EZ had one common goal — a common goal of any trader: to sell more goods, more expensive and faster. Show in Atlanta was done not for the poor, who blessed a meaningless smile stuck because each screen to another clone Tomb Raider’a, but for serious business people in business suits, who behind closed doors with the inscription "Trespassers W." We are buying and selling wholesale our future Christmas joy.
And it was a show for us, that is, for the press, which showed good person, believing that it was on our high opinion depends on the fate of this or that toy, and, ultimately, the company’s revenues. Good to be the press, I assure you! It’s just a fabulous life. To press on the EZ was not closed doors, because the inscription "Trespassers W." ADDITION words "In addition to the press"And behind the closed doors of the lucky ones waited increased almost Kremlin food, strong drinks, or even something inaccessible to mere mortals joy. Ah, if there is still work and did not have to!
Russians "Atlantic" Prices obviously could not afford. Among the sea of press releases, I found a couple of curious leaflets titled Russian Blockbuster — advertising inventions brothers Latypova.
Remember the old transmission "What where When"? The same Nurali Latypov, who starred in it for several years, hit the toy business. Interestingly, of course, look at the cross between Tetris with chess, which invented the famous brothers, but the overall impression of their opus, where in addition to the game was advertised "Scope to move through the virtual space"Suit with sensors for the same purpose and a new rating system for online competition, it is sad.
Nevertheless, our fellow citizens did not escape their attention the exhibition. Some of them, as representatives of the Soft Club and ElectroTECH Multimedia, agreed on future purchases and localization of games, others — sold themselves …. This is not a joke. Our artists, animators and programmers appreciate worldwide. CUC Interactive, for example, moves to Moscow his graphic studio. So what are Russian! And, as always, his favorite in a roundabout way.
And now I’ll do what he likes: tell you about the content of a purely official annual report IDSA "The situation in the industry of computer entertainment: 1997". And do not tell me it’s boring, I love graphs, charts and columns of large numbers. I hope that you enjoy it!
Rich Russian Pinocchio
Firstly, from this lengthy paper I found out why in fact ladies gray hawk eyes and plump gentlemen in expensive suits stranglehold seizes our magazine and, not understanding a word, and spend too much time flipping it indefinitely. You will laugh for a long time, but they smelled the smell of money — our and your, and made a hunting stand.
The American market is packed to capacity. The toy store is just not enough space to put all the things that make the American toy company, and they have no choice as to seek his fortune overseas.
Last year, overseas trade brought the American toy company for almost 40% of revenues. Western Europe and Asia, each buy toys about as much as all of North America. One Germany procures goods overseas at a billion dollars annually. What about one-sixth (or is now the eighth?) Part of the land? If you are doing there, and most importantly, buy a deluxe edition as our (and really looks edition "richly"Of the two dozen gaming magazines, which we brought to the exhibition, God forbid, the pair looked like .EXE on quality of design, printing and volume information), — it means people matured to the packaged good toys (the presence in Moscow of such places as "Crust"We told the Russian market with candidates tactfully did not mention) and he just needed some tutelage of another giant — like MicroProse or
While large companies only look askance and lick our market, smaller firms are simply forced to search for the location of our public finances as amended by its modest means. As you read these lines, will arrive in Moscow for a delegation from the Sguo — most likely, they ripen in time for the completion of work on the Russian version of Dragon Lore 2, and in turn have Russian Atlantis. Down and Out the trouble started (as I say for the past six months — probably in the form of spells).
Hunting for little girls
You know, what a discovery last year was the main manufacturers of toys? No, not a DVD and MMX! In 1996, they learned that in the world there are young girls, and, moreover, these little girls are very different from little boys: they do not like to shoot and drive the car, but they like to dress up, paint and play with dolls.
"Aha! — They said to themselves the most nimble and, accordingly, from small toy manufacturers. — Why do we have to fight for overseas markets, where the crowd of our local girls can not wait to give us the $ 50 billion in pocket money they receive from parents each year, plus gifts for another 40 million — from loving relatives?"
And the light was a shame-American — in the top five in sales, together with the bloodthirsty shooters long and firmly holds the pink box Barby Fashion Designer. This interesting fact shamefully silent almost all the gaming magazines, but the sellers to understand, where the wind blows. In one of the shops of the famous network of computer supermarkets CompUSA my own eyes I saw a detached stand with the inscription "Games for girls"- Which, however, it was nothing but a dozen boxes of the notorious Barbie. We must assume that the remaining ten stands without specific markings contained games for boys, or, what is even more interesting, the girls stood out in a very special branch of humanity, and the differences of mentality and behavior of other people do not allow the poor things fun usual for their compatriots, the — that is, something like toys for the blind or oligophrenics.
But: if there is a demand — the proposal does not take long! Like mushrooms after the rain, grow the company, consisting only of women and make games just for girls. Apparently, when girls grow up, they still blend in with the rest of humanity, so we must seize the moment while they are small, and feed them toys containing useful information on the make-up, home-made decorations and communication skills with the boys (platonic, of course). There were inventors who sell one such toy complete with lipstick — it’s probably not the boy bought it by mistake. The question now is not whether to sell will cool action games, complete with a razor?
Does the process of familiarizing girls Barbie doll to your computer or not, IDSA data suggest that forty percent of the computer players in the past year were women, so that, following the trends of the market of computer games can, and our magazine is to have a pair of pink pages "exclusively for girls", a?
Another EZ surprise for me was very little interest in online games. Going to the exhibition, I assume that, judging by the level of noise "Online" and in gaming magazines, at least one-third of the exhibition will be devoted to the collective entertainment. Nothing like this!
Although "Microsoft" EZ actively advertised on its new gaming network, and each more or less well-known Internet-site offered to the public at least a small part of his handful of printed leaflets, exhibition clearly ignored this last squeak toy industry.
IDSA has found this rather amusing base. It turns out that playing online games a total of 14% of all gamers, and half of the gaming community, and in the future plans to have fun on the Internet.
Do you think so respected in the EZ statistics? If that were the case, we’ll still be playing games on diskettes: in fact, according to the same report, IDSA, at the end of last year, only slightly more than half of American computers had CD-ROM (albeit single speed), as well as Computer owners do not buy it this year!
The reason for cool attitude to online games on the EZ, as usual, prosaic. Representatives of a large toy business have not yet decided exactly how they will be able to extract the maximum profit from the online boom. Main Internet-issue discussed at the exhibition looked like: who, when and how much to pay for entertainment in "Online"? Will it be a subscription fee for access, hourly rate or income from advertising?
The latter option is particularly cool. Overwhelm you, for example monster, standing over him, enjoying the victory, and then there is a pretty girl’s face with the words: "Now you can feel completely at ease even in the most critical days!".
While in "Online" or a democracy, according to large firms, "mores of the Wild West"The people who have played in that much, then money, then nothing, and reputable traders look to this swarming down: kids play while the game, while we have not decided how best to nail you to clean up!
Cheap and cheerful
I was constantly tormented by an inferiority complex because of the genre of toys, which has managed to deal with me. I always think that no one is playing in quests, and, accordingly, are not wanted and my Mrs. Dubrovskaya article and section of quests is quite natural lives on the margins of our magazine (cost as many other toy edition without any such section!) so the balm on my wounds became diagrammka IDSA, according to which the public interest is approximately distributed among the shooters, strategy, Quests ("adventure game", And also in the company of RP6) and simulators. Of course, interest in Shooting bit higher than the rest of the games, and a simulator — a bit lower, but it is 10% in the evaluation of such vague concepts as "interest"!
Do you believe these numbers? I — no. Which would stand at the exhibition I have gone on the screen no matter what looked everywhere spinning endless descendants and heirs of Lara Croft "Quake". I think that soon Motologa pair of ears will go from such an abundance of material, and we, the unfortunate need to go on leave without pay — for a company with a strategy and Mr. Lamtyugovym.
Of course, a closer examination will always show that we, the poor, there is something to make money on the EZ, but the blunt force that causes "intellectual" firm, very famous in other genres, endlessly churning action games, adventure games, Action Games, Strategy and EC-sheny simulators, long remained a mystery to me. The answer — again in the squiggle from the report IDSA. The market of computer games not pull against the market set-top boxes, which are EZ feel kum king, occupying huge areas, and deceived the public inconceivable structures and special effects, which have computer companies did not have the money pi, or fantasy.
Everyone would like to grab a big chunk at this celebration of wealth, as it managed to Eidos Tomb Raider’oM, released almost simultaneously for PC and Sony PlayStation. At the same time everyone knows that prefixal business is focused mainly on the bloodthirsty teenagers, and under their own tastes honed machine specifications. That threw thousands of casualties, swallowing salivating, mold and pale clones of similarity known toys in hopes to cut greens on both platforms.
Nataliya Dubrovskaya even developed its own original method of rapid communication with the creators of these masterpieces. Going to the next screen, where some half-naked athlete performed intricate movements, she busily inquired: "A sideways jumps?" — And, without waiting apologetic response like "but he knows how to fly!", Accusing cast: "Even Lara jump!" — And proceeds to the contemplation of the next exhibit. I am afraid that the fate of these wretched creatures of greed will be sad, and they will not be saved from ruin dozens of small firms, it is hoped that "Monsieur consoles all-DYT"But that in the next few months, our magazine section shooters bu-children to crumble — it is already clear.
Wild manners of wild forest
Gone are the glorious days of the pioneers, and pioneers when all the games enough space on the shelves when gamers first, animation greeted the appearance of any new toys when their legendary creators alone pored over masterpieces in garages and kitchens. It is time to fierce competition, and IDSA report predicts the onset time of transnational monopolies.
Everyone knows that Hollywood is out there and how to make movies. Now, the same will be in video games. Several biggest, most toothy companies monopolize the market and only a small independent studio and will remain that in the bud to sell to some giant, or languish on his own handouts at the expense of future profits.
Scary to watch the deadly struggle teddy mastodons. Here was a company "Sierra", Like a large and prosperous, but came some CUC Software and devoured her with all giblets, then bit her main dish of Blizzard and a couple of smaller companies.
About a crumb like Cyberflix, she casually picked up the corpse of another sdohshego mastodon, GTE Entertainment, CUC did not even mention. Why, without these add-ons, it is now — second only to Microsoft’s largest producer of software (not just a toy) software in the United States. But GT Interactive, which occupied the second place in the toy industry in the past year, with a burst of gluttony and now resides in dismay and disarray. Her place was taken by a young predator Intuit, swallowed in the past year and Inscape Trimark. But the most dramatic events yet to come. On the weakened carcass transnational giant Virgin already sharpening its claws Spelling Entertainment.
"And what will it all end?" — You ask. Turn on the TV, and you’ll understand. Already this year, the toy companies focus on the continuation of the famous and cash games on the series with familiar player characters and endless additional missions to the games. The Giants do not like to take risks but are willing to shell out a lot of money for promotion obviously successful venture and equipping of the old story with new technical gadgets. I feel it in my heart, close to the day when the world will be a toy "underground" with a known non-profit and "informal" toys, and, probably, their own toy magazines. One can only be glad that at least this year, we will see more than a dozen of fresh and original creations (at least among KBE-ists are still there, but they are — in the next issue).