Each and every year, hundreds of millions of video games are sold to consumers across the globe. Most of these titles are created for consoles like the PS3 and Xbox 360, requiring at least a year to create and often pushing that window to three years (or longer). The average price to create such a product now sits at a cool $20 million. Hundreds of developers toil on these products for thousands of man hours totally immersed in the game that they’ve created alongside their peers.
We also know that very few of these AAA, multi-million dollar games ever actually become truly profitable. Those that do are huge successes, but those that fail do so in spectacular fashion with millions of dollars simply vanishing into the ether. With so much at stake, the larger publishers have begun to rely on traditionally successful titles and gameplay, which has driven many of gaming’s most creatively novel titles (at least when they were released) into a state of stagnation and what I’d like to intellectually dub “unfunness.”
However, any truly free marketplace with intelligent individuals vying for supremacy—and few are as open and intelligent as video gaming is today—will fill that vacuum. Development for gaming systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360 may continue to be an expensive prospect for most developers, but with the rise of mobile gaming, alternate online platforms, and a resurgence in the PC marketplace, many independent development teams—with and without money—are drawing in huge crowds of gamers.
Zynga’s rise to prominence is certainly notable, but it seems like every day we’re hearing about other companies that hit it big with their fresh (or at least freshly presented) gameplay concepts. Angry Birds, Minecraft, Playdom, PopCap Games, and more can be counted as companies and titles that have broken out of the mold and fashioned a new path in gaming for others to follow. Low cost projects are springing up left and right, and those titles that gain traction with the vast userbases of mobile phones and Facebook succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
And yet even with this past there still seems to be a tendency—even in the newer gaming spaces of Facebook and mobile phones—to continue to copy those games that have succeeded in the past. How many clones of FarmVille now exist on Facebook?
That’s where END Games enters the picture. We’re here to create games that are actually fun to play together with your friends. That means kick-ass, sweat-inducing, white-knuckle-gripping-your-mouse action, or just having fun with silly concepts that spark interaction between buddies, and everything in between.
We believe that there’s again a vacuum in the gaming space in the current “Wild West” of gaming—the online and mobile gaming scene. Whether you’re an old school Asteroids nut or a new hotness League of Legends player, we’re trying to bring new and entertaining games with true real time gameplay to platforms that haven’t seen a full fleshing out of their gaming potential.
While the multiplayer online battle arena players find in Vorp! may not be a new style ofgameplay (although it *is* relatively new to gaming in general), it is definitely a novel
concept to the Facebook gamer. Sites like Gamezebo wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a sincere interest from users around the world to try to find the next epic title to hit Facebook or mobile devices. The silly simplicity of Click! for mobile devices is just another beginning of what we plan to create.
Our ultimate goal is to design for a human’s entire experience, not just sitting in front of a computer. How do you access your fun? How do you stay engaged outside of directly playing? How can we make it easier to stay connected with your friends, family, and neighbors and share new experiences together? These are questions we are asking as we create and deploy “fun.”
Cody Bye is the director of marketing and public relations for END Games Entertainment. Cody has been involved with the online social gaming movement for over twelve years and has spent time in dozens of online games, playing everything from Ultima Online to CityVille. As the online social industries continue to mature, Cody hopes to help enlighten consumers and developers on current gaming trends, draw attention to emerging markets, and generally have a fun time online.