Soren Johnson, lead designer of Civilization 4:
The answer is to make digital games so attractive that players will abandon
physical discs on their own. (One might call this the Steam strategy.)
Microsoft could have avoided this whole fiasco by maintaining the old
disc-based ecosystem while softly undermining it with three moves that
create an alternate digital future.
Combined, these three changes would destroy the traditional retail market.
The $40 price would make digital games cheaper at release; the ongoing heavy
sales would undercut the used games market; and persistence would make digital
games easier to maintain across multiple devices. Microsoft needs to make
buying games digitally a better deal for the consumer than buying them
I was extremely disappointed to hear Microsoft cave in to rabid demands to
maintain the status quo. I was really looking forward to their plans for
combined physical and digital ownership, where I could get all the benefits of
buying physical copies, including special and collectors’ editions of my
favorite titles, while simultaneously retaining all the benefits of a digital
copy, like the ability to forego disc-swapping.
How long will we have to wait for consoles to catch up with Steam?
Last week, I received an offer from EA BioWare: they want me to join their San Francisco
operations team as a Platform Systems Engineer! I still can’t believe that this is happening,
but I’m going to be moving to California to work for a game studio. This is practically my
dreams come true, and I’m excited and overwhelmed beyond my imagination.
I won’t be working on games directly, but I’ll be working in a devops role to automate and
manage servers for games and internal projects. It’s a good fit with my experience in web
applications, system administration, and tool development. It also can be a potential
stepping stone to a game development position later on.
The next two months are likely to be hectic, as I move to temporary housing in California,
and then find an apartment and move into it. Ongoing projects may have to take a back seat
until I can get the free time again. But the weather and job will be worth it!
On Saturday, I appeared as a guest host on Podcast 17, for the interview portion of
episode #128, to talk about the benefits and challenges of creating open source
modifications for Valve’s Source engine, the power behind their classic Half Life 2 series. It got
rather sidetracked from the original plan of discussion, and ran longer than expected, but there
was some interesting discussion, and great insight from former Valve contractor Tony Sergi.
If you work on the Source engine, or are looking to run or join open source mod projects, I highly
recommend you take the time to listen in.