Tag Archive for movies

Movie Round-Up: July 17th, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

This actually opened Wednesday, and its going to be huge.  Millions of people will see it, and I’ve seen quite a few good reviews of it already.  I’ve seen the other ones in the theater, so it is quite likely I’ll make the trek to the local multi-plex in order to plunk down my hard earned dollars for this one as well.  However, now that I’ve seen how the books end, and knowing that they’ve decided to split the last book into two movies, I’m just not as excited as I once was for these movies.  Perhaps the movies will end better.

(500) Days of Summer:

Opening in very few theaters and opposite Harry Potter means that this movie will probably not be noticed by many people, and that’s a shame.  (500) Days of Summer is a brilliant comedy that is not a love story.  Its a film about a break up, all from the point of view of the guy.  I was lucky enough to catch a free screening of this film and I absolutely loved it.  I’d almost consider going and buying tickets for it even if I don’t see it again just to support the filmmakers.  If this one happens to be showing at a theater near you, I highly recommend it.

Niches and Peaks

A few days ago over at Kill Ten Rats, Suzina put up a post about Niche MMOs.  It sparked a bit of discussion, and I even threw in a comment, and I just felt it was an idea I wanted to put here and maybe expand on a little.

The fact is, everything starts as a niche.  The first MUD was a niche to the uses of the Internet that existed at the time (hell, MMOs today are still a niche of the overall gaming market, and games are a niche of the entertainment industry, I’m pretty sure books and movies outsell games – for now).  Every iteration of what we would come to call MMOs evolved, taking what came before and tried to improve it.  From MUDs to UO to EQ to WoW (and before anyone gets angry that I left out their favorite game in there, I’m being short on purpose, I realize there are tons of games that fit), each game wanted to be better than the last, and with a few exceptions the one thing most MMOs had in common was a fantasy setting.  There are lots of companies out there that have seen WoW, seen WoW’s numbers, and decided they’d like to be WoW.  But trying to out-WoW WoW is a losing proposition.  If you spend $100 million on a fantasy game and expect to get millions of subscribers, you are going to be disappointed (and probably broke).  In the post WoW fantasy genre, the best you can really hope for is a niche game that fills a need that WoW doesn’t and hold enough players to make a profit.  If you take a look at Lord of the Rings Online, they aren’t trying to beat WoW, but they did take a number of lessons from WoW and then said “What if we built a fantasy game on a well known intellectual property and kept the story content high?”  If you’d like to play a fantasy MMO with heavy story, LotRO is your game.  EQ2 is over in their corner nurturing their niche too.  Even EQ is holding on.  WAR is in the process of recovering, slapped with the realization they didn’t out-WoW WoW on launch.  AoC is in the same boat with WAR.  And since WoW is still climbing, still putting out expansions that expand the player base, its not yet time for someone to take over the crown yet.  WoW, being as successful as it is, needs to falter before that.  In the meantime, the fantasy genre is dead except in the niches.

But fantasy isn’t the only game in town.  EVE Online has been trucking along in the Science Fiction arena for a while, growing slowly and steadily.  If I had to define EVE I’d classify it as the “UO of the Ship-based Sci-Fi genre”.  Right now there are a few new Ship-based Sci-Fi games set to hit the market.  Black Prophecy and Jumpgate Evolution are the two big ones, with Star Trek Online taking a middle ground with both ships and ground game (hopefully they won’t fall into the same pit that Pirates of the Burning Sea did), and I suspect Star Wars: The Old Republic might have some space ships in it (but I also suspect the game will heavily favor the ground based side).  Assuming none of these games screw up too badly, one of them might be the EQ of the genre, breaking open the market.  If that happens, in about five years we’ll probably have a WoW-sized success in the Sci-Fi MMO market (maybe Stargate Worlds will recover enough to make a showing, but I think that might be just wishful thinking on my part), at which point Sci-Fi will be in the same boat that fantasy is currently: one clear “winner” with everyone else either failing or nurturing their niche of the genre.

My thoughts on this aren’t completely pulled out of thin air… just look at other entertainment sectors.  In movies, the out of left field blockbuster doesn’t really happen often.  Usually a blockbluster is preceded by several failed attempts, minor and moderate successes before landing the perfect storm of funding, story, directing and acting to blow the lid off.  After a blockbuster explodes, movies and games experience the same effect: attraction.  Once the market showed that people would pay to see a well done movie about comic book superheroes, all the sudden you had all the big name directors, writers, actors and movie producers looking to cash in.  The difference is that movies leave the theater, they last anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours, and its easy to watch a bunch of movies, a different one every weekend.  In MMOs, every game is like an extended run film of 50 or 60 years ago.  Nowadays, new movies open at the multiplex every weekend, and there are 24 screens, but “back in the day” people went to see Gone With The Wind over and over, and the theaters (which often had only 1 screen, maybe 2) kept it because it made money.  A new movie had to prove it was worth getting rid of a money maker.  That’s what the MMO market is like.  You can’t just release a game and expect people to come running.  The majority of people will only subscribe to one game at a time over the long term, with two subscriptions overlapping as they decide which one to keep.  They might buy your box and use your first “free” month, but you have 30 days to convince them not to go back to their other game, the one they’ve already invested time into, the one they’ve already had fun playing.  In 30 days you have to prove to them that they need to subscribe to your game, and you need to prove to them that if it comes down to a choice they should cancel their other accounts and not your game.

The Free-to-Play model is working to change this.  With a F2P MMO, you only need to convince people to keep your game installed and come back from time to time, and maybe throw a few bucks your way every now and then.  Sure, you’d like for them to dump money in, but (hopefully) your budget and business model is actually designed around a minority of players doing that, with the majority spending nothing or spending rarely.  It remains to be seen if this model with be a success and if it will have a profound effect on the subscription based gaming sector, or just another niche outside of tween-based casual game social spaces.

Anyway, at this point I’m just rambling, so I’ll stop.

Movie Round-Up: April 10th, 2009

Let me begin by saying, I have seen none of these movies.  The one I cared about I didn’t get passes to any screenings of, and the other two, well, I hope you understand why I had no desire to see them.

Observe and Report:

This movie looks… odd.  If you could take Paul Blart: Mall Cop and then completely turn it in reverse you might get Observe and Report.  At least that’s how the previews look.  Its one of those films where I laugh at some of the antics in the trailer, but overall I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy the movie as a whole.  But, it does have potential.  I want to see it, but maybe not for full price.

Dragonball Evolution:

I’ve never been a Dragonball fan, and I doubt I ever will be.  I think this movie has the potential to be fun, and it might even do well at the theaters considering there are lots of Dragonball fans out there, but I’ll be waiting for this to be available to watch streaming through Netflix.  There is no rush for me to see this at all.

Hannah Montana The Movie:

No.

In a Darkened Theater

In a weird way, lately, I have been seeing more movies than ever.  I’ve found a number of ways (available to anyone) to obtain passes to free screenings of films.  If that were not the case, however, I would probably be seeing very few movies at all.  Sure, I would make exception for events like The Dark Knight (which I actually paid to see… twice) but with all the theaters going up to $10 or more for a non-matinee price, it makes going to see a movie with the wife in the theater more expensive that waiting and purchasing it on DVD.  At best, I’d go see a movie every now and then on a Saturday or Sunday morning, before noon, when they have $6 tickets.  At least then it is cheaper for us than buying the DVD, but only barely.

The main problem is simply that many movies aren’t worth the cost of the ticket.  If they lowered prices, I’d go more often.  If it was $6 for the night time price and $3.50 for the matinee, I’d see a movie every weekend, maybe two.  Yes, I would spend a ton more money, but I also wouldn’t feel like I am getting ripped off when I pay to see a movie that isn’t so great.  $20 to see a movie that is crap just makes me never want to risk it again, but at $12… I more apt to keep trying.

At this point, the only movies I do feel any real need to see in the theater fall into two categories.  One, event films, like the aforementioned The Dark Knight.  Two, movies in 3-D.

In the past few years we’ve seen Beowulf, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Fly Me to the Moon.  Of those, only Fly Me to the Moon was not worth seeing.  The other two I felt were good movies on their own, but shown in Digital 3-D those movies were fantastic.  And as of yet, 3-D hasn’t made its way to the DVD player yet, so to see an enhanced film in all its glory, you have to see it in the theater.  Something tells me that there are people in Hollywood who understand that.

Without a decrease in prices, frankly, 3-D films are about the only thing that will get me to pay for a film.  Well, that and if Marvel and others can keep up the quality level of their superhero films…

There and Back Again