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Review of Gamesbrief Unplugged Vol. 2

By on October 12, 2011
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This review was originally posted on Jon Brady’s personal website. We’ve reproduced it here with his permission.

It’s safe to say that you can’t operate very well in the games industry (successfully, at least) without having something of an acute sense of business about you. Finding the link between a good business strategy and your own game can be a tricky process but, for obvious reasons, one of the most rewarding.

With that in mind, reading Nicholas Lovell’s GamesBrief Unplugged Volume 2 is a rewarding experience for those interested in the forces of monetisation and brand power that drive some of today’s biggest games from behind the scenes.

Unplugged Volume 2 features collected articles from GamesBrief.com from over the past couple of years. Topics include the downfall of Realtime Worlds – a case, Lovell argues, of spending money for the sake of money and failing to understand the MMO market – along with the power of free: not as a pricing model, but as a marketing strategy to bring new players in. Other topics include the future (and impending death) of the console and how in-app purchases are dramatically changing the way people spend money on games.

Reading up on the business of games is enormously interesting and having the collected articles of GamesBrief organised into relevant sections is great: absorbing all the information on one topic becomes much easier than browsing tags on a blog. Reading on the web is one thing but for properly absorbing information I find having an actual, physical book to hand is a much better way of enjoying what you’re reading, rather than staring at a monitor.

Every business term is explained in a glossary at the back and guest columns from other people in the industry, including a former Realtime Worlds employee, boost the integrity of the book; not that Lovell needs it, as a consultant for gaming upstarts and with a huge amount of previous finance experience in the City.

As it is, I recommend the book (as well as its predecessor, Unplugged Volume 1) to anybody considering getting into the games business, especially as an independent developer with no publisher backing: a choice that Lovell thoroughly advocates. I’ve currently lent the book to someone else who, as a gamer with no intention to move into the business of games (as far as I know), has commented that they’re surprised at how much they’re enjoying it.

That speaks volumes about how relevant the business of games is, and how interesting it can actually be to invest (sorry) some time in in order to learn about it. It can help you understand the motives behind some decisions that happen on both large and smaller scales, and reading Lovell’s in-depth, multi-article analysis of some topics is a great place to start.

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