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Why do AAA console developers find making social games so hard?

By on May 13, 2010

I am a big fan of Steve Blank.

He teaches entrepreneurship at Berkeley and Stanford and wrote Four Steps to the Epiphany.

In his most recent blog post, he attempts to answer the question: “Should an entrepreneur have an MBA?”

When a former student asks if he should do an MBA, he listens to the guy’s questions, then draws the following picture and asks which bits he prefers:

The key message is that very different skills are needed in the search for the business model and the execution of the business model. (Read the full post on Entrepreneurial Finishing School to get the full explanation.)

It made me think about the games business.

Most AAA console developers think that they are entrepreneurs because they have started up and run their own companies.

But in most cases, that is not true. The business model was clear: pitch a game to a publisher, get a multi-million dollar advance, make the game.

That is no longer the case.

Should the company make iPhone games? Social games? PSN games? Will consumers prefer subscriptions or microtransactions or one-off purchases? Which marketing methods work best?

The truth is that entrepreneurs need to experiment. Executives are rubbish at experimentation.

So which are you: an entrepreneur or an executive?

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: