“The traditional model of games development has begun to show its age, and new methods of production must be embraced in order to take advantage of new opportunities.”


Due to the astronomical costs involved in creating games, massive sales must be achieved. This sole factor is rendering the traditional model inefficient. In contrast to the actual amount of money that publishers make, the creators make significantly less. The traditional model consists of large companies hiring many employees primarily working on the same project. Some of the work maybe outsourced, utilising the cheaper developing countries. Millions of pounds are spent on development before any revenue has been generated. Considerable sums of money will then be spent on marketing and retail distribution. The publishers make considerably more money in comparison to the developers. In many cases, if the project fails, the company closes down. On the other hand, if the game is successful, the company undertakes a new project and the cycle begins again. As a medium, games are generally released after a novel or film. This model is results orientated and many companies do not take risks. Consequently, this impacts on innovation in new games as mainly tried and tested formulas are adhered to. Utilising this model stifles creativity in many cases.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Albert Einstein

Alternative models have been created. Some of these benefit the publisher whilst others benefit the developer. Most of these are implemented worldwide.

In Game Advertising

Also known as advergaming, advertising in games is only in its infancy. It is an untapped resource which may be off use to new or struggling companies. It could provide lifelines allowing companies to pursue more innovative and risky ideas. In some respects it can add more realism to a game, an advert for coke is more realistic than an advert for an imaginary drink. They can however become obtrusive which would hinder playability and so one might argue that it would be more of a hindrance. The cost of creating a game is only going to increase and so this seems like a viable step in meeting those costs. What must not happen is to allow these companies a controlling say in the design of the game.

One of the largest examples is Massive, a subsidiary of Microsoft, who offer companies the opportunity to advertise in affiliated games. Their list is impressive. [ 1 ]

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

Steuart Henderson Britt

Work for Hire Model

This has also be coined as the Hollywood Model, it employs talent on a contractual basis thus only employing when work is available. This allows the publishers to save on capital in between projects. This model primarily benefits the employer but it does have its advantages for the contractor.

Contractors can focus on their strongest areas rather than being adept in a few subjects. This is susceptible to isolating some employees. Talent can gain exposure at many companies, allowing for them to work on more games than the traditional model. By constantly moving between companies, a common code of practise would be created, thus protecting more employees. Currently the industry is ruthless showing little regard for the future of their employees. This system also entitles the developer to overtime payments in contrast to steady salary based employment.

For the publisher there are many advantages. This includes saving capital during down times, hand picking teams and reducing employee tax. Even independent developers could create their own teams and be hired as a group. In 2006, a group of developers advertised their services for ninety days on Ebay for $200,000. [ 2 ] One notable item is that the publisher owns the intellectual property (IP). This could potentially benefit the developer as the publisher would be better suited to localisation and distribution, more access to capital and many marketing possibilities. They would have other business structures in place such as testing, quality assurance, research and collaboration with other departments.

There are some risks associated with this model but all can be avoided if an adequate contract is negotiated. From the publishers’ side, a developer may produce inadequate work which cannot be published or a publisher may cancel a project at any time. It requires the skill sets from both sides to be maximised in order to be successful. [ 12 ]

Another trend occurring is outsourcing to developing countries. The wages that these developers demand are a fraction of western pay packets. Publishers do not have to provide equipment or any other related fees. A small highly talented team creates a demo which is then pitched. If successful, the rest of the work is outsourced and the team begins a new project.

IP Rights

“Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.”

Albert Einstein

Innovative IP can hold a significant value if sold or licensed regardless of completion. Payment is generally upfront or in part if incomplete. The revenue generated can be used to fund future projects and it gives developers increased financial stability. The developer funds this and so is not at risk to some of the issues of the previous model such as a project cancellation. Creative control lies with the developer and so this promotes innovation. Generally the publisher owns all right to the sequels and all associated assets so the developer must consider these trade off’s when considering a contract. Another approach that could be considered is Segmented Right Licensing. The IP is segmented and sold separately to different parties or some parts may remain with the developer [ 12 ].

Developers Model

MMOG’s and MMORPG’s are expanding a rapid rate. In comparison to a general release, the content costs a fraction and revenues are generated constantly. The main costs incurred are during the initial planning and implementation phase. Funding must be secured through investors which may include venture capitalists or Business Angels. Once the title has been released, the majority of the team can be released. The remaining skeleton team is all that is required to update the content. Players only need broadband and a hard-disk and the capital to meet the subscription fees.

Consoles are beginning to incorporate this feature. Users of the Xbox 360 are able to download new content via the Xbox 360 marketplace. [ 3 ] Nintendo recently announced that their next generation console, Revolution, will feature downloadable content.

Retail distribution costs are eliminated. In the traditional model, the game must be formatted to be put on CD or DVD. All materials can be downloaded including manuals and updates. There are less licensing implications to consider. Based on various aspects, policies regarding use are set, which are combined with the package via a specific licensing technology. These technologies range from encoding on the physical device, activation codes to online registration. Internet based games are easier to license as the user typically has to login. Some downloadable games do not require a user to login and these are susceptible to improper use. Several DRM technologies are available but none today can offer 100% protection.

The specific launch date can be controlled worldwide. In the traditional model, games have to pass through a variety middlemen and distributors before it reaches the shop shelves. This has many costs associated with it due to the logistics. Depending on the arrangement, the channel that is responsible for selling the game collects the revenue and compensates the company. This may be in the form of pre-sale or post sale payments. With the internet this could all be concluded electronically, thus slashing the timescales involved. Downloadable games eliminate all of these layers. Steam [ 23 ] is one company which specialises in downloading games for users and they been extremely successful. They have hundreds of titles available for download covering all genres.

There is one major risk with this type of model. As the initial investment is very high, the first episode must be successful. If it is not, players will not purchase any other instalments. Large scale examples of these MMOG’s include LOTR [ 6 ], Second Life [ 7 ] and Ultima [ 8 ] which was first launched in 1998.

Independent Distribution

This is hardest route for any developer to follow. However as there are no constraints from the publisher, time scales can be altered and the developers own all rights. Combining all of these factors creates a model that promotes innovation. The first project would be difficult as funding would be hard to secure but if it is a success, all capital generated would finance future titles. Once the game is developed, it can be made available online, the process is identical to the developer’s model. There are communities available that promote indie development and allow creators to advertise their content. Manifesto Games [ 4 ] and the Independent Games Festival [ 5 ] are examples of such.

Public Broadcasters

Another model that has been mentioned is the role that public broadcasters could perform in game development. David Rejeski has championed this model. [ 9 ] A Corporation for Public Gaming (CPG) should be established which would provide grants to create games for public consumption. This would model its broadcasting counterpart and create games that will “inform, enlighten and enrich the public.” [ 10 ] Portions of the funding would go towards education which would aim to improve on the content and review the social impact of the game. Another suggestion is for the current CPB to include games in their model. These projects would be able to take more risks as they would be able to afford to, and any mistakes would be documented allowing others to gain from such experiences. In the 1980’s, the BBC launched the BBC Micro [ 11 ], an educational tool which was successful. The ended the project in the late 80’s as a result of increased competition.

Government Intervention

Throughout history governments have offered benefits to all types of industries. There are a few incentives in place which benefit the developer. Research and Development tax credits can be awarded to developers freeing up more capital. Throughout Europe, regional production investments are available to meet the costs of setting up an office. Governments offer these investments as they create jobs in the locality. The Isle of Man is currently offering grants of up to 40% towards the costs of relocating and setup.

The film industry currently enjoys significant tax breaks as it is considered a cultural benefit. Novelists receive other benefits. If governments can provide such backing to these forms of entertainment, surely the same should be said about games. [ 13 ]

“Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”

Bill Gates


“Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they always have been done”

Rudolf Flesch

All models contain positives and can be successful if implemented correctly. The traditional model is in many ways the least efficient of all methodologies. There is a significant downtime in between projects. Companies should change this to include an intrapreneurship approach. During downtimes, teams can concentrate on inventing new concepts and ideas.

Subtle in-game advertising can add depth and realism as after all we are surrounded by advertising in our daily lives. Generating revenue by including an improvement is a technique that all models should adopt. If developers can find employment, the work-for-hire model is suitable. Developers and publishers do what they do best but it does not really promote innovation as the publisher dictates content.

Episodic and downloadable content is a relatively recent avenue and while it may never replace stores, it provides a large audience for indie developers. Public broadcasters and governments could provide the greatest stability. There is a large support base in the event of any setbacks. Gaming should be considered as to be of cultural benefit. Many struggling writers and film makers have only able to survive due to financial backing from their respective governments. If such support was made available many folded companies could still be in business today. With strong support, innovation can thrive and the unknown can be explored.

“Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress”

Ted Levitt


[ A ] Secrets of the Game Business, Francois Dominic Laramee, ISBN: 1584502827 Charles River Media, 2003


[ 1 ] http://www.massiveincorporated.com/index.html ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 2 ] http://cgi.ebay.com/Video-Game-Development-Team_W0QQitemZ8278223283QQ categoryZ62053QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 3 ] http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/live/marketplace/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 4 ] http://www.manifestogames.com/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 5 ] http://www.igf.com/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 6 ] http://www.lotro.com/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 7 ] http://secondlife.com/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 8 ] http://www.uoherald.com/ ( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 9 ] http://www.wilsoncenter.org/docs/staff/Rejeski_corppublicgaming.pdf

( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 10 ] http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2006/05/03/alternative_funding_ models _ part_2.html ( Date Accessed 09/12/07)

[ 11 ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micro ( Date Accessed 09/12/07)

[ 12 ] http://www.igda.org/casual/IGDA_CasualGames_Whitepaper_2005.pdf

( Date Accessed 09/12/07 )

[ 13 ] http://www.igda.org/articles/tbarnes_govsupport.php ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 14 ] http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2006/05/02/alternative_funding_models_pa rt_1.html ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 15 ] http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/aug/30/guardianweeklytechnology sectio n.it ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 16 ] http://elianealhadeff.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html ( Date Accessed11/12/07)

[ 17 ] http://www.fathom.com/course/21701761/index.html ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 18 ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_and_video_game_industry ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 19 ] https://mollyrocket.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=379 ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 20 ] http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2005/10/19/they_want_to_get_into_your_ head. html ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 21 ] http://www.joystiq.com/2006/04/16/the-life-of-a-lapsed-game-developer/ ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 22 ] http://stuckincustoms.com/2007/05/10/recent-venture-capital-deals-in-the-games- industry/ ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )

[ 23 ] http://www.steampowered.com/v/index.php ( Date Accessed 11/12/07 )


CPB : Corporation for Public Broadcasts

MMOG : Massively Multiplayer Online Game

MMORPG : Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

DRM : Digital Rights Management

LOTR : Lord of the Rings

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‘It is only sensible for external forms of censorship to control games production, as the industry itself cares only about profit and sales’.

The games industry is a multi billion pound industry with one company, EA Games, generating revenue in excess of 2.9 billion last year. However, due to the fiscal pressures laden on the industry, profit and sales are the only considerations of the majority of companies. It is essential for external forms of censorship to control games production as all industries worldwide should have external rules or regulations governing them. Without such watchdogs, explicit and decrepit material would be easily available to our youth. However, it should be noted that these watchdogs do make mistakes in their assumptions and at times, some decisions can be ludicrous.

Censorship in games would be defined as “Any attempt, whether successful or not, made by any group or individual to restrict public access to computer games on the grounds that a lack of such regulation would lead to moral and/or psychological corruption among some or all sections of the population.” [ 1 ] This considers classification as a form of censorship. Classification should be considered as an extremely positive and important influence as it helps prevent minors from interacting with unsuitable content. Only in extreme circumstances should a game be banned from the adult population. Our right to freedom of expression should not be infringed on.

Often something that is acceptable in one region may not be in another. Particularly, Japanese society is more permissive when dealing with offensive language and adult content. There have been many occasions of controversy in games in the US whilst the same game in Japan would have passed without notoriety. [ 2 ] Devil May Cry, God Hand and Samurai Spirits were all censored in their US versions. If it is acceptable in one culture, it should not be censored or banned outright in another. Giving these titles an adult rating would have sufficed.

Lobbyists in favour of banning games do have some reasons for concern. In 2002, two men died from South Korea and Taiwan. Both had played computer games continuously for 86 and 32 hours respectively. [ 3 ] In 2005, a 28 year old South Korean man died after playing the MMORPG, World of Warcraft, for 50 hours straight. [ 4 ] His funeral was held online but was overshadowed by the death of another gamer who played the same game. [ 5 ] All of these people had not slept properly and consumed very little food. The similarities in these cases suggest it was more a case of exhaustion and malnourishment than any moral or psychological corruption. The developers cannot be blamed if their users find their games excessively addictive. All these people had a choice.

Violence is one of the major themes in majority of games which are banned. In 2003, two American step brothers, Joshua and William Buckner, aged 14 and 16 respectively, fired shots at vehicles killing a man and wounding a 19-year-old woman, claiming to have been inspired by GTA III. [ 17 ] In 2003, 18-year-old American Devin Moore stole a vehicle, shot and killed three police officers after grabbing one of the officers’ weapons following an arrest. It was claimed that Moore had been inspired by the same game. In November 2001, 21-year-old American Shawn Woolley committed suicide after what his mother claimed was an addiction to Everquest. In 1999, American high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and themselves in the Columbine High School massacre. Both had been fans of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. [ 16 ] There are a number of other murderers who blame GTA for their actions. They and their supporters need someone to blame.

Each of these cases has other factors involved. The largest contributor to the deaths of these innocent victims is the gun industry itself. The easy accessibility of firearms in the US is astounding. GTA III was also released in Europe and yet not a single similar case has emerged. This is the single biggest factor comprehensively proving that American Gun Laws are to blame. Yet no one is pointing the blame at the Gun Industry, all of it has been laid at the door of the Games establishment.

Computer games in contrast to other forms of entertainment like WWE, are being penalised unfairly. Here is an entertainment show with no classification, only a warning mentioning that viewers should not try the stunts at home as the wrestlers themselves are specially trained at doing so. Consequently, young impressionable children do not realise the dangers of mimicking such stunts. During the period 1999 – 2001, three children were killed whilst emulating these wrestlers. The same may be said of children’s shows such as Power Rangers. During every episode, the characters engage in combat in some form. Yet these mainstream shows are considered suitable for the 3+ age bracket. [ B ]

In 1999, Brazil banned Doom, MK, Requiem, Blood, Postal and Duke Nukem. [ 6 ] This was in response to the deaths of three people by a maniac wielding a shotgun. There was cocaine in his system and he had been taking medication prescribed for stress related problems. However this mindless act of violence was blamed on his love of computer games.

Political issues are the main concern of the Chinese censorship board. Command and Conquer: Generals was banned due to some targets in the game which were historic to the Chinese. Hearts of Iron I and II, and FM2007 were prohibited due to depicting Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent states. [ 8 ]

Due to its Nazi history, Germany have some intriguing laws. Wolfenstein 3D, Mortyr, and Commandos:Behind Enemy lines were all prohibited due to containing swastika flags or portraits of Adolf Hitler. It does not matter that the aim of these games is to kill Nazi’s; these symbols are considered as propaganda. The majority of the MK series and Manhunt are also banned. Germany’s BPjM monitors such games on a list which are then exposed to strict trade restrictions. [ 16 ]

South Korea banned Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, GRAW2 and Splinter Cell all due to the fact that they all mentioned a fictional war between North and South Korea. However in 2006 this ban was lifted in response to promote freedom of expression. [ 9 ] Mexico has banned GRAW2 due to the involvement of Mexican Border officials and Mexican soldiers. The Darkness is banned in Singapore due to its swear words and graphic violence. The Pokemon series is banned in Saudi Arabia due to the gambling connotations attached to trading cards. It also allegedly promotes Zionism as a six pointed star that appears on several of the playing cards. [ 12 ]

Gamers in Australia are losing out the most due to their extreme censorship laws. Their system is one of the most stringent in the world. Games cannot be rated for adults as this only applies to film. Games must be suitable for 15+ or else they are refused classification. The criteria for censoring games are questionable at the best of times. Duke Nukem was originally refused on the grounds of pornography. There are scantily clad women but no more than a 15 rated film. The list of games that had to be edited or refused is vast. [ 1 ]

Sexuality in games is common whilst generally never being the sole motivator in the console market. There is a plethora of games in the PC that is aimed at the adult industry. Nintendo and Sony do not license this type of genre. Over the years, many games have ended in trouble over nudity. The essential element is that almost none of these ever showed a full frontal nudity. In comparison with film, TV shows and books, the games industry is leagues behind in the extremes that these mediums have gone to. In film, nudity is often displayed in 15+ and even some 12+ rated versions. This derived moral issue seems hypocritical in this context. No game should be banned due to a small level or reference of sexuality. Tabloid newspapers containing topless models are sold to the general public every day. By classifying games with the same rating system as film, it should be treated with the same levels of consternation.

Games dealing with sensitive social issues can highly offend some people. Some games are made with the purpose of incitement to hatred on the grounds of race or religion and these games should be banned as they are correctly deemed offensive. This is completely acceptable and the developers should be jailed & prosecuted. Resistance Records is one such company. This is a Neo –Nazi organisation which preaches white supremacy. New technology has made creating games more simplistic allowing anyone with basic ICT skills the opportunity to make a “game”. The obscene racist material that this company produces warrants an international uproar. Many ethnic minorities are discriminated against in games. This is primarily portrayed in the form of racial stereotypes or racist imagery. This is extremely worrying if children are allowed to play these games as this may subconsciously form negative views against other races. [ 29 ], [ 30 ], [ 31 ]. These stereotypes only occur as too few minorities are in the games industry itself. [ 32 ] Homophobia has been touched on by some games. Sexist or even in some cases misogynist views are displayed. [ 33 ] Games are being used as propaganda tools. AA and Hizbollah are aimed at teenagers and contain mild graphics making it suitable for this age group. These games should be aimed at adults who can make a mature opinion. It is in this area that censorship can fulfil its duty to society.

The most recent case of a game being banned is that of Manhunt 2. With the media fuelled frenzy, moral panic set in worldwide. Rockstar Games are no strangers to controversy having released the GTA series. However this game should be classified for adults, not banned outright. While Manhunt 2 is extremely violent and GTA showed illegal activities such as prostitution, drugs and money laundering, they are essentially only 3rd person shooter computer games.

The audience for computer games is far more eclectic than certain detractors of the industry claim. Studies carried out by the ESA in 2006 show that the average gamer age is 33 in the USA and 28 in the UK. Overall, it indicated that 69% of gamers are over the age of 18 and so are unfairly penalised over games which are banned.

Companies cannot be blamed for needing to make a profit in this capitalist driven world. They are only as good as their last game. The costs are astronomical. The industry itself employs millions worldwide. Many companies have folded over unsuccessful games. Even large corporations, for example EA, close down loss making sections, regardless of their previous track record. This puts producers and developers under enormous pressure.

Allowing the games industry to solely patrol censorship would be a mistake. One solution is to have a committee representing the games industry which works in conjunction with the current censors. Changing the rating system may help. Introducing a 21+ rating may please the public. It must be considered that as film and games are different platforms, the same classification rating system may not be suitable. A film might be watched just once compared to role playing a character for countless hours.

The games that are banned for novel reasons, other than offensive language, explicit content and violence, are intriguing. Perhaps we need games to show the stupidity of violence between North and South Korea. Perhaps Tibet, Sinkiang and Manchuria should be independent states. Perhaps gambling should be allowed in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps there should be a Zionist state. The only misdemeanour these games have committed lies in exposing the irony of the world today.

All the violence that is blamed on games always has some other major underlying factor. In Brazil it was cocaine and stress. The Virginia Tech Perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho, had a mental disorder. Devon Moore, Joshua and William Buckner all had easy access to firearms and were “bored” at the time. This theme is common throughout.

There is conflicting evidence regarding the link between violent video games and violence in real life. Some studies state that there is a direct link between the two [ 18 ], [ 20 ], [ 37 ], while others find no such link [ 21 ], [A ], [22 ], [ 41 ]. These state that it is your disposition that determines whether or not you are violent. This seems logical. People were violent before computer games were invented. Alcohol, depression and socio economic circumstances play a significantly larger role in violence in young people.

All countries should follow Korea’s example and “allow freedom of expression.”


[ A ] Scott, D. (1994). The effect of video games on feelings of aggression. The Journal of Psychology, 129, 121-32.

[ B ] Myers, David. G. (1998). Psychology, 5th edition, Worth Publishers, Boyatzis, 575- 576.


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[ 4 ] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4137782.stm (Date Accessed 10/11/07)

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EA – Electronic Arts

ESA – Entertainment Software Association

MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

GRAW2 – Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

BPjM – Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons)

MK – Mortal Kombat

GTA – Grand Theft Auto

WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment

FM2007 – Football Manager 2007

AA – America’s Army

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