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April 2016 NPD Thread! Hardware and software up!

Forums - Sales Discussion - April 2016 NPD Thread! Hardware and software up!

Aquamarine said:

Piggybacking on a conversation that you were having on GAF, RexNovis:

Star Fox Zero had a core development team (excluding localization costs and voice acting) of 139 people. Assuming they worked for an average of two years on the project per person and made an average salary of $70,000 each, that's $20 million in development costs. Add in $10 million for localization, voice acting, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, overhead, etc. That's $30 million in total to make Star Fox Zero.

Conservatively, Nintendo would break-even at Star Fox: Zero around 1 million units if the project has an average return of $30 per copy when you take into account retailer margins and other COG expenses. This echoes what Reggie Fils-Aime said back in 2009.


Star Fox Zero sold 100K in the USA at launch. Let's assume a generous digital share----150K in the USA when you include digital.

Now double that for Europe + Other and add 30K from Japan----and you get 330K sell-through worldwide for Star Fox Zero's first month.

I guarantee you that 330K is not enough to turn a profit...I imagine Nintendo shipped 500K of inventory...the unsold portion will just stagnate over time because historically the Star Fox series hasn't had the best legs.

So yeah...this is probably the end of Star Fox. 100K is a harbinger for the demise of the series. Nintendo isn't going to make another iteration of Star Fox if they lose money on this project.

Its not really because of demand though.... if this game flops, its mainly because of design choices made early in the production of the game cycle.

The cockpit view, needing double rendering, so you can use the game pad for aiming, and the choice to aim for 60fps on both.

That choice ment that the Wii U wouldnt be able to have up to expectation level of graphics.

Then theres the fact that most people hate looking up and down, between the TV and the Gamepad.

Its okay for minor stuff you do every once in a while, but a game that needs you to do it constantly? most people dont enjoy that.

 

Basically them shoehorning the gameplay, to fit with the gamepad display, is what killed the franchise.

If they had locked FPS to 30 (old starfox games ran at like 24 fps), and not done double rendering of everything, they would have had like 4 times as many resources to play around with and been able to make a much better looking game.

They wouldnt have people ignoring the game, because they dont like montion controlls.

It would have reviewed better, and sold better imo.



RexNovis said:

Hello all. Made an account just to say we in the Sales Age community miss you Aqua regardless of the situation with the Mods. <3

Glad to see you here. 



Aquamarine said:

Piggybacking on a conversation that you were having on GAF, RexNovis:

Star Fox Zero had a core development team (excluding localization costs and voice acting) of 139 people. Assuming they worked for an average of two years on the project per person and made an average salary of $70,000 each, that's $20 million in development costs. Add in $10 million for localization, voice acting, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, overhead, etc. That's $30 million in total to make Star Fox Zero.

Conservatively, Nintendo would break-even at Star Fox: Zero around 1 million units if the project has an average return of $30 per copy when you take into account retailer margins and other COG expenses. This echoes what Reggie Fils-Aime said back in 2009.


Star Fox Zero sold 100K in the USA at launch. Let's assume a generous digital share----150K in the USA when you include digital.

Now double that for Europe + Other and add 30K from Japan----and you get 330K sell-through worldwide for Star Fox Zero's first month.

I guarantee you that 330K is not enough to turn a profit...I imagine Nintendo shipped 500K of inventory...the unsold portion will just stagnate over time because historically the Star Fox series hasn't had the best legs.

So yeah...this is probably the end of Star Fox. 100K is a harbinger for the demise of the series. Nintendo isn't going to make another iteration of Star Fox if they lose money on this project.

Isn't there a lot of crossover for employees at Nintendo? And 70k USD seems fairly high as an average for development team. No doubt these sales are disappointing for Nintendo, but that budget certainly seems pretty high. Compare that to a heavily marketed, cutting edge tech game like Witcher 3 which had four years of dev time, a dev team of 250, and a massive marketing budget but only cost 80m USD.

Also, the fact that a dev team of 140 with two years dev team put out such an ugly, short, half-baked embarassment of a game is a bit baffling. Nintendo's internal studios have really fallen from grace, as has that hack Miyamoto.



Mazzy said:

Isn't there a lot of crossover for employees at Nintendo? And 70k USD seems fairly high as an average for development team. No doubt these sales are disappointing for Nintendo, but that budget certainly seems pretty high. Compare that to a heavily marketed, cutting edge tech game like Witcher 3 which had four years of dev time, a dev team of 250, and a massive marketing budget but only cost 80m USD.

Also, the fact that a dev team of 140 with two years dev team put out such an ugly, short, half-baked embarassment of a game is a bit baffling. Nintendo's internal studios have really fallen from grace, as has that hack Miyamoto.

While I agree that the budget for the game isn't that big and that Nintendo isn't happy with the results, I should point out that Nintendo wasn't fully in charge of the development of SF0. Half of the staff was composed of Platnium employees. Also I think calling a Miyamoto a hack is a bit much. Has he tried new things for the sake of trying new things? Yes. But I still think the man is still creative and loves doing what he does. 



Mazzy said:
Aquamarine said:

Piggybacking on a conversation that you were having on GAF, RexNovis:

Star Fox Zero had a core development team (excluding localization costs and voice acting) of 139 people. Assuming they worked for an average of two years on the project per person and made an average salary of $70,000 each, that's $20 million in development costs. Add in $10 million for localization, voice acting, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, overhead, etc. That's $30 million in total to make Star Fox Zero.

Conservatively, Nintendo would break-even at Star Fox: Zero around 1 million units if the project has an average return of $30 per copy when you take into account retailer margins and other COG expenses. This echoes what Reggie Fils-Aime said back in 2009.


Star Fox Zero sold 100K in the USA at launch. Let's assume a generous digital share----150K in the USA when you include digital.

Now double that for Europe + Other and add 30K from Japan----and you get 330K sell-through worldwide for Star Fox Zero's first month.

I guarantee you that 330K is not enough to turn a profit...I imagine Nintendo shipped 500K of inventory...the unsold portion will just stagnate over time because historically the Star Fox series hasn't had the best legs.

So yeah...this is probably the end of Star Fox. 100K is a harbinger for the demise of the series. Nintendo isn't going to make another iteration of Star Fox if they lose money on this project.

Isn't there a lot of crossover for employees at Nintendo? And 70k USD seems fairly high as an average for development team. No doubt these sales are disappointing for Nintendo, but that budget certainly seems pretty high. Compare that to a heavily marketed, cutting edge tech game like Witcher 3 which had four years of dev time, a dev team of 250, and a massive marketing budget but only cost 80m USD.

Also, the fact that a dev team of 140 with two years dev team put out such an ugly, short, half-baked embarassment of a game is a bit baffling. Nintendo's internal studios have really fallen from grace, as has that hack Miyamoto.

Nintendo's development staff are highly paid because they prioritize employee retention over all else (most notably, to keep employees from moving out of Kyoto to Tokyo). It's normal for developers to get paid more than $100,000 per year on average. Employees LOVE working at Nintendo Co., Ltd. It's a destination for people working in the Japanese game industry...that's why they have accumulated a lot of talent over the years.

So yes, $70,000 per employee is very reasonable as an annual salary when you mix a higher rate of Nintendo employees with a lower rate for contractors.

Platinum Games was only one contractor Nintendo hired for the project. They also outsourced art and animation assets to Alvion Co., Ltd., Bee Tribe Co., Ltd., Black Beard Design Studio Co., Ltd., Lakshya Digital Pvt. Ltd., XAX Entertainment Inc., Teco Co., Ltd., Digital Media Lab, Inc., and iNiS Corp., which all have various contract structures bumping up the development cost.

Star Fox Zero had a two-year development time for the game proper, and more than a three-year development time (almost 4-years) including the experiments conducted by Nintendo employees. See this quote from Miyamoto:

"We spent more than one year on numerous experiments using the Wii U GamePad ... We fixed the basic form in six months, and then commenced the one and a half year development process. In the end, it took an extra six months [of development time] though…"

The average is two years per employee because the game (and its experiments) were worked on for almost four years by a good number of internal staff at Nintendo who were fully dedicated to this project, which are offset by a shorter development time by the Platinum contractors.

If the Nintendo staff worked for an average of 3.5 years on the project, and all of the contractors worked an average of 1.5 years on the project, and they're split about 30-70, there's your 2 years on average.

Normally yes, Nintendo employees wouldn't spend this much time on one game and would jump around to other projects. But it's pretty well-known that Star Fox Zero was in development hell and the team really struggled to incorporate the gamepad and bring the game together as a cohesive product. I imagine the project may have gone through a reboot or two along the way...which causes everyone to double-down on it.

In addition, Nintendo delegated significant tasks to a very select few individuals. For example, the NPCs were programmed by one person---Yukari Mori. The camera was also programmed by just one person----Ryu Shinomiya. It takes a LOT of work to properly polish and refine everything  to Nintendo standards....and when you're doing it in a very small team or by yourself, it takes a lot longer to get perfect...again adding to project retention.

...I agree, the fact that so many individuals worked on it and yet it turned out so mediocre, short, and homogenized...it's pretty baffling.

 

JetSetter said:

While I agree that the budget for the game isn't that big

You would be surprised.

Reggie said back in 2009 that their average Wii game needed 1 million units to break-even.

This was back in 2009....7-years ago....for the Wii, which didn't require HD assets.

1 million units for Star Fox Zero really isn't a stretch at all given Nintendo's ways of conducting business and the development hell Star Fox Zero has been subjected to.

If development of Star Fox Zero went very smoothly and with a smaller team, then yes, they could maybe make do with 500,000 for profitability. Just not in this unique case.



Aquamarine said:
snip

Hmm, still blows my mind to see what small indie teams and smaller studios do, and yet Star Fox Zero which looks like something thrown together in an intern's basement on a shoestring budget actually took 140 people and two years. I guess this is that ballooning AAA budget rearing its ugly head, and I guess I just never really envisioned that applying to Nintendo for some reason. Where do these ballooning costs come from? I mean Gears of War 3 had 4-5x the budget of Gears of War 1 but felt similar in size, scope, polish, etc. Is it marketing? Increasing team size (but then wouldn't that make up for it by leading to them churning out games faster)? Regardless, glad to hear Star Fox Zero is a flop though, would hate to see a game like that succeed. 

Do you have any insight on Dark Souls 3's budget and how it compares to other games in the series? I've always imagined Dark Souls 3 was a fairly low budget game, and despite being such a big seller (playing DeS back in 2009 never would I have imagined that a Souls game would top the charts), it doesn't have that AAA feel in the gameplay, graphics, and presentation. It's always nice to hear about a really great, low budget game doing really well for itself and doing AAA numbers despite its meager budget, and bucking the trend. But if Star Fox Zero cost in the ballpark of 30m USD as you say, I'd have to rethink how I look at these games' budgets, and Dark Souls 3 likely isn't as low-budget as I imagine. 



Mazzy said:
Aquamarine said:
snip

Hmm, still blows my mind to see what small indie teams and smaller studios do, and yet Star Fox Zero which looks like something thrown together in an intern's basement on a shoestring budget actually took 140 people and two years. I guess this is that ballooning AAA budget rearing its ugly head, and I guess I just never really envisioned that applying to Nintendo for some reason. Where do these ballooning costs come from? I mean Gears of War 3 had 4-5x the budget of Gears of War 1 but felt similar in size, scope, polish, etc. Is it marketing? Increasing team size (but then wouldn't that make up for it by leading to them churning out games faster)? Regardless, glad to hear Star Fox Zero is a flop though, would hate to see a game like that succeed. 

Do you have any insight on Dark Souls 3's budget and how it compares to other games in the series? I've always imagined Dark Souls 3 was a fairly low budget game, and despite being such a big seller (playing DeS back in 2009 never would I have imagined that a Souls game would top the charts), it doesn't have that AAA feel in the gameplay, graphics, and presentation. It's always nice to hear about a really great, low budget game doing really well for itself and doing AAA numbers despite its meager budget, and bucking the trend. But if Star Fox Zero cost in the ballpark of 30m USD as you say, I'd have to rethink how I look at these games' budgets, and Dark Souls 3 likely isn't as low-budget as I imagine. 

It comes from Kyoto's corporate hierarchy, unfortunately. Here's a great quote by Dan Adelman who worked at Nintendo of America explaining the situation:

Dan Adelman: "Nintendo is not only a Japanese company, it is a Kyoto-based company. For people who aren’t familiar, Kyoto-based are to Japanese companies as Japanese companies are to US companies. They’re very traditional, and very focused on hierarchy and group decision making. Unfortunately, that creates a culture where everyone is an advisor and no one is a decision maker – but almost everyone has veto power.

Even Mr. Iwata is often loathe to make a decision that will alienate one of the executives in Japan, so to get anything done, it requires laying a lot of groundwork: talking to the different groups, securing their buy-in, and using that buy-in to get others on board. At the subsidiary level, this is even more pronounced, since people have to go through this process first at NOA or NOE (or sometimes both) and then all over again with headquarters. All of this is not necessarily a bad thing, though it can be very inefficient and time consuming. The biggest risk is that at any step in that process, if someone flat out says no, the proposal is as good as dead. So in general, bolder ideas don’t get through the process unless they originate at the top.

There are two other problems that come to mind. First, at the risk of sounding ageist, because of the hierarchical nature of Japanese companies, it winds up being that the most senior executives at the company cut their teeth during NES and Super NES days and do not really understand modern gaming, so adopting things like online gaming, account systems, friends lists, as well as understanding the rise of PC gaming has been very slow. Ideas often get shut down prematurely just because some people with the power to veto an idea simply don’t understand it.

The last problem is that there is very little reason to try and push these ideas. Risk taking is generally not really rewarded. Long-term loyalty is ultimately what gets rewarded, so the easiest path is simply to stay the course. I’d love to see Nintendo make a more concerted effort to encourage people at all levels of the company to feel empowered to push through ambitious proposals, and then get rewarded for doing so."

The reason that indie developers can accomplish so much is a function of their design: they are passion projects created by a few visionaries who really want to see something special come to life.

It's much, much harder for a company like Nintendo to accomplish that----they are far too weighed down by their stubborn and rigid hierarchial management structure.

Splatoon is a great example of what happens when Nintendo lets its younger developers roam free...we end up with an IP that's refreshingly bold and non-derivative filled to the brim with great ideas (and Splatoon was created with only 89 people excluding debugging and localization!)

Star Fox Zero is classic group think and classic Kyoto management style, unfortunately. Instead of taking the series in a bold direction they created essentially a remake of Star Fox 64 which was a remake of Star Fox SNES...which nobody wanted. The planners and producers thought they could just literally make the same game over again and we would love it just the same as we did in 1997 while shunning so many of the modern sensibilities that modern gamers require...it's shockingly out of touch with the current market.

Sure, some of the younger developers might have been against it. But they're powerless to stop it.

I think Star Fox Zero was made with the goal of being a budget project they could easily crank out, like Mario Party 10 and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, but instead became a development nightmare that started to balloon out of control.

Regarding Dark Souls 3...it's really deceptive. We tend to think game budgets are a lot smaller than they really are. I just counted the Dark Souls 3 credits from a YouTube video....excluding localization, testing, voice acting, and debugging, I have 397 people who worked on Dark Souls 3 proper. If there's approx. 200 From Software developers, that leaves almost as many contractors that they hired to finish the project. So you can imagine...Dark Souls 3 is a pretty massive production....which makes sense because Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 1 were very profitable. It's much larger than Star Fox Zero in this regard.

The main reason behind the large production is because the game was created so quickly---it was developed from start to finish in only 24 months after Dark Souls 2.



Although unlike Star Fox Zero, Dark Souls 3 is already profitable:

"Total worldwide shipments for Dark Souls III have surpassed three million, and total worldwide shipments for the Dark Souls series have surpassed 13 million, Bandai Namco announced.

The number includes 500,000 shipped in Japan and Asia, 1.5 million shipped in North America, and one million shipped in Europe.

Dark Souls III, developed by From Software, launched for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Japan on March 24, and worldwide with an added PC release on April 12."


3 million is definitely enough for From Software, Bandai Namco, and the other investors in Dark Souls 3 to turn a good profit, and the game JUST came out....whereas Star Fox Zero will probably never make back their investment.



Hmm, I suppose it becomes a high risk, high reward type of situation. Crank up the dev team size, do a massive marketing blitz, and churn it out as quick as the team can. There's the potential to make huge profit and reach much higher numbers due to increased marketing and mindshare if it succeeds, but if it fails you're in a pretty bad spot. I suppose that's why one screwup can have a studio shut down or an IP dying off.

Wonder what Battleborn means for Gearbox and 2K. Huge budget and marketing campaign and the sales were completely lukewarm as Overwatch ate its lunch. Only `~100-110k Steam owners according to Steamspy, and Amazon charts and UK sales numbers paint a very grim outlook for sales on the console side as well. Quantum Break as well, and I'll be honest I don't see Microsoft continuing to work with Remedy after Quantum Break. 

Fortunately I don't care for either of these companies, but it makes me a bit uneasy to know there's not enough people out there who enjoy the games that I do to have them made, or to have them be successes if they are made. It's much safer to churn out another derivative sequel, another open world MMO-lite, another climb-the-radio-tower open world game. Shit sucks.



According to a junior on NeoGAF Ratchet and Clank is just below 218k
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=204240636&postcount=2499
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=204240981&postcount=2502
Any chance you can confirm or deny this Aqua?