Ep. 320 - Crafting a Criminal

Brandon's numbers on physical/digital are pretty good. When I started working at a large publisher/developer in the mid-2010s, our numbers were 50/50. By the time I left in the early 2020s, it was 85/15 and declining at double digit percentages every year in favor of digital.

There's underappreciated costs to physical releases which are not often discussed. The lead time on manufacturing is multiple months during which you need to float your team. Most schedules will simply bake this time into production and have the game launch with a day one patch.

One of the games I worked on shipped completely busted on disc (could not boot past the title screen), for which we received an exemption from the platform companies for certification. If you bought that particular disc, you are a proud owner of a coaster with no function outside of unlocking a download for the real deal. This sort of thing is going to become common as more of the audience shifts; it is almost unethical not to use the additional time to improve the base game as much as possible when most of your audience is digital.

Pointing out that DVDs still outsell Blu-rays makes me wonder how much of that is due to public libraries buying everything in that format.

On that note, if you ever want to relive the Blockbuster experience of renting games or share that experience with your kids, take them to the library! Not every public library has games but many do. It's how I found out about the physical only release of Demon Throttle by Doinksoft (Gato Roboto, Gunbrella).

I feel like another factor in Japan outside of cards still being somewhat fresh is that, at least in big cities, it‘s extremely easy to just go to a store regardless of whether or not you have a car. Want a game? Go to Yodobashi Camera or Yamada Denki, or maybe the near by shotengai has a game store! They’re near public transportation.

Lord knows I would go into a store and nab a physical thing over getting it online if any stores anywhere were near a damn train and the train was actually nice to go on. When we had a GameStop near by within biking distance, I'd actually chose to go there over getting something on Amazon. And then it closed, oops.

@“JJSignal”#p147694 Yeah, I didn't get to mention my other reasons why I think physical is still relevant but convenience is one, distrust of digital ecosystems is another, the price (which tim mentioned) is also one, and the last I think it simply the audience aging. The japanese console industry has gotten pretty small, which I feel like is not talked about much. The PS5 has sold 50 million units worldwide! Guess how many of those are in japan? less than 5m. Japan is about 9% of the total.

The switch has done much better than PS5 in japan, but of 132M (as of sept 2023) units sold worldwide, Japan is 25m. that's around 19%.

Which says to me that the people buying game consoles are dwindling in number over time as a percentage of the whole, which suggests fewer young people are interested in consoles vs pc or mobile. That's a bit of a stretch of logic, but my guess is the folks buying game consoles now are the same folks who were buying game consoles in the 90s, and so are accustomed to discs and carts, and just sticking with it.

@“captain”#p147590 Didn‘t profit from taking your time? Or didn’t profit from playing it, at all? I think about P5 and whether there's space in my life for it, quite often.

The last part hurt as I was listening during my only time outside today.

I found the physical media question extremely interesting as I was thinking about it earlier as well. My parents still have a bunch of physical media, but have not purchased any recently. My mum was a bargain bin hunter so I grew up with physical pc games and dvds to watch on my tv with a dvd player. In addition my library also offered a bunch and still do. I know they also still carry selections at some electronic stores here. I still see giant amounts of dvds and they sell them on special occasions at my local supermarket. Once at a game store there was an elderly woman buying a ds game with her grandson. It seemed that those are still the biggest consumers of physical, older generations and young children with limits on their media consumptions.

I myself have been interested in buying physical games and dvds but I currently have no way to play them. There currently is a big lack of cd/dvd readers in electronics which also makes it harder to consume physical media. At some point a lot of laptop still had readers. I feel that this has also played a role in the decline of physical media. Nothing supports or encourages it.

@“Salloumi”#p147707 Whoops, I meant the second one. I know Tim‘s remarks weren’t directed at me but I was trying to say Make no mistake, Jerry. Contrary to this assumption that everyone who disliked Persona 5 just played it too quickly, I took my sweet time^1 with it and did not like it one bit!!

What is your familiarity with the series, with SMT, and with Yakuza 0?

As for P5, it is markedly (even remarkably) worse than Personas 3 and 4^2 in most of the ways I would say matter for this sort of game. Dungeons are mostly long and annoying and "I get it after fifteen minutes but it then goes on for three hours" (the game _is_ too long); writing is atrocious at the sentence and theme and character level.

^1[size=10]in fact I played for exactly 101 hours, so I figured Royal would register as longer on HLTB[/size]
^2[size=10]some (not me) even say 4 is that much worse than 3, so 5 is really in the gutter[/size]

@“exodus”#p147698 Well this got me curious about the overall trend in the Japanese shares of video game console sales over time. Here‘s a graph of just that. I stuck to Nintendo and Sony consoles for simplicity. I tried making it colour-blind friendly with the shapes, but sorry it’s a bit ugly lol

Seems like Sony's home consoles have been the ones the most clearly becoming less Japan-dominated in sales over time. In general, the trend is less intense, though present. Nintendo's home consoles seem to have rebounded recently. Also I love how much of an outlier the Vita is.

If anyone is curious about Microsoft's consoles, they're all under 3% Japanese sales.



Data sources:
(Apologies if these Wikipedia pages aren't the most accurate sources, but hopefully they're fine for a general overview like this)

cannot imagine drawing out your time with persona 5. That’s like trying to have the flu for an entire year

@“Matt”#p147727 if you're going back all the way to the NES you could stand to throw on Sega and PCEngine/TurboGrafx as well given the tastes around here. Otherwise good work!


take the earbuds out, ya numbskull

**My** recommendation this week is to pick up some reusable silicone earplugs! The kind for musicians and people with noise sensitivity issues that let you hear the world around you but at a lower volume. Keep a pair on your keychain like I do so they're always at hand. [City noise is a legitimate stresser that lowers life expectancies](https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jul/03/sonic-doom-noise-pollution-kills-heart-disease-diabetes) so protect yourself!!

Kinda cool that this episode somehow inspired not one but two charts.

@“Matt”#p147727 Following on from what Matt did I took some data from Platform Totals which has a good example of total sales (or consoles sent out for sales where applicable) for almost every piece of hardware out there. I then used a bit of magic and created this:


The legend in order is
NA - Blue
JP - Red
EU - Green
ROW - Purple

With the totals of hardware sales on the right (except for PS2, damn you Tableau!!!) the data is in descending total global sales.

When I have more than 10 minutes I can do more and will try and post it online in the free Tableau server for people to have a look at and be amazed!

Edit - if anyone has access to global census data I'd love to compare total machines sold in a region to population to see what country sold the most based on how many people could buy one!

@“connrrr”#p147799 This is totally true - “the hum” as it‘s been called. I grew up and spent most of life in major cities and since leaving them I notice it even more than ever when I go into Paris! It’s the constant noise, people, traffic - just life in general when you have a lot going on in one place. I don't miss it at all but I never really noticed it when I was there.

Funny I grew up about 15 minutes from Green Lanes, the street in the photo in the article! And it was like that when I was last there a good 15 years ago!

@“connrrr”#p147799 This is a complex one - and I say this as someone who regularly talks people‘s ear off (ha) at gigs and club nights, about hearing protection. When I had tinnitus for two months (yeah that’s why), I went to see an audiologist who specialises in hearing damage. And said, you have sensitive hearing and while you wait for the ringing to clear up, which it probably will, it‘s all good to keep yourself calmer in noisy situations with earplugs / over ear headphones. But also… you live in London. Long-term, don’t make it something you can't leave the house without, or your sensitivity will increase.

(And then the fire alarm test went off just above my head, good times).

Anyway I don't think endless use is what you were advocating! But I felt the need to say it. And I love any time this stuff comes up, rather than being something loads of people are secretly suffering from.

In fact, I WAS listening to this episode outside. Mostly while shovelling the driveway and waiting for the bus.

@“captain”#p147722 Never really thought about my feelings on this but I think I'm chasing the feeling of playing Shenmue at age 11. Trying to explore a mundane(ish) world that is still unfamiliar to me.

So I actually did try P5, for about five hours. The world was cool and I wanted to like it! But it moved so slowly. Same with Yakuza: Like A Dragon. But with that the twists just started to feel silly. I would love to find a game in that space I like - Zero? Infinite Wealth? Or maybe they're just not right for me, right now.

Good eppy!

Books seem to be the biggest exception to digital media trend. People read eBooks, of course, but most people still seem to prefer physical books and relatively few people go exclusively digital.


@“Salloumi”#p147829 Long-term, don’t make it something you can’t leave the house without, or your sensitivity will increase.

I didn't realize this, but I also don't wear them every time I'm out thankfully. Thank you for mentioning it!! I usually save them for when it's rush hour or I need to cross the highway off-ramp (or slip road?) and I'm wading through a sea of cars to get where I'm going.

Digital media stuff aside, it was really nice hearing a little discussion that frankly acknowledges that gameplay isn‘t everything. I’ve noticed as we‘re still working out criticism in this media a sort of evangelical “gameplay is everything” refrain from a certain sect of gamers – I think it comes from a well-intentioned, respect-the-artform sort of place, like an expression of the way scrupulous criticism “should” be approached, but it also kinda discounts a lot of the “multis” in a multimedia form. I’ve disagreed with that approach for a long time. Like the panel said, having both vibes and gameplay is nice, but plenty of times I‘ll take one or the other, and often find myself valuing the non-gameplay stuff more these days, or at least not enjoying ~pure gameplay~ as much if it’s not wrapped in aesthetics or writing that resonate with, or least interest, me

(last few episodes have been real comfy listens like that, super enjoying them)