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    The Game Guy
    By Mark H. Walker

    Nobody Said Gaming is Pretty: Part Deux

    My regular readers (bless the three of you), no doubt remember reading about the sale of Interplay in the last Game Guy issue. Well, it turns out that Interplay has been taken off the block. To be exact Titus, a French company that owns 34% of Interplay, has decided not to sell. Not sure if that is good or bad, it all depends on who might have bought Interplay. An insightful company with lots of cash would have been a good thing. A bunch of suits who know not Tetris from Tomb Raider would have wrecked Interplay within a couple of years.

    Hey, I know times are hard, but check this out. HPS Simulations -a small wargame developer/publisher- refused to send me a review copy of their latest offering, Tobruk ’41. Their representative claimed they had exceeded their media budget... four days after the game was published! Gee, you don’t suppose my poor reviews of their previous products had anything to do with this, do you?

    The Emperor’s New Clothes

    News flash, the whole Internet thing isn’t working out too well, and the list of failed dotcoms is longer than the excess verbiage in a typical Gamespot review. There are a multitude of reasons, but poor management and shrinking add revenue are the salient pair. I can’t speak to poor management, but if the rumors be true, some game sites received as much as 11 million dollars in start up funds. I guaran-damn-tee I could make a site run till I die on 11 million dollars. Heck, I have friends that do it for less than 11 dollars.

    But ad revenue is a horse of a different color. Advertisers measure success by the “click through rate.” In other words, the number of viewers who click on an add versus the number of viewers who see the add. A one percent click through is acceptable, two percent is great, but most adds average less than one-half of a percent. Hence advertisers deem their add campaign isn’t working, pull the add (or reduce funding), and the site goes down the tubes.  Who says, however, that click-through is an accurate measurement of effectiveness? No one expects TV viewers to drop what they are doing and phone 1-800-FORD after viewing a Mustang commercial. Nor do I take the next exit off I-40 after ogling a billboard for “Joe’s Couch Emporium.”  Yet a seed has been planted in both cases. Who knows? I year from now I may bring home one of Joe’s love seats in the back of my new Mustang. Ad execs ought to chew on that.

    Tight Takes

    I had a lot of fun with a duo of diverse titles this past week. Legends of Might and Magic is 3DO’s take on a team-based online first-person shooter. Surprisingly, it’s quite good. Players pick from six classes of warriors, choose a side, and enter into the fray. There are four different types of battles, from dragon slayings to princes rescues. The packet code is outstanding. I played with a 33.6 connection and no lag.

    Also surprising was Tobruk ’41 (yeah, I had to buy a copy). This is veteran designer John Tiller’s best effort. Covering the battles between the Axis and Allies in North Africa, this turn based wargame features clean graphics, immense details, and tight scenario design. Now, if they would just send out a couple of review copies they might get some press.

    © Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
    Mark H. Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written over 40 books including his recently released Video Games Almanac and The Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Games.

    " "

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