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The Business of Interactive Media

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Title: The Business of Interactive Media


1
The Business of Interactive Media
  • Bing Gordon
  • Chris Swain
  • August 2005

2
Today we will…
  • Find out?
  • should you be in this class?
  • teacher qualifications and interests?
  • Schedule and workload planning.
  • Interrogate!
  • Mark Skaggs, Exec Producer
  • Nox, Red Alert, Battle for Middle Earth, etc
  • Geoff Keighley, Editor
  • Entertainment Weekly, Gamespot, G4TV

3
The Big Idea
  • Actively learn…
  • To protect…
  • To enable…
  • Your best work…
  • In the interactive entertainment business.

4
In other words, Help Chris Swain rewrite 100
pages of his book!
5
Grading metrics
  • A your plan is fundable right now
  • A excellent student work
  • some professional level insights
  • B good graduate student work
  • you will understand your producers work
  • C good undergraduate student work
  • solid grasp of class discussions
  • your work lacks maturity and context
  • D you have wasted your time and our time

6
Dealing with distance learning
  • Bing lecture 1/3 weeks
  • Guest lectures 2/3 weeks
  • 6 assignments comments from Chris,Bing
  • Summary reviews in class
  • 3 short quizzes
  • Four 4 hr class sessions
  • bgordon_at_ea.com
  • cswain_at_cinema.usc.edu

7
Chris intros his bad self
8
Bing
  • 1982
  • Marketing, Studio, CCO
  • Bards Tale, Starflight, Madden, Tiger, NHL, Nox,
    Alpha Centauri, Sim Golf, Populous The
    Beginning, Generals, Sim City 3000, Sims and Sims
    2, Urbz, Battle for Middle Earth, Lottso, etc

9
My bookshelf
  • Confessions of an Advertising Man, Ogilvy
  • How Hits Happen, Farrell
  • Positioning, Ries and Trout
  • The Big Picture, Epstein
  • The Fifth Discipline, Senge
  • The Medici Effect, Johannson
  • Net Gain, Hagel Armstrong
  • Emergence, Johnson
  • On Intelligence, Hawkins
  • The Beak of the Finch, Weiner

10
My all-time favorite games
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Diablo series
  • Civilization Series
  • Final Fantasy 7
  • Wing Commander 3
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 3
  • Starflight
  • 7 Cities of Gold
  • Planetfall
  • Columns
  • Club Pogo
  • Sneakers

11
My sponsor About Electronic Arts
  • 1982
  • 25
  • 6000
  • 400
  • 21

12
(No Transcript)
13
Listen a bit, do a lot.
  • Learn the big picture
  • Overview of interactive businesses
  • The job of executive producer
  • Live role models
  • Develop your skills
  • Basics of the executive producer
  • finance, marketing, contracts, entrepreneuring
  • Setting, communicating vision
  • Skills practice
  • Write your own business or project plan

14
Group exercise Design this class
  • What question do you want this class to answer?
  • OR What is your biggest personal challenge in
    interactive media business?
  • Process
  • Groups of 3
  • Discuss
  • Report back on another persons issue

15
Classes Part 1 Follow the money
  • Week 1 Overview and Introduction to the Course
  • Bing Gordon, Mark Skaggs
  • Week 2 What your finance advisor knows
  • Bryan Neider, VP Finance, EA Studios
  • Week 4 The business of online games
  • Chip Lange, VP Marketing, ea.com
  • Assignments Personal area of focus statement,
    Financial analysis

16
Classes Part 2 Know your customers
  • Week 5 The Role of Marketing, Bing Gordon
  • Week 6 Customer Research, Carolyn Feinstein, VP
    Advtsg/Promo, EA
  • 4 HOUR SESSION
  • Week 7 How Game Marketing Works Today,
  • Frank Gibeau, Sr VP Marketing, EA
  • Week 8 Selling to the Retail Channel
  • Tom Cipolla, Sr VP North American Sales, EA
  • Assignments Focus Group Testing, Market
    Analysis

17
Classes Part 3 Making it happen
  • Week 9 Pitching the Project, Rich Hilleman, EA
    University
  • Workshop FOUR HOUR SESSION
  • Week 10 Serious Games and Academia,
  • Speaker tbd
  • Week 11 Independent Publishing,
  • Tom Frisina, Sr VP EA Partners
  • Week 12 Deal Negotiation, Speaker tbd Workshop
    FOUR HOUR SESSION
  • Assignments Project proposal concept pitch

18
Classes Part 4 Start you up
  • Week 13 Preproduction, Glenn Entis
  • Workshop prepro your work, FOUR HOUR SESSION
  • Week 14Founding Electronic Arts, Bing Gordon
  • Week 15 How to Read a Contract, Patrick OBrien,
    EA Legal
  • Week 16 Final Presentations, Chris and Bing
  • Assignments Business Plan  
  • This could be for your USC 3rd Year project or
    another project

19
20 (sic) questions
  • Live…
  • How close was our (draft) syllabus to your
    goals?
  • What should we try to change?

20
Your Big questions
  • Should I be in the industry? Does the bottom
    suck?
  • Could I drop out in January and start a company
    and succeed?
  • What do execs look for in new projects creative
    or money?
  • How can we differentiate our projects?
  • What kind of platforms should we address mobile,
    online, etc?

21
That you want answered
  • How do we turn a new kind of game into a killer
    app?
  • How can exec producer be made into a creative
    position?
  • How can story be a killer feature in interactive
    entertainment?
  • Why is interactive design buried in the Film
    School?

22
Over course of this semester
  • How do you get a team motivated to support and
    build my idea? Even non-gamer team members.
  • What skills and experience and organization
    necessary for good chance of success?
  • Best way to produce games independently? x2
  • What if game companies dont think my skill is
    important?

23
Well try to help you find answers
  • How do I find my personal niche?
  • How to articulate my crazy ideas? Get funding?
  • How build an effective dev pipeline?
  • What can I learn from games biz to improve odds
    of success in other forms of interactive media?
  • How convince major publisher/rich angels to take
    a risk on new type of game?

24
Big ?
  • Why dont all well-made games sell well, or at
    least meet expectations?
  • What can I learn from feature games biz to change
    the world of serious games?

25
Small questions-deal with these right now!
  • Do I need industry background for this class?
  • What fields will this prepare me for?
  • Will we be entertained?
  • Will I have time to watch tv and still do this
    class?

26
Group exercise 2
  • What do you think is the hardest decision exec
    producers face?
  • OR What do todays exec producers wish they had
    learned in university?
  • Process
  • Groups of 3
  • Discuss
  • Report back on another students idea

27
At Electronic Arts The Role of the Exec Producer
  • Performance measure profits (vs plan)
  • Three roles
  • Midas turn money into money
  • Capital, contracts, forecasts, expenses
  • The Oracle set a marketable vision
  • Customers, sales channel, promo, PR, spokesman
  • General Contractor maximize people, schedule
  • Recruiting, workflow, group structures, project
    plans, details!

28
No background fully prepares…
  • Engineers
  • Management, Customer insight , Business?
  • Marketers
  • Customer insight, Management, Business
  • Designers
  • Customer insight, Management?, Business?

29
Today is too complex
  • Engineers write 15x lines of code than industry
    average!
  • Artists, designers 1x output, but worse tools,
    and realtime.
  • Producers manage ¼ production budget but changing
    pipelines and organization models
  • Alpha-beta 1month!!

30
Future rationalizes
  • Fewer lines of code/day
  • Runtime modules
  • Digital film level art and animation tools
  • Proven pipelines
  • Alpha-beta 2-3 months

31
Bings Top Exec Producer Achievements of 2004
  • Club pogo
  • World of Warcraft
  • GTA San Andreas
  • Madden 2005
  • ESPN NFL 2005

32
What Exec Producers (should) fear
  • Report back

33
But lets ask our visiting experts
  • 5 Exec Producers/Titles they admire?
  • What keeps exec producers up at night?
  • Best article ever written about exec producering?

34
Introducing Mark Skaggs
  • Navy brat
  • Texas Instruments, MBA
  • StartupsFreeHand, Russia, Tetragon
  • Games Thrill Kill (dns), Nox, Dune, Red Alert 2,
    CC Generals, LOTR Battle for Middle Earth

35
How Mark Skaggs works
  • Unit design on paper
  • Painterly visual prototyping
  • Map/strategy game paper prototype
  • Level design teams
  • Multiplay for balance and AI creation

36
Command and Conquer Generals
  • Unit and weapon physics
  • Interactive environments
  • Generals and AI
  • Upgrades and scoring

37
Thanks Mark!
38
Assignment 1 Your Personal Focus Statement
  • What problem or project do you want to address?
  • What do you want to learn?
  • Why will it be worth 3 months of your time?
  • One page. Due via email, by Friday.

39
Discussion
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