Tim Sweeney, the CEO and co-founder of Fortnite developer Epic Games, gave the keynote speech at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas on Wednesday. He devoted his speech, called “The Times They Are A-Changin,'” to the long-term health of the gaming industry.
One of this main points was the transformation of video games into major social platforms, which comes with new responsibilities for the industry. “Over the next decade, we’ll see the continuing trend of gaming becoming first-class social activity. Games are as much a communication platform as an entertainment experience,” he said.
He also said the gaming industry needs to move away from what he referred to as the “customer adversarial model.”
“We have businesses that profit by doing their customers harm,” he said, specifically calling out Facebook and Google. “They provide free services, then make you pay for their service in loss of privacy and loss of freedom.”
Sweeney also criticized pay-to-win and loot box business models. “We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up. Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines… or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes.
“We should be very reticent of creating an experience where the outcome can be influenced by spending money. Loot boxes play on all the mechanics of gambling except for the ability to get more money out in the end.”
It’s so nice to hear that from one of the most influential people in the industry. It is no secret that some companies have killed a few famous franchises in the pursuit of dubious monetization practices and a contemptuous approach to the proper development of a successful game mechanic (yes, EA, I’m talking about Dead Space and other skeletons in your closet).
Sweeney also called for gaming platforms to remain politically neutral. “We should get the marketing departments out of politics,” he said. “We live in a world where your political affiliation determines what chicken restaurant you go to. There’s no reason to drag divisive topics like that into gaming.”