Great read, thank you.
He’s a smart guy. Hopefully more of these kinds of interviews with other experienced media and gaming folks to come.
It was awesome to get! Gotta love scrump getting dem exclusives! I’ve read it about 10 times now and still enjoy it. Or maybe it’s just my pride in hosting it lol.
I hope so!
“Leigh Alexander […] literate, intelligent people who are serious about their craft.”
Good read, thanks. I highly respect Mr. Macris as both a businessman and a GM.
Just a small note: it’s David Auerbach. Great interview.
Steve Jobs was a phenomenally business-savvy idiot. Macris talks up the “social media era”, then deigns it proper to put Jobs, a man that openly despised his customers, on a pedestal. Jobs got away with his attitude because he had already become successful before the social media era was fully underway. He was a relic, almost literally, of a bygone age. These days, if anyone tried doing what Jobs did (creating what amounts to a cargo cult), they’d be socially crucified the moment they lambasted their users in public. You’re allowed to be a visionary and privately scorn the ignorance of the consumer, but today, as soon as you voice that opinion, the consumer will take note. Most people won’t buy from someone that hates them.
In the social media era, you work with your customers or you fail. Macris should know this better than most, having retooled the Escapist post-GamerGate and having watched Gawker hemorrhage millions for stubbornly sticking to its “our customer base is a bunch of idiots” guns.
Leigh Alexander is neither literate nor intelligent, and she most definitely is not serious about her craft, if what she does can even be considered a “craft”. I imagine that line was delivered without much forethought — that, or Macris genuinely has no idea what Alexander writes, in which case he shouldn’t be using her as an example.
“Digital products tend towards zero marginal cost and hence over time towards being free”, followed by “If, by then, consumers still don’t think digital goods are worth paying for” — which is it, Macris? First you accurately describe why it’s ridiculous from a market forces standpoint to assign value to digital goods and why the goods are supplied for free and other things sold on top of them; then you worry that the consumers might not magically change their minds about the value of digital goods. If digital goods tend toward a marginal cost of zero, which all of them do because the price of creating a new copy of any digital good is virtually zero, there will never be any incentive for a consumer to assign inherent value to any digital good. Other items must be sold on top of the digital goods. Many freelance musicians already do this, offering their music for free, but selling t-shirts, backstage passes, private concerts, and other exclusive merchandise and services. Steam sells games by offering great services to accompany those games (really, it’s the services they are selling — the convenience of the storefront, the game library, the automatic updates, the communication network, etc.). GOG sells games by offering DRM-free versions that you can store forever and use anywhere you like (again, selling a service people find valuable — the digital goods themselves have no value because they have virtually no marginal cost of production).
Digital content is inherently worthless and always will be, per the laws of economics (infinite supply is fun). Digital content can, however, be used as a loss leader of sorts to engage an audience and sell other things to that audience. It’s already being done. Hell, it was being done ages ago — anyone remember shareware? Once upon a time, game makers realized that they weren’t entitled to anyone’s money, and so would give away portions of their work for free to entice people to buy. This model could easily work today.
Very smart guy. You know you’re talking to someone trained in business or economics when they respond to you by saying “it’s not a normative issue.”