Trip Hawkins Talks Feudal System, Forging a “Republic of Gaming” Through Browsers

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By AJ Glasser Comments

Digital Chocolate CEO Trip Hawkins spoke at GamesBeat today with VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi on the topic of browser gaming trumping the app market through the power of discovery technology and digital disruption.

High points from the talk included a characterization of the traditional video games market as a feudal system where platform-makers like Nintendo held all the power and the developers were forced to “till dirt they didn’t own” with the games they made for the platforms. Hawkins argues that as social and mobile game development first converges and then expands into a cross-platform environment that developers will need to think critically about “who owns the dirt.” The only real way to break free of the feudal system that currently controls the console video games market, he says, is to develop games for browser — which can then be played almost anywhere on any Internet-enabled device.

“The days of being able to float your boat on one platform are over,” Hawkins tells Takahashi. “There is a path out of this, which is to focus more on the browser. Browser has the opportunity to be the big winner.”

The key, it seems, is discovery technologies. Hawkins believes that the current model of app stores and marketplaces isn’t working and that developers are better off investing in engineering and marketing that will bring users to them at a lower cost than what they can currently get. He mentions almost as an aside the rapidly growing interest in streaming game services like OnLive and in the evolving markup language of HTML5.

As time ran out on the session, however, Hawkins returns to idea that developers need to fight hard not to fall into the trap of relying on a platform to deliver their games. Rather, developers should always be thinking multiplatform, should seek out ways to create new discovery methods, and look for cooperation and collective bargaining power from other developers to better relations with platform owners.