Great story – History of Papyrus Racing Games

2016-04-26 18_29_48-220px-Papyrus_Design_Group_Logo.png (220×83)

Link to full story –> http://www.gamespot.com/articles/history-of-papyrus-racing-games/1100-6103365/

My favorite Kaemmer quotes from the story:

“I think the fact that we started with Indy 500, which really put us on the simulation path, had a lot to do with it. I ended up with a fanatical devotion to realism, which rubbed off on quite a few of our employees through the years. We never spent a lot of time thinking about what would make a fun game–only what would make the experience more like driving a real racecar. I think most of our competitors through the years were always worried about how difficult it was, and would sacrifice the realism, figuring that if it was difficult, it wasn’t fun.”

“To me, that’s nonsense. How many people would play golf if it were a piece of cake to hit par? It would be mini-golf. OK, maybe a lot of people would play it, but they’d get bored pretty quickly, and they wouldn’t spend much time on it. How many people play a lot of mini-golf? Anything that is truly fun in a lasting way in life takes time to learn–playing the piano, playing baseball, sailing, you name it. People don’t devote themselves to simple things for long periods of time. Our software always seemed to be able to hold people’s interest for a long time, since it takes skill, and the exercise of that skill is a tremendous rush, just like the real thing.”

“I think there were a number of factors that led to Papyrus’ closure. Chief among them is that interest in simulations, a category somewhat different than most games, hasn’t grown at the same rate as interest in games in general. Simulations are more difficult to market, since the fundamental enjoyment you get out of them is learning a difficult skill. People buying a toy–which is how people think of computer “games”– apparently don’t expect or want to master a difficult skill.”

“The computer game business is really becoming a toy business, especially with the popularity of console gaming. That’s not the right market for a simulation. To revisit the golf analogy, it’s like trying to sell real golf clubs at a mini-golf pavilion. Certainly you would sell some, but too many of the people coming through to play mini-golf aren’t interested in real golf–it’s too difficult and time consuming. That’s what’s happening to simulations, I think. The game industry is saying, ‘Look, people aren’t buying very many of these golf clubs–can we make a cheaper bag? Plastic instead of leather? Can you make it easier to play golf? It’s too hard, plus people have to walk too far.'”

“The real problem is that we’re reaching the wrong customers. If Papyrus were to have dumbed down the experience in order to make a console game, they would have had no competitive advantage. There are a zillion driving “games” out there and many of them look really nice since the console budgets allow for a lot of flash. But none of them are true driving simulators, despite what they say. They don’t need to be. They are being sold by the licenses. What Papyrus did that really nobody else did was make true simulations–you can really find out what racing is like with a Papyrus simulation. If you can do well in GPL or NR2003, you know how to drive a car at the limit.”

“For auto racing simulations there has always been a disconnection between the experience as a participant, which is what we were providing, and the experience as a spectator, which is what has always been used to sell the game. Auto racing is far more exciting for the participant than for the spectator, but people who haven’t participated in it don’t realize that. They are more interested in the soap opera that is professional racing, in the personalities of the drivers, and the paint schemes on the cars. That’s why we’ve always had to rely on big licenses: NASCAR, IndyCar, F1, Porsche, Ferrari, and so on. Unfortunately, those licenses are getting more and more costly, and now it is absolutely necessary to be making console games to be able to afford the licenses. EA bought an exclusive license to NASCAR on all platforms, so they will be the sole NASCAR game producer for the next few years. And now that VUG can no longer sell Papyrus’ NASCAR simulations, they decided to shutter Papyrus.”

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