Reply To: Activision Set to Sell Sierra

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One extra comment on this…..

Rather than focus on mega hits, I tried to focus on “niches”. My theory was that different people were “into” different things, and that money could be made by providing products with fairly small audiences. The trick was in sizing the potential market, and conforming spending to the revenue opportunity.

To put that in english: I believe the market consisted of different categories; for instance, flight simulators, action games, card games, FRPs, strategy games, adventure games, etc. It also broke into categories by subject: fantasy, comedy, thriller, reality, horror, etc. One of the things I used to always say was the software store of the future would have more categories than the book shelves at Barnes and Noble. My goal was to imagine that future book store, size the revenue opportunity from each shelf, and then in the top 100 categories find someone who was highly passionate about the category, and build the product (with a budget that made sense).

A typical Ken approach to things: When Vincent Bugliosi was writing non-fiction legal books (such as his book on Charles Manson), I saw that he was moving a lot of books. There were people who were interested in the true-crime category. So, I hunted him down and talked him into doing a game. The game never got made, but it shows the kind of product development approach I liked to take. Identify things in the non-computer business which people obviously care about, and then find a way to adapt it to computers.

In short, Sierra’s product strategy was based on studying consumers to see what they wanted to do, thinking about if there was something fun that could be done on a computer, and then sizing the opportunity, figuning out an R&D budget that made sense, and writing software.

-Ken W