Game Industry changes. How, Why and What it means for game developers? Leaning on resources and personal experience I tell it how I see it. This comes from a more traditional gamer and developer who is fascinated about the change.
What has changed?
Lots of things, some main points in short:
- First is old news but worth repeating: Game industry moves more money than films.
- New and possibly now most popular game types draw from games of the past – Arcadeish casual aka quick-to-play games are doing incredibly well.
- Gaming is more social hobby than before with a new and growing audience.
- Games and game platforms are more readily available. Now everyone with a modern smart phone/pad or a cheap personal computer and internet-connection has a solid gaming platform and access to a portable game library.
Why the change?
The following is info compressed from several sources. I will follow it with my take.
- Media mobiles or smartphones are now proper gaming platforms and bring games to wider audience. Top ten bestselling apps for iPhone in 2010 were all games. Smartphones became real gaming platform due to better interfaces and more computing power. Actually little less than a year I touched on this writing how light weight 3D-models are anything but dead – instead are making a comeback on mobile and other ‘light’ platforms.
- Most personal computers sold in recent years have enough kick to run most common games and there is more game capable computers around than game consoles.
- PC, which has often been written off as dead gaming platform, now generates considerably more game revenue than any console platform.
- Digital delivery has changed how games are played. Digitally delivered games have surpassed traditional sales. More people find the convenience of accessing their game library anywhere with internet-connection, and with less or no copy protection trouble, to be more important than having a physical product.
- Oncoming new gaming-services work on to remove user computer effiency-bottleneck entirely. This may well turn most computers from recent years with speedy internet-connection into gaming powerhouses.
- Gamers are now a more varied group with different interests. Now 40% of all gamers are female (in America).
- Casual, social games and other ‘new genre’ serve needs of a wider audience and create new gamers.
IGN estimates Facebook games make more money than most traditional games.
- Improvement of internet browsers, browser-plugins and Flash have made browsers a viable option for complete gaming experience. Unity-plugin brings impressive visuals and Gunshine showcases what is possible with Flash.
My take on the change-statistics
I don’t see any type of gaming to be more innovative than some other, nor do I see social and/or casual games replacing others. Also I don’t think rising PC will kill off any consoles. I believe the change is simply that there are lots of new gamers and new ways to play games which allows ever wider variety of games and platforms to flourish. That doesn’t mean traditional game types, platforms or players are going anywhere.
What does the industry change mean for game developers?
- New options are available for delivery(Steam, Xbox Live, online marketplaces, Appstore…) removing or reducing the costs of getting the game out and selling it.
- New game creation software lower the barrier of entry both in price and time invested in learning and ease developing for several platforms at once(check out Unity).
- Older established game creation softwares also lower prices or otherwise do their best to compete with newcomers.
- Range of topics found profitable is wider than ever.
- Small ‘bitesize’ games are (again) a very valid recipe.
- All of the above mean indie developers(individuals and small companies) have better changes to succeed.
- Due to the above large companies too are creating small flexible teams and targeting new markets.
How to get a position in New game industry
Mostly requirements are the same; To get into creating games you need to be very good at what you do, to know the right people and to be persistent. Also likely you will need to work as a trainee in a game company or on indie/non-profit game releases to get experience and recognition. Other route is of course raise enough capital to start your own or shared business.
Difference is in that generalists may now have more work than narrow specialists. Specialist jobs are not going anywhere but are hard to land since only big companies can hire a specialist long-term. Smaller companies now blooming hire people that can wear many hats – for mass production of any one thing they usually outsource (just like the big firms). Also since small companies make small team productions, that is games for online/mobile, it means optimization in everything, art stylization and carefully managed resources. If you aim for this area better make sure you know what is expected, like relevant coding languages or art style.
That’s my take on the change. Agree, disagree?
I link to many articles above but refer to 2 following more than anything else. I’m also adding others that may be of interest to you.
- CNET: Are we at the beginning of a PC-gaming renaissance?
- Intel Software Blogs(art music and animation): Solitude and Zombies: Waking up to a New Gaming Industry
- Unity Articles: Casual Games as a Business
- Extra Credits takes an all-over look at the change.