Oct 19 2010
The games industry is going through major upheavals these days. Historically, developers could make a console game for a few million dollars and expect to get their money back on royalties (and publishers didn’t have to worry too much about the risk involved).
These days, everything has changed. The console market has moved to only big blockbuster titles. Indie and B-level games don’t sell and publishers are running away from them. Social/web/Facebook games are all the rage these days, but they depend on millions of eyeballs where a few users spend money to support all of the free players. iPhone and Android games are trying to figure out how to navigate a market where anyone in their garage can publish a game, even if most of them are garbage. And the Wii market has imploded for 3rd party publishers (IOW, everyone except for Nintendo).
So does this mean that it is all doom and gloom for independent developers? I think that it is the exact opposite. Developers who can be quick and nimble are going to succeed. There are a lot of opportunities out there, but they aren’t the traditional business models. Finding ways to leverage HTML5, social games on mobile devices, connected games on XBLA/PSN, etc are the wave of the future for developers who aren’t making God of War nor Halo.
However, it also means that if anyone outside of the guaranteed funded triple-A game tells you that “they know how to succeed”, I would question how fast they can respond to a changing market.
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