Industry Musings

Industry Musings

When I was younger and penniless, I had all the time in the world to play games, but never the money to buy all the new releases. I was required to make the most of a newly acquired game to get me by until the next birthday or present-appropriate holiday that would land me a new game. I would replay the same game multiple times, mastering all the nuances until I tired of it.

Today, I would balk at replaying a game over and over. (Unless it’s DotA of course) Sure, sometimes I’ll say to myself “On my next play through I’m going to do this…” but it never happens. I simply don’t have the time to devote that much time to a single story-driven experience. “Why is that,” you say?  Have you seen the amount of good games out there?
Steam Greenlight encourages independent
game development whole heartedly!

Not only that, but now that I am a working adult I can afford to purchase most of the games I want within reason. This, in combination with the sheer amount of quality video games out there, and the fact I work 40+ hours a week, I have an overabundance of entertainment that seems inexhaustible. Despite my devotion to depleting the queue, I just can’t do it.

This whole situation  isn’t solely at the feet of adulthood.  The evolution of the game industry is also responsible. Previously, the industry wasn’t nearly full of Triple A developers, and the mention of  independent development was non-existent. However, with the advent of convenient self publishing on the PC, and the support of console makers, the independent development of video games has become the norm. The result of this is a perpetual waterfall of creative ideas and even new genres in the medium.
While I am not one to complain about an overabundance of video games, I’ve had to resign myself to the fact that it would simply be impossible to play every game I want to. This has made me more selective about what I play. But it has also made me less forgiving when it comes to janky and broken game mechanics.  While this may seem like impatience, I feel that this is actually the industry evolving to expect a higher quality product, regardless of development budget.

THQ is responsible for
some of my favorite games!

Unfortunately, while this game development climate is good for the consumer, it has proven disastrous for some development companies.  Even seemingly successful game development studios have gone out of business. A good example of this is the bankruptcy of THQ back in December 2012.  THQ always made quality games, but their games usually did not sell well enough to be profitable overall.  This is due to the ever-increasing development costs of games as the industry progresses; big time game development becomes a riskier gamble as stakes get higher and higher.

This trend has spawned smaller studio development that brings us shorter, but quality, games.  I have mentioned a few of them: Dust, Bastion, and Mark of the Ninja.  These are more bite-sized game servings without the large monetary gamble of bigger development companies.  The lower cost of these games also gives gamers another option besides $60 retail games.

Overall, I’m very excited with the direction the gaming industry is going.  There’s a lot of different players out there, large and small.  We’ve got independent and smaller development studios getting full support from the console developers (for once), and we have some of the bigger Triple A companies, like Ubisoft and EA, still willing to gamble the big bucks by developing ridiculously-budgeted games in the hopes of another seller like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  While I may never be able to play all of the video games, it’s not going to stop me from trying!

Relevant Links:

  1. Steam Greenlight
  2. Xbox One Independent Development
  3. PS4 Independent Development
  4. Details on THQ Bankruptcy
  5. Well done article/video by IGN about all the closed game development companies in 2012

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