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Game devs ditching mobile in favor of PC, console?

Game devs ditching mobile in favor of PC, console?

Tue 24 Sep 2013 2:11pm GMT / 10:11am EDT / 7:11am PDT
MobileDevelopment

“I wouldn't touch mobile with a ten foot pole” - we chat with several devs about the challenging mobile market

The mobile and tablet market has grown tremendously in the last several years. The number of apps on Apple's App Store and Google Play is downright mind boggling, and if you're an app developer... well, best of luck to you. As the new survey from App Developer Conference organizers revealed this week, piracy and discoverability are making it incredibly hard to succeed. Nearly half of the app developers surveyed made no profit at all.

So the question has to be asked: after years of flocking to mobile, are developers actually retreating to the PC and console space? Devs GamesIndustry International spoke with were torn on this, but none would deny the massive challenges of developing apps today.

"I speak with lots of mobile devs regularly and most are moving away or at least thinking of it, either to other platforms or out of the trade completely," Paul Johnson, managing director and co-founder of Rubicon, told us. "Having to give your game away for 69 cents a throw (after Apple's and Google's cut) and then competing with 1000 new apps each day is hardly a draw for anybody. We've reached a point now where even those slow on the uptake have realized the goldrush is over. It's actually been over for a few years."

Jeffrey Lim, producer, Wicked Dog Games, agreed: "The mobile space offers certain advantages, like having the largest customer base and relatively low development costs. However, there's no doubt it is getting harder to be profitable with the ongoing piracy and discoverability issues."

"We do think developers (especially indies) are considering going back to develop for the PC - and even game consoles"

Jeffrey Lim

"So yes, we do think developers (especially indies) are considering going back to develop for the PC - and even game consoles. The cost of self-publishing on these platforms has dropped significantly, and console makers are also making their platforms more indie-friendly now," he added, alluding to efforts on next-gen systems like Sony's PS4.

Chillingo COO Ed Rumley isn't quite of the same mind as Johnson and Lim, but as a publisher, Chillingo has noticed that too many developers simply are failing to make high quality games, so it's no wonder that their titles are being ignored.

"The number of games being submitted is growing, as is the number of developers contacting us. I'm not sure if some are being scared away, but†we know from experience that some developers underestimate the time and quality it takes to make it in mobile now. Consumers are a savvy bunch and spot second rate games a mile off. You can't just knock something together in your spare time, upload it and†wait for the money to roll in anymore," he warned.

Michael Schade, CEO, Fishlabs Entertainment, acknowledged the big challenge in mobile, but he doesn't think developers are going to have to look elsewhere.

"Sure, mobile's not an easy market to breach into, but then again, which market really is? No matter what business you're in or what product you're trying to sell, you'll always have to work hard to gain your ground and make a name for yourself," he noted. "So that alone shouldn't scare you away from mobile, especially when you keep in mind that no other platform in the history of digital entertainment has ever evolved faster and born more potential than mobile! With more than a billion smart connected devices in use and hardware capabilities on par with current-gen gaming consoles, today's smartphones and tablets constitute by far the most widespread, frequently used and innovative gaming platform the world has ever seen."

Schade also remarked that the last few years of veteran developers getting into the mobile scene has made things more difficult. "The fact that more and more established PC and console veterans open new mobile gaming studios and more and more traditional publishers port their titles to iOS and Android, doesn't make it easier for one particular company or product to stick out. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it clearly shows that the trend goes towards mobile, rather than away from it," he said.

For every developer we spoke with, the discoverability issue reared its ugly head. There's no doubt that this is a major concern. While building a high quality game can help, it's simply not enough. In the world of apps, you cannot let the game do the talking for you.

"I think many developers have the misconception that it's simply enough to release the game and let it speak for itself. They underestimate the importance of a marketing/PR campaign leading up to the game's launch," Lim stressed. "As a result their games fail commercially; not because of the quality, but due to lack of visibility. Hence the marketing/PR campaign should be seen as an integral part of the game's development. An appropriate portion of the overall budget and effort should be allocated to increasing the game's visibility, and if developers do not have the experience or time in marketing/PR they should consider hiring professionals in this area to lend a hand."

Gree vice president of marketing Sho Masuda concurred that marketing is becoming crucial to mobile success. "They have to spend more time thinking about marketing and post-launch efforts in addition to building the the games. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and services available for devs of all sizes to ensure that they can get the direction and support they need in these areas. Additionally, the mobile dev community is a very, very tight knit community and there is an amazing level of information sharing and support," he said. "We encourage mobile devs of all sizes to talk to their peers, take advantage of all the meet-ups and events, and get to know all the services available to help get eyeballs on their games."

A number of devs also believe that platform holders have a larger responsibility that they've been shirking so far. "For platform holders (e.g. Apple's App Store), they can start to curate apps released on their store because there are too many clones of existing games that are taking up the traffic. They could attempt something like Steam Greenlight; although it is still an imperfect system, it's better than not having any curation at all," Lim commented.

Paul Johnson agreed, telling us that he'd really like platform holders to have a much more active role, as the discoverability issue has "about reached terminal" for unknown devs.

"If Apple don't pick your game out for a feature, and you can't drum up enough interest before launch yourself, then I'd say you're pretty much screwed. It doesn't matter how good your game is if nobody ever sees it and downloads it. They can't tell their friends about something they themselves don't know about!" he stated.

1

If Apple spotlights your game, you're golden

"The only thing I think the platform holders could do to help is stop allowing crap to be released. There's only so much space for features and the end users only have so much effort in them to look under all the categories all the time, so I really don't think adding more of them would help much. Maybe more apps for shorter times, but this is all a drop in the ocean really."

"The one thing I've come up with that would make a real difference is for the platform owners to charge five grand for a developer license. All the utter crap would disappear and there'd be less apps fighting for space," he continued. "And the end-users wouldn't have to waste time downloading the crap as nobody who makes stuff they don't believe in would dream of fronting that license fee. It's Draconian but it's really the only thing I can see having any noticeable effect. Anything else is just lip service."

Discoverability issues aside, another major - and possibly growing - problem for devs to contend with is piracy. The App Developer Conference survey showed that 26 percent of devs had their apps pirated and a similar amount even had in-app purchases stolen.

James Vaughan told us, "Plague Inc. has a piracy rate of about 30-35 percent, which equals millions and millions of copies, but I don't consider piracy to be a problem; it is simply a fact of life and I don't get too worked up about it. Piracy is a byproduct of success and I choose to focus on the success which has resulted in piracy rather than the piracy itself. (The best way to stop your game from being pirated is to make a crap game!) I focus on continually improving and updating Plague Inc. which makes the game even more valuable to the people who have brought it (and encourages pirates to buy it as well)."

For those devs who actually do lose sleep over piracy, there are some ways to combat it, Lim said.

"If I was starting again now from a blank slate, without an existing fan base, I wouldn't touch mobile with a ten foot pole"

Paul Johnson

"There's no question that piracy is prevalent, and I think it will continue to be so for a long time to come. In fact, with high-speed Internet access and the wide spread use of file-sharing software nowadays I think this problem is going to get worse," he observed.

"The first way to deal with piracy is to implement the appropriate business model, and I think free-to-download with micro-transactions is the right way to go. Making the game free for download can work to our advantage; it allows us to reach out a larger customer base. And if players are hooked by the game, they can be enticed to buy additional high-quality content for a minimal price."

"The second way would be to build a strong rapport with our customers - e.g. through frequent interactions on social media, events or even email. Developers of notable games (e.g. Hotline Miami and Game Dev Tycoon) have addressed piracy in this manner. By having a loyal customer base which is appreciative of our efforts in delivering quality content, they would empathize with us and be more willing to pay for the games in support of our development efforts."

The good news for iOS devs, at least according to Schade, is that Apple's store is less prone to piracy. "Having lived through the 'dark ages' of Java and made it out of there with two black eyes rather than one, piracy has been a very delicate topic for us at Fishlabs ever since. Based on our own experience, however, it is not as much of an issue on the App Store as it is on other platforms," he noted. "I guess that's mostly because Apple still has a lot of 'premium' customers willing to pay for high-quality content. Of course, we're well aware of the fact that neither the closed iOS environment nor the Free-2-Play model will ever be able to eradicate software piracy entirely, but at least they are doing a comparatively good job at containing it as good as possible."

If developers can effectively navigate the problems of discoverability and piracy, there's no doubt that the potential is massive. One look at the overwhelming success of Angry Birds, Temple Run, Clash of Clans and others proves what's possible. But for the vast, vast majority of devs, that's a pipe dream.

"From the consumer angle, it's a golden age. The amount of good quality games that can be bought for laughable prices is fantastic and there's a ton of money being spent on this platform as a result. The problem for developers is that each individual cut is tiny. This isn't even remotely sustainable and I don't know what the future is going to look like. If I was starting again now from a blank slate, without an existing fan base, I wouldn't touch mobile with a ten foot pole," said Johnson.

43 Comments

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
If you are developing a cross platform game using something like Unity then why ignore mobile as an option? Devices are getting faster. The trick is to target all platforms with a decent quality game. Easier now that the consoles are going with the PC architecture.

Posted:A year ago

#1
Popular Comment
Couldn't agree more about discoverability, I would love to imagine platform holders are dreaming up methods right now to make their stores more like an actual store i.e. one that doesn't hide its stock and can easily pull up items that suit a players individual particular taste. The 'what's hot' side of the appstore alone could be branched into multiple charts and lists to present the buyer. And 'Grossing' ought to be hidden a few clicks away from the rest of the charts - it's a financial report, not informative to a buyer, it's just cock waving.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Steve Goldman Journalist.

81 92 1.1
yoou cant take 1 bad example and generalize to the industry. That isnt happening.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,160 1,228 1.1
Popular Comment
I like the subtle irony of people describing f2p, it follows a good humorous structure, if you can complete the setup of the joke:

(1) "back in the old days, 9/10 players were pirating our game"
(2) today, we are giving it away for free....
(3) ....and 9/10 players will not play for longer than they would have played a demo version, but we shall ignore that fact.

So today we learned, nothing has changed, advertising works and better games are a blight to your get-rich-quick-scheme.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

204 235 1.2
Popular Comment
@Sandy I think it is a big mistake to think that Unity means you can target all platforms. I still think you should focus on one. At the simplest level, the three major platforms (PC, tablet/mobile, console) have different control schemes (mouse/keyboard, touch, gamepad); they have different audience expectations (indie, casual, core); they have different gatekeepers (Steam/Kongregate, Apple/Google Play, Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo). They have different expectations of business models. They have different analytics providers, different achievements, different ways of doing leaderboards and so on.

Once you have a hit, sure, take it to as many platforms as possible. but it is a huge mistake to imagine that Unity (or any other cross-platform tech) means that it is sensible to target lots of platforms, especially if you are a startup.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

204 235 1.2
@Barry You know that the Top Grossing is not a cock-waving chart in origin? All the publishers and developers complained that the Top Downloads charts incentivised 99c apps, and penalised people who sold high-quality games priced at $6.99. The Top Grossing chart was a response to that, multiplying downloads by headline price to allow people with high prices to chart effectively with people with low prices.

I'm still not sure it is cock-waving. In a world where the number of downloads bears little relationship to success, and think the games that are able to persuade players to spend money on them is the most accurate representation of what a good game is, not the least.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Neil Sorens Creative Director, Zen Studios

17 48 2.8
EVERY platform is oversupplied. Socialmobilepcconsolehandheld. The next couple years will be grim, once the next-gen console spike has quieted.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Kevin Corti Games industry consulting, SpiderShed Media

9 8 0.9
The crux of this article resonates very strongly from my experience and I also echo Barry's comments wholeheartedly.

Marketing was something that some could get away with not doing on mobile (as with Facebook) for a very brief moment when the platforms were new and there was a very willing consumer base that was not being served. Those days are gone forever. I would comment though, that I believe that the markets are failing right now in that we have a huge and rapidly growing consumer base (that is getting ever more comfortable with IAPs) and a decent number of good games available which can address segments of the overall market and still be large (even if you discount 80-90% which are old, bad or just hobby projects) but that the visibility of those games to those users is massively distorted in favour of devs/pubs with very deep pockets.

I do believe that better ways can be found to surface GOOD games to a willing consumer audience in a much less expensive way than currently prevails. Apple (and to a lesser extent Google/the android stores) have done a very bad job at showing players the games that are actually engaging other players like them. Instead they have favoured download volumes and velocities and sales revenues as the indicators of popularity. Nobody but the ad networks are winning right now and it seems ludicrous to me that developers pay $2-5 for users in one game then probably buy that same user again for another game.

I'm exploring the potential for a games discovery platform that surfaces games to consumers based on how well they are engaging players. The goal is to help GOOD games get seen by players without the need to pay huge amounts on buying your way into the top 25 chart rankings. If you are interested in this concept (as a player, developer or publisher) please register at http://www.everyonesplaying.com/ and we will let you know when we launch.

Thanks,

Kevin Corti
Chief Evil Officer, Evil27Games

Posted:A year ago

#8
Hardly a surprise really, but I'm sure it'll equalize. Everyone rushed to iOS and Android mobile because costs and competition were relatively low, not that it's less profitable people move back to PC & consoles, meaning reduced competition on mobile, making it more profitable again. That's the fundamental reason why the Doom-sayers who announce that console and PC gaming is dead because of mobile are, and will nearly always be wrong. As long as people still own them, there will be a market for games.

Personally I spent years in mobile development and the focus would quickly turn from making a great game to making a game that would work for the widest audience. That meant dumbing down controls, since old phones could only handle a single button being pressed at a time, and later only being guaranteed single-touch on smart phones. It wore me down to have to scrap 'cool' features because we couldn't be sure that everyone could use them.

The thing to remember is that this statement is only partially true:
hardware capabilities on par with current-gen gaming consoles
Yes, some of them do. Others don't. So whilst mobile devices has been a very fast growing platform, it also has one of the largest ranges of technical capabilities that console devs will have worked with. Some devices will struggle to play Tetris at a decent speed. It's like developing a cross-platform game that'll work on your PS4, your SNES and everything in between. And because they're getting faster all the time, if you slap on minimum system requirements you could (or more likely will) be excluding millions of possible customers.

Posted:A year ago

#9

James Ingrams Writer

215 85 0.4
Thank you. I have said for so long how devs will move to the PC indie market, where you have more control, more marketing possibilities, and more profits! Indie games like Mindcraft, Torchlight and E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy have sold in the millions!

Posted:A year ago

#10

Christian Slater DevilBliss Games Consultancy

27 45 1.7
Popular Comment
I'm waiting for Bruce to crash into this thread like a SWAT team through a meth lab window

Posted:A year ago

#11
Makes me laugh to think back to all the comments on here and other sites prophesyizing about the death of the PC & Console market in favor of mobiles... :-)

Posted:A year ago

#12
@Nicholas I agree with you, the grossing list serves those developers who want to see it - not customers, whom I think the shop ought be aimed at. Give devs their own detailed breakdowns of everything if you want, but hide it from the front please. The app stores need to be focused on the curious customers with money to spend and no idea where to start.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Barry Meade

Discoverability comes from marketing.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

331 784 2.4
With more platforms being available it's inevitable that developers will migrate to the ones that best suit their needs.

The Chillingo quote is interesting. There's an abundance of high quality games being brought to market - a disproportionate number are still failing because developers aren't being taught how to engage with a mobile gaming audience.

Clearing out the bottom 90% of the App Store (e.g. with excessive fees) wouldn't positively affect discoverability at all. You're not competing against the amateur efforts and shovelware for featured slots, but against the competent professional developer/publishers, of which there are hundreds.

Look to Amazon, Netflix and Newgrounds for how Apple and Google could start to effectively address the discoverability problem. They have the data to tailor results to users' preferences. Working recommendation systems and community moderation are solved problems on other stores, whereas Apple's widely exploited, anonymous 'User Ratings' system is worse than useless.

Piracy is not a major issue on any modern platform. Although I'd hesitate to release a premium game on Google Play only. It's really refreshing to hear some common sense on the subject from James Vaughan.

Oh, and "hardware capabilities on par with current-gen gaming consoles" is completely laughable as others have pointed out.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Christian Slater DevilBliss Games Consultancy

27 45 1.7
"Discoverability comes from marketing."

But surely if marketing has already gone and raised awareness of a product then it doesn't actually need 'discovering'?

The term in this context refers to 'cold' active-browsing - not simply navigating to something you already know is there.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
Popular Comment
I'm a little confused. Constantly from those who have a downer on consoles, we hear to compete with mobile, consoles need to lower the barrier of entry for developers. To allow any developers in, to reduce cost of entry, and to make certification simpler, by getting rid of some of the hurdles, and mainly checking for stability, lack of malicious code etc.
Now the solutions to mobiles problems include increasing price of entry, adding more quality control in certification, and not allowing everyone in.
I'm sure it is not the intention, but it sounds like, "open the door wide for us, then slam it behind us and add a combination padlock please."

Posted:A year ago

#17

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@ Christian Slater

Relying on Apple to do your marketing for you screams of desperation.
However app store SEO is free for anyone to do. Remembering to localise it properly for each national app store.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
Having a large barrier to entry (like a 5K developer licence) on Android would be a terrible idea. Part of Android's appeal is that it's an open platform. Sure, that poses problems for people who base their business model on selling games on that platform, and that's unfortunate, but it's not a good reason to close down an open platform in my opinion.

Personally I bought an Android because I didn't want anyone telling me what kinds of apps I can and can't have on my phone. If I wanted a platform holder dictating what kind of apps are acceptable, then I'd buy an iPhone.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bryan Robertson on 24th September 2013 9:12pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
>> "Having a large barrier to entry (like a 5K developer licence) on Android would be a terrible idea. Part of Android's appeal is that it's an open platform"

The reason 99.9% of people buy Androids is because they're powerful and cheap. That's it. Those guys just want to see good apps that the developer believes enough it to pay to publish.

It's not a perfect solution, but if you want to dismiss mine then I'm all ears for a better idea.

Posted:A year ago

#20

James Ingrams Writer

215 85 0.4
Watch and see how poorly the new consoles will sell, and how the indie PC market will explode in sales because of it. You read it here first! :)

Posted:A year ago

#21

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,200 1,017 0.8
Sandy said what I wanted to say. Seems like a silly thing to do actually, especially if your design is suited to mobile.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Typical of the publisher to blame it on crap games and try to score some points there. :)

Our own Great Big War Game got a 90+ metacritic and a BAFTA nomination - and not in a mobile category. But because we don't have a massive marketing budget it kinda fizzled. That's it.

As to the cross platform angle, we here are Rubicon definitely agree are going that route now. See our first "Combat Monsters", available in late Beta right now from www.rubicondev.com/combatmonsters . No unity in sight though, all our own work. I find it a bit sad that so many think middleware is the only way these days.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 24th September 2013 10:08pm

Posted:A year ago

#23

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
The reason 99.9% of people buy Androids is because they're powerful and cheap
Maybe the lower-end phones. A lot of the higher-end phones aren't any cheaper than an iPhone (at least in Canada anyway, I know we get price gouged over here, so I'm not sure what the prices are over in the UK right now).

My Note 2 is comparable in price to an iPhone, for example. (Probably about the same, maybe slightly more expensive)
It's not a perfect solution, but if you want to dismiss mine then I'm all ears for a better idea.
Well I don't really object to maybe having a separate part of the app store that is more curated, or something like that, but as I say Android is an open platform, that's one of its major selling points. You can't close down an open platform just because some people are having difficulty making money on it.

I don't think people have an absolute right to make money on a computing platform they didn't create, and I don't believe that people should be obligated to give up their freedom just because people aren't making money on a platform.

As I say, I do sympathise, but I don't think that developers have a right to a closed Android platform, any more than they have the right to ban Linux.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bryan Robertson on 24th September 2013 10:15pm

Posted:A year ago

#24

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
I don't think people have an absolute right to make money on a computing platform they didn't create
You're technically right of course, but remove the profit and you remove the work and then you have no stuff on your phone and it dies. And that's where the article headline comes in.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 24th September 2013 10:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#25

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Paul Johnson
But because we don't have a massive marketing budget it kinda fizzled.
Marketing isn't about a massive budget. Really.
In the budget 8 bit days we sold physical product for £1.99 a pop retail and still did lots of marketing activity.
Codemasters got to over 27% total market share back then.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,200 1,017 0.8
No unity in sight though, all our own work. I find it a bit sad that so many think middleware is the only way these days.
Middle-ware is always good in some way, the choice will be making it internally or using a pre-made package or a mix of both.

I think middle-ware is simply fantastic. Many years of design and engineering for tools and technology to make games development easy and across multiple platforms. Engines such as Unity are also surprisingly customisable in terms of the effects and results.

I agree that third party middle-ware isn't the only way and the industry needn't be dominated by Unity and Unreal Engine, however the advantages simply can't be ignored. We're not just talking all-in-one solutions either but technologies such as physics and light baking that have been used industry wide even alongside highly proprietary internal engines.

Right now, I wouldn't even consider building a proprietary platform, because the results I could get by using 3rd party middle-ware are equal (or superior) to what I or many individuals or studios big or small could get if we/they spent years trying to build the platform.

Its a choice but quite obvious why people choose their directions.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Marketing isn't about a massive budget. Really.
I'm all ears Bruce... ;)

Personally, if we had some spare big cash I'd spend it on hiring a marketing expert on staff. But the wages for someone good at that come right under "massive budget" when most indies are speaking.

I concede that someone from EA etc might argue on the definition of "massive" though. :)

Posted:A year ago

#28

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

331 784 2.4
@Paul Johnson

Did you get any level of visibility at all, and punters still didn't bite? Throwing money at marketing wouldn't have helped if that was the case. Review scores and awards don't count for much in mobile I'm afraid.

Your proposition has to be immediately obvious, attractive and (particularly if you're asking for money up front), at least somewhat familiar.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Robin As someone who bought GBWG I can attest to the fact that for a short time it was near the top of the Android store, but still fell off. It is a very good game. The quality wasn't the problem. It's just a really fickle market.

Posted:A year ago

#30

Kristian Fosh Director, DreamFever

6 0 0.0
the thing is that 'mobile' is like saying 'web' now - its so fragmented with so many platforms to consider with their various app stores with their own needs and regulations, what indie has the time for that now?

I've gone back to PC and I'm already seeing a much more positive result, although doubt that this will help with piracy...

Posted:A year ago

#31

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

273 624 2.3
No unity in sight though, all our own work. I find it a bit sad that so many think middleware is the only way these days.
Good to hear we aren't the only idiots writing games on our own in-house software. :D

Salute to Paul and team!

Posted:A year ago

#32

James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios

135 172 1.3
The people making the money now are the marketing folks who will artificially push your F2P game up the rankings by getting their army of minions to download it. And all for only tens of thousands of euros per territory...

Posted:A year ago

#33

James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios

135 172 1.3
@Darren Lol, it's certainly the way forward. It allows you to be far more lithe and flexible about your business decisions -- especially important for a small developer, imo. After what happened with RenderWare, I'd be very wary of middleware personally, although there are obviously pros and cons...

Posted:A year ago

#34

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
@Nicholas.
I understand your argument, and Iím not suggesting you aim to release on all platforms on day 1 with the same feature set. However, having made many cross platform games before with different button configurations for day 1 release I donít see it as a barrier. I canít see why a game can't adopt the use of a games controller or vice versa, if itís the right game. My argument is not to ignore platforms by saying "wouldnít touch it with a barge pole". Things change, including devices controller input methods.
Obviously releasing the same product across devices has challenges, and your assets and features need to be scaled up or down accordingly depending on the platform but that has always been the case when developing for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft devices in the past. Last game I worked on was for PC, Xbox, PS3, 3DS, Wii U and they pretty much shared the same code base with art assets being scaled accordingly. Sure there was some optimisation at the end and along the way but this has been normal practice for years. Something like unity can make that a little easier in some respects. Yes, the devices mentioned all have physical controls but still essentially cross platform release.
Everyone has a smart device, so why not get creative and put smart devices to use in a lightweight fashion when out and about for a console/pc game. It can quite happily be part of the game. Setting tasks, Planning, Creating missions, Building tracks, Keeping players up to date on team progress etc . The list can go on. These devices can be of benefit to your franchise if you use them effectively.
As for visibility and pricing then sure there are challenges on each platform, but the same challenges will exist on other platforms in future once the development community gets bigger and the tools become more readily available.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

204 235 1.2
@Sandy Every decision you make there has massively increased financial risk (i.e. the amount of time, effort and money you have to spend on launch). It decreases operational risk (that you don't make your money make on your game) by targeting more platforms and hence more users.

If I were an indie, I would work very very hard to decrease my financial risk. I would obsess about that. Only big corporations should worry about operational risk at the expense of financial risk.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
@Nicholas

I think reducing your financial risk is crucial at any level these days to be fair. Adjusting to the market realities is key, and the reason why we have seen a lot of mid level developers go bust and why we have seen console manufacturers go for a device that is cheaper to manufacture and produce this time around.

Sure you've got to hedge your bets so to speak with the game design you propose, where you release it and when it gets released, but indies are positioned well in that respect, if they set up the right working conditions for themselves. Indeed, I strive to do this myself. Minimal overheads and increased effort is a good for any business.

Having worked as a programmer for Sony for 8 of the last 10 years in the corporate games world, I think the same business fears are alive and kicking in that size of organisation as well. Its just at a developer/ game team level in such organisations the decisions we talk about arent felt immediately, but they are felt down the line. Usually once the shareholders on the other side of the world see their money slowly disappearing.

On the topic of cross platform and mobile, and using Sony as an example, they have a massive catalogue of IP. Personally I can help thinking from a Sony shareholder point of view it would have been nice to have see that software released on different devices and platforms. Mobile included. It could have taken in a substantial amount of money.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 25th September 2013 1:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#37
@Sandy - But that would turn Sony into a software publisher and weaken their hardware which is ultimately their focus.

They want people writing for their device and making it better not the other way around. It's not a foregone conclusion that Apple and Google will be the only devices with a viable app store for everything.

There's an almighty land grab going on and any developer that's writing for anybody's platform is essentially creating value for the platform holder.

The winner or winners will be the new Amazon except not for physical items but for Movies, Games, Apps, Telephone, Mapping, Cloud etc

Developers will all have to pay them a tax because their device or store won't be open and eventually because they hold the credit cards no-one will be arsed using more than a couple. If a closed device wins (iOS device, Xbox One or PS4) they won't even have the chance if they wanted.

Where will the "open" web fit into this? If no-one is making any money of it and the applications run better natively then it might become a second class citizen.

Now do you really want to help your competitor for a short term gain?

I know that's it taken to the extreme but I think that's what all the big players are fighting over. I'm actually surprised someone like Microsoft hasn't bought EA just for their sports titles alone. It would effectively win them the war in the US although that might be about as a good idea as American Online buying Time Warner.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 25th September 2013 3:13pm

Posted:A year ago

#38

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Adjusted for inflation, a product that cost £1.99 in 1985 costs £4.35 in 2013. £1.99 was the lowest price point games were sold in 1985 compared to 0.69p in the Appstore today. 0.69p today equal 0.31p in 1985, sure the cut the retailer took during the 8 Bit days was most probably higher, then what Apple takes today, but even if I take this in consideration, it doesn't change the fact, that the lowest price point for games was roughly 6 times of what it is today. And this doesn't take in consideration, that the development budget for an average Mastertronic or Codemasters title was only a fraction of what todays mobile budgets are.

Last but not least, Codemasters didn't sold it's games for £1.99, they charged £2.99 for their games.
You missed the bit out about paying for the physical stock. For the cassettes, their duplication, inlay cards, library cases, warehousing, transport costs, finance costs for the inventory, sales staff wages etc etc.
Then there were the market limits. We sold mainly in the UK and a bit in Europe. At Kwalee our first #1 was in Tanzania. The total number of 8 bit home computers in use was tiny compared with the 2 billion smartphones in use now.
You information on mobile Vs 8 bit budgets is plain wrong. Very large numbers of good quality mobile games were developed in exactly the same way as many 8 bit games, for similar budgets in real terms.
And I am the world expert on Codemasters game pricing: http://www.bruceongames.com/2007/08/14/increasing-market-share-by-putting-prices-up/

Back to journalism school for you.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
@John.

I totally get that. It felt at times the games we made as first party devs were to show off the hardware and not just about the games experience alone. Vita touch screen controls come to mind. PS hardware has never brought profits to talk about, but it allowed a degree of market control. Sony profits really came from the content. The margins on hardware are tiny and usually at a loss with regard to past devices and currency fluctuations. At least until they could manufacture smaller and cheaper over time. It'll be different this time round though. They cant afford the same dip into the red on manufacturing in the hope that people buy software to offset the costs. The market has changed and this is why they are coming into line with a PC based architecture to which games can developed for and ported to more easily with universal tech. Essentially makes a port a no brainer if the community is there. I wish them well with this, but I would like to see them develop a software platform that is PC based as well like Steam. The software reach would obviously be much greater in a time where everyone is gaming on different devices.

I agree on the land grab. At some level its good to see them competing for developer support though. We might see the margins play in favour of devs in future.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 25th September 2013 4:30pm

Posted:A year ago

#40

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Christian Keichel

8 core Dizzy games:
Dizzy Ė The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure - 1987
Treasure Island Dizzy (Dizzy II) - 1988
Fantasy World Dizzy (Dizzy III) - 1989
Dizzy 3 and a half: Into Magicland (Dizzy 3.5) - 1991
Magicland Dizzy (Dizzy IV) - 1990
Spellbound Dizzy (Dizzy V) - 1991
Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk - 1991/2011
Fantastic Dizzy - 1991
Crystal Kingdom Dizzy - 1992

Then look at the credits:
Crystal Kingdom Dizzy
Game DesignDave Thompson, Craig Kelsall, Paul Ranson, Ö
ProducerPaul Ranson
Design ConsultantPhilip Oliver
ProgrammingAndy Severn
PlaytestingSteve Wyatt, David Ward
Fantastic Dizzy
Amiga version programmed byDerek Leigh‑Gilchrist
Original programming byDerek Leigh‑Gilchrist, Ash Hogg
Amiga artwork byJoby Wood, Leigh Christian
Amiga music byMatthew Simmonds, Ash Hogg
Game designed byAndrew Oliver, Philip Oliver' (The Oliver Twins)
Prince of the Yolkfolk
Programmed byDerek Leigh‑Gilchrist
Graphics byLeigh Christian
Music byMatthew Simmonds

Like I said, you need to go back to journalism school. All your facts are always wrong.

Posted:A year ago

#41

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

925 1,569 1.7
Not wanting to fan the flames on this particular straw man, but didn't the Oliver twins part company with Codies a long time back? Their current company just went down the toilet.

Posted:A year ago

#42

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Christian Keichel
There is a difference between different games and different titles.
Google is your friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dizzy_(series)
In my original post I was talking about Codemasters £1.99 games, not Codemasters £2.99 games, which came later.
Here is another article with further explanation on how we marketed with very little money:
http://www.bruceongames.com/2012/02/27/a-history-of-the-uk-video-game-industry-through-my-eyes-part-2/

Even as the biggest game publisher in Britain by sales volume we had very little money for marketing (or salaries).

Posted:A year ago

#43

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