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Number of devs switching solely to mobile "frightening," says Divnich

EEDAR analyst expects 11 million consumers to transition to next-gen consoles by 2014, says devs need to take advantage

As top titles in the console business continue to underperform and miss expectations, many developers have found themselves in a precarious position: stick with a declining and risky console business or move to a (potentially) more lucrative platform like mobile/tablet or PC (whether download or free-to-play). It's definitely a problem for the console space, as the industry prepares for next-gen systems, EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich told GamesIndustry International.

"Breakout successes of numerous games including Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Angry Birds gathered strong interest from the large pool of developers who had found themselves out of traditional gaming jobs as a result of industry contraction. The total amount of developers shifting focus to solely mobile and tablet titles is frightening," he remarked.

"As an industry that is addicted to pushing innovation and new markets, we often find ourselves reactively chasing whatever is the fad du jour"

"We will eventually be operating too far outside of supply and demand without consequence. Market shifts can be unpredictable, only in the sense of when they occur, not if. Independent developers must hedge themselves against market shifts by assessing all available platforms, both current and future."

As appealing as mobiles and tablets are right now, Divnich cautions against flocking to these platforms in favor of consoles or the PC. "As an industry that is addicted to pushing innovation and new markets, we often find ourselves reactively chasing whatever is the fad du jour only to come back a couple of years later and realize that there are very solid foundations across a number of verticals which continue to provide fertile grounds for developers to generate revenue," he said.

Divnich advises independent developers to keep an open mind towards all platforms, including the new systems launching later this year from Microsoft and Sony. These consoles may not have the installed base of an iPhone, but they have a core audience that's willing to spend if the quality software is there.

"Consider this - with the advent of new middleware technologies and a strong foundation of hungry consumers looking for next-generation experiences, creating content for future consoles could represent less competition. EEDAR is forecasting over 11 million consumers to transition to the next-generation by the end of 2014 (PS4 and Xbox). That's 11 million consumers who are willing to spend money to consume interactive entertainment. Those are 11 million of the elusive 'Whales' we continually hunt in the mobile market," he noted.

"By the end of 2017, this will balloon to over 50 million consumers, all willing to spend money to consume quality content. It's a market that independent developers shouldn't ignore and one that the console manufacturers must foster to gain independent support."

"Independent developers cannot afford to operate with blinders on... there are more opportunities than ever before to make great games that can also make great money"

Sony appears to be doing a good job of fostering that developer support, and Divnich believes Microsoft will follow in Sony's footsteps.

"Sony's recent press coverage represents an important change that could make consoles a thriving market place for independent developers. It's expected that the next generation of consoles will have connectivity rates in excess of 85 percent and Sony has already shown a new direction in terms of developer support that bodes well to create new experiences for this industry. This includes help with funding through programs like Pub Fund, discovery, development, marketing, and PR support, in addition to optimizing the submission process to court independent developers," he said. "We are still awaiting Microsoft's strategy for the next-generation, but it's natural to assume that Microsoft will have a similar strategy of bringing new games, business models, and development teams into their ecosystem."

Ultimately, developers must be prepared to support a diverse range of platforms. "Independent developers cannot afford to operate with blinders on," Divnich stressed. "Independent developers should be looking across every platform while they think about new game development. Just like how the PC industry changed, consoles are changing too and there are more opportunities than ever before to make great games that can also make great money."

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Latest comments (13)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
The market is kinda collapsing already (from a devs pov) due to the mass of high quality competition, but it will always be true that it's way easier to publish on mobile or PC than console. By a long way.

No matter how much Sony and friends claim to have streamlined (and I've seen this first hand and it wasn't much), you cannot get away from the fact that we released our first crictically acclaimed mobile title without even talking to a single person at either Apple or Google. Beat that Sony!

(Probably a bad move in hindsight, but the right people in these places are hard to find! It still serves my point that you can publish without even asking permission)
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
It is not a matter of switching from console to mobile.
It is about switching from physical to digital distribution.
As an industry we have had some very strange and huge anomalies because current generation platforms are stuck almost totally with physical distribution. We need to get past this.

The trick now is to develop using cross platform tools like Unity and Construct2, then to publish on every platform possible that has digital distribution. Consoles, phones, tablets, PCs, social networks etc
Phones are moving to 1080p, which is the same as consoles which gives nice serendipity.

The big trick is to have as much of the game as possible on your own cross platform server. Then you control very many business elements and can adapt more quickly to metrics.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
Bruce, I thought you said consoles were dead previously?
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Show all comments (13)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
They are. Unless..............................
Consoles adhering to old business models are no longer tenable (Xbox 360, PS3). However there is the potential for a living room set top box that:
1) Does not require $60 per game. Does not ship games using plastic and cardboard.
2) Provides access to a huge array of widely varying non game content.
3) Is a first class web browser.
4) Has access to a huge app store. With very easy access for publishers. And price points from $0.
5) Is affordable.
6) Justifies its purchase when competing against 7inch tablets.

In other words a console that thinks it is a smartphone.

It looks like, to a lesser or greater extent, both Microsoft and Sony are headed in this direction. Whether they go the whole hog and whether they turn their back on physical IP retail are different matters. Sticking with high street retail would be a killer.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
They can't turn their back on retail, because not everyone has high speed broadband. The two will have to exist side by side. Hopefully they'll bring download prices down with the new consoles, but I really don't think we're going to see boxed video games disappearing completely.

And consoles are either dead or they're not - I'm pretty sure you were pretty adamant for a period a while back.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Now I am hedging my bets. :-)

Consoles as we know them are definitely dead.
Something fairly different, as I outlined, might just have a chance.

The big thing will be Microsoft's new "rental" business model for their hardware. Affordability will make a big difference this time against $150, 1080p 7inch tablets. And game affordability rules our physical IP distribution.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up8 years ago
I'd re-title this to be: "Number of devs opting to get a fair share of the profits is fantastic"
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
Fair enough Bruce.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 8 years ago
The ease of access to games on smartphones is light years more convenient than a home console, desktop or PC could ever be. In time I can see smartphones putting something like Pico Projectors right into the phone. Once that happens, everyone could be considered a mobile/console developer.

The demand is there for mobile due to ease of use. I think the transition makes total sense for that reason.
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Brett Caird Production Director/Founder, 5th Cell8 years ago
This whole piece about potential under-servicing of the traditional space due to everyone going mobile is an interesting one that I've thought about many times over the last 12 months. I don't claim to have an answer on how it will play out, but I do think expecting independents to change direction to potentially capitalise on it is unrealistic.

Independent devs are going where they can go. Funding sources for more traditional development are tightening and studios are closing as a result. It's easier to find people willing to fund mobile/social because the ticket is smaller (and the hype bigger), and indeed lots of independents can and do choose to fund themselves. That's something they couldn't do in the traditional space.

If you want to make something more traditional you need to find an established pub who isn't too jittery to sign a cheque. Good luck with that right now if you don't have an established IP with demonstrable future prospects.
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Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games8 years ago
Regarding your list of things new consoles need to do, don't the current gen already do most of that already?
I don't have an Xbox360, but for the PS3:
1. There are plenty of games below $60, and most of my games are digital downloads.
2. There are lots of media related apps (Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, etc), I'm not sure there are many other types of apps that are really appropriate for a game controller and a TV...I don't really need a Yelp app for my PS3 :)
3. Ok, PS3 web browser isn't that great, but it's not terrible either.
4. They do have a large store of mostly quality content. I prefer quality over quantity, but there is definitely something to be said about making it easier for developers to publish their games.
5. Maybe not affordable at launch, but then there are tablets that cost more than the PS3 did at launch.
6. This is subjective; I think someone interested in console games is likely to find most consoles to be justified since the depth of gameplay on most tablet games is lacking.

I don't think Sony or MS should directly copy the App Store model, I like that the content on consoles is curated. On mobile you have to swim through a sea of turds before finding the handful of good games that never made it to the top of the charts.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
Bruce, the Wii U has already done those things. All people are waiting for now are game announcements in E3. If you check the eShop, there are lots of indie games there and more are coming every month.
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Mike Wuetherick Lead Designer, Super Mega Awesome Games8 years ago
11 million users. how many iOS devices are on the market? android?

Christmas day last year saw more activations of mobile devices than this entire console market claim. Globally we're looking at almost a billion android devices and roughly 1/2 a billion iOS devices.

First quarter of this year, there were more iPad's sold than the entire console market share (22.9 million).

Add the extra layer of publishing BS / retail nightmares and other restrictions / difficulties that the traditional console / retail industry have, and you wonder why developers are fleeing the console space in droves?

Sure the games might not be $60 experiences, but of that $60, how much does the developer see in the end? probably as much as the iOS developer with their $0.99 game.

What's surprising is that anyone would bother even considering to target console (let alone console exclusives) unless you are a first party developer working for the platform owner.
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