Developers concerned over lack of 2010-11 titles

Tantalus' Tom Crago hopes a strong Christmas will see more work commissioned

Independent videogame developers across the world are concerned at the lack of deals being made in the business as publishers pull back to focus on core products.

According to several companies that has spoken to there is a fear that the lack of commissions as things stand will lead to a relatively bare slate for the 2010-11 period.

One such developer is Tantalus, whose CEO Tom Crago explained that he hoped publishers would enjoy a strong Christmas, and that the New Year would see a flurry of activity.

"Absolutely, we hope that will be the case," he said. "From our point of view we're heavily dependent and processes of publishers. We hope their outlook is rosier, particularly into 2010 and 2011, and that the volume of titles that are being commissioned increases."

But Crago, who is also the president of Australia's trade organisation - the GDAA - expressed his worry that even projects given the green light then would be subject to pressure.

"You get into this cycle of titles starting too late, not having enough time to do the job that you'd like to do on that game. We'd like to prevent that," he explained. "From a publisher standpoint you can understand the wait-and-see approach, but there needs to be a meeting in the middle."

The full interview with Tom Crago is available now, and will have more on the issue in the coming months.

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Latest comments (6)

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd12 years ago
is this a wait and see approach on the part of publishers or a general long term trend?
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Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix12 years ago
Most people I've spoken to are hoping the former, but fearing the latter...
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Wolfgang Siebert Project Manager, Bigpoint12 years ago
I think what we are experiencing here is a late side-effect of the console war on X360 and PS3 magnified by problems in the financial sector. Pulling back on core products indicates, that publishers are looking to play it safe and reduce risks.

We saw the same thing in Germany in 2000/2001, when the collaps of advertising market purged a significantly overhyped TV market. Or in the late '40s and '50s in the US in the film business. Personally I believe that we're looking at a very similar transition phase in games right.

Maybe we are in the midst of a big purge in the industry, but I believe that even when the markets pull out of their dive, publishers will be far more cautious about their investments. I believe it's part of the maturing of the industry.

So I agree with Phil, that I fear it's going to stay like this for some time.
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Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd12 years ago
same is happening in the uk film industry from people i have talked to. studio funding is getting scarcer so they are betting on the big $150m movies and pulling funding from the indies.
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Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media12 years ago
Tom speaks about some of the publisher motivations in this interview and it's important to understand their viewpoint. That said, I have the sense we're sitting in a crisis of confidence which is detrimental to the industry. There's a lot of studios out there willing to go the extra mile to bring down costs in order to win business.

With costs being the major challenge that the major publishers are facing, third party development is akin to contracting with no ongoing obligations, no downsize costs, and with a competitive tender environment.

We at Tantalus have found it necessary to become particularly aggressive in managing costs in order to win business. That means lot of hard work but that's the price of being in business right now.

You'd have to think that utilising competitive external development, wherever it is in the world, is *exactly* what publishers need in these times?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mat Bettinson on 6th October 2009 1:24am

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Dan Marchant Business Development, Strawdog Studios12 years ago
It was already taking 6-12 months to sign deals even for games costing 200-500k. Even more cautious publishers will leave a space in the market for the small indies. Icon Games switched from Developer to self-publishing ( as a direct result of traditional publishers inability to do business. Strawdog Studios are self publishing an XBLA game because their publisher (Pinnacle) went bust and others have done the same.

Not all of them will survive. It's tough to raise finance and challenging to take on jobs like Marketing that the publishers traditionally did. However I am sure some will survive and flourish.
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