Jobling: Free-to-play is like the early days of 8-bit

VC's see developers as online content providers of the future, says COO; studio may self publish again after 14 years

The current free-to-play games market is reminiscent of the early days of 8-bit computing, with new IP and simple games ideas presenting viable opportunities for independent developers to get to market.

That's the view of Eutechnyx' Darren Jobling, who added that bigger companies are eyeing the free space with envy, while venture capitalists see games developers as the online content providers of the future.

"The free-to-play market reminds me of the early days of 8-bit – straight forward fun games dominated by original IP," said Jobling, in an interview published today. " Just like in those early days, a few programmers in a bedroom are hitting gold and that is really exciting.

"However, the market is changing rapidly with console quality and big IPs eyeing up the casual online space with envy… It will be fun to see how it all shakes down."

The developer is currently working on Auto Club Revolution, a free-to-play massively multiplayer racing game, funded in part by £6 million investment from Prime Technology Ventures. Jobling noted that there's a lot of interest in games companies from venture capitalists, offering a realistic alternative for independent developers.

"I genuinely believe the current climate is the best in my memory for independent developers. Technology is changing and VC’s are interested in developers as the online content providers of the future," he said.

"There is massive interest in the casual game market at the present time from the financial sector, so I do think that you are going to see more deals of this type with developers obtaining the valuations their businesses deserve."

The grand ambition for Auto Club Revolution is to launch with almost all the major car manufacturers involved in the project, said Jobling. And with new digital opportunities, he hinted that the developer may return to self-publishing – something it hasn't done for 14 years.

"Returning to the world of publishing after a 14 year break also has an appeal. Ultimately it’s about what will make for the best game experience," he added.

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