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GDC sees devs shifting away from consoles

Survey finds 58% of attendees' next games coming to smartphones or tablets; consoles top out at 14%

It appears the big trend in game development is being small. Organizers of the Game Developers Conference today released the results of a GDC State of the Industry survey of more than 2,500 attendees registered for last year's show or this year's, and the results leaned heavily toward smaller teams and smaller systems.

According to the survey, 46 percent of all attendees reported working in companies of 10 people or less, with 53 percent of respondents self-identifying as indie developers. The indie pool shows significant signs of growth (or at least churn) as well; of those self-styled indies, 51 percent have been independent for less than two years. As for what they work on, tablets and smartphones drew the lion's share, with 58 percent of GDC attendees planning to release their next games on tablets and smartphones.

As for the traditional console industry, the numbers for the Big Three were much smaller. The Xbox 360 was the most popular console platform for devs' next games, with 13.9 percent of respondents targeting their next title for the system. After that came the PlayStation 3 (12.4 percent), Microsoft's next-gen system (11.3 percent), the PlayStation 4 (10.8 percent), and the Wii U (almost 6.5 percent). Dedicated handhelds proved even less popular, with barely five percent of developers making their next title for the PlayStation Vita, and less than three percent working on Nintendo's 3DS.

Interest levels in the platforms are similarly skewed toward more open systems. When asked which new markets were the most interesting for them, 58.2 percent reported tablets, with 56.4 percent saying smartphones. Steamboxes and Android-based consoles were the next most intriguing, garnering interest from 45.4 percent and 37.1 percent of respondents, respectively. As for the next-gen from the console manufacturers, Microsoft's next box was interesting to 29.5 percent, followed by the PS4 at 27.3 percent. The Wii U lagged significantly with interest from 12.6 percent of surveyed developers.

Even the funding for games is leaning small. Only 10 percent of the GDC attendees reported that their work was primarily funded by publishers. Companies were more typically relying on their own assets (37 percent), or an individual's personal savings (35 percent). Outfits like Kickstarter are also moving the needle. Only four percent of developers' current projects were crowdfunded, but 44 percent said they planned to work on crowdfunded games in the future.

The 2013 Games Developers Conference takes place in San Francisco from March 25-29 and GamesIndustry International will be there with a full team to bring you extensive coverage.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.