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One-team developers are 'highest risk' businesses

Capcom's Christian Svensson underlines the challenges to small companies today

Capcom's VP of strategic planning and business development, Christian Svensson, has told GamesIndustry.biz that one-team developers are among the riskiest business ventures in the current economic climate, as publishers look to safer bets for investment.

Speaking at this year's AnimfxNZ event in New Zealand, Svensson outlined some of the challenges facing small developers, from the publisher's perspective.

"I can't think of a riskier business today than being a one-team game developer shop, especially in today's climate with funding becoming increasingly difficult, and publishers becoming increasingly risk-adverse, given the pummelling some of them have taken over the last 18-24 months," he explained.

"The biggest pitfall is getting signed, and once you get signed, how do you get that project through to completion? There are lots of projects that get killed along the way; production doesn't go smoothly, it's unfortunate. If you're a one-team shop and you're going from milestone to milestone, and all of a sudden that project is gone, there's a really high likelihood that your shop is gone too.

"It's a really difficult business, it takes incredible persistence and great execution so you can build up your reputation and get your next gig. Not just a reputation either, but a relationship with someone you're working with."

He went on to talk about an ideal situation in which a project goes well - but cautioned that all too often a developer won't understand certain "hot buttons" for a publisher, and know what to avoid in a pitch meeting.

"It's a funny thing, because the developers are focused solely on the game, and the deal is only partially about the game," he said. "The other part of the deal is who the developers are and what they bring to the table. Oftentimes it's much - if not more - about them than their game.

"The really good game developers treat the game business as a business, they have to figure out what their burn rates are going to be, they have to make sure that they're not over-extending themselves or putting too much of their own money in the game in the event that it falls through."

The first part of the interview with Christian Svensson is available now. Part two will follow next week.

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Phil Elliott