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275 - Industry in Transition 2

Posted: Fri May 29, 2015 9:38 am
by matt
I continue Monday's developer diary and discuss how the industry's transitions are affecting indie developers.

I think this will be my final Neverending Nightmares developer diary (at least for the foreseeable future), so look forward to Devastated Dreams developer diaries (although not all of them will be related to the actual game)

Re: 275 - Industry in Transition 2

Posted: Fri May 29, 2015 10:38 am
by evilkinggumby
I wonder if we'll continue to see AAA gaming chase the indies as markets pop open and look lucrative, and essentially drive the indies out of said market and on to another one. Will it lead them in circles?

AAA shifts to mobile gaming because it shows a thriving market for a lot less risk and potentially better return on investment, and so indies are pushed out because they can't viably compete. Indies shift to to a new market ( like say cheap but viable consoles like the ouya and other droid based systems) where games are more likely to grab "free" games and then pay microtransactions towards them. AAA catches wind and shifts onto that market as mobile gaming begins to die off due to so few people willing to pay more for their games/microtrans (shrinking revenue cycles). Eventually that market gets soaked with AAA releasing top games for those systems and do indies shift to ANOTHER market where they can thrive without significant AAA competition...

This is one small reason I don't see us hitting a major VG crash like so many seem to think is coming (or has been saying is coming ANY DAY NOW for years). There will forever be a shifting "chasing the tail" among the industry that can essentually work itself into a complete circle and start over.

WHat i kind of wonder is why we have this weird stratified system for gaming where we have "AAA" gaming and then mid tier Indies, then budget level shovelware. Why don't we have "AA" gaming as a term? or just "A" gaming? It is like if gaming were restaurants it drops from four star quality to Dennys to a greasy spoon with no terminology in between.

Even within AAA there is a gradiant of good to bad. In Indie gaming, that "mid tier" you speak of I think there's a lot of variety in quality and value and skill of craft. Andf then in shovelware there is..well... well there's crap, and there's WTF. lol

I am hoping what we might see evolve from the Kickstarter/Indiegogo generation is all of these well made indie studios that create a game via industry vets that have solid skillz, but without the all together AAA budgets to pull off a top tier game. I guess we just need to coin a proper term to catagorize them and then get folk to use the term in reviews and write ups so it catches on. Easier said than done though...

Re: 275 - Industry in Transition 2

Posted: Fri May 29, 2015 2:24 pm
by matt
I think the mid tier is a tough place to survive, which is why there isn't an A or an AA. Arguably, you could say something like Persona or somewhat niche games made by publishers with higher budgets than most indie projects could count as mid-tier, but who knows how long they'll be around. Maybe Broken Age counts as A or AA? Who knows.

Perhaps as digital distribution becomes more ubiquitous on consoles or if Steam continues to grow, it'll open the door for games of different sizes. If you look at the top sellers on Steam, they have games for $60, $40, $30, $25, $19, $15, $13, $10, and $7. I think digital distribution allows interesting things than the sort of "one size fits all" retail model we are used to, so that might open up some different markets.

I don't think there will ever be a major video game crash unless people stop playing video games. I was fortunate to get the chance to chat with Sid Meier a few years back, and I was worried about all the constant shifts in the industry, the move to mobile and so on, but he didn't seem overly concerned - probably because he's been through many of them already.

Re: 275 - Industry in Transition 2

Posted: Sat May 30, 2015 11:07 am
by RightClickSaveAs
Yeah I'd think Broken Age could possibly be A or AA. Although I haven't heard details on how it's selling yet, hopefully the numbers are good because I'd love to see another game of the same kind.

Where do you think a company like Frictional would fall? They're definitely not AAA, but have made what I consider to be one of the best horror games ever, Amnesia: Dark Descent. I'm biased and this is probably not true, but I consider it to be one of the most well known horror titles of the last several years. I'm sure their numbers are nowhere close to the "disappointing" sales of Alien: Isolation though!

Also what about Valve? The games they make (when they choose to make some :) ), definitely have a AAA bankroll behind them, but they still feel kinda like an indie developer in the way they do a lot of things.

Re: 275 - Industry in Transition 2

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:37 am
by matt
According to Steam Spy, their sales numbers are pretty in line with Alien: Isolation. However, the game has been out for almost 5 years and was probably in numerous humble bundles. They made a fortune off of that game, and it looks like they've moved that fortune into SOMA, which looks AA in terms of quality to me.

SOMA is interesting because at least in the stuff they've released, it doesn't seem to be that scary, but I've read previews that said that it's more about the slow burn. Regardless, it looks like a super interesting game, and I suspect it'll be awesome even if it's not "horror" exactly. Apparently, they started out with the story and themes, and then later decided it would be horror. If you have a smash indie hit, it seems like you might be able to self fund what is a "middle" tier game. It'll be interesting to see how that works out for them. Hopefully great!