Week 2.2 – State of the game industry (due before class on Jan 16)

Read this brief report. Do you find anything surprising in here? Why? How do you think this fits in with the trends described in the textbook on this topic.


  1. Nothing surprising, to me.

    The continued growth in sales & the effect of hardware on sales is still reflected, but modern movement toward more developer-friendly platforms (and the meteoric rise of producer-independent developers) in the GDC report is in my opinion something the textbook will be required to update on soon.

    Related to the class discussion on Play; linking it to creativity:

    Cleese and Bohm (two famous icons with regard to Creativity and its increasing importance in an era of ever-growing mechanistic eloquence) are both insistent on play as a source of creativity.


  2. Overall, the 2017 State of the Industry Survey showed the trends I expected it to. Developers choose to develop for systems with the largest userbase – PC/Mac and mobile most prominently, as well as PS4 and Xbox One. Hopefulness about the Switch was something I shared early last year, and has proven to be justified. Even older systems like the Wii and Xbox 360 garnered such a massive install rate in homes it’s understandable some people would still be developing a few games for them. On the same note, however, it surprised me to see that anyone at all is still developing for systems like the PSP and Nintendo DS which, while popular during their lifespan, don’t seem like they would be profitable to develop for much longer.

    The textbook is well aware of these trends, with Figure 2.1 on page 17 demonstrating clearly the steady rise in revenue of PC/Mac and mobile games and the less consistent drop in profitability of console games (although they continue to dominate the market for the time being).

    The report’s focus on VR was also to be expected, as it is a rather hot topic in gaming spaces for the time being. Although I personally see VR as a fad that I do not expect to have longevity in the future of video games (in part due to the discomfort nearly half of those surveyed described experiencing due to VR games), I realize this is not a particularly widely held opinion in the game dev community. The report proved this, with only five percent of developers predicting AR and VR would not be important technology in twenty years.

    There was some disparity in the trends described in the report and those in the textbook, however. The textbook gave much less space to the discussion of VR technologies than the report did. The textbook also put emphasis on crowdfunding as a way for developers to get started, while the survey showed developers moving away from crowdfunding for their future projects. This can likely be explained by the more recent publication of this report as compared to the textbook. Although the trends in the report are only a year or few ahead of the textbook, game development is a rapidly changing industry, and information must be as current as possible to remain relevant.


  3. The 2017 State of the Industry Report mirrors most of what I expected based on the textbook readings. Most developers were focused on mobile games or PC games, and there was a larger percentage of people who were focusing on VR games in 2017. Crowdfunding interest is slipping, which I have seen online with people becoming jaded to crowdfunding campaigns based on past experiences with shady, dishonest crowdfunders.

    What did surprise me was the ratio of male/female attendants at the conference. There have been many reports that show that women account for a large portion of the video game player scene, so to see that only around 20% are involved in the actual game-making process did shock me.

    I found it interesting that only 3% of people at the time were working on games for the Nintendo Switch, but this doesn’t necessarily surprise me. The Switch released with very few “launch titles”, and although more games have been released since its launch, it still feels like the options are very limited for Switch-exclusive games.

    I can’t comment much on VR, as I am still learning about that industry myself, but I found it intriguing that 43% of respondents experienced discomfort during some VR demonstrations. With such a high number of people being uncomfortable while experiencing VR, it surprises me that developers expect VR to be a long-lasting, profitable industry. I could understand them seeing the industry as a “fad” – that is, making a profit off people who “just want to try it out” – but to view it as a sustainable industry even five years down the road sort of confuses me.


  4. In reading the report and comparing the text I was not surprised to see how Pc/Mac was creating more employment opportunities and becoming more popular for consumers. Additionally, the text spoke of an increase in computer game sales but also took in consideration how many online games are free, or illegally downloaded (17).
    Some other parts that surprised me was how big AAA companies work much like corporations. Production at the cost of creativity on an assembly line. A 70-hour work week to meet deadlines (27) put in perspective how profit is always the number one concern with these AAA companies. The text furthermore described how smaller indie companies create more original and artistic games creating a niche market for gamers. The text explains how these smaller indie companies are not under the same pressure to produce sellout games like the AAA companies. This allows more room for “creativity and innovation in the industry” (21).
    Furthermore, I also found it interesting how programs like Maya and Studio Max are used as third-party software tools (25). I found it caught me off guard that some game animation comes from a non-original source. This here reflects how time constraint some of these companies are. Prior to this reading I was under the impression all graphics were original. Though it seems foolish now, it makes sense to have pre-fabricated graphics and effects in certain kind of games. Especially AAA games that don’t want to spend time creating original graphics.
    Moreover, I found that the quality of the demo tape was the deal breaker in game development to be interesting. The text explained how investors don’t often consider developing a game or committing finances unless a demo tape is made (24-5). This surprised me as it would take a considerable amount of time and resources to build a demo tape. It makes me wonder how many unknown games are out there, hiding in some game developers desk waiting for its time! The same can be said about design documents that lay to rest but could have the potential to be something incredible. I guess we will never know!
    Additionally, other common trends in the report and the text retain to the growing industries of VR and computer/mobile games. These two mediums in the gaming industry are beginning to grow larger and I wouldn’t be surprised if console gaming eventually faded away as VR and mobile/computer games perhaps take over the global industry.


  5. After reading GDC’s report, I find it hard to say that there are big surprises on the poll’s results. The only aspect that caught my attention was the diminish in the interest of pursuing crowdfunding campaigns for game development, which I thought it would increase throughout the next years. But maybe the reason for that was my ignorance regarding the processes involved in it and its possible unsuccessful outcomes, as I superficially thought of it more like an easy way for developers to raise funds for their projects.

    The great increase in the willingness to invest in the Virtual Reality industry, regardless of the platform competition, is something that I find to be very exciting and it was mentioned in the textbook as a good guess of success in the upcoming years. I had the chance to experience quite a few VR games and experiences so far, and although very short, I would say that some of them were the most entertaining moments I had in gaming last year.

    Even though at the moment some prestigious AAA titles may be more elaborate than most VR games, one must acknowledge that this is a rising and “under construction” field, and it is very likely that this scenario will change very soon as more developers choose to invest on it.

    The constant increase and success of the mobile game field is also another important factor that is presented in the textbook as an industry shaping field. With yearly (or even less) humongous hardware upgrades, mobile devices are capable of running much more complex games technology wise, even comparable to what consoles are capable of. Also, the exponential growth of the mobile game community demands high-quality projects in every aspect, resulting in a developer’s favorite path for the near future.


  6. The report on the state of the game industry does not surprise me in terms of many questions in this survey which has mostly reflected on the current actual situation. However, it is worth to note that the poll has drawn more attention to new technologies, such as Virtual Reality, and it has also briefly described the potential future market in Augmented reality.
    In regard to the report, the only part that surprised me, is the HTC Vive has outpaced Oculus Rift compared to the poll from last year on the parts of game development, interest and business. Both of them were launched separately in the year of 2016 in March and April. From some reviews revealed, HTC Vive indeed provides a better experience for users while considering room-scale focus, the steam setup and game library. And this makes it more favorable for game makers. As far as I am concerned, the virtual reality is growing exponentially at this time as a transition to the next level of game development. Meanwhile, the augmented reality can be seemed as an even more sustainable use, as it is not necessary to require to wear any gadgets and it is relatively affordable compared to VR. I believe this will be extensively used in many fields, particularly in business, and for the next ten years both on mobile and PC. For instance, the Amazon.com has added the AR shopping feature for customers to visualize the online products in their own living space.
    The technology has been rapidly changing now and then. Compared to the textbook, the visual reality and augmented reality are missed out, as there is definitely a need to have the updated information from the latest development in this part. Also, the crowd-funding has not been seemed merely as the main funding resource for game developers in the GDC survey, which differs from what the author comments in the textbook.


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