Like any other entertainment industry, our hobby of choice has been plagued with some nasty trends lately. Chalk it up to growing pains, lack of diversity, or just plain bad decision-making, we can all trace a few crappy lines through the industry.
But this is no bloated rant or screed about how everything would be fixed if everyone would just go indie, man. We’ve got solutions – or at least, the beginnings of solutions – to each and every negative. Think of this as an exercise in creative problem solving.
It’s in our best interest to propose solutions. After all, we want to play awesome games – and killing lame trends helps us all in the long run.
The costs are out of control!
The problem: development costs are spiraling wildly out of control, causing studio closures, price hikes, and a variety of sub-problems, such as a lack of diversity in game content. AAA publishers are getting more and more conservative about the games they’ll greenlight – only “sure bets” will get funded, while lots of deserving IP and ideas get left in the cold.
On a related note, those costs get passed down to consumers, and we’re now seeing game content that “should” be included in a purchase carrying hefty DLC fees.
The solution: Run a tight ship, get creative, and embrace digital distribution.
AAA publishers don’t need to be the “gatekeepers” of gaming anymore, as the thriving indie community can tell you. One only needs to take a look at Steam and the mobile market to get a sense of what is possible when the barriers to entry are lowered.
Some games deserve the AAA attention and money, but that shouldn’t mean breaking the bank to get pretty graphics. Sound business practices, like making use of playtesting (not market testing but actual, iterative design) early in the process, incentivizing talent to stick with your company, and a dedication to good planning would go a long way in keeping costs down in the long run.
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