This week’s article is continuing on the theme that the video game industry is slowly but surely changing. The article I found, (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2013-03-26/indie-sensibilities-embraced-at-gaming-conference), states that “more than half of the attendees at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco identify themselves as indie developers and their next creations will be for smartphones and tablets”. The article talks about the fact that the independent developers used to have their own conference and now their conference, the Independent Games Festival, is being blurred with the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC). 58% of developers at the GDC claimed they would be releasing their games strictly for phones and tablets. Out of the 53% of “indie developers”, 46% of them have companies with 10 employees or less. Clearly, the barriers to entry in the game development industry are rapidly declining. A single person can make a game and sell it on a phone or better. Minecraft is widely popular and was made by some random guy. Games only take a great idea and a computer savvy person to make it big. It doesn’t require that much money to get into the industry. Also, many game development engines are free to download and use. I took a game development class here at Chapman and we used the Unreal engine which was free to download and used to make extremely successful games like Gears of War and Bioshock.
Nintendo is actually taking advantage of this. “Nintendo will also be on hand with a Wednesday session outlining easier ways for developers to make apps for the Wii U…”. Nintendo is communicating with indie developers and will possibly be working with them in the future for small apps on the Wii U, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if these indie developers make larger games that Nintendo will want on their consoles. On that note, indie developers can actually help consoles rather than hurt them. “The most impressive indication of indie dominance, the artsy PS3 platform game “Journey” is up for the most awards at Wednesday’s Game Developers Choice Awards”. Indie game developers are making great games for consoles. I don’t think the fact that indie developers are independent is the problem for consoles. Console developers buy games from developers, the suppliers. The bargaining power of suppliers may be decreasing if more and more indie developers make games and compete with themselves for the right to be showcased on a console. The consoles are just going to pick the best games.
The downside to indie developers is that most don’t have the budget or skill to produce large-scale games. They have to make more simple games and phones and tablets will play those. The indie developers are just a bi-product of the real threat to the console segment of the video game industry, the casual gamers. With them, phone and tablet games are looked forward to, rather than hardcore, high quality games that only consoles have the computing power to handle. Speaking of computing power, I think as long as people want to play more complex games that require a high computing console, the consoles won’t die. I think over time though, as phones and tablets continue to become mini computers, eventually you’ll be able to play console quality games on mobile devices. Of course if computing power of consoles rises as well, then the two spectrums will continue to divide the casual and hardcore gamer.