vrijdag 4 februari 2011

the state of the game industry

Five years ago, before I started my Ph.D, I also considered entering the game industry. However, at that time, I felt like the game industry was in a terrible slump, and wasn't ready for what I wanted to do. Indie games sales hadn't really picked up yet, Steam was still mainly a distribution tool for Valve games, and Facebook hadn't even been launched yet for the public. The game industry was a totally different world. I didn't feel like being a small cog in a large sequel-producing machine, and there didn't seem to be any other option at the time. I even got personally disappointed in the game industry as a whole, because all I got were sequels to the same games I had been playing for years.

But sometimes the stars align perfectly. Now, 5 years later, right as I am about to finish my Ph.D, things have changed completely. Whole new markets have opened up with endless new possibilities. Indie games through digital distribution are a viable way to earn money. Facebook games earn millions, and most of those games still kind of suck. The mobile market opens up the game industry to a whole new demography, and enables revolutionary control methods thanks to the touchscreen and GPS. After years of plowing through the desert of mediocrity, we have finally reached the lush shores of creativity. The perfect time for me to join the fray!

I have been doing a lot of research lately, following up on blogs and success stories of other game developers. I am starting up new prototype projects all the time, without finishing them. The idea is that, when I wrap up my Ph.D, I will pick the most promising of all these projects, and develop it for real. This will allow me to make an educated choice, instead of picking a promising idea randomly and going at it without knowing if it will lead to anything at all.

In the next blog post, I will discuss the three development models that I am considering.

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