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Some random thoughts about the future of the game industry

Posted by Ashaman73, 15 November 2012 · 1,112 views

Some random thoughts about the future of the game industry and where it will go in the future.
The truth is, I don't know, nobody knows, but I fear that the current game industry heading towards a very large bubble, which might eventuelly burst.

There are many reasons, one is for sure, that the industry invest incredible amounts of money in top AAA games, but on the other hand it is often heard of, that many games don't break the even. We talk about normal games which are so expensive, that they need atleast 1-2 mio. sold copies to break even.

The result is logical: don't change a running system (aka cash cow), so make sequel XXIII instead and polish it like hell.

All who now think , that this is the day of indie need to consider, that we are talking about a spoiled generation of gamers. They expect to get AAA visuals,story and gameplay for free, so I fear that indies will have a very hard time too.

What about MMORPGs, the virtual grail of making endless money ? Well, how many MMORPG developers trying to archieve the sucess of WoW, but eventually herding into F2P seeing no other option to survive. The only really working concept seems to be Guild Wars, instead of counting on a subscription system, they counted on only selling the game once (+ add ons) and take the money to keep up a persistence world for some time.This resulted in a quite clever client-server architecture and a clever business model.

The game industry is still young, yet it already had a crash, maybe the bubble is ready to burst again, maybe it is even necessary, who knows.

I'm curious if the next generation of consoles will take off. Current gen games are already looking amazing, to top this you need really big budgets and the major titles will for sure be amazing, but what about the rest. If a studio can't compete with this budgets, it will need to tone down the game it develops, but toning down means that it could look although good on older hardware, or even tablets ?

Both, blizzard and valve, two really great video game studios, heading away from hi-demand hardware, smaller studios follow (e.g. torchlight) with success. There will be not many studios left over which are able to create games, which are really not feasible on the current gen consoles.

The trouble of the last console generation (to go DVD or not to go, harddisk) were tiny compared to the really complex situation now (consoles vs tablets, casual vs core, publisher vs kickstarter, F2P vs subscription, DRM vs free, retail vs digital distribution, PC vs cloud gaming).
The budget of gamers is limited, especially in time of a financal crisis, but there are just too many parties which need a lot of money to survive, therefore someone needs to fall by the wayside, hopefully not the whole game industry.




About indie game developers, do you people think that the gap between the indie and the big AAA companies is getting smaller, because technology is advancing and offers simpler method to make nice graphics ? For example, the introduction of shaders made the nightmare of the fixed-function pipeline go away, the programs became simpler and shorter. Thus a small team is able to write and maintain nice renderers. The deferred lighting approach made the some of the postprocess effects and game code design even simpler.

No, this is kind of misleading. Indie have free access to top engines (UDK), the problem is, that top engines, shaders whatever requires top art, and creating this art is the really expensive part.
I think that an indie game created with pretty 2d game will have an higher profit chance than a 3d indie game (please exclude minecraft clones).
Well, we have been able to master several shaders, which has helped the overall look but without the artists to fully utilize those tools its pointless. ( luckily we have those ) So i get what Ashaman is saying. A well done 2d project will go much further than a half ass thrown together 3d one.

Well, we have been able to master several shaders, which has helped the overall look but without the artists to fully utilize those tools its pointless. ( luckily we have those ) So i get what Ashaman is saying. A well done 2d project will go much further than a half ass thrown together 3d one.

Yes, they help for sure to improve the visual quality. But when ever you add some new cool shader, the artist need to invest more time to utilize this shader and the investment of the artist is higher than that of the shader coder.

10 year before you just have vertex lighting, you just needed painted textures. Today you have per pixel lighting, now you need hi-detailed, normal,gloss, specular maps. You no longer can model a simple low-poly model, you now need to sculpt high-poly model, re-topo and bake them.

The same could be said about GI, 10 years before you got good looking lightmaps, next you will have fully dynamic GIs, but this is only useful if you have this level of dynamic in your game.

This is not bad and will deliver amazing visuals, but it is sometimes misleading, that a shader can take away burden of making great art (the same occurs to stylized art, many people think, that having less details makes it stylized and easier to make... ).

A good (cliche) example is minecraft, it has very simple art, very simple shaders, everything is retro/abstract, still it is successful. If Notch have added more shader magic, higher polycount, better models etc, would the game be better (most likely it has been released later).

Minecraft is perfect in the sense of

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

and a perfect example for every hobby-indie developer, not because it uses cubes, because it is very simple.

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