Home > Scenario planning > What will the games industry be like in 2015?

What will the games industry be like in 2015?

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Categories: Scenario planning
  1. Christian
    November 30, 2009 at 2:33 am

    A couple of recent internal whitepapers (one for MMV, one for the AC) in Melbourne about the game industry there have indicated that there is going to be a serious drop in commercial game outputting from the country over the next three years. Both identified different problems but with 900 jobs lost in the national industry over the last three months, a skills shortage may not be an issue any more. There are vast numbers of skilled and now unemployed people due to there being no viable business models left.

    The popularity of independent game developer groups (such as Freeplay in Melbourne) indicate a very positive step forward. Harnessing the creativity of game design -itself- rather than game design as a preproduction tool for commercial games has paid wonderful dividends overseas. It produces a market for smaller games and generates sustainable pay cycles for workers in those smaller groups.

    For a research project here called The Business of Games, we have been canvassing people with 10+ years experience in the local industry and forming best case scenarios in the city context. No doubt the national picture will look very different, but high level programming skills were consistently mentioned in terms of over-supply and under-demand.

  2. John
    December 12, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I find it hard to stare into the eyes of many graduates who come from Universities, having been told that there are jobs in the industry, and an industry person responsible for hiring, having to tell them that we have no positions in our company. Too many universities got on to the game of adding a few units and calling their course a game degree of some sort. The harsh reality, is that most game companies are not looking for degree students. They are looking for Vocational students, coming out of Qantm or the AIE. These students are focused on the art of game development not the art of obtaining a degree. So I turn away from the fear I see in their eyes, as they come to understand that they will not get a job. In fact, they would never have gotten a job in the first place. I know that there is real linkage between industry and Uni’s – basically students are pumped out at whatever rate can be maintained, regardless of employment levels up or down. Fundamentally the system sorts itself out – students realise that there are few jobs and there is no point in training for an industry in decline.

    The actual fact is that there are jobs in the industry, but not jobs that Uni’s can train for. TAFE’s have a better chance, if they employed industry people to teach, but unfortunately its either people who have not real experience in the games industry, or people who say they have experience, and industry let them go due to lack of ability.

    The problem with the Austrlian industry is quirte simple. The jobs have gone to cheaper locations. Australia’s abilty to be an outsourcer is largely gone.

    Indie development will not generate significant jobs. It has not worked in the past and will not work now.

    So, if you are thinking about getting into games, study at the AIE or Qantm (AIE has a much better record of employment) and then work like crazy networking. Stay away from all uni’s (except possibly getting a programming degree, then go and do the last year in one of the AIE or Qantm courses).

  3. December 14, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I asked members of GamesDev on LinkIn to comment on the posts in this site. An Operations Manager – Digital at MTV Networks International from New York, and a Total Developer at Infusible Brain Soft., Brescia Area in Italy responded to this post as follows:

    1) I see the game industry being more virtual and less HQ studio centric. More virtual teams and freelancers, less full-time work.

    2) Standardized big productions about the 5/6 genres already confirmed: RTS/FPS/RPG/etc. You know that it’s standardized when you buy a game and you already know the input commands.

    3) Shareware pushed upon cellphone gaming.

    4) Heavy Advertising. I see everyday bad games well sold.

    5) Sharing. Cellphone sharing, Steam sharing, ebay sharing, sharing context is very important.

    6) Quality is NOT a minimum requirement.

  4. December 15, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Another comment from a LinkedIn member who is a Business Development Manager of Tantalus Interactive:

    The answer above is bang on the money.

  5. December 15, 2009 at 4:11 am

    We are currently running a worker survey as part of this project. As at 15 December 2009 this is what 10 respondents had to say about this post:

    1) Disparate. Digital distribution will see the rise of a large number of small teams working to develop marketable games without the aid of a publisher.

    2) I think many of the bigger, work for hire studios will go out of business and they will be replaced by smaller companies making original IP and selling through digital distribution companies (i.e. iPhone, Facebook devs) as is already starting to happen. I also think physical office space will be reduce and many smaller teams will work remotely or from home. There may still be bigger studios, but they will only be the ones that have successful original IP (such as Firemint).

    3) If things don’t change quickly, there will not be an industry in Australia in 5 years!

    4) I can’t see too many changes in terms of required skills until a new platform or technology is released and supported. I think the industry is currently going through a restructure that reflects a saturated market – ie, people have a lot of choice how they play games from consoles to phones, and you don’t need big studio’s to do all things. I think quality will become the main focus, games will be better across all platforms and the skills will become very specialized because of this.

    5) Less larger players (but larger than they are now) and a lot of smaller ones.

    6) The digital games industry will be comparable if not bigger than traditional boxed games.

    7) Hard to say. The industry needs to make a shift from hard core to casual gamers to survive on any significant level. Unfortunately retraining entire studios to think differently about gameplay is going to be a slow process. Motion control and the shifing audience is certainly going to make for an interesting decade in games.

    8) Most companies will be using the Agile development technique. There will be a lot more focus on the gameplay element and a lot of focus on animation driven gameplay.

    9) It will be very tough for traditional game development. Traditional games have been getting more expensive to develop due to increasing production standards and costs and players constantly seem to expect more. This may be offset by a rapidly growing casual games market on many existing and new platforms allowing more developers to produce many cheaper games. Digital distribution also seems to be gaining popularity and we might see a significant shift in games purchasing away from retailers and towards more online transactions. This could allow developers and publishers to bypass the retailers and increase profit margins or reduce game prices.

    10) In 5 years the games industry will be a very different place, right now we are going through the biggest change since gaming hit the mainstream audience as casual gamers and facebook users now potentially make up a majority of gamers. Digital distribution and new ways to make and play games means people should be ready for anything in 5 years.

  6. December 15, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Digital distribution will still not have taken off to the extent that was predicted, but it will be providing a far larger proportion of sales than before. As a result, the marketplace will be choked with product and users will struggle to find what they want.

    Boxed product will probably still be targeting the 13-25 male audience, be overcompeted and represent unbelievable investment of resources for relatively low chances of high returns.

    Virtual networks will be competing to own the audience space even more aggressively than now, and will be a major means of marketing.

    Ultimately, much like it is today but with an even bigger gap between the big surviving media corporations at the top and the small indie developers at the bottom, who will all be trying to carve out a viable niche of their own.

  7. December 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Here is what a Senior Producer at Disney Interactive Studios – Fall Line Studio who responded to our post in LinkedIn GamesDev group said about the future of the industry:

    We traditionally have about a “5-year cycle” in hardware. There’s a corresponding ebb and flow to staff sizes and money being spent on games that parallels it. New hardware announced—major players get on board—companies staff up/spend money to get on board—many games fail—execs expect costs to come down too much to make the ‘next’ game—studios lay people off—lather/rinse/repeat.

    Now, both Sony and MS have expressed a desire to see that cycle broken, at least as it applies to releasing new hardware. Given the massive costs to make a new box (and the marketing that goes along with getting people to dump their old one) both the major players are trying to stretch this cycle. Also—couple this with the additional expense of things like Xbox Live, PSHome, etc, and the console makers want to keep that box around a bit longer.

    What does this mean to 2015? It means that we should be seeing a new box (probably from MS) making its way to the market. Nintendo will probably upgrade the Wii (largely based on complaints from 3rd party developers and publishers) but it’s become a bit of a different market/demographic for many developers (IE, they don’t want to make a game on the Wii) Which entails that some of the aforementioned cycle will spin up for a number of the larger houses.

    So, building UP to 2015, I believe we’re going to see a continued weeding out of smaller studios and more ‘reasonable’ sized and budgeted games. So, team sizes may stay consistent, but costs will continue to rise, so you’re going to see fewer and fewer ‘GTA’s’ out there and more 10-hour adventure/shooters.

    Now, this doesn’t take into account PC/casual/Flash type stuff, as traditionally as the smaller houses fall off of the next-gen bandwagon, they change focus to ‘less expensive.’ We’re going to continue to see growth in those markets, but it’s still going to be tough on people for 2 reasons: Clones of games and a player base that isn’t expanding as much as people would like/hope.

    One question you might want to be asking yourself is, given the proliferation of game-dev schools and degrees, is it actually WORTH it to these students? As there will be a tipping point: Do I hire 3 or 4 Junior level guys, or do I try to keep my 1 hot-shot? As that could start a different cycle that will affect overhead (and shipping late) and quality of your title (which, if it sucks, it won’t sell…)

    What this means to workers overall? Get more skills! Don’t be a 1-trick pony. Know multiple software platforms, be able to model AND animate, understand management best-practices etc. Be valuable to your employer. More important, be FLEXIBLE! Industry turn-over is about 5 years—1 hardware cycle and people burn out and the ‘sexy’ of gamemaking has loooong worn off. But if you’ve a mind to stick it out, super-well rounded is the place to be. At least, when I’ve had to stack-rank people when we’ve gone through a downsize, the 1-trickers end up on the bottom of the lists.

  8. December 17, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    A Recruitment Consultant at Pytec IT Recruitment from the UK who contributed to our post in the GameDev group in LinkedIn said:

    as a gaming enthusiast I’m always intrigued as to the next console on the production line…

    I’m still a fan of the old N64 (everyone got their money’s worth out of Goldeneye!) and am about to purchase a PS3 for Xmas (!)…

    What new consoles do you expect to come out? Will Playstation bring out a PS4? Will the Wii get further developed? And what would people like to see as a new and exciting product?

  9. December 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Another response to this question from a worker who completed the survey:

    Mostly in hands of big publishers as projects are getting to big for little studio’s and indie. As project are getting more and more expensive, studio’s take less and less risk resulting in industry as boring as the film industry.

  10. December 21, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    An Education Consultant from knowledgepartners.org in India emailed me with the following comments:

    1. We need to take a holistic picture of the gaming industry. The players in the industry predominantly cater to the entertainment market at this point of time. There are other large applications like education, medicare, etc. There are a few players in this area.

    2. Skills required will depend on the application. Especially in the story and design stages. If we are speaking of application in education, domain knowledge of child / student psychology coupled with domain knowledge of subjects like mathematics, science, geography, etc will help.

    3. The medicare applications have more to do with relaxation of mind. Games are a major source of relaxation and therefore are stress relievers. You can use them in the treatment of several stress related psychosomatic ailments. Here we could also attempt tailor making the games to a particular set of symptoms. May be the software could permit doctors to tailor make the games to the specific patient conditions. The skills required therefore are not just technical but also domain.

    4.On the whole the industry has a vast potential and we can think of large number of applications, whether delivered using Consoles, PCs, Handheld devices or Mobile phones. We have not even scratched the surface as yet internationally.

    I am not a professional gamer. But my thoughts are from my knowledge of the education industry of which I am a part.

  11. January 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

    An Independent Computer Software Professional from the San Francisco Bay Area who responded to our discussion in LinkedIn suggested ways forward for the industry:

    Focusing on realistic targets meanwhile being creative and innovative, could be a good approach, not necessarily in gaming, but in any areas related to technologies and humanities. By research, people could look into new landscapes.

    In another email, the same professional stated the following:

    Better chance if not in traditional areas, like creating a new market without large scale competition. Scale is a big concern for traditional areas. It not only exists in Australia, US will face the issues of economy scale soon. It would be the first time in history US faces such an issue.

    So it is really worthy of studying.

    Edutainment could be close to games but not games. The skill set is a little different.

  12. February 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    You may want to check out some resources we’ve found about the games industry in 2010.

    The Australian Game Development Industry (article by Laura Parker, 5 February 2010). Story includes an interview with Tom Crago, President of the Game Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) and Tantalus studio. He was quoted as saying “My top five things that the Australian game development industry can look forward to are quality releases from the established companies; new releases from at least three solid startups; a thriving indie scene, producing multiple titles for digital distribution platforms; increased collaboration within the local industry, amongst both big companies and small; and at least one surprise hit (maybe another Flight Control?).”

    Game Connect 09 conference: The State of Australian Game Industry video

    Game Connection Research (2009). The 2010 Game Industry Survey. Key finding stated in the report (p. 7): “Game developers were the most guarded in their optimism. 60.2% felt 2010 would be better. 32.5% felt it would be a similar year. But only 7.2% felt the upcoming year could be worse than the one that has just finished.” This report also contains excellent information on the topics of Platform Perspectives, Digital Distribution, MMO Marketshare, Future Business Models, Future Audience Demographics, New Lines of Business, and Preparation for the Future.

    The Future of the Gaming Industry (article by Tyler Treat, 7 January 2010). A couple of sentences from the article worth noting: “The industry – for better or worse – is changing. Change is inevitable; technology becomes outdated, trends fade in and out, and the only way to satisfy these changes, is change itself. How does this apply to the video game industry? Simple. Gamers are looking for fresh, immersive experiences.”

    Game industry to grow 6% in 2010 (article by Tom Magrino, GameSpot, 10 February 2010). Story includes an interview with Pacific Crest Securities’ Evan Wilson. He was quoted as saying “We believe that fairly obvious factors…such as game delays, the economy, and the fall of the music genre, have simply added to the one main issue that we have faced all cycle: growth of development costs has outstripped sales growth”.

    Video game makers look for 2010 turnaround (article by Gabriel Madway, Reuters, 4 February 2010). A couple of sentences from the article worth noting: “No one is projecting stellar performances from a sector grappling with rising production costs, and weakening growth in casual and music-oriented games” and “… despite some publishers delaying the release of a number of major titles into 2010, there is still a solid lineup for the year. Factor in lower-prices home consoles and some analysts expect to see double-digit growth in U.S. game software sales for the year.”

  13. April 26, 2013 at 3:33 am

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    • May 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Hi there – thanks for your support. I have left the university and am no longer undertaking any games research. I check this site now and then. I am now working in the UAE doing all sorts of research related to education and the labour market. Please feel free to use any of the content in the site, just acknowledge the site as the source. Good luck with your work. Sandra

  1. January 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

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