Monday 7th OctoberDifferent modes of games development
Monday 7th October Different modes of games development There are a few other ways you can makevideo games rather than the Rockstar way. The first is a business model but brings home justhow expensive it is to make games these days especially for the PS3 and 360.
Monday 7th October The ‘Tent Pole’ business modelThis is similar to the business model a lot of Hollywood studios: the idea is that the publisher releases one ‘blockbuster’ game accompanied with heavy marketing and investment. Then themoney made from this game supports the development of other ‘riskier’, potentially more creative games. For instance: Grand Theft Auto brings in a lot of money forRockstar which allows them to invest smaller hits such as CanisCanem Edit (Eventually Bully…) , Manhunt and future products such as LA Noire and Agent.
The Boston Matrix These kind of businesses have a range of products. • Cash cows – products that can be relied on to bring in money. Aka a GTA title for R*• Dogs – Units with low market share in a mature industry… low market share in a slow growing industry • Question marks – products that are growing rapidly but have low market share so they do not generate much cash – huge potential and should be looked at carefully… • Stars – high market share in a fast growing industry. The hope is that stars become the next cash cows.
Monday 7th October The ‘Tent Pole’ business modelEg. EA rely on the annual updates of Madden and FIFA to create cash for the research and development of other games. In 2008 EA spent$372 million on research and development (R&D) – the reason for this is that PS3 and Xbox 360 games can cost up to $30 million to make.
Monday 7th October The ‘Tent Pole’ business modelProblems with this:The problems with this is thecompany are gambling on that onegame being a hut, and sometimeseven big games don’t return themoney – eg. Spore, sold 1 millioncopies in its first 17 days, but thedevelopment costs were so big thatEA only expect to make theirmoney back with 5 years ofupdates and sequels.
The Hollywood model• The idea is to contract out parts of the games design (art, car physics, quality assurance etc.) to other companies in order to lower development costs. So instead of having a permanent in-house development team of 50+, developer can have a team of 10-20 piecing the work together undertaken by specialist external teams.
The Hollywood model• Eg.• Stunt teams,• Director of photography• Scriptwriters• Etc – all elements are contracted out, just like in the production of a AAA blockbuster movie.
Independent Game Development• Until recently games development was a costly business, usually requiring a developer to a have a publishing contract in order to pay for the development and the license fee required to develop for a particular console. However, now there is a growing ‘Indie Game’ market thanks to open source software, Apples App Store and Xbox Live Marketplace small teams and even individuals can create games, get them distributed and make money.
Independent Game Development• The point to make is that because of new technology, convergence and new ways of distribution we have a return to the bedroom development culture weird, wonderful, often abstract games – so it means not all games have to be GTA 4.
Independent Game Development• Aside from basic development costs, console game developers are required to pay fees to license the required Software Development Kits (SDKs) from the console manufacturer. Manufacturers often impose a strict approval process and take a percentage of the games net profit in addition to yearly developer fees.
Independent Game Development• As of this writing, to develop for Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, or Playstation 3 requires an SDK license fee of between $2,000 and $10,000 USD, in addition to yearly developer fees and profit cuts. Interestingly Sony have slashed the SDK cost from $10,000 to $2,000 in order to cut development costs and hopefully increased third-party productivity.
Independent Game Development: BraidBraid• Braid was created by Jonathan Blow, taking three years and $180,000 of this own investment , to make. It was originally released for the PC and sold 55,000 copies in first week (making £530,000 in revenue).• Blow then agreed to release a version for the Xbox Live Marketplace but had reservations as Microsoft have the final say on what goes on there and have a four stage approval process:
Independent Game Development: Braid‘Blow was critical of the Xbox Live certification process, as hebelieved the effort to meet all the requirements could have beenbetter spent on polishing the game. At the same time, thecertification team allowed him to retain certain aspects of hisvision for the game that were otherwise contrary to the process,including giving the player immediate control of the game insteadof requiring a start-up title screen. Microsoft also requestedthat Blow include some additional hints to the player based onresults of playtesting, but Blow held his ground, refusing to releasethe game if he was forced to add these. He said he wouldlikely not release a game again on the Xbox Live service under thesame business model.’ (Wikipedia)
Developing for the iPhoneDeveloping for the iPhoneThe iPhone SDK is a software development kitdeveloped by Apple , targeted at third-partydevelopers to develop applications for iPhoneOS, released in February 2008.• The SDK itself is a free download, but in order to release software, one must enrol in the iPhone Developer Program, a step requiring payment and Apples approval. As of January 2010, cost of enrolment in the iPhone Developer Program is US$99 per year (the cost varies from country to country) for the standard program.• Developers who publish their applications on the App Store will receive 70% of sales revenue, and will not have to pay any distribution costs for the application.
Developing for the iPhoneExamples – Doodle Jump, releasedApril 2009, it has had nearly 4million downloads.Doodle Jump is the brainchild ofIgor and Marko Pusenjak, twoCroation brothers who releasedthe app under the banner of theircompany Lima Sky.
TASK: If you are watching this online – check out• Make your own Blog notes on the the trailer here and modes of development the official website mentioned here• When we have all done this, we will be watching a documentary movie: Indie Games – The Movie released this summer that tracks the development (and problems) of three indie games: Super Meat Boy, Braid and Fez