Monday, January 28, 2013

The Fall Of Games

There is a lot of news regarding gaming studios shutting down and laying off, none of which should be surprising. The industry is being destroyed by it's own hubris and finally it is becoming readily apparent.
The biggest enemy of most studios starts with boardroom politics and greedy cash grabs. It is no surprise that games are expensive to make now especially when you factor in licensing cost, technology cost, man hour cost, etc... That being said many companies are being pressured to make "Triple A" products in smaller time frames. We have business leaders trying to force feed games down our throats and until recently it has worked, however having a terrible economy is finally paying off.

Don't be confused I love games, but I also feel that some of these companies need to die off to send a message to everyone that not all the sheep can be herded. We see big name companies pick up studios and then use them until they die. Bizarre Creations is a fine example, a company that was swooped up by big bad Activision and then poorly managed until they were dissolved to make a quick buck. 

That is just one example in just 2012 we lost a little over 30 game studios in ONE YEAR. A statistic like that should be a big eye opener for these companies. Several days ago we lost an entire publishing company when THQ was chopped to pieces and sold to the highest bidder. My personal opinion being that THQ sunk themselves by making 400,000 (Clearly not an accurate number) children's games.

Now today we are hearing rumor of Epic Mickey's studio Junction Point closing its doors for good. Not too surprising since they refused to release the original Epic Mickey on multi-platforms, but then tried to cash in by releasing the sub-par sequel for anything that had a screen on it.

They aren't the only company closing up, there are multiple studios pushing massive layoffs which is the sign of a sinking ship. Especially when the layoffs are hitting major companies such as Rockstar, EA, Activision, Funcom, NCsoft and Sony. All of which are heavy hitters in the gaming industry. Meanwhile on the flip-side indie studios are raking in money and awards with teams of 5 people.

This image depicts the game industry a giant CLUSTERF&@K

Everyone should be scared, because this clearly is not a drill. Mismanagement and vicious time restraints are killing companies that are trying to pump out sequels every year. Gamers are an impatient people so I understand the urgency, however gamers are also cruel and unforgiving.

While I am sure they will try to accuse piracy or the bad economy...both of which are very true. There is a larger issue that needs to be addressed which is how much involvement a development company is bullied by publishers. There needs to be some system worked out to cohesively make each branch functional or else this cycle is doomed to repeat. In my honest opinion game developers are better of sticking to teams sizes of 20-30 and work out of their basements if need be. Once a publisher is mixed in the the line between artistic integrity and monetary profit practically disappears. Kickstarter is slightly helping,but people cannot be fooled into thinking it is a permanent solution. It is tandem to healing a head wound with a band-aid.

Whether or not that solution will ever be found is unknown until then we will continue to see companies drop off and have to rely on 5 guys in their mom's basement to bring us the best games. Can the problem be solved? Yes. Will the problem ever be addressed? Doubtful, last I checked money still made the world function.

Article by: Larry Harris

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