My predictions for 2016

This year I’ve decided to uncover my crystal ball and do like everyone else is doing every January: predict that will happen in the video games industry.  I’ve got a heap of experience so you can trust my predictions 100% ;). And I am obviously special, which is why I am doing this in February (sic!)

Game prices will rise

Jonathan Blow wants $40 for a copy of The Witness. Despite a few protests, people seem to be OK with this price, so much so that Blow is well under way of recouping his 8 years long gamedev investment in roughly a week.

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The SALE labels are missing because EVERYTHING is discounted 😀

This is awesome! It’s great for gamers who might have a tad too many untouched games in their libraries thanks to sales, bundles and other bargains, because if you spend $1 for something you never use, that’s called a loss, whilst if you pay a hefty price for something that you will use a lot, thats called a good investment. And people tend to get used to good investments, so they’re willing to pay a little more for quality. We can expect less and less price complains and demands for free games.

It’s obviously great for game developers, who can now ask for higher prices without fear. But this comes with a condition, and that condition is quality. Quality includes courageous innovation,

If you don’t deliver the promised quality and still stick to a high price…

VR will NOT be a thing

I LOVE THE VR EXPERIENCE! I actually met GlaDOS! Dissected an alien! Even made my very first omelette thanks to VR! And yes, I can totally see myself taking a sabbatical to travel in my very own bedroom, good bye world, I am off to the moon!

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Hi, I’m Jordi

But VR is for geeks like me and I don’t think we are that many. Most normal people I know of who managed to try VR are hesitant, scared or sick of it – literally sick. Maybe some might still consider it, but the recent changes in price expectations sure don’t help.  And this is not even VR’s first major push or innovation, so we can already safely say that there won’t be a crowd for Star Trek holodeck-like adventures. You see, in Star Trek they always went TOGETHER, whereas VR means utter and complete isolation and vulnerability. It’s a pretty big thing to ask.

 Finally, games from all over the world 

The reign of the straight white western male gamer and gamedev is over. Everyone wants to make games, and the cool thing is, nowadays, everyone finally can! Sure, some have better conditions and access to more financing than others, but sometimes creativity explodes under strict boundaries. I am looking forward for games made by African, Indian, Eastern European teams. I’m so curious as to what can hyper-diverse teams do! I crave new themes, new takes on old stories, new takes on new stories!

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And this is most definitely the change that makes me the happiest! ♥♥♥

Even more people will play games

Not everyone in the world is interested in Western themes and subjects. SteamSpy already showed how gamer tastes (and spending patterns) vary from territory to territory. But fresh new diverse game teams will open up the doors and welcome so many more gamers! And if people are willing, the rest of the business will have no choice but to provide. Regional marketing and pricing, global support for using many more currencies, and overall efforts to ease up everyone’s experience to pay for their entertainment will  increase our audience massively. And this also paves the way for real artsy, well targeted nice game experiences. Its such a wonderful time to be a gamer!

We are growing up

We are talking about what other industries have talked for years now: openness, diversity, seniority, global strategies, local tactics and more. We are asking why is there so little diversity in game development and luckily, the conversation expanded both geographically and age-wise. It’s not just the women that were missing from the game dev ranks, it’s the different cultures, and the different ages. It’s the seniority that carries on more professional demands on our processes, working conditions and quality of life. And we started to talk about this, we really did. Talking about it is the fundamental first step to fixing a problem, and we are taking this step now.

I never really thought about this seriously, but until recently, seeing myself growing old in this industry was just a silly, stupid, impossible dream. But in 2016, it’s the first time when I am hopeful I can grow old as a respected game developer.

Juice it or lose it!

Sometimes I stumble upon awesome content that I share on Twitter, and then it takes me a long time to dig it up from my feed (if I even find it). This is my solution to save these gems. 

Here’s how to juice up your game with simple techniques that have great, obvious results:

 

Enjoy! <3

If you follow me on Twitter

Hi friend!

 

If you follow me on Twitter in the hopes that I follow you back, please know that I probably won’t. I am sorry – I know how important it is for you to build a community and let people know about your game, product, service. But I think empty numbers hurt you; I think you need genuine followers who really are interested in your product and what you have to say. And if you play the follow you so you follow me back game, you are just building ways to lie to yourself about your reach and market. This will hurt you because you are setting yourself with false expectations.

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Not a Quitter

Did you quit school? You are seriously jeopardizing your future!! Did you quit your job? Something must have been very, very, very bad there! Did you quit the Gym?? You fat lazy bastard. But did you quit smoking? Why, good for you dear!

I did not quit smoking.

It infuriates me that even the decision to stop using a product has been marketed in such a way that it becomes propaganda for that very same product. No, I did not QUIT smoking. I am not a quitter! I just stopped smoking cigarettes. Like I stopped drinking Coca Cola a long long long time ago. It would be weird to say “I quit Coca Cola” or “I quit meat”, wouldn’t it?

Two things to consider about game publishers

Game publishers constitute a very complex subject of conversation. I thought and tried to write about it a lot, building a mental barrier to two very simple topics: Should you get a game publisher? And if yes, what does this really mean.

Should you get a game publisher?

Mike Bithell gave a far better answer than I ever could, here. It’s a must read. Before deciding to search for a game publisher, understand very, very clearly what do you expect out of the deal. I’d like to stress out the word deal here, because it is important. Continue reading

How to pitch a dream

My friends at Guru Games are working on some awesome stuff. I asked them to pitch it to me:

It’s a twin stick shooter where you are a….

Take 2:

It’s a fun game where you blow stuff up, jump around with a bazooka and create chaos

I thought about Ernest Adams’ Design Workshop where he made us all fulfil dreams. I tried to picture myself dreaming about a twin stick shooter or a fun game where you blow stuff up. Truth is, I don’t dream about sticks, not even if they are twins, and blowing stuff up is a tad too generic. Continue reading

My personal SGA manifesto

Picture a place full of game developers who make super creative out of the box kind of games for everyone to play.

Picture a place where these many, many game developers help each other with their projects, they test each other’s games, exchange feedback, and help each other with their marketing efforts.

Picture a place where game developers put a lot of value on sharing knowledge, and they tell each other what they learned from their trials, share whatever good resource they find, and strive to make this knowledge accessible to anyone, always, for free. Continue reading

The problem with marketing

A gamedev told me today: “It is ironic that I actually have to stop development, so I can build a community now.”

And it hit me. The problem with marketing is not that it’s hard to do, but that it IS work that you actually have to do. Just like you spend countless hours to build your game, you have to spend countless hours to build your community. Just like you code and run and debug, trying to find out what worked and especially what didn’t, you have to write and post and analyse the results of your actions, so you can fix it, tweak it, improve it. There is no magic, it’s work. Plain and simple work, just like making a game. You build a game with code and art and sound and design. You build a community with words, and pictures, and sharing, and jokes, and useful lessons. It takes time.  Continue reading

Wanted! A Game Connection guide

This year I had the great opportunity to attend Game Connection in Paris. Sadly now when I think back at my experience, it is shadowed by the recent tragic events, but still, lessons were learned and I want to share them. This is more of a guide than a report on this event’s edition, because Game Connection is quite a special event in itself, with well thought rules one should keep in mind for maximizing his attendance. And it’s definitely a late post – sorry about that, hope it still helps!

What is Game Connection?

We still live in a golden age for indie game development studios, who are able to self publish and manage every part of their business. But in the context of an overly crowded market, and a challenging process to bring your game in front of your fans, despite the limited capacity of a small, often inexperienced team, one way to game dev success remains finding suitable partners – including, but not exclusive to publishers.

This is what Game Connection is for. Continue reading

If you love it… Let it go!

UPDATE: After writing this, I stumbled upon some really sad stuff. Seriously, I know I am naive, but I do expect something more from game developers, something much more, that generally does not imply any negativity whatsoever to anyone who played games. How do you calculate value, anyhow, especially in such a hard to quantify matter? Dear gamedevs, whatever you do, just remember that getting mad on your players brings you no benefit whatsoever, quite the contrary. 

I am a firm believer that any feedback is good feedback, but today I took part in a conversation that reminded me how much a bad review can influence a game developer. Some of this talk revolved around Steam user reviews and playtime. When does a user have a right to claim a valid feedback, especially a negative one: when he played enough to have a sensible opinion, or when he played just a little and tossed the game away, expressing his frustration using the tools at hand?

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