I have been at Quo Vadis Developer conference in Berlin and it was a blast. I did my "The Damned App Store" talk which I will repeat at Casual Connect Asia in May - just in case you want to see it. Singapore is awesome, come visit! I will also be part on a panel which talks about "Asian game mechanics and the West".
The video of my talk will be online sometime after Casual Connect, so be patient.
Dear fellow game devs, those of you who work on console/AAA games: You may think mobile is trivial compared to what you're doing. And in some ways you're right.In some ways you're very, very wrong.
It's a different set of problems. But to do a mobile game-as-a-service, at scale, keeping them successful for multiple years, is *significantly* more complex than most linear console games.
Graphically probably a lot less intense in most cases (though not all).
Logically probably a little bit simpler as well, depending on the game (*in general*, there are significant exceptions).
Design-wise? Same or harder, because of the need to design in growth, evolution of the mechanics over significant time periods, and factor in most of the business/monetization in fairly direct ways.
Management/production-wise? *Significantly* harder. Rallying a bunch of people to a ship date is intense, and extremely difficult - to the point where basically no one in AAA gets it even marginally correct. But shipping new content on a weekly basis, ensuring 99.99% uptime, balancing stuff to not break the game overall even after years of updates? You're taking on the risk of shipping live content every week. The difficulty of that vs. shipping once at the end isn't comparable. It's a totally different problem but it's just as hard *or harder*.
So, I'm not saying Mobile >> console/AAA. But I'm saying that if you don't appreciate the complexity and difficulty of shipping a game that's successful and lasts multiple years, that's because you're not aware of what goes into it. Dismiss it at your peril. This is a skillset you will almost certainly have to learn in the next decade, and if you think it's easy, you'll be dead.
If you have followed Microsoft since the release of Windows 10 and the XBox One you might have noticed a fundamental shift in strategy. Not many realize what the reasons are.
The first step was pressure for their prices of Windows. Others started to give away their OS for free, mainly Apple, and mobile does the same. So Microsoft gives away Windows 10 for free for all Windows 7/8 and Vista users. This hurts their financials but the important goal of Microsoft is different: to regain control of their OS ecosystem. The PC is as big as it is because there is a whole industry making money with it. Software, Hardware, Services, you name it. Without it the PC wouldn't have taken over the world. And all these industries make money without Microsoft seeing any share of the revenue. None.
Over time this ecosystem became fractured. In countries where the average salary is low pirate copies of Windows dominated. Locked out of updates they also locked themselves out of software that requires certain Windows versions or updates.
So one goal was to unify their ecosystem making it easier to regain control.
Two things made this possible:
First: the app store which they implemented poorly (ask developers trying to sell or update, its a nightmare) and where they try to mimic the mobile app stores or Apples (which btw failed as well, ask Companies trying to sell over the Mac OSx App Store).
Second the data mining. Windows 10 is a data leak for users. Microsoft collects tons of data and spies on you everywhere. They want the same power Google has. And yes I bet the NSA is happy as Microsoft is known to collaborate with them - a unified ecosystem is so much easier to spy upon. But that seems to be ok now and the NSA drama isn't popular anymore.
Now they announced to unify the XBox one and PC gaming ecosystem as well. In other words if Microsoft locks down game sales to their App Store only the world will experience drama. And yes they can do this. Its their eco system. Valve is worried as this attacks Steam directly and they saw it coming, hence their effort with Steam machines. Check interviews with Valves CEO.
Tim Sweeny, founder of Epic, maker of the Unreal engine, has clear words for this danger:
If you ask developers working for Microsoft or you have sources inside Microsoft the situation is even more dramatic. Under the new lead games no longer are a priority. In fact Microsoft was thinking to get rid of their XBox department but the fear that competitors might buy out the things was big. So they integrated it into their other department which dreams about having a Settop box under your TV (note that movies etc are their priority, not games). If you read the history of the original XBox this fight was inside Microsoft years ago.
So here it comes. Microsoft will force all PC's to install Windows 10 by giving it out for free and stopping support for all other versions.
Microsoft will force all Software vendors to go through their App Store taking a share.
This includes games. Good bye Steam.
Next the Xbox One will be a PC Settop box soon instead a dedicated gaming platform. Including hardware updates - which leads to the fact that it will fail bad as somehow Microsoft forgot why initially consoles failed (Atari VCS time) and why the ecosystem worked when Nintendo changed it.
In the end PC gaming is in danger. In fact all of the PC is. As its strength was its open Software and Hardware ecosystem. Microsoft starts to copy Apple - in a bad way. Again no innovation. Just bad copies.
Dire future under the new Microsoft lead. Do not complain when it happens. As I Teut you so.
So my talk at Casual Connect Amsterdam was a success. The room was packed, all seats taken and many people stood on the sides. Many ask for my slides or the video but I have to admit the video / slides will be delayed until after Casual Connect Asia where I will repeat a slightly longer edit of the same topic. Please be patient!
Strange. Strange is
what you get as an impression of people and the world when reading social media
and the news sites. While news sites are prone to optimizing visitors and throw
ads and click bait headlines at you the impression is still that the world is
in a bad shape. A very bad. Some people even call it the end of the world.
What changed is the
information flow to your mind. Before the internet all we had was TV news and newspapers.
Imagine the information lag you had. Imagine the information filter put before
those. Of course you didn't get half the catastrophes information, wars,
terror attacks or whatever - as many of them weren't news worthy when none of
your country men died or the number of deaths wasn't high. Whatever high means.
So it is no wonder
that in the time of social media and you tube that you get information
instantly about everything bad happening in the world - changing your
impression that things got worse.
But they didn't.
Numbers and researchers and historians show that we are improving at a fast
pace. Less hunger. Less terror attacks. Less wars. Less everything.
The primary reason
is the reason why you get that impression: people are information nerds now.
Everyone is. Everyone can now access the humanities knowledge, the news from
any country, access live video coverage of any event, access news, research,
compare, even study. Everyone - with your smartphone.
Think about it.
Remember how it was before the iPhone changed the way we use the internet.
Remember how it was before the internet, when you had to access newspapers and
libraries or ask dad about information.
Many of my talks are references for free to play design now. Some of my courses are very popular and I get asked frequently to repeat them at studios, conferences or other events.
It happens often that teams approach me and thank me for the help I gave them ... through my talks or advise. Even well known teams or companies approach me and thank me, telling me that nearly every team member saw most of my videos.
Well, let me tell you that those talks and courses are a lot of work and usually I do not get paid for them. So here is my plea: if you think I helped your project a great deal and my videos, talks or advise helped you to success think about a donation, please.
I can use it. Not only for me but for my family (I expect my fifth baby anytime soon).
Some developers send a donation without me asking them, just telling me how thankful they are. I thank thee for your donation, kind returns kind. You know who you are.