Posted by Shawn Hendriks, 29 April 2009 11:53 pm
There was a time not long ago when games development was young and scrappy. You could get a couple buddies together and quickly put together a game that would (if you were lucky) make you a million dollars. It doesn't feel so easy any more.
The game industry is now big business and with that comes large games conglomerates that control a lot of the content that comes out just like the big players do in the film and tv market. In just a few short years the cost of creating your average game has skyrocketed into the tens of millions and dev teams have ballooned into the hundreds. So whats a gamer with an idea to do short of marrying really big money?
I just read an article in the wall street journal that covers some great examples of how artists and developers are dealing with this. The central concept though really comes down to a very old idea in the world of artistry. Patronage. In a patronage system an artist would develop a small following of absolutely devoted fans who would follow everything they did and pay good money for their works. This small group of patrons would essentially finance the artists life allowing them to do work anyway they wished as often as they wished as long as they kept enough patrons interested to cover their lifestyle.
Based on this idea a game doesn't need huge teams and huge market share. It needs enough fans(patrons) to keep the developers in the lifestyle they are accustomed to. As the article state this could be as few as 5000 people worldwide to support a small dev team. iphone apps and such are an example of this at work. Don't get me wrong you still need talent. Won't you don't necessarily need is a deep pockets publisher and 10 million dollars to put out a "successful" game.
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