During a presentation at the Dutch Festival of Games, Sean Kauppinen, vice president of TriplePoint PR -- which represents a client list of game and tool developers that includes Electronic Arts, D3, NaturalMotion and SoftKinetic -- raised a new problem facing independent developers.
While detailing “The New Gamer” to an audience of developers and industry professionals, Kauppinen said that the traditional audience of gamers was changing as it expanded – resulting in constricting sales for high-budget games.
Because of the changing business cycle, Kauppinen predicted that independent developers would no longer be able to retain their intellectual property with signing major deals – that these publishers now expect the IP in exchange for a thirty million dollar development budget.
And, he said, there are only six publishers who are currently signing deals that size (but declined to specifically name those big six publishers after his session).
The reaction of most independent developers, said Kauppinen, is to simply start working on smaller downloadable games for consoles, with budgets of $300,000.
“There are, as far as I know, over 150 Xbox Live Arcade games in the works, over 100 WiiWare games in the works, and over 100-and-something PlayStation Network games in the works,” stated the industry insider.
“There’s a lot of risk that’s coming that people haven’t looked at yet," he added. "And, of course, Asia has brought the free to play model over to North America and Europe.”
Kauppinen concluded by encouraging developers to find something that sets them apart. “I think digital distribution will get pretty saturated in the next 18 to 24 months... so find a way to be different. Once you have saturation, it’s a problem, because no one stands out.”
“Developers need to look for underserved groups within the overall mainstream market," he said. "Whether it’s 8-12 year old girls, or octogenarians, there are a lot of groups that haven’t been completely served.”