Gamasutra sister service Game Developer Research has debuted its latest report, the 2009-2010 State of Game Development Survey, revealing among other things a surge of iPhone developers and a lull in those making games for the Wii.
The 100 page report is a result of a survey of more than 800 video game professionals from North America and beyond who read Gamasutra, subscribe to Game Developer magazine, or attend Game Developers Conference. Those complete results are available as a 100-page report from Game Developer Research, and more information from the survey is also available in the February 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine.
The results of the comprehensive 55-question survey help to illustrate which platforms Western game creators develop for, which market sectors they work in, which tools they use and how much they spend on these tools, and sheds light on which factors determine the target platforms for game development.
As a reflection of recent economic difficulties and resulting layoffs, this year’s survey reveals that many experienced developers have founded smaller studios, or have begun developing games on their own.
This trend is marked by a 7 percent growth in the proportion of developers employed by companies of 50 employees or fewer, while in sharp contrast, the proportion of developers at companies of 500 or more employees has fallen by two percent since last year’s survey.
As shown from the results of the survey, another increasingly prevalent trend has been the growth of the mobile space. Due in large part to the success of Apple’s iPhone software platform, mobile support shot up to 25 percent of developers, more than doubling last year’s 12 percent.
Of these mobile developers, nearly three quarters of that group are targeting iPhone and iPod touch development, a number more than twice the reported support for traditional handhelds like Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
Meanwhile, the choices of development platform showed relative stability. Just over 70 percent of developers said they were developing at least one game for PC or Mac (including browser and social games), rising slightly from last year; 41 percent reported working on console games. Within that latter group, Xbox 360 was the most popular system with 69 percent of console developers targeting it, followed by 61 percent for PlayStation 3.
While those console figures stayed within a few percent of last year's results, the change in Wii adoption was much more significant: reported developer support for the system dropped from 42 percent to 30 percent of console developers, supporting numerous publishers' claims of a recent softening of the Wii market.
When it comes to choosing target platforms, more developers cited ease of development and market penetration as incentives, more than any other factors. Other important considerations included team members’ existing skill sets, portability of code to a given platform, and the acquisition costs of development kits and materials.
“Like any other medium of entertainment, video game development is subject to change with the ebb and flow of the economy and any hot new trends, and this year’s survey continues to reflect this evolution,” says Simon Carless, global brand director of Think Services Game Group (and publisher of Gamasutra).
"The full, detailed survey document, with its plethora of raw data and wealth of insight, is an important resource for any industry-watchers looking to navigate the changing seas of the games industry."
The full 'State of Game Development 2009-2010 Survey' includes dozens more data points about the preferred software, hardware, and tools of game developers across game engines, AI tools, production machines and beyond, as well as game genre and sector statistics, geographical breakdowns, budgetary information for the past year, and upcoming product purchase intent.
The survey was conducted with a sample of 814 users of Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra, and attendees of the Game Developers Conference, and can be projected to the overall game development community with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
Those complete results are available as a 100-page report from Game Developer Research, alongside numerous other reports delving into the key facts and trends that define the modern game development industry. More information from the survey is also available in the February 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine.