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Storming the Future: Splash Damage's New Moves
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Storming the Future: Splash Damage's New Moves


June 4, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

Wedgwood reflects on that period of Splash Damage, noting that he and his team were able to simply do whatever they wanted with their games -- "made games that we wanted to play", he says.

"When we tried to work out what we were going to make next, we worked out what we really wanted to be playing in a couple of years' time, and if nobody else was making it, we started making it ourselves. That was as difficult as the decision was," he adds.

"I think that's exactly how it is for the indie game scene today, and why it's so exciting. There was this horrible drought period from 2007 to around two years ago, where there was no independent game development, and we really felt like we were the last of the mod makers, because console manufacturers and developers don't release the SDKs for their games."

Says Wedgwood, the only way to make a game that was good enough to gain public interest was to get hold of an SDK -- and the Quake III SDK was looking rather dated, plus it required you have "an army of high-poly artists".

"So basically you just had this real challenge on your hands, which led to this drought. When mobile gaming came along, I think that's when it really picked up again, and we started to see tons and tons of indie developers. And then, of course, Unity helped it to a completely transformed market."

These two time periods differ in a very distinct way, muses the Splash Damage co-founder -- whereas there's money to be made in indie development now, there was barely even money to be made in commercial gaming back then, let alone modding.

"The great thing about the indie scene now is that you can make something like Minecraft," he explains. "This is a game that a few guys have made, and it's creating revenues that are almost half that of a mid-tier console game!"

"And of course, while 75 percent of our motivation for being in the video game industry is to talk about aliens in boardrooms, 25 percent of why we do it is because it has to be a sustainable business," argues Wedgwood. "We have staff whose rent and mortgages need to be paid. So we have to make decisions which are sensible and realistic."


Brink

With all this in mind, Wedgwood tells us that Splash Damage really began to take note of the industry's shift to digital distribution around a year ago, and the way in which it was having a significant impact on retail.

"To the public, the single biggest indicator of the economic downturn was the failure of retail," he notes. "And we could see that DVD and music sales were in decline, and it's really an idiot who predicts a great future for video game retail."

He continues, "But there is a massive, fantastic market of retail games. The great thing is that console gamers who love those top 10 games that come out each year, do get pretty good value for money. I mean, I play Mass Effect, Uncharted, Call of Duty, and I don't feel like my £50 is badly spent. I feel like I get really good value. But I had a 60 inch LED screen and a 5.1 surround sound system, and I want to drive that thing with something blockbustery! I think 'quad-A' is the correct description of those video game experiences."


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