About the Games Industry
PC’s And Consoles
There are two main segments to the games industry and more specifically to game development; games for PCs and games for dedicated consoles. On the console side this will include Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. Both platforms will be online or offline. It is estimated that the PC market accounts for 35% of total market sales and consoles 65%.
Games for the PC
PC games closely followed the spread of PCs into the home, but whilst the installed base of PCs has grown significantly and been further fuelled by the massive growth of broadband internet connectivity the retail outlet for PC gaming has all but collapsed. Mostly this has been down to the short-term view of “bricks-and-mortar” retailers concentrating on the console market, but also the fact that PC games can need a little more than the simple “load ‘n play” of the consoles (knowledge of memory, core chip, sound card, etc.). This has been offset by the ability to download and play games online. With some of the big online game companies like Blizzard offering World of Warcraft with a download client and Valve’s Steam online library with its ease of use, the future is looking brighter for PC gaming (subject to your download speeds of course). The attractiveness of the web to games companies is illustrated by the fact that nearly all publishers have online games projects either in the market or in development.
Games for the Console
The Console games market continues to expand rapidly but tends to have a bad habit of becoming stale when said market becomes flooded with inferior product and the public await/turn to other platforms (i.e. mobile gaming). The console market is undoubtedly very appealing to developers, but Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have total control over the approval of new titles and the way in which they are developed (even with their online shops). This tends to make console development more specialist with the teams working on these titles being bigger and more heavily resourced. The addition of down-loadable content (DLC) and mobile-gaming has given a fresher and longer lasting look to console gaming but much of the general public is yet to be convinced that it is value for money.
The Games publishers
The largest publishers still hail from the US, France and Japan. The dominance of the large publishers such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo is built on the success of their hardware platforms and the great titles they have published for their own platform. US publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision/Blizzard rely on the quality of their games and their strong distribution channels. The European Publisher presence is represented by companies like Atari, Rockstar, the UK offices of EA and 2K Games all of whom publish world renowned multiplatform games. Although the UK publisher presence is small when compared to the rest of the world there has always been an extremely strong games development community. Of all games published across the world, nearly 30% emanate from UK development teams, moreover 1 in 4 world-wide hit titles are from the UK.
Games developers are the creative element of the games industry. There are both independent developers (teams not owned by a publishers) and publisher owned developers. Both types of team are where the creative process of taking a game design from a paper concept to a completed graphically intense computer game experience is carried out. Most developers have between 1 and 3 teams all working on games development projects for varying kinds of platforms.