Lifehacker Talks About The Future Of Australian Game Development

Aussie game developers are receiving $6 million in federal government funding, but what future does the industry have? Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman discussed the issue on ABC Radio National Drive last night.

Catch the full segment below. Also discussed: should politicians have official Android apps?

 [RN Drive]


    The first thing the video games industry worldwide needs to do if they want to survive is to stop making the same games.

    The global financial crisis made a big dent in game sales globally, it has forced studios to close, it is forcing studios to stick to games they know will sell (aka sequels or copies of existing games), it is forcing studios to try and squeeze money out of their audiences (microtransactions, used games and more), there is no room for risk taking unless you're an indie dev or have a war chest like nintendo.

    Things are looking pretty grim for the industry, the last few E3s have been quite telling, apart from a handful of standout games, the general attitude has been "I've seen this all before". The industry is experiencing a level of stagnation that rivals the last decade of hollywood, and could it be because both are trying to deliver similar big budget hollow experiences, loaded with special effects but built upon empty stories that try only to inspire awe or make their audiences care about poorly written characters?

    If you tear off the prettier graphics from 90-95% of games shown at the last five E3s, you still have the same old games underneath complete with zombies, explosions, aliens, points, swords, pointless collectibles and guns. I'm not against violence, but it's boring when it's the only thing on the menu. This might sound quite harsh, but quite frankly, it's an industry that has yet to grow up.

    If the industry doesn't try something new, the customers will, unlike the developers, the customer won't die if they don't buy videogames.
    The reason why the whole casual gaming fad was so successful was it was something fresh and pulled in a bigger audience, but instead instead of trying new things, some in the industry decide they should engage in anticonsumer practices to drive away the last pockets of interest.

    The reason why the casual gaming thing was a fad and not long lasting is that games still don't have enough emotional substance or intellectual stimulus to compel an adult audience, most casual games are just time wasters with no meaning or purpose than mental exercise, it saddens me to see people playing them on the train when there are far better games to play, but eh, if they're happy!

    There is some hope in the indie dev scene though, there are some very interesting ideas bubbling there, but they're still going through growth pains, it is rare to see an indie game that even has the level of content or polish of the average super nintendo game. Maybe when they get bored of making physics platformers, empty games with pretty art styles or quirky puzzle games, then we can expect the deeper and more meaningful experiences that we want in videogames.

    Also Fruit Ninja is a pretty clone of a microgame in Wario Ware Touched done years earlier.
    Fruit Ninja's success has everything to do with 'right time', 'right place', and they deserve it,
    but it should not be used as an example of Australian ingenuity.

    Considering that the barrier to entry is so low now, Australians should just gather into small groups and pump out some addictive 'small' games, eg. Half-Brick. Literally ANYONE can get in on this, and if Aussies wanna get in on this action, we just need to start developing. We face the same problems every other country faces; actually, we get it a lot easier being a 1st world country. Actually, we get it MUCH easier being a 1st world country with a strong education system and cheap, and smart IT workforce. 'Fruit Ninja', as well as almost every single other mobile 'hit' came about as a matter of luck, and then subsequent developer trust. 'Angry Birds' was like the 28th game made by Rovio, for example. It appears that small, Indie teams have it too easy.

    A developing team should get out there and develop exclusively for the Wii-U. It's a system with a consumer base CRAVING for 1st party support, and expects a certain level of creativity simply not allowed on other platforms. Someone should get on that.

      Aussies should start making games, but I don't think you can get a piece of that funding if you haven't completed a title before. Maybe I am wrong though, I should probably take a closer look, maybe all my prototypes are enough to convince them.

      Aussies have some of the highest costs of living in the world, so funding is critical if you want to survive, good luck if you're trying to juggle a full time job and make a videogame, because making games is a lot of work. So it's safer for most (myself included) to go with other IT jobs where demand and pay is steady while you watch the games industry decay and let your mountain of ideas gather dust :P

      For every indie or iphone app success story, there are 1000 failures.
      There is no way of knowing if your game will ever make a profit to pay back the bank or whoever is funding your project. It's the first game that's the hardest not because of learning how to do it, or doing the work, it's all the external economic pressures trying to eat you alive. It will make you or break you.

      I think this also partially explains why the Australian film industry isn't very big either.

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