The gaming industry appears to be in strong shape, according to a recent survey of 2,000 North American developers.
The study, conducted by the Game Developers Conference, states that 41 percent of developers reported higher profits in 2014 than the year before. Only 9 percent indicated that their profits declined. The remaining developers were either flat, year-over-year, or unsure. Hiring showed a similar split: 44 percent grew their teams in 2014, while only 15 percent saw staff reductions.
The data is slightly messy, but when a mere 1 in 10 developers reports falling income, spend in the market is high.
Interestingly, the data shows declining interest in the mobile gaming space. Of the developers polled, some 50 percent indicated that their current title would be released for smartphones or tablets. That figure was down from 52 percent a year ago. Even more, only 48 percent of developers stated that their next title would be released for mobile platforms.
Certainly, a decline from 52 to 50 to 48 is paced, but it’s downhill all the same.
If I had to wager, I’d say that the issue of title saturation is negatively impacting the ability of mobile developers to consistently generate an audience for new titles. Distribution scale of mobile titles can sometimes depend on things as fickle as Apple’s decision to feature, or not, one title over another.
PC vs. Console
In comparison, the popularity of PC games among developers is in a sideways flux — 56 percent say their current game is built for PCs, up from the year-ago tally of 53 percent. However, when it comes to upcoming titles, only 53 percent of developers plan to build for PC, putting the category right back where it was.
Clear winners in the eyes of developers, compared to the year-ago period, were the current generation consoles: The Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Both saw their active development percentage break into the 20-percent range. PlayStation 4 leads current developer action over the Xbox One 26 percent to 22 percent.
According to the survey, 12 percent of gaming developers are building a title that could be a suitable esport — esports is the competitive side of video gaming, where teams and individuals compete for prize money and fans.
Twelve percent is slim in comparison to other gaming platforms, but given that esports is a genre, and not a platform in and of itself, the number is not soft. Instead, given the current number of esports titles in the market, it seems that we could see a rapid increase of the total quantity of games built for the genre. A general shaking out of new esports titles would be fun to watch.
All told, developers are still fans of mobile gaming, PC gaming, console gaming, and, increasingly we can infer, esports. They almost sound like gamers.