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MJBuddy
Sep 22, 2008

Now I do not know whether I was then a head coach dreaming I was a Saints fan, or whether I am now a Saints fan, dreaming I am a head coach.

FuzzySlippers posted:

Is taxonomist/digital librarian/some-other-term a thing at game companies?

My wife is an academic librarian and was tipped off from a friend about a job at The Pokemon Company for a taxonomist. They wanted someone to organize their data, manage workflows, admin their gameplay databases to maximize utility for designers, etc. She got through a competitive interview process but they ended giving the job to another candidate because they had greater TCG experience. She's a video gamer and hadn't ever really played TCGs but she tried to cram once she applied. Though she didn't try to front with them and was honest about her TCG experience.

Is this position common or was it a one off at Pokemon?

This is overlap with what we want from data governance + technical writer type positions. Folks dedicated to organizing documentation and ensuring consistentcy. Does it exist? Eh we don't have one, but I want one. It's probably studio dependent.

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Pseudoscorpion
Jul 26, 2011




FuzzySlippers posted:

Is taxonomist/digital librarian/some-other-term a thing at game companies?

My wife is an academic librarian and was tipped off from a friend about a job at The Pokemon Company for a taxonomist. They wanted someone to organize their data, manage workflows, admin their gameplay databases to maximize utility for designers, etc. She got through a competitive interview process but they ended giving the job to another candidate because they had greater TCG experience. She's a video gamer and hadn't ever really played TCGs but she tried to cram once she applied. Though she didn't try to front with them and was honest about her TCG experience.

Is this position common or was it a one off at Pokemon?

It's not unheard of, but only for companies/franchises that have been around for ages. I interned at Blizzard in my college days and they had that same kind of position there, as well. Pokemon makes a lot of sense for that kind of thing.

Hughlander
May 11, 2005



EA used to have an actual Librarian for their in house library. (Maybe still does, I left like 20 years ago.) At one point she was like the Google Chef from the amount of options that was offered her compared to how long she was there...

DreadCthulhu
Sep 17, 2008

What the fuck is up, Denny's?!


A couple of naive questions, if you'll indulge me:

1)

What keeps programmers locked in the industry as opposed to switching to web dev or anything else outside of entertainment that might pay more, have shorter hours and more stable employment? Is that because it's hard to leave games once you've worked in them for a while due to a specialized programming skillset that doesn't obviously translate to anything else? Or is it the appeal of the kind of ultra-creative people you end up working with? Or is it because after many years the honeymoon of working on a game still hasn't worn off, and it still sounds much much better than working on accounting software solution n.75634? What keeps people from taking a job at a FAANG or a hip up-and-coming Series B startup instead?

Or, are software dev jobs in games no longer a grind, and actually much more competitive in the marketplace, and actually with decent work life balance? I met a few Riot devs a while back here in LA and they seemed to have an amazing quality of life. But that's possibly because League is less of a game and more of a service, like a Salesforce or a Gmail, and the studio doesn't live an die by every new release it cranks out every few years? It's possible Riot is an outlier here.

This actually makes me realize that when I used to hire devs for a web dev startup some time ago, I would never see people with game development experience. And I've looked at thousands of software dev resumes and interviewed hundreds of them personally.. I'm assuming it was a form of self-selection, where programmers with that skillset and experience weren't going to suddenly start slinging CRUD web apps, due to either unfamiliarity or disinterest in anything outside of entertainment. You'd think I would have at least run into people who wrote the backends for games, but I don't recall any at all.

2)

I read the stats that there are something like 1000 new indie games released every day. Jesus Christ. If that's the case, are you very, very unlikely to ever experience the kind of public reception of a Bastion, Journey, Valheim, Subnautica and their likes? It seems like it's very likely you'll grind away at it for years and give up once you run out of money.. Especially if you're trying to self-fund and you don't have an existing track record as a game developer and connections in the publishing world with someone who might bankroll you and your tiny indie team as you work on that early prototype before you can perhaps release it in Early Access and start eating what you hunt?

Shruggoth
Nov 8, 2020



DreadCthulhu posted:

1)

What keeps programmers locked in the industry as opposed to switching to web dev or anything else outside of entertainment that might pay more, have shorter hours and more stable employment? Is that because it's hard to leave games once you've worked in them for a while due to a specialized programming skillset that doesn't obviously translate to anything else? Or is it the appeal of the kind of ultra-creative people you end up working with? Or is it because after many years the honeymoon of working on a game still hasn't worn off, and it still sounds much much better than working on accounting software solution n.75634? What keeps people from taking a job at a FAANG or a hip up-and-coming Series B startup instead?

Or, are software dev jobs in games no longer a grind, and actually much more competitive in the marketplace, and actually with decent work life balance? I met a few Riot devs a while back here in LA and they seemed to have an amazing quality of life. But that's possibly because League is less of a game and more of a service, like a Salesforce or a Gmail, and the studio doesn't live an die by every new release it cranks out every few years? It's possible Riot is an outlier here.

This actually makes me realize that when I used to hire devs for a web dev startup some time ago, I would never see people with game development experience. And I've looked at thousands of software dev resumes and interviewed hundreds of them personally.. I'm assuming it was a form of self-selection, where programmers with that skillset and experience weren't going to suddenly start slinging CRUD web apps, due to either unfamiliarity or disinterest in anything outside of entertainment. You'd think I would have at least run into people who wrote the backends for games, but I don't recall any at all.


People want to work in games because it's fun. You get to work with creative, driven people on an entertainment product that lots of people will (ideally) enjoy. It's also much easier to identify with the customer than it is with a generic CRUD app, and you may even be the target audience. Game programming in particular is fun since you're solving relatively unique problems that don't occur in many other programming domains, or at least not to the degree they do in game programming.

From what I can tell, the quality of life working in the industry has on average improved from the days of EA spouse, but it's still not on par with the rest of tech. Compensation in particular is still low in comparison, but I would guess that job supply/demand is a large factor.

Some people might feel too specialized to switch domains and I've heard some people say they could not imagine themselves doing anything else, but I don't think the majority of programmers feel locked in. I've heard the average game industry career length is only 3-5 years, which is about as long as I lasted. I'm not sure I would have left if the pay was better though.

You probably don't see many people from games because it's a smaller industry and most probably aren't jumping to webdev.

more falafel please
Feb 26, 2005

forums poster



I've got 15 years in a couple weeks, and the fact that my skills are pretty specialized to games now is definitely a big part of it. C++ jobs around here anyway are mostly in finance, and I don't want anything to do with that. I could definitely learn to poo poo out CRUD web apps in a year or so, but like, I don't know anything about that, I'd have to learn what a docker is.

Canine Blues Arooo
Jan 7, 2008

when you think about it...i'm the first girl you ever spent the night with



Grimey Drawer

I stick around largely because the overall quality of life is very high. The job really is quite good for all things that aren't exactly compensation.

I really like the product I work on - I play my own stuff a lot and engage with the community as a player authentically. I care about the stuff I'm building and it is easy for me to care about requirements as more than just a checklist. Despite working on a big product, I have a lot of creative and stylistic control over the stuff I work on. I have a lot in common with the people I work with and it's easy for me to talk to my coworkers. A lot of my best friends right now come straight from my workplace which has been something very unique for me, exclusive to the game's industry. Crunch is becoming less frequent of an occurrence. Compensation is actually trash though.

Furthermore, my skillset is C# and C++. You can find jobs in this domain outside of games, but the jobs are frequently uninspiring despite offering easily double or more the salary. Web is a super common domain, but I'd rather jam forks in my eyes than ever get caught writing another line of Javascript in whatever the FotM framework is in my life. I'd consider backend work, but I get / have to do everything for my current job and I like to have control over all of it - data, logic and UI/UX.

I've seriously considered leaving the industry because the salary is just... The offers I've gotten from other companies just hurts, but when I look into my heart of hearts, just working around people I really enjoy on products I really care about has a lot of value for me. I guess that's why industry pay is bad .

Zaphod42
Sep 13, 2012

If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.


I think a number of devs DO just leave, and they just have fairly high turnover, but there's always new people happy to take their place. And if they're younger, possibly for less money, so some companies are fine with that for SOP. Of course that's gonna vary from location to location though.

Canine Blues Arooo posted:

Furthermore, my skillset is C# and C++. You can find jobs in this domain outside of games, but the jobs are frequently uninspiring despite offering easily double or more the salary. Web is a super common domain, but I'd rather jam forks in my eyes than ever get caught writing another line of Javascript in whatever the FotM framework is in my life. I'd consider backend work, but I get / have to do everything for my current job and I like to have control over all of it - data, logic and UI/UX.

I've seriously considered leaving the industry because the salary is just... The offers I've gotten from other companies just hurts, but when I look into my heart of hearts, just working around people I really enjoy on products I really care about has a lot of value for me. I guess that's why industry pay is bad .

If you know C# you know Java and there's so many easy Java jobs. But then that's the problem, I make so much more money doing boring coding that applying to game companies feels like a sucker punch. I'm looking at taking like literally half my old salary if I want to switch back industries. I guess I'm still young and dumb enough I'm gonna try it but its something that constantly weighs on you, you know you're worth more.

100% with you on not wanting anything to do with the javascript lifestyle.

Hyper Crab Tank
Feb 10, 2014

The future of crustacean-based warfare


1) Because getting paid more would not significantly improve my quality of life, but having to work on some soulless, uncreative "mainstream" endeavour would have a significant negative impact on my mental and emotional well-being. I like making video games. Even when I'm not doing something immediately creative, just the environment (barring present covid conditions) of being around other creative people who share a lot of your mindset and attitude towards the art and craft of video games is almost worth it alone. Now, you shouldn't be underpaid - and, compared to other programmers, I'm sure I am underpaid - but I'm paid well above the median salary for the nation as a whole and I honestly can't say there's much I could do with another 15% or 30% salary or whatever that I actually care to do. And certainly not at the cost of becoming another faceless development drone.

2) Correct. For every Valheim there are 100 games that aren't good enough to cut the mustard, and (potentially) a lot of money sunk into a dead project. That's life. You want the reward, you take the risks - or, if you're already living paycheck to paycheck, for the love of all that is holy don't risk your drat existence on the hope that your "passion project" is going to be the one thing that gets you the big dollars. You have to plan for failure, too.

Hyper Crab Tank fucked around with this message at 15:44 on Mar 2, 2021

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

i once saw a man go from 60k to 340k total comp from videogameland to touchconputerland, so 15-20% my rear end

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

You walk in with the Turnips, you leave with the Bells.



I once saw a man win the lottery so don't tell me most people don't win the lottery.

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

this is not a very special salary in wall street and at tech majors, altho it is indeed a bit high

go to the yospos salary share when we have it again, or levels.fyi

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

DreadCthulhu posted:

What keeps people from taking a job at a FAANG or a hip up-and-coming Series B startup instead?

I'm currently moving from a tech startup (joined during series B funding, as it happens) back to a games industry position. I'm actually taking a pay raise for it.

All jobs have moments of dreadful busywork, but from that short (and only) stint outside of the industry, I've found that this dreadful work becomes especially soul-crushing when it's not on a project I can at least somewhat relate to. I don't have to like the particular game I'm working on, but because I like games in general, I can at least relate to "find the fun" and work towards that.

While I may not be curing cancer or bringing about world peace, at least I can hope to make a game that will make someone's day a bit brighter. As opposed to working on something that actively undermines the fabric of democracy, contributes to genocide, attempts to get people addicted to it for "engagement metrics"--likely all three and more--at a FAANG. Or worse, working on old janky COBOL software providing a platform for the rich to get richer in fintech.

So yeah, the games industry is pretty much a slam dunk for me.

Jan fucked around with this message at 18:50 on Mar 2, 2021

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

Jan posted:

I'm currently moving from a tech startup (joined during series B funding, as it happens) back to a games industry position. I'm actually taking a pay raise for it.

All jobs have moments of dreadful busywork, but from that short (and only) stint outside of the industry, I've found that this dreadful work becomes especially soul-crushing when it's not on a project I can at least somewhat relate to. I don't have to like the particular game I'm working on, but because I like games in general, I can at least relate to "find the fun" and work towards that.

While I may not be curing cancer or bringing about world peace, at least I can hope to make a game that will make someone's day a bit brighter. As opposed to working on something that actively undermines the fabric of democracy, attempts to get people addicted to it for "engagement metrics"--likely both--at a FAANG. Or worse, working on old janky COBOL software providing a platform for the rich to get richer in fintech.

So yeah, the games industry is pretty much a slam dunk for me.

this depends very very heavily on what game, if you're saying that games don't addict people for engagement metrics

OneEightHundred
Feb 28, 2008

Soon, we will be unstoppable!


Being able to work on something that you enjoy has a huge impact on your well-being and happiness. Some things are important than money, especially if you're making enough to be financially secure and do the things you want.

DreadCthulhu posted:

Especially if you're trying to self-fund and you don't have an existing track record as a game developer and connections in the publishing world with someone who might bankroll you and your tiny indie team as you work on that early prototype before you can perhaps release it in Early Access and start eating what you hunt?
The bottleneck has moved from production to marketing.

The big thing everyone needs to internalize before they even start trying to make a game that they actually expect to make money on is that making a good game is not good enough any more, you either need to be able to promote the poo poo out of it, or it has to be so awesome that it just blows everything else out of the water (and then you still have to promote the poo poo out of it).

Now please stop me before I go on a rant about devs who think the problem with Steam is that it needs better recommendation algorithms.

al-azad
May 28, 2009





DreadCthulhu posted:

2)

I read the stats that there are something like 1000 new indie games released every day. Jesus Christ. If that's the case, are you very, very unlikely to ever experience the kind of public reception of a Bastion, Journey, Valheim, Subnautica and their likes? It seems like it's very likely you'll grind away at it for years and give up once you run out of money.. Especially if you're trying to self-fund and you don't have an existing track record as a game developer and connections in the publishing world with someone who might bankroll you and your tiny indie team as you work on that early prototype before you can perhaps release it in Early Access and start eating what you hunt?

For me this ties into point #1 and is exactly why I chose the dead easiest and least creatively fulfilling career path. I used to work in a top secret lab environment that was very demanding and kept me active for days and weekends but then I sold out to a higher paying, less demanding field where I can say "no, I work 40 hours a week, clearance doesn't stop me from VPN'ing when I want, and military readiness isn't an excuse to drag me out of bed on a Sunday." The work is dull but it's stable, predictable, and I have time to release my creative energy at home.

All of this is to say that I wanted to release my own creatively lead games and not just work on other people's games -- and I have zero connections or access to multi-million dollar resources like Supergiant/Iron Gate/Unknown Worlds had right out the gate -- I would absolutely take the easy sell out job and funnel all my resources into my side gig. If I become the next Phasmophobia then fantastic, time to quit and ride the gravy train. If not oh well, I never let my hobby become work and destroy me.

My sister was in a similar situation, she was scouted by Google and Facebook but turned down both for Capital One which needed someone to lead development on their credit app algorithm and while everyone else in her class chose the cutting edge ticket she accepted the basically lone developer position in a field that no executive had any knowledge on. She went from college graduate to senior developer in 3 years, stashes more money than she would in a similar position at Google or Facebook because she doesn't live in a city where a month's rent is a down payment on a house, and has so much freedom she can be like "I'm taking 3 weeks to travel Japan, don't call." That's the dream if you ask me lol.

Canine Blues Arooo
Jan 7, 2008

when you think about it...i'm the first girl you ever spent the night with



Grimey Drawer

al-azad posted:

My sister was in a similar situation, she was scouted by Google and Facebook but turned down both for Capital One which needed someone to lead development on their credit app algorithm and while everyone else in her class chose the cutting edge ticket she accepted the basically lone developer position in a field that no executive had any knowledge on. She went from college graduate to senior developer in 3 years, stashes more money than she would in a similar position at Google or Facebook because she doesn't live in a city where a month's rent is a down payment on a house, and has so much freedom she can be like "I'm taking 3 weeks to travel Japan, don't call." That's the dream if you ask me lol.

Yeah, some people are really OK with that model of work, but I'm really not. Or at least I think I'm not. Disliking my work is really rough and I actually can't deal with it mentally at all. However, there is a compelling argument to be made for working for 10 years on a bonkers salary and then retire quietly on multi million dollar nest egg.

I dunno.

I've more or less come to terms with the idea that I won't know the right answer for me until it's already too late. I think prioritizing my mental health today has a lot of value even if it comes at a monetary penalty. I still have more than enough to live comfortably. It's not like I have total 'gently caress you' money, but I have nice poo poo and a lot of savings - I think that's good enough for me.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

Canine Blues Arooo posted:

Yeah, some people are really OK with that model of work, but I'm really not. Or at least I think I'm not. Disliking my work is really rough and I actually can't deal with it mentally at all. However, there is a compelling argument to be made for working for 10 years on a bonkers salary and then retire quietly on multi million dollar nest egg.

Yeah, the problem with that "make your money and then retire" trick is that you need to survive the money-making period. Know your own limits and don't sign yourself up for burnout and depression in the name of making a buck.

I'll second the advice to not go into indie dev if you're reliant on your game being profitable though.

al-azad
May 28, 2009





Canine Blues Arooo posted:

However, there is a compelling argument to be made for working for 10 years on a bonkers salary and then retire quietly on multi million dollar nest egg.

This is how Supergiant and Valve formed. Double Fine as well. Work for 10 years and capitalize your own company.

DreadCthulhu
Sep 17, 2008

What the fuck is up, Denny's?!


al-azad posted:

This is how Supergiant and Valve formed. Double Fine as well. Work for 10 years and capitalize your own company.

I didn't realize that Supergiant founders were rolling in it, I thought they were just regular devs at EA. Gaben was a full-blown GM at Microsoft from what I recollect, which is a pretty decently ranking position.

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

gaben was most of the way to bein a billionaire before he even started steam

Discendo Vox
Mar 21, 2013


Newell was, iirc, already a billionaire upon leaving Microsoft, and Valve's model from the very beginning has functioned largely due to being able to spend money in ways that only Epic can now come even with.

Discendo Vox fucked around with this message at 05:11 on Mar 3, 2021

Skwirl
May 13, 2007

The 'blood babe with the silicone chest, 200-dollar haircut, and a closet full of the latest fashions.




Discendo Vox posted:

Newell was, iirc, already a billionaire upon leaving Microsoft, and Valve's model from the very beginning has functioned largely due to being able to spend money in ways that only Epic can now come even with.

Imagine being that loving rich and still not making Half-Life 3.

VelociBacon
Dec 8, 2009



Jan posted:

While I may not be curing cancer or bringing about world peace, at least I can hope to make a game that will make someone's day a bit brighter.

I just wanted to remark on this as someone who works in healthcare, where we constantly hear about how noble our work is even though 90% of the people in our industry are less passionate about it than you find in creative industries.

I really think that for a vast majority of people, whether or not they realize it or can articulate it, life is not worth living without art in it's various forms (music, interactive and non interactive visual media, fiction and nonfiction works of writing, etc). Extending someone's life by any duration only is valuable if the individual is able to enjoy their life - in part by consuming art created by impassioned designers, artists, musicians, writers, and so on. Via our healthcare careers we're just giving people the opportunity to experience more of what people like you are producing (directly or indirectly). Please don't feel like it's in some way less important because it's not dealing with life or death situations, I feel like it's measurably more important as it's reaching more people, providing joy, and overall making life worth living. If we're walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean, you're providing the dope rear end reef material and delicious mollusks for them.

Discendo Vox
Mar 21, 2013


Skwirl posted:

Imagine being that loving rich and still not making Half-Life 3.

Newell et al have always run Valve on a similar goal of establishing market-controlling tech or products, from game engines to monetization to platforms to hardware. Every new development, successful or not, is intended to be a market controlling killer app of some kind (though it's more comfortably phrased as something like "pushing the medium forward"). IPs matter only as extensions of the next control vector. Despite frequently throwing away millions on dead ends (the whole project management flat/T-shaped/internal scuttlebutt/release delay mess reflecting the problems of this sort of approach), they continue to succeed in part just because of inertia, and the raw power of living in the heads of everyone else in industry.

Valve's influence is such that each time they release something, or even talk about developing something, or release a design video, the market warps in response. Other companies have that happen to some degree (producers saying "give me a game like Call of Duty", the spate of games based on early trailers for the Witness, etc) but few have done it so continuously on so many levels. Valve products get absolutely ripped apart and every decision is pored over and analyzed and moved forward into other products and models, whether or not the decisions were ultimately important. There's a GDC talk valve did on stylized character design in TF2 and I guarantee you a bunch of people in this thread are having it flash before their eyes just by reading this sentence. Items like developer commentary nodes wind up creating entire sub-assumptions about development that get built into other products, like water flow and map design.

Dear god, imagine if they released a cryptocurrency.

Oh, wait.

more falafel please
Feb 26, 2005

forums poster



al-azad posted:

This is how Supergiant and Valve formed. Double Fine as well. Work for 10 years and capitalize your own company.

Obviously it's possible, but it's not like rank-and-file devs make enough money to self-finance a game after 10 years. It's possible to make the connections that might get you funding from a publisher, but that's not the same thing as "just work for 10 years and you can just start your own thing!" I knew a loooooooot of devs who went indie after the 2008 crash and the "indie revolution". A couple of the companies are still around, but most of those devs got new AAA jobs or switched industries.

The extremely successful indie case here in Chicago is Young Horses, and they started right out of college (working other jobs and running through their savings, a super sustainable model) and aren't exactly rolling in it. They have jobs and a couple of moderately successful, well-reviewed games.

Skwirl
May 13, 2007

The 'blood babe with the silicone chest, 200-dollar haircut, and a closet full of the latest fashions.




Discendo Vox posted:


Dear god, imagine if they released a cryptocurrency.

Oh, wait.

Didn't that trading card thing sorta fall flat after initial speculation booms? I looked at selling the few random cards I had and realized it wasn't even worth the amount of effort it would take to hit the "sell" button.

But also, if I had a billion dollars I'd make a Half-Life 3.

al-azad
May 28, 2009





"Rolling in it" is relative (unless yes you're a Gabe Newell) but Supergiant wasn't formed alone, everyone pooled their resources while having a decade's worth of knowledge and networking to not immediately sink.

I live on the east coast where everything is like 500% cheaper so I have a different outlook on company life within a creative field. It's much easier to strike off on your own, like a friend did some work for Zojoi (Shadowgate remake) at UVA and was able to springboard to full time freelance while living comfortably while building towards starting a collective of likeminded local artists/programmers and to me that's how you get ahead. Doesn't guarantee you'll make the next Valheim but it's resources invested the other 1000 daily Steam games don't have.

Akuma
Sep 11, 2001




I'm a TD in games and don't know how to be a TD not in games so I'm not gonna do that.

For a few years I moved from games to serious games, which was basically web/app development, and it paid more but was kind of crushing so I jumped at the chance of being on the ground floor of a games startup. The startup didn't pay that well but now five years later and after being acquired by a large group things are preeeetty goood.

Discendo Vox
Mar 21, 2013


Skwirl posted:

Didn't that trading card thing sorta fall flat after initial speculation booms? I looked at selling the few random cards I had and realized it wasn't even worth the amount of effort it would take to hit the "sell" button.

But also, if I had a billion dollars I'd make a Half-Life 3.

Valve developed several parallel currency structures, from the "Wallet" to gems to cards; all of them are used for moneylaundering. You may recognize one of the names involved.

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

supergiant is also in the sfba, so the cost of living wasnt an issue for them (it prolly was, but outweighed by other stuff)

Zaphod42
Sep 13, 2012

If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.


OneEightHundred posted:

The big thing everyone needs to internalize before they even start trying to make a game that they actually expect to make money on is that making a good game is not good enough any more, you either need to be able to promote the poo poo out of it, or it has to be so awesome that it just blows everything else out of the water (and then you still have to promote the poo poo out of it).

Now please stop me before I go on a rant about devs who think the problem with Steam is that it needs better recommendation algorithms.

Yeah, agree 100%. I'm not a very business-minded person but the more I read smart gamasutra articles about video game business the more this seems like the writing on the wall.

It sucks, and it seems really dumb that even huge AAA games are spending as much or more money on marketing than on the entire cost of development of a title; just think of what they could do if you straight up doubled their budget!

What keeps me up at night is the idea that a studio's success can come down to whether a famous streamer plays their game or not. And then you see why big streamers make so much money and get all the attention.

If you really want to get wild, you can consider whether its actually sustainable for everybody who wants to make games to make games. There's just more and more competition and still there's no doubt lots of people who would want to work in the game industry who don't. The more people making games, the smaller slice of the pie each game gets.

Course I guess the answer there is really to move to a universal basic income, make all games free, and replace all labor with robots. Well, a man can dream.

al-azad posted:

For me this ties into point #1 and is exactly why I chose the dead easiest and least creatively fulfilling career path. I used to work in a top secret lab environment that was very demanding and kept me active for days and weekends but then I sold out to a higher paying, less demanding field where I can say "no, I work 40 hours a week, clearance doesn't stop me from VPN'ing when I want, and military readiness isn't an excuse to drag me out of bed on a Sunday." The work is dull but it's stable, predictable, and I have time to release my creative energy at home.

All of this is to say that I wanted to release my own creatively lead games and not just work on other people's games -- and I have zero connections or access to multi-million dollar resources like Supergiant/Iron Gate/Unknown Worlds had right out the gate -- I would absolutely take the easy sell out job and funnel all my resources into my side gig. If I become the next Phasmophobia then fantastic, time to quit and ride the gravy train. If not oh well, I never let my hobby become work and destroy me.

Yeah this can be a solid solution, and I've been living this lifestyle for a couple years. But the only problem there is when you're working 40 hours weeks on code you don't care about, you may be excited to work on your game project as soon as you get home, but by the time you actually do get home you're so exhausted you can't stare at an IDE any longer and need to do something else.

Or alternatively you only work on your hobby project one day a week and progress is pretty glacial.

Which is why I wish I could get more free time off instead of getting more pay when I get a raise, more time off to work on your own passion project would be great. But generally I think businesses look down on that, they'd rather pay you more money but keep you working full time.

Zaphod42 fucked around with this message at 18:01 on Mar 3, 2021

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

your average movie will do that half marketing half making the movie ratio, and thats just because movies are a mature business sector. so are video games nowadays

if you want to be in a sector where its all tech risk all the time go do engineering research or something. if you do a thing where all the buyers are gonna be procurement departments with lots of peeps to look at your thingy and poke and prod it all you need to do for marketing is ads in the industry journal and showin up at conferences. consumer business can never be that way. gotta run the red queens race

bob dobbs is dead fucked around with this message at 18:10 on Mar 3, 2021

DreadCthulhu
Sep 17, 2008

What the fuck is up, Denny's?!


Going back to Supergiant and Unknown Worlds, I think it's worth reiterating that both of those teams had been grinding at it for a long time before they struck gold. UW specifically had been in the scene since the early 2000s with Natural Selection, and they had almost 15 years of experience of doing Early Access releases before even touching Subnautica. I suppose, sure, you can win the lottery and have your first game become Minecraft, but the reality is that it's not unlike you will need to be polishing your game dev chops for a very long time before you have a real shot at it, and even then, many stars have to align.

Going back to the marketing thing, Subnautica somehow got picked up by every major streamer at the time with exception for Pewdiepie, which is something that 99.99% of games will never experience. Lots of hard work and experience and lots of luck in getting the right eyeballs at the right time..

Canine Blues Arooo
Jan 7, 2008

when you think about it...i'm the first girl you ever spent the night with



Grimey Drawer

DreadCthulhu posted:

Going back to Supergiant and Unknown Worlds, I think it's worth reiterating that both of those teams had been grinding at it for a long time before they struck gold. UW specifically had been in the scene since the early 2000s with Natural Selection, and they had almost 15 years of experience of doing Early Access releases before even touching Subnautica. I suppose, sure, you can win the lottery and have your first game become Minecraft, but the reality is that it's not unlike you will need to be polishing your game dev chops for a very long time before you have a real shot at it, and even then, many stars have to align.

Going back to the marketing thing, Subnautica somehow got picked up by every major streamer at the time with exception for Pewdiepie, which is something that 99.99% of games will never experience. Lots of hard work and experience and lots of luck in getting the right eyeballs at the right time..

I don't know everything about UW, but the various media and documentaries about their studio give me the impression that the people on that team are Extremely Smart™. Executing successfully on a custom engine for NS2 and some outstanding forward-looking tech along side projects like Decoda give me the sense that not only do these guys have raw engineering chops, they also are pretty in tune with the problems they must solve at most corners of game development and have some large-scale project management skills to boot. Getting a team of <10 with the technical and development prowess that team has is quite rare.

OneEightHundred
Feb 28, 2008

Soon, we will be unstoppable!


Akuma posted:

I'm a TD in games and don't know how to be a TD not in games so I'm not gonna do that.
As far as I know, VFX for TV/Hollywood is one of the main exit plans there.

bob dobbs is dead posted:

your average movie will do that half marketing half making the movie ratio, and thats just because movies are a mature business sector. so are video games nowadays
Smaller-budget movies tend to spend an even larger percentage of their budget on marketing because a lot of the costs of getting people into movie theater seats are relative fixed. Marketing is actually LESS of a factor in big-budget productions.

Zaphod42 posted:

It sucks, and it seems really dumb that even huge AAA games are spending as much or more money on marketing than on the entire cost of development of a title; just think of what they could do if you straight up doubled their budget!
As said above, that's actually the wrong way of thinking about it. AAA games compete for attention by spending money on production, pretty much by definition. Not exclusively, but much more so than something Candy Crush that needs massive a marketing outlay to make sure you play their game instead of any of the 5000 identical clones.

quote:

What keeps me up at night is the idea that a studio's success can come down to whether a famous streamer plays their game or not. And then you see why big streamers make so much money and get all the attention.
Well yeah, and now that they know that their time is worth something, they're not doing it for free any more. So it's another alternative promotion avenue that's turning into a traditional spend-money-on-it avenue.

OneEightHundred fucked around with this message at 23:21 on Mar 4, 2021

MJBuddy
Sep 22, 2008

Now I do not know whether I was then a head coach dreaming I was a Saints fan, or whether I am now a Saints fan, dreaming I am a head coach.

You have to conceptually separate the candy crushes from the Red Deads of the world. If you're doing a good structured marketing plan, you're comparing your cost per acquisition vs your LTV in mobile space. In box retail it's a bit different.

Candy crush advertised a lot because their game was engaging and had a huge ARPU, so you just turn on the money for CPA and make huge profit.

The big shift in mobile is that CPA jumped massively over the last half a decade so you can't just make a decent game that monetizes okay and advertise and make an easy profit. Your LTV has to be pretty high.

dreamless
Dec 18, 2013





OneEightHundred posted:

As said above, that's actually the wrong way of thinking about it. AAA games compete for attention by spending money on production, pretty much by definition. Not exclusively, but much more so than something Candy Crush that needs massive a marketing outlay to make sure you play their game instead of any of the 5000 identical clones.

https://obscuritory.com/essay/incredible-boxes-of-hock-wah-yeo/

I guess this article was posted in the other thread, but it did remind me that when I got my start, in the ps1 era, the most important thing was to impress the Walmart guy so he'd give you shelf space. The reason you busted your rear end working on the E3 demo instead of making the game better was to impress them, the magazines were a distant second. Least that's what I was told.

I suspect it's different nowadays, but it's been a decade or so since I've been in that world.

bob dobbs is dead
Oct 8, 2017

hes dead


Nap Ghost

indie games are like horror movies in this metaphor, spend 10 million on the movie and then the rest on marketing and distribution. higher profit ratios, brutal uncertainty

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Dewgy
Nov 10, 2005
ENGLISH VA WORK IN DUBS USUALLY SUCKS BIG TIME


MJBuddy posted:

You have to conceptually separate the candy crushes from the Red Deads of the world. If you're doing a good structured marketing plan, you're comparing your cost per acquisition vs your LTV in mobile space. In box retail it's a bit different.

Candy crush advertised a lot because their game was engaging and had a huge ARPU, so you just turn on the money for CPA and make huge profit.

The big shift in mobile is that CPA jumped massively over the last half a decade so you can't just make a decent game that monetizes okay and advertise and make an easy profit. Your LTV has to be pretty high.

Games like Candy Crush ARPU, I agree.

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