Mon 14 Jun 2010
Was back in Ottawa to speak at the opening Generator event. Generator is the game/digital media cluster support group under the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) umbrella.
My presentation was focused on economic/cluster dynamics, related to my consulting efforts. Another lecture, by the director of PlayReplay (game marketing specialist), covered the evolving nature of the business, along with the impact of digital distribution, and how it is/will shift the balance of power to developers.
That last point incited a good deal of discussion among the audience, with a key point being that developers want to develop - and not worry about all the business dirty work. Meaning, many devs are simply not interested in taking back power, if that means they gotta worry about marketing and distribution and customer service, etc, etc. Let alone stuff like cashflow management, funding, and not getting screwed on contracts, etc.
Interestingly enough, we are starting to see the rise of new “small game” specialists that will handle that for you. From PlayReplay’s guerrilla marketing/PR services, to traditional AAA game agents now servicing the casual/social/download space, or specific advice on funding and business support from industry veterans. The services are out there, and you’d be wise to leverage them so you can focus on the dev part of the equation.
Amazingly, so many devs are either outright hesitant to get help, or are concerned about trust issues with using a consultant (or often, more realistically, they just don’t have the money for it). One bit of advice I give to start-up studios is to hire a biz kid straight out of school. Find someone who just got a business/finance/management/MBA style degree, who is super keen on games and get them to come on board to take charge of all the business bits. They may be a complete game industry rookie, but even just their textbook knowledge of business will be a massive help! Bonus: They won’t be completely jaded about the games business… yet.