The final keynote panel of Game Developers Conference Europe, as hosted by Rob Fahey of industry site GamesIndustry.Biz, brought the developer conference to a suitably European-flavored conclusion, with a panel named ‘State of the Studio’, and dealing with some of the issues, both worldwide and European-specific, that independent development studios face in today’s game market.
Alongside Fahey on the podium were Jason Kingsley of Judge Dredd IP-owner and UK game developer Rebellion, Hermen Hulst of Dutch KillZone creator Guerrilla Games, indie UK representative Richard Perrin of Studio Trophis (The White Chamber), and Avni Yerli of German FarCry makers Crytek GmbH, and they created an accentually and experientially diverse conglomeration.
The first and perhaps most vital question posed was that of the most pressing problems for today’s European game developer, and Kingsley was the most eloquent, citing a range of possible issues, including pressure for developers to get further along in game development before the title is actually picked up by a publisher – this costs you money, and there’s risk that no publisher might sign it.
In addition, Kingsley cited pressure from outsourcing, next-gen transition, structural issues, and interestingly, a lack of talented people that can come up to speed straight away and create cutting-edge content.
Hulst, in contrast, particularly cited possible business model issues, pointing out that publisher and developers are now accustomed to the royalty advance model, but he is not entirely convinced that that model is sustainable going into the next generations.
The rest of the panel covered a plethora of issues, such as the perennial debate about the lack of women participating in the construction or playing of games, a conversation on IP retention (in which Guerrilla’s Hulst sounded quite disappointed to admit that Sony now own the IP for KillZone), and discussion of outsourcing – which most of the studio heads admitted that they already did for CG sequences or sound – other topics included the discussion of the lack of venture capital funding for games in Europe.
But, as Jason Kingsley rightly pointed out, it’s “easy to whinge”, and the panel ended on a positive note, with Crytek’s Avni Yerli commenting that “Independent developers are much more open to taking risks.” Although consolidation is definitely changing the shape of European development, it’s good to see prominent independent developers standing up and discussing those, showing there’s a way forward for indie creators, even into the next generation.