'We Were Still Stuck In The Past': 16-Year Game Dev Veterans Explain Why They're Quitting

'We Were Still Stuck In The Past': 16-Year Game Dev Veterans Explain Why They're Quitting

When it comes via an unexpected studio closure, the end of a career in video games can be sudden. Other times, the writing is on the wall and the best thing to do is try for a graceful exit and figure out what's next. The makers of upcoming shooter/platformer hybrid Rive say that they know that their time is up. In a blog post accompanying a new trailer, Dutch dev studio Two Tribes explain why they don't think they can keep on making new games in the coming years:

The big change happened around 2008, when new technologies and tools allowed developers to make games way more easily and faster. Suddenly, because of digital distribution, small developers were able to create and publish their own games without the help of big publishers. Initially this was great for us, as we were one of the first developers to enter the Steam, WiiWare and iOS markets. Business was good. We were on the shortlists of companies like Nintendo and Valve.

But the situation didn't last. While we were working on Toki Tori 2+ for two years, the industry was changing without us realising it. The market was flooded with games by developers from all around the world. Game development schools were erected, and every year thousands of students tried their luck under increasingly difficult conditions. With game changers such as the Humble Bundle, the ever-continuing race to the bottom and a growing focus on free-to-play games, it became tough for a game to even hit the break-even point.

The industry had moved on and we were still stuck in the past. We learned this the hard way, when most of our employees needed to be laid off in 2013. But it would be too easy to solely blame the industry.

This post also sheds light on how the increased importance of YouTube and Twitch as vectors for marketing, changes in software engines and shifting economics made the members of the studio feel unable to keep pace with the demands of making and releasing successful games. It's not often that a game-making entity can knowingly point to a release and say it's going to be the capstone of a decade-plus career. Two Tribes have been clever enough to try and get Nintendo and Valve working together. But knowing when to quit is probably the smartest thing they have done. Rive hits PC and consoles in September.


Comments

    They're not stuck in the past. They're stuck under the control of greedy publishers trying to chase that big whale.

      Publishing Games is a business. Running a business you would want to get the most out of it. Most goals of most businesses are to make money.

      I'm not defending anyone here, but I don't want to be too quick to jump the gun and say big publishers are evil and greedy. It's just how business works. Increase profits. Decrease costs. Find strategies that do this.

      It sucks, but because of this when a game made by some guy in a garage is good, everyone knows.

        I'm not defending anyone here, but I don't want to be too quick to jump the gun and say big publishers are evil and greedy. It's just how business works. Increase profits. Decrease costs. Find strategies that do this.

        Generally its the method on how they cut costs that grinds peoples gears. EA are notorious for it. Buy studio take beloved IP and pack it into package X or Y. Instead of having a focused target for a niche market that stands on it's on two feet (ie makes money but not eleventy billion dollars) they try and change the game so it has a broader appeal. For example take Dragone age origins vs DA:II. They gutted the formula and essentially turned it into little more than an arpg.

        Big publishers also take heavy advantage of worker turnover. It's an extremely competitive industry to get a job in and companies exploit that heavily (of course there are always exceptions).

        Last edited 11/03/16 4:06 pm

      It sounded more like they were stuck underneath a flood of cheap free games to compete with.

    This is a shocking indictment on the state of games coverage in 2016. I've played this game and it's an absolute gem.

    This was free as part of Nintendo eshop's 'Nindie' promotions over the course of last year. Game sites like this didn't give so much as a fart about it however. The only place you would have heard about it is from sites that have *Nintendo* in their URLs.

    If you are that into games that you're reading sites like Kotaku, then you must know by now that it's stuff like this that's the best part of the medium.

    Yes the big bally-hooed stuff like The Division will always get the lion's share, and the same is happening with games you'd typically associate with indie too - Witness and No Man's Sky. But 'those games' that you just randomly discover and fall in love with are the best. That's what happening to me and Rive. I tend to gravitate away from the Steam storefront and its tendencies to encourage situations like this, too. It's a little too crazy but that's Valve and they do crazy very well!

    Rive will now probably end up being more of a money-spinner to a Youtuber than the actual hard working people who made it. I'm sorry but I don't want to have to just accept that.

    Sad story. It illustrates Nintendo may have a point when they try and maintain a certain price point. Once games become free or available for pennies it does undermine their instrinsic value as a piece of entertainment. But this seems to be the path we are heading down.
    When a game is cheap to own it's also much easier to discard. It's the illusion of choice means happiness.

    I wonder what would happen if Rive explodes a la Rocket league or Undertale, etc.? Will they truly stay retired?

    That game looks like a huge pile of rubbish to me.
    *Watched the trailer again just to be sure
    *Should I be nice and say maybe it's just a bad trailer?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now