A new generation of consoles is approaching, and you should be afraid. Very afraid.
Responses to the mostly hypothetical upcoming generation of game consoles has been mixed. Some developers, like Epic, are wetting themselves in anticipation of more powerful hardware to play with. Others, like industry veteran and perpetual grump, David Jaffe, have responded with the verbal equivalent of the shrug. Doublesix CEO, James Brooksby, has noticed another response; fear.
"Having come back from GDC I saw excitement and fear in equal measure, I saw dismay and triumph," he said at the Westminister Media Forum. " A step to the next generation of classical consoles seems to have fear in a lot of peoples' eyes."
While Brooksby doesn't expect development costs to rise as dramatically as they did during the last generation, he still expects publishers are less likely to take chances on smaller, less established development teams.
"It still seems pretty scary for a lot of people, for developers and publishers alike," he said. "I think people will stick to proven development houses or in-house development which is going to be a challenge for the game development industry in the UK, and will probably mean there's going to be less people around of that scale."
Doublesix is a small, UK-based developer responsible for a couple of standout download-only games including Burn Zombie Burn and the fantastically titled South park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! Naturally he had a few kind words for digital distribution.
"People are excited by all the new ways in which they can make, distribute, and monetize their games. We're almost spoilt for choice," he added. "Even though digital distribution is much heralded as the way forward, if you follow this route it's clear to many that these markets have changed and change very quickly.
"The migration and demographics changes of the consumers to pastures new are occurring. Perhaps it's the tipping point or where we are in the console cycle, but certainly gamers are moving around because they have so many options."
It seems clear that indie games, at least those that don't have the words "mine" or "craft" in the title, seem to fare far better on the PC or iOS than on consoles. One pertinent example is Cthulhu Saves The World, which managed to sell more in one week on Steam than it did in one year on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace.
"As a company we need to look hard at where our audience has gone," said Brooksby. "Some of the excitement around small developers creating innovative games and reaping lots of rewards - on console that will be the exception rather than the rule. We're going to see more of those stories on smartphones, tablets, and the trusty old PC."