The game industry is struggling with many issues right now similar to what we saw about a decade ago. The console cycle is nearing its end. AAA publishers are struggling with their stock drops and bad press. You have a few large games coming to market this time of year. The indie game scene is thriving and continuing to grow. The question is, where to host your game?
Steam has struggled recently with a poor approach to hosting games with content that should never be allowed out the door. Sorry, we get crime games, but not games that celebrate horrible crimes against humanity. Steam also has done little to change their policy with indie developers since the announcement of the EPIC store. At GDC Steam will be there, but they remain such a secretive group it is hard to find out what, if any, announcements will come out of the show. Ask yourself as a current developer, is Steam where you want to host your game?
As usual EPIC will show off their Unreal Engine promotions at GDC’s press conference. They will also continue to drive games into their stable on the store with better pricing models for developers. The first wave of games made headlines, but now the trend has normalized a bit. Still, EPIC has done this before, they have gone to GDC with some amazing announcements and came out looking great against their competition. No company is perfect, but EPIC is looking like they have the overall industry at heart when it comes to advancements and ideas.
Microsoft and Sony
Sony pulled out of E3 a few months back, immediately turning heads that the industry conference is losing its luster. The same way it faltered at the end of the last decade. They charge enormous prices for booths and events which ended up causing many to pull from the show. EA is not doing an event this year either from early reports. This leaves Microsoft with a golden opportunity to possibly announce their upcoming replacement for the Xbox One. The questions remain, are they ready? Can they pull it off? If you remember the duel between the PS4 and the Xbox One, Sony came out looking golden in the beginning due to flaws in the messaging that the Xbox would control your TV more than anything. Hint, people want better game systems. So where does this leave the console giants? One more question, as the Switch continues to add endless indie titles and sell well for Nintendo, how do you compete with a platform that is home based on mobile?
The indie game surge is the biggest to hit the market in years. So many new titles will be shown off at GDC and PAX East this year. The main reason is those big studios are in flux and do not have the major titles to hit the market. Fears of announcing too early or too late make for a rough start to every first quarter in video games. This is when indies shine. They bring a wealth of innovation to the market and will find audiences which continue to seek out better gameplay. As we go into GDC and PAX, you will get some big announcements. Those will primarily be on the hardware side, with PAX being the exception. As you watch the rise of indies come into play the next few months, the biggest question is where will they be hosted? Let’s see what the two shows teach us in the coming weeks.