The global online game development industry is booming.
In 2015, developers worldwide reported revenues of $2.2 billion, and they’re growing at a faster pace than ever.
There are now more than 3,000 studios, more than 50 per cent of which are based in the U.S. There’s no shortage of jobs for developers.
And yet, the digital world of online games is still not quite as familiar to some as it was when we started our careers in 1996.
For example, it was not uncommon to encounter a single website on a web page.
And that’s all it took to make a good game.
There were no tutorials, tutorials were often outdated and confusing.
You had to learn how to code.
“We weren’t used to the notion that people would actually be able to understand what was going on,” says John Lydon, founder of Digital Arts, a Vancouver-based software development firm.
The internet was still a young industry, with very few tools or services that offered professional development and even fewer tools for educators.
That’s because there was no centralized system of standards for the web.
Developers were given little to no guidance or tools to make their games better.
The result was that they had to develop a lot of their games using existing software.
This was not a great way to learn, and that made it very difficult for new developers to find opportunities to make games.
“There’s a lot that’s very basic about how to make good games,” says Lydons co-founder Andrew Levenson.
The online industry is still a nascent industry, but the digital industry is growing exponentially.
“In the next few years, it will probably be as big as the music industry,” says Michael C. Kelly, founder and president of the Game Developers Association of Canada.
“What it will do is put the game industry on a level playing field.”
Lydont is quick to point out that there is a big difference between the traditional online game industry and the digital one.
“If you were making a game that’s for sale on a storefront, it would be very different,” he says.
“You would have to pay for licensing and you would have no assurance of revenue.
The online world is much more stable, it’s much easier to create games that are sold digitally.”
In this interview, we talk about how the internet changed game development, the differences between games that have to be sold digitally and games that can be sold offline, and what it means to be a developer in a digital world.
Lydona also speaks to how some of the biggest online publishers are making games with different game genres.
“The games that they’re making are much more likely to be for the mobile and the tablet, they’re much more focused on what their audience is looking for,” says Levensons co/founder.
“And they’re not necessarily selling as many games to be played on the desktop as they were 10 years ago.”
That said, the industry is also growing.
“That’s a really good thing,” says Kelly.
“As we get into the next decade, we’ll probably see the online industry grow a lot faster than the game market.”