The $64 billion global video games industry seems to be thriving, but only on the surface. A lot of trouble is brewing behind the scenes, and it has more to do with how to reach gamers rather than the actual video game creation process instead.
Hardware and software sales for consoles have been showing a constant decline. In fact, Activision Blizzard, who's well-known for making the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" franchises recently laid off 8% of its staff last February, further proof perhaps that online and mobile app games have been making a larger dent in the industry than expected.
And in their quest to understand what's happening with the video gaming industry, over 20,000 industry insiders, developers, game designers, and executives will be talking it over in this week's Game Developer's Conference. One of the biggest problems perhaps is figuring out how to make the players come back for more--whether it's multi-player LAN games or online games like the ones on Zynga's platform.
Ben Liu, the chief operating officer of PocketGems which is behind casual mobile games "Tap Zoo" and "Tap Pet Hotel" said that smaller developers are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out with their offerings in the market.
"The number of apps is growing exponentially and with that, costs of user acquisition is going up. If you are not a company with a series of franchises like us, it becomes a lot tougher."
-- Ben Liu
So how will the gaming industry move forward and past these challenges? The obvious answer is that they've got to figure out a way to shake things up and make video games interesting and relevant again. We've seen simulation games, MMORPGs, and games with storylines so compelling that it can make a grown man cry. We've seen the rest and the best, and it's going to take something much more better to get us back on that train again.
Colt McAnlis, a game developer advocate at Google who brings computer games to the search engine giant's platforms, is optimistic for the future of video games.
"Every two or three years, there's a new trend, a new technology and a new way to make video games you never would have thought of."
-- Colt McAnlis
The answer sounds pretty simple, but the question remains: Is it enough?