Glen Schofield, Studio Head, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder of Sledgehammer Games delivered the keynote address at the NASSCOM Game Developers Conference in Pune, India. Glen was the creator and Executive Producer of the very popular game Dead Space. He has many games to his credit in his long career in the gaming industry. Glen has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Pratt Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University.
Glen started his keynote by sharing some figures which show that the gaming industry is on its path of steady growth contrary to some critics who believe that gaming is on the downslide. The global gaming market is expected to grow from $67 billion in 2012 to $82 billion in 2017. The worldwide revenue from online games is expected to grow to $28 billion in 2015. One of the indicators that shows the popularity of games is the fact that games as a category enjoys a 18% share in the apple app store, the highest for any category.
In the U.S, the number of hours per person per year spent of gaming is 142 hours in 2012, the highest so far. By 2017, there will be 9 billion worldwide mobile subscriptions out of which around 3 billion will use a smartphone, which presents a huge opportunity for gaming.
“Take the console game with you”
“You are going to play your console game on your mobile phone, there will be seamless integration for games between devices – big screen, mobile, smartphones, tablets and online” said Glen on how the games of the future will adapt to the evolving habits of the consumers.
‘Take the console game with you’ is something that will happen with many popular games. Consumers will demand more innovation and complexity, there will be a marriage of mobile and console. Hardware and software are likely to go up when the Next Gen consoles are released. Glen believes that game development will probably get more complex and need bigger teams
Some of the trends to watch out for:
- New consoles
- Social elements
- Pay to play
- Online distribution
- Cloud distribution
- New consumers
- DLC – downloadable content
“I plan to retire and play video games”
The gaming industry will benefit from changing demographics. Gaming is becoming more casual with non traditional groups taking up gaming. “I plan to retire and play video games” says Glen highlighting how people from his generation and younger will continue to play and pay for games.
“Quality in king”
He then moved on to talk about the importance of quality when it comes to game development. Don’t just make quality a word to throw around but take it seriously is what he had to say to gaming startups. Everybody at sledgehammer gets a coin and on the back of the coin are values the company adheres to. The coin says ‘90+ rated in everything we do’
Most of the best selling games are also the highest rated said Glen stressing on the importance of quality. Genres are becoming blurred, for example, RPGs are blending into shooters which are blending into action games. The consumer is more aware of reviews, the consumer is also cost conscious and wants value, quality leads to word of mouth.
There were 23 great console releases with metascores of 90+ last year, highest in last 5 years. 66 games sold over 400k than 2132 games at lower quality.
“I look at myself as an entertainer; the best satisfaction I get is from happy consumers” said Glen on what keeps him motivated.
It is important to have a vision and be able to articulate your vision quickly and with certainty. Also be clear on who is the audience, what is the mood, how should people feel when they play it.
“Create strong pre-production. We plaster our walls with this step. If we have a fictitious corporation in a game, I make sure we look at the complete branding of the company” added Glen on the importance given to pre-production and details at Sledgehammer games.
“I never stop researching. For Dead space I watched about 400 horror movies. Sometimes I watch a movie 3 or 4 times; for example, I look at the ways people are holding guns. Research makes your game better” said Glen on how he uses research to improve the quality of his games.
He also stressed on the importance of telling a story in a game. Video games are the next big medium to tell a story.
It was a keynote address with a lot of practical tips on how to develop good games and some insights into some of the trends emerging in the gaming industry. Follow Glen on Twitter here and click here to visit Sledgehammer Games website.
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