Tomorrow I’m going to turn 0x28. Undoubtedly it sounds better in hexadecimal than it does in decimal. And much more better than the “left-banana” if you happen to count in ASCII. Well, Xtè, right yesterday, let me note that nothing has changed in the Italian videogames industry in the last 10 years. There are still the same bunch of players. After Ubisoft no foreign company dared to set up a development studio in any part of our land. There are still two major players in Milan, still of the same size, and some minor players around the whole territory struggling to stay alive under the load of work and the inability to find skilled professionals at a price they can afford (or they are willing to pay).
I’m not sure if Xtè is completely right, maybe today we have some studio less than 10 years ago.
Those are sad considerations when talking about an industry that requires low setup costs, that shows no sign of crisis and is a well established part of the economy in most of the industrialized world. Investments in videogames industry are just risky. How much risky? Although young, this industry (as such) is only ten years younger than me. It has much road to go, but over the years “Things to Do” and “Things not to Do” have started emerging. As of today, I think that we learned to distinguish what is risky from what is not so risky. Porting is likely the safest activity in this field, followed by time to market titles. While the riskiest activity is the development of innovative and original IP. Most of the startups fail because they aim for the stars, trying to replicate the success of great games, developing new technologies, leaving free hands to the creative part of the studio.
You may wonder why I have this fixation with videogames. First I think it is part of my nature, maybe due to the fact that I met computer when I was 0xE i.e. an age very game-oriented. Maybe because to me programming is a sort of Lego-playing and therefore writing programs to play with is a natural consequence of this.
On the other side, it seems that I reached my top, from a professional point of view, when I worked in the videogame industry. The largest programs I designed, the largest team I led, the most entertaining problems I had to solve, many of the most skilled people I worked with… all happened back at the Ubi days.
Thinking about it, seems natural to me that a technologically advanced field, where many different disciplines are involved tends to attract the brightest offering them the most interesting problems.
I hate myself when I start complaining, so it is time to come out with a strategy for the future…. if I’m going to work on it in my spare time it’ll be ready and sound for my retirement (that, as I live in Italy, will never happen).