The Rat race: Perception of realityEdit
In today's world no one does large commercial level games just for fun any more, especially in the PC architecture (or at least we rarely learn more about those crazy people after the beta stage or the first independent release). If you are investing time into producing a game you should define first the reasons that lead you to commit to such a difficult, time and resource intensive task before you lose any more time and money. Then select the target architectures (or framework if portability is achievable).
When creating "real games" (prototypes or flash demos not included) one is mostly proposing to do a big production, since it must compete in the market against multimillionaire projects that will cost more to produce than some of the blockbuster movies coming out of Hollywood today. This of course has some exceptions, in small markets (very specific genres) and new platforms, there may be a initial time-frame where establishing a foothold is possible before competition gets impossible for a small enterprise.
It is ultimately all about needs and expectations, those of the creator, producer, publisher and consumer. Most are always moving targets, what works today may not work tomorrow in an ever accelerating consumer/producer loop. A game is a cultural object that has to connect with the overall cultural reality. For instance since 2008 there has been a contraction regarding big budget games production even as the game market explodes. This is even observable on how the licensing of other intellectual properties for use in games has declined or even reversed.
Whit the rise of better communications and the explosion of "intelligent" (CPU and memory capable) mobile phones, the App culture has taken over and seemingly reached a peak in 2018. And so the culture around games has changed drastically, all past experiences will hardly see a repetition and games and gaming culture have become inter-meshed into society as never before. This cultural shift is not something new, it has happened in the field like literature, music, film and photography and many other cultural products that have been impacted by changes in media and access channel due to technological advances. This allied with the capacity to easily preserve digital products has been leading to a saturation of cheap even freely available content, even disregarding legislative and some technological efforts to prevent it. Creators today will not only have to compete with a larger number of peers but with past creations and at least in a shot term an increasing number of new arrivals and ease of access to competing products.
One will either be in this field either for fun or profit, the latter of which being very hard to attain. Just consider your chances in the gaming market: most projects without a great concept or good planning will never be finished or will be sold to a corporate machine at prototype stage or diluted amongst similar offers on a digital distribution software platform. Those the options to be able to successfully promote it, and support extra licenses, artwork and give it a known brand. If you are lucky you will be included on the developing team but the design and marketing gremlins will erase from your mind the idea to ever call it your baby. By the end of 2007 we could count on a single hand famous game author's games like Sid Meier, David Braben or Shigeru Miyamoto. Those that are able to make it into the limelight must take special care not only in protecting a great concept, but must be able to see it implemented as they envisioned it by retaining creative control of their work. By 2008 the mobile revolution started to created a market for simpler a cheaper games, but with low cultural value and profitability, this disposable and unremarkable phone gaming culture has shaped the gaming market even of more conservative platforms like the personal computer and consoles. That themselves have have been contracting they presence on the gaming market under the pressure of simpler devices, like Tablets, Web Computers even Streaming and the rise of eGames competitions popularity that has extended the mobile phone culture into more areas.
The most lucrative side of the game industry is formed by game labels, most of which are software and distribution houses. It is not also by chance that several may also provide the Operating Systems or the hardware where games will run on, and many have created and are now fighting over digital distribution channels. This was done in arcades, then in personal computers and consoles, and recently on mobile phones or other small consumer devices.
With an increasingly fragmented hardware ecosystem the age of the large Software House seems at a near end by late 2018, only those in key market positions will survive as large players.