Does somebody have an explanation for such cut-throat industry? Software development generally offers good jobs, so why isn’t that true for game development?
The possible explanation is the race to the bottom to offer games for cheap or free, as the article mentions. But then, why does that happen in games? There is plenty of software orders of magnitude simpler than games that gets sold for much higher prices.
What am I missing?
I am not joking, I did a high end hr/ir course a while back and all the participants where surprised it wasn't the City Investment Banking type of jobs that had the worst rep for bullying etc.
Which isn't to say that finance jobs aren't stressful and grueling, but they at least seem to be a bit more inclined stop short of being personally cruel to their staff.
"You should be happy to work here, we're doing God's work" is a powerful force that's easy to abuse. And, in finance, everyone knows that nobody else is there for the deep personal sense of fulfillment, either.
Compare the quality of this song with its play volume: https://youtu.be/903dYSv-xhw
And then burnout sets in, which is one reason why gaming and startups both are dominated by 20-somethings. When you get into your 30s, having a family becomes more common. You don't want to spend 80 hours a week at the office. You want more money, more benefits. You go to Microsoft or IBM or one of the older, established companies where work is more steady and pay is more competitive.
If you spend 15 years dreaming of something, it takes a while for that dream to be shattered by reality. The time between entering the workforce and the dream being shattered is where gaming companies and tech startups turn their profit.
There's an argument here that it's the role of publishers to handle the promotions side and provide that stamp of quality. Which may well be the case, but that just moves the pieces around— instead of needing to get onto the right curator's list or mentioned by the right twitch streamer, you now need to get your two minute pitch slot with someone from Devolver.
People want to do it.
Similarly, I had a professional American sports team, the kind of team where the guy on the bench who never plays makes $750K, offer me $45K to be their lead front-office developer. (I didn't take it, obviously.)
There was a pretty long stretch of time when most MLB teams, too, didn't realize the value of "those nerds in the back room, there."
For starters, there are a lot more people who want jobs working in games than there are jobs to make games, which creates competition for jobs that drives wages down.
Game development and design are seen as inherently rewarding jobs, which makes people more willing to see the job itself as part of the reward, which allows wages to drop even further, because it's that much harder to find a paycheck that's so crappy that nobody will take it.
All these people still being willing to make games are then going to proceed to make games, which means a lot of games are hitting the market, constantly. According to some random page I Googled, Steam alone saw about 25 new releases per day last year. That's a lot of competition for people's entertainment dollars.
Video games may not feel like it, on account of all the art and inspiration and love that goes into them, but in many respects they're a lot more like a commodity than most other pieces of software, due to the sheer weight of competition. If I need to build a spreadsheet, I need spreadsheet software specifically, and there are only a handful of options. On the other hand, if I'm a gamer with sufficiently diverse tastes, I might go to Steam thinking to buy a new first-person shooter, and end up buying a puzzle game instead.
Also, other kinds of software only have to compete with what's being made these days. If I want spreadsheet software, I'm going to be looking at a modern edition of Excel, Google Sheets, stuff like that, and not an ancient DOS copy of 1-2-3. Meanwhile, most my recent game purchases are games made before 1995.
Finally, I suspect that game developers end up feeling more trapped in their career path, because the particulars of the tools and techniques and skills that go into it are just different enough to create some uncertainty about whether they would really transfer. I've only got an anecdote here, but a good friend who finally decided to jump ship after over a decade in games development found it took him years to get to the point where he felt he really had his career back on track.
> Does somebody have an explanation for such cut-throat industry? Software development generally offers good jobs, so why isn’t that true for game development?
I think there are miserable jobs in software industry overall as well. With game development maybe it is a little bit more about passion for the industry, so the employees are a little bit more exploitable than in other fields.
People want to write games for pay or not.. they just want to write games. And they want others to play them.
Very few want to write a crm and the few that do write a personal one and don't care if others use it.
Why do people work in sweatshops for other companies making games? It doesn't make a lot sense because you lose that freedom. People want to be around games, see games before they come out... play games at work. Some want to see how games are made.. it's the Hollywoodication of development, like working on a superhero movies compared to a cooking show. You feel successful even if you are not..
The result is increased hours to make up for mistakes and less raises because of reduced perception of achievements. This same pattern can be observed in any other industry that tries to deliver products which require complex engineering.
I've not done any gamedev, but experience from all the jobs I've held says that this relationship is the wrong way around. Every time management pushes for delivery-at-all-costs, engineering practices decay to the point where delivery becomes slower.
Disagree, I think it really has, generally. For similar reasons.
If the public doesn't like the game that was produced, whoever ponied up the cash to develop it doesn't recoup their development costs and goes out of business. Happens all the time.
Once you move to business facing SaaS, you can even charge for continued access to the same software. There's very few games that managed that model, and nowadays the only two succesful subscription only games I can think of are WoW and FFXIV, so I think it's fair to label it a dying business model.
Also, you're looking at subscriptions in games wrong. Think about micro-transactions on candy crush or similar games. Nobody charges you for monthly access to the game, they charge you for increased access to specific features.
Premium? Yes: DLCs, expansions, in game purchases, markets, subscriptions...
I'm not saying it's not possible, just that you cannot keep asking creatives to just produce good content, so you cannot really keep promising the best of the best most of the time, as you'd be able to in software development (assuming good development and team dynamics).
This translates in inconsistent sales and hence inconsistent people development. These people (like those in stressed software development environments) end up taking sabbatical months/years at the end of each project.