Hackers, piracy, DRM, day-one downloadable content, too many sequels, sexism, widespread acceptance, greater accessibility, immense financial potential, layoffs . With so many dramatic highs and lows, it can be hard to tell if the videogame industry is prospering, floundering, or something in between. Who better to ask than the people who make the games themselves? We asked developers five general questions about how games were doing and their answers remind us that before these folks made games, they played them. They view the industry not just from a business point of view, but from the perspective of people who, like you, just want to have some fun.

What's the single biggest mistake the industry has made in the past 5 years?

Ian Cummings (Former Creative Director, Madden NFL 10 - Madden NFL 12, Xbox 360 and PS3): From my perspective I think the industry's biggest mistake has been the higher price point for HD consoles and $60 games. Even with all the great numbers you see in press releases the untold story is that there are very few games that are making money or growing, and publishers are forced to sequel-ize and often stop trying to innovate because they know they have to make a mega-monster-hit to get their money back since consumers are much pickier with their dollars in this down economy. It's almost a similar situation to the music business where there is this groundswell of free music coming in, and rather than acknowledge it and do something about it (a la iTunes), the big hitters in the game industry still are making their games MORE expensive (via adding DLC on top of a $60 game) to try and offset the overall drop of consumers and sales. We all know how that worked out with the music biz!

Greg Kasavian (Creative Director, Supergiant Games): The single biggest mistake the industry has made in the last five years is the institution of mass-firings of skilled laborers as a business practice upon the completion of a big project. While this behavior is of course not practiced by all publishers or studios, news of mass layoffs became a regular occurrence practically each week shortly after the American and world economy took a downturn. There is no telling how many talented people have left the industry as a result. However, I think this story has a happy ending insofar as many of these people landed on their feet elsewhere, formed new studios, and so on. As for those publishers looking to make a fast buck and appease their shareholders in the short run by using mass headcount reductions as a means to this end, they'll be in for painful times further down the line when they find themselves with too few people left to make the games they want to make.

Robert Ludwick (Senior Game Engineer for Meteor Games, LLC): Not allowing cross-platform online gaming. Forcing 360 owners to only game online with other 360 owners bolsters Microsoft's case to get more gamers on their platform, but as a whole the industry needs cross-platform gaming. It will raise the general level of enjoyment since people can play games like COD: Black Ops against their cross-platform friends, rather than have to play alone or with strangers.

Mike Wilson (Devolver Digital). : I'd say it's a tie between two things... one is blowing the Wii opportunity.

We were all so excited to be welcoming in a new audience of "gamers" (really non-gamers who were having fun experimenting with Wii Sports), but then we welcomed that vast new audience by piling as much shovelware on them as possible. So many new gamers burned by so many terrible offerings, resulting in millions of dusty Wii consoles and millions of people deciding that they are not gamers afterall. Could be quite a while before we get them to lay out some cash for games again.

The other is retailers and publishers being dragged into digital distribution kicking and screaming, rather than rushing to embrace the new reality of consumers. People don't want the plastic, and they don't want to pay $60 for more than a few huge games each year. Take a look at music and films to see the obvious answer ... lower cost means more choice and less waste and more people trying things they don't already know they love ... our industry took a beating through its reluctance to embrace this model, and publishers and developers paid the price through a booming used games market that only benefitted a couple of opportunistic retail chains.

Erik Reynolds (Sr. Director of PR, Atari): In my opinion the single biggest mistake in the industry is the lack of true brand management of top tier IPs across multiple platforms and media to constantly engage fans in-between AAA launches. Allowing fans two or even three years between launches can devastate brands and requires that the publisher/developer up the ante every time you launch a sequel, thus driving up development costs and marketing spend. I don't think that annualizing games like the Call of Duty philosophy is the right method either, although I commend ATVI on the success they've achieved. I believe that strategy will eventually lead to brand fatigue and the killing of great franchises, but a truly strategic cross-platform (console, social, mobile) and cross-media (games, tv, books) plan can feed the interests of the fans and provide them with a cornucopia of entertainment that reaches them wherever they play and experience entertainment. No one has demonstrated this to the degree that is possible yet, and yes I know it's a huge investment but the reward can be great.

Rocco Scandizzo (Agent, Interactive Studio Management): Forecasting future success entirely on the past. The video game industry is not only entertainment, but also a dynamically evolving world of high tech. There are a variety of consumers seeking entertainment, and new ways to deliver fun, or new forms of fun, sometimes cannot fit into any model or historic array of data.

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