Big studios might be closing, but that doesn’t mean the Australian videogame industry is on its knees.
Australian videogame professional, Stephan Shutze says that, despite appearances to the contrary, the Australian videogame industry is not in trouble. Shutze says that people are mourning the death of an industry that isn’t even “wounded.”
Shutze said that the Australian industry – which has seen several large studios close in the last 18 months – was changing, and while those changes were difficult and often painful, they were a metamorphosis rather than death throes. Shutze compared the Australian videogame industry to the American film industry, which migrated from massive studios of the early part of the 20th century, to the smaller production studios we have today. The film industry evolved to survive, he said, just as the Australian game industry was doing.
He argued that the videogame industry might have grown too fast and said that the rise of casual and free games – an area where Australia led the world, he noted – had taken the large companies by surprise. He said that if the Australian industry could evolve into a more agile version of itself, with people moving between projects often, rather than working for the same company for years and years, it would not only help it grow, it would put it in a great position to compete with the rest of the world.
“Smaller independent studios have rushed in and achieved success in many surprising ways,” he said. “Even individual developers are creating a living for themselves producing small titles. And before you discount this as relevant to the survival of an industry, ask how many film producers can generate a living income by themselves.”
Shutze’s comments don’t really seem limited to just Australia: studios all over the world are closing down and/or losing staff. Shutze is also not the first person to suggest that the videogame industry may have grown a little too quickly for its own good. What Shutze is suggesting, however, is that the videogame isn’t bubble bursting, it’s reshaping into a new, smaller form that is more resilient.