GDC 2007: “We’re the Real Developers”


UPDATE: The developers contacted us over the weekend, asking us to fix a few minor errors in the original story. These were due to miscommunication, and in no way alter what i believe is the heart of this story. I willingly complied, without reservation. – RP

I spent a few minutes talking to Eric Peterson of Vicious Cycle, game developers and (incidentally) middleware creators.

Perhaps better known for their PSP title, Dead Head Fred, Vicious has also developed a number of licensed titles (Flushed Away) and, through their children’s software division, a number of kid-oriented games, as well as some well-known children’s franchises (Dora the Explorer).

“We’re the real developers,” said Peterson, calling out companies with buckets of IP and 36 month development cycles. Developers who, through government subsidies and other “advantages” don’t have to work quite so hard. Peterson says these guys are living in fantasy land. “[Reviewers] poo poo my Dora games,” he says, by way of contrast, “but we’ve made hundreds of thousands of kids happy. The parents and kids love it.”

“Somebody has to make those games,” he says, referring to licensed titles, like his million copy-selling Flushed Away (“A million is a million.”). “And we help make that process easier.”

Peterson’s company sells their development tools as cross-platform middleware, enabling low budget and lesser funded developers to make better games, faster. Although that’s not their primary business. “We’re like you,” Peterson says. Meaning they make games first, so they’ve been there. They know how it works, and if you want their help, they’re happy to give it – for a fee.

“But we don’t have to sell a hundred licenses,” he says. “We’re a game developer.” And considering they’ve been doing it for seven years, maybe they’re doing something right.

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