I have always liked reading about game production. When I was young, I read games magazines and read about game production. I was always waiting to see more stories about game development. I watched any game stuff from TV and naturally checked out Internet to see what’s going on.
One particular series I liked a lot was the making of Black & White in a Finnish game magazine Pelit. While there was some hype (such as the fact that trees didn’t transform the way they were promised) I liked reading those stories. They were interesting and gave some insight about making games.
At that time it was easy to wonder why game developers don’t take risks. I was also thinking that developers must be millionaires since some hit games sold millions.
I didn’t quite realize that it’s the publisher and investors who took the risks for AAA games. Million dollar budget games are not funded by couple of developers – they are funded by investors and publishers (not often by the development team, although it happens too). And these guys take the risk and make those millions if any. Developers get a salary – investors get the profits – if you allow me to simplify things a bit.
Naturally things are not that black and white, there are shades of gray as well. There are publishers who take risks (Battlefield 1942 for example was never believed to succeed only as a multiplayer game) and there are developers who may become rich (those who are wise/smart/experienced/lucky enough to keep their hit game’s intellectual property and develop a strong brand).
In the casual/indie game development, rules change a bit. There are some indies who have made great games over years, and there are several casual game developers whose games have become instant hits in the game portals. Sometimes these games are funded by the developers, sometimes by the portals (which are bit different to AAA publishers, since casual game budgets on average are smaller than million dollar AAA game budgets).
While I wish success to every developer out there, I must also point out that in the big World of Games it’s not just the Craft that matters. There are publishers and portals riding with us too.