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Over 2000 attendees at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco were polled in 2014. There they were questioned about the current state of their business and their intentions. The results were eventually tabulated, and yesterday, they were released. This annual State of the Industry Survey grants us a glimpse at the future of gaming and what trends we can expect in 2015 and beyond.

UBM Tech(United Business Media) performed the polls. They’ve been around in one form or another for over 150 years and are responsible for putting together the GDC. As one of the largest organizers of tech trade-shows in the world with such a rich history and massive reach; it should be expected that they produce quality statistics.

Xbox One and PS4 to See Nearly Twice as Much Development

Developers were asked: “On which console do you anticipate your next game will be released.” We take a look at and examine the answers to that question below.

  • PS4 24% / Last year 14%
  • Xbox One 22% / Last year 12%
  • PC 56% / Last year 53%
  • Smart Phones or Tablets  50% / Last year 52%

There’s not a lot of change in the PC and smart phone numbers between now and last year. Though it may be a little surprising that there is a minor decrease in development for tablets and smart phones. However, PS4 and Xbox One are seeing almost twice the attention they received from developers in 2013. Next, let’s look at a chart that shows us all the various platforms.

gdc state of the industry report platforms

It’s a little startling to see such little development on the handheld side. As for consoles, the dismal 4% for the Wii-U shows just how completely the industry has moved on.

The fact that more developers are releasing their next game for browsers than for PS4 and Xbox-One is a bit of a revelation as well. Browser games must really be bringing in the cash, despite their typical lack of coverage in the media.

While these numbers are very telling; it is important to remember that even with a survey of 2000 developers, this is still just a snippet of the industry as a whole. Actual percentages from all the game developers in the world could be vastly different, but somehow I doubt that is the case.

Digital Sales and Micro-Transactions Overtake Retail in Profits

This year developers were asked a new question. Where do you make the most of your money? The answer may be surprising to some. Developers that claimed to make most of their profits from digital sales and micro-transactions outnumbered those that indicated the majority of their income came from physical sales, by a ratio of over 4 to 1. However, it is important to note that a large group of those surveyed either made no profits, were non-profit, or didn’t know which sales method made them more dough.

Below we can see where developers say they are making the most money.

  • Digital Direct Sales 29%
  • Micro Transactions 21%
  • Retail Sales 13%
  • Unknown, Nonprofit, No Profit 19%

Today we find ourselves at a point where physical game sales versus digital game sales are neck and neck. Right now, it’s literally too close to call. While researching this subject for the years 2013 and 2014, I found some sources claiming that digital sales trumped physical, and I found some claiming the opposite. At this point, I’m not sure if anyone truly knows which format is actually selling more copies, but with this new info, it seems pretty clear which format is making developers more money.

Whether physical and digital game sales will reach some kind of equilibrium is hard to predict. Could physical copies be going the way of disc-music? It’s pretty clear that no matter where physical copies end up, digital is going to be owning the majority of the pie. While it’s apparent that this is great for game developers, is it bad for the economy in general? Are the loss of retail sales jobs going to be made up by developers that expand their staff and services?

More Developers Wish to Tap Into The Popularity eSports

Finally, the poll revealed that more than 1 in 10 of the developers surveyed are making an eSports game. Hopefully this means that gamers will be able to look forward to more variety in the genre, instead of just more MOBAs with different skins.

12% of developers claimed to be working on an eSports title, while 79% said that they see eSports as a sustainable business model.

What do you gamers think? Do you want to see more developer attention directed towards eSports, or would you rather they work on something else?

gamers vs developers

Who Decides the Future of Gaming? Gamers, or Game Developers?

The industry is going through a lot of flux right now. All these advances in technology and consumerism are causing developers to change the way they make and sell games and it’s good to see the industry adapting to and growing dependably.

So here we have a vision of the future brought to us by the developers of games, but do they clash with your own dreams for gaming? In the end, who really decides where the market goes? Do developers lead gamers with their visions of innovation and change, or are they simply responding to our demands? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Benjamin Jeanotte

Hi, I'm Ben. I am a 35 year old gaming veteran. My first console was a Mattel Intellivision(released 1981, purchased 1983) and I have owned at least one major console from every generation since. With thousands of titles behind me, I am a harsh and critical gamer who enjoys hating on games as much as loving them. — I am not just a writer for Techraptor, but a huge fan of it as well. You will probably see my comments on many articles, not just on MY articles, but others too. I look forward to having some glorious discussions and debates with you all.

  • Colton Ballou

    I don’t think it’s so much “are they responding to (Our) demands” as much as it’s about who can sustain in the industry. It’s difficult to make the game you want to make, and also have it be profitable at the same time.

    The barrier of entry to the industry is almost impassible if you don’t know someone in the industry, or get picked up by a big publisher. Kickstarter was a way to fix this, however past experiences are stopping a lot of people from using that service anymore.

    I find it funny though that so many people want to make “e-sports”. I find any game that has that outlook when it is being made is going to end up a joke. I don’t know how many people played the evolve beta but it was honestly the worst “e-sport” I’ve ever played. I guess I’ll wait for the full game but I don’t have high hopes. I actually hate that so many people want to go that direction with games. Any e-sport that is around today was not made to be a “sport”, it simply grew on it when people enjoyed playing the game so much they became very good at them. Look at the biggest ones, LoL, DotA, CS:GO, WoW, SC, etc. None of these games started in their creators minds as “sports” but simply as fun games to play. You can play any PvP game competitively, the question is would you really want to.

  • PossiblyCthulhu

    For me this year might be the one where GDC really starts to lose it’s relevance – not to developers of course, but to the game buying public at large, especially given it’s massive ties to Gamasutra and that whole story.

    eSports may well take off, but in many respects it benefits neither the games nor the gamers, but the PR, sponsors and the advertising execs.

    And with regards to who decides where the market goes – just take a look at Zynga for the cautionary tale about that one

  • PossiblyCthulhu

    I think as well the sheer explosion of Patreon-supported individuals over the last 12 months, particularly in gaming shows that the ‘who you know, rather than what you know’ sensibilities are the same as they ever were.

  • Nick

    I think it’s a really bad idea for developers to focus on their next game being an eSport hit. The majority of games focused on good gameplay and marketing to get a base and then developed towards allowing the game as a sport.

  • lordloss217

    I find it funny that developers have more interest in creating games on the ps vita that the ps3, then again it is starting to come out of its drought.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    Yeah, as a hardcore geek all my life, I find eSports nearly as obnoxious as real sports… but eh even I got sucked into LoL for a while. If they can get a good variety around competitive gaming, it might help me get more interested.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    Patreon is interesting. Yeah sometimes it seems evil, but honestly if I could get people to sponsor my freakin life with no established terms… that’s just too seductive to not take part of… it’s just logical! I hope to someday have an army of gamers and industry insiders giving me money on Patreon! Not sure what that will do with my objectivity though LOL

  • Colton Ballou

    It’s not like playing games professionally is bad. However making an entire game around the assumption it will be an esport is a terrible idea. 99% of your players will never play any sort of esport league, that’s the major problem.

  • I think gamers decide that. All I want from developers are non broken games without microtransactions, forced co-op and other bs. As for making games specifically to be part of e-sport, well, I don’t think thats gonna workout well. If you make a good competitive game gamers themselves will make it a part of e-sport.

  • Gav

    Not surprising about the claim that digital is where they’re making their money. When just looking on Steam they’re charging £40 for most new releases, which I can get cheaper even in a brick and mortar Game store.

  • DariusQ

    There will need to be more analysis of these stats before I take them seriously. There are too many undisclosed factors to verify their validity.

    A huge indicator of shenanigans is that VIta development is more than 3x 3DS development when the user base for these platforms is so lopsided the opposite way.