图12的调查是在iPhone 5和iPad mini发布前所进行的，但是我们也能从中了解到开发者所支持的平台。主要的趋势是，开发者正快速吸收各种新平台，并离开早前的平台（如3G）。
我们每年会在《游戏开发者》杂志上颁发名为“Front Line Awards”的奖项，即奖励游戏产业中最佳工具。主要是由各家公司及我们的咨询委员会提交各种工具，然后由我们的开发者用户进行投票。但是今年，很多人要求这些列表中能够出现更多免费的工具，因为免费工具能让更多小型团队受益。
Visual Studio Express
Linux MultiMedia Studio
The State of Game Development: Part 1
By Brandon Sheffield
Working on Game Developer magazine for many years, I’ve seen a whole lot of charts. We have our salary survey, which you may already be aware of, but we also have tech surveys, a production survey, our front line awards for best industry tools, and other interesting bits of information.
We’ll attempt to smash all that information together here, in this two-part series, to give you an idea of the current shape of Western game development as a whole, from what tools people are using, to how much they make, to the big trends in design and marketing. In this first installment, we’ll just be talking about our charts and studies, specifically.
Let’s start by talking about how much people have been making in the game industry. We’ve run the only major survey of game developer salaries/compensation for 11 years now, and last year we did a 10 year aggregate study, representing salaries from 2001-2010.
Figure 1: Average U.S. game developer salary from 2001-2010.
Figure 1 represents the average salary across all disciplines in the U.S. for those 10 years. For our purposes, those disciplines, by the way, are programming, art, audio, business & legal, production, and QA.
As you can see, salaries in general have gone up, with the exception of dip in 2009 due to the world economic depression. You’ll also note that salaries went up more for men, specifically. Women are definitely paid less for doing the same job then men are, and this is the graph that proves it. This leads to a problem attracting female talent – how can you incentivize women to join the industry if they’re demonstrably paid less, especially when games want to target all people? As an additional stat, in 2011 women represented only 10% of game developers according to our survey.
Figure 2: U.S. salaries by region.
As you’ll see in Figure 2, the west coast boasts the highest salaries in the U.S. This is because of the sheer number of companies in the region, from EA, Zynga and many other big companies in the San Francisco bay area, to Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve in Washington. This makes for a very competitive job market, and thus competitive salary rates. But the market is just that – competitive. It can sometimes be deceptively difficult to get work in a high volume market.
With indie game companies cropping up pretty much everywhere, it might make more sense to start out in the region where you live, rather than making a pilgrimage for a bigger salary.
Figure 3: Salaries across the Western world.
The series of charts in Figure 3 shows, by discipline, who has been making what across the U.S., Canada, and Europe (including the U.K.). We couldn’t compare all disciplines directly across the full 10 years because of ways in which we changed our survey questions, so the comparison is really only the last 6 years. You should also note that our sample sizes for Europe and Canada are smaller than the U.S. by about half, making for a slightly higher margin of error, but the comparison is actually still quite solid (we’re talking about some 500 responses for each non-U.S. region usually).
As you can see here, U.S. salaries are higher, but Canada has been making serious gains. Notice that around 2009 during the economic crisis, Canadian salaries actually get a bit higher. This was around the time the Canadian government started providing incentives for companies to start up there, and hire more employees. I can’t prove this, but it looks on paper like these Canadian companies smartly lured away talent from other regions, especially the U.K. Anecdotal evidence supports this, but don’t take it as fact.
The spike in U.S. producer pay that you see in 2010, meanwhile, likely has to do with the social game boom, which has increased demand for efficient producers to manage many disparate teams.
QA seems to be very close everywhere in the west, and still not a discipline that gets enough respect. As the front line against consumers discomfort, QA should be a much more highly valued group.
Audio, meanwhile, is all over the place. There aren’t many full-time in-house audio professionals – most of them are freelance. That makes this chart very under-reported, since in this graph we only pay attention to full-time salaried professionals.
Across the board, you’ll find the groups, regions, and disciplines that already make the most money are the best at weathering storms and market fluctuations. Those who do well continue to do well, and the reverse. We also found that across basically every discipline, game developers are getting older. Those who have entered the industry tend to stick around, which means they tend to dwarf the number of new workers in numbers.
For 2011 salary data in greater detail (the newest survey thus far), check out the full Game Career Guide issue here.
This data comes from a survey that was taken at GDC in San Francisco, and shows what developers think of their production capacity – what are their strengths and weaknesses. This means all the data is self-submitted, like our Salary Survey. Most of the respondents were programmers or project managers at U.S. development studios. Most were also senior-level developers, so should have a good picture of how their studio is doing, but may also be somewhat biased toward thinking senior management is doing a good job! Ignore the conflicting figure names here, as these charts were cropped directly from Game Developer’s pages. We did not ask for any regional information for this survey.
Figure 4: Production survey results.
In this figure, we see that these companies’ self-perceived strengths hover around production, innovation, and work-life balance. In 2012, companies perceived that their pitching ability increased heavily – likely because pitching to traditional publishers is becoming more difficult as that business changes into a more digital world, so in order to be successful, you simply have to get better at pitching.
In terms of weaknesses, it’s amusing to see that an equal number of people chose innovation as a weak link! Perhaps more interesting is the perceived difficulty in polishing and delivering, which shows that while many companies start out smooth, they have trouble finishing the job.
Company leadership appears to have gotten better from 2011 to 2012, and in the 3rd graph you’ll see that preproduction and mainline production have as well. But again, this survey was answered mostly by senior management.
Another part of the survey, not pictured in chart form, dealt with how much strengths and weaknesses affected the studios respectively, and whether fixing those weaknesses would be beneficial. The ultimate takeaway from the survey was that fixing problems has a greater impact on improving a studio than its greatest existing strengths do. That is to say, don’t just focus on your strengths, make sure you fix your weaknesses first.
Triple-A and casual tools
Back in May, 2011, we did a survey of company studio heads, tech leads, and those who purchase technology for studios in the triple-A and casual spaces. This should give you an idea of what tools people are using in their games across the industry. Though the data is over a year old now, it’s the most recent survey on he subject. (Again, please ignore the figure names on the images themselves.)
Figure 5: Engines licensed versus used.
In Figure 5, you’ll see that the vast majority of casual game developers are licensing engines, while a significant percentage of traditional developers still prefer to roll their own. By traditional I mean triple-A developers of PC and console content.
Unity and Unreal are the clear winners here. The disparity you see between people licensing engines and people using engines is likely from indies who are not actually paying a full license fee at this point, or folks who are just trying the engines out. We’ll get into that more later. But you can clearly see that most developers are at least dabbling in licensed engine use right now, which probably means you should download those free trials and poke around.
Figure 6: Preferred technology building methodology.
Figure 6 shows further evidence that more traditional developers want to make their own tools, because the games are more complex and so greater control is preferred.
Another big difference between traditional and casual is in how much automation there is in the production process. Talking to traditional developers responding to our survey, 67.4% use continuous integration systems that start new builds on a build farm each time someone checks in code – systems like Jenkins or CruiseControl. 69.6% are using automated build systems of any kind. On the other hand, only 12.4% of casual developers used automated build systems. Lastly, in Figure 7, we’ve shown the top 5 middleware for both traditional and casual game developers.
Figure 7: Top middleware used.
Social and mobile platforms and tech
Speaking of casual developers, we also did a survey specifically for them, focused on what technology they’re using. This section is all from a survey done in May 2012, which makes it a bit more recent. But social and mobile games move a lot faster than the traditional industry, so we’re likely still a fair bit behind the curve with this data. Let’s look at engines and middleware first.
Figure 8: Mobile engines used.
As Figure 8 shows, 53% of mobile game developers are using Unity right now. We can compare that to our old stat from Figure 5, when 26% of casual developers were licensing Unity. The audience isn’t completely the same, because Figure 5 was all casual developers, and figure is only mobile, but you can still see that there’s been a huge uptake in use of Unity in mobile games.
Figure 9: Cross-platform engine use.
When choosing engines, Figure 9 shows us that mobile game developers don’t seem to care about cross-platform very much. They want engines to work across various mobile devices, sure, but they’re not looking for something that will port to web, console, PC, and so forth.
Figure 10: Top 5 middleware libraries across mobile and social.
When you look at the top middleware used (Figure 10), you’ll note that the top 4 are all physics middleware, and all free to use. We’ll talk more about free tools in just a bit.
When it comes to analytics, for dissecting what players are doing in their games, most responders roll their own solutions. Specifically, 57.4% of social developers and 47.5% of mobile developers do that. For social game developers that licensed a tool for analytics, Kontagent was the most popular, with 20.4% of developers using it – but many of them noted that they disliked the high pricetag. Mobile game developers meanwhile used Flurry, with 29.3% of responders using the service.
We also gathered that most developers in this field aren’t working with publishers right now. Only 17.7% of survey responders said they were working with a publisher or distributor currently, but 57.4% said they would consider doing so in the future. These developers seem most interested in working with publishers or distributors when reaching new markets.
Figure 11: Social game tech.
Looking at social game tech specifically, one huge takeaway is a rather obvious one – Facebook and dedicated web sites are far and away the biggest platforms. That said, we have seen more companies saying they don’t want to rely on Facebook since we did this survey. Amazon is the clear winner in terms of server locations, followed by developers running their own, and for server tech, MySQL is still the reigning champion. We also discovered through this survey that 58.2% of social game devs use in-game ads as their primary driver of revenue.
In terms of platforms used on the mobile side, it gets a bit more complicated.
Figure 12: Mobile support across platforms.
This survey, seen in Figure 12, was done before the iPhone 5, and the iPad mini, but still gives some idea of what developers are supporting platform-wise. The major trend is that developers are quickly taking up the new platforms, and leaving the older ones (like the 3G) behind. Support seems to trail by about two versions past the newest.
It seems as though 70% of developers are supporting Android, even though the marketplace is notoriously difficult to get noticed in. Ad supported apps seem to be the way to go there. When it comes to Android, we can’t differentiate by model like you can with iPhone and iPad. So in this case we used screen size as the differentiator. Here, you can see that Android developers are mostly supporting the larger and mid-sized screen formats.
We also found that 72% of mobile developers use Facebook connectivity in their games, 65% integrate with Apple’s Game Center, and 44% provide the option to use a player’s Twitter network.
When it comes to monetization, in-app purchases are the most popular, which is not surprising given trends of late. 81.8% of all responders said they employ in-app purchases, which is a huge number that has likely gone up. But there’s still quite a high number of paid apps – 52.3% of mobile developers said they are also working on paid apps right now.
This is something we’ve noticed a lot over the years – as small teams try to get ahead of the curve, they’re often using and modifying free tools instead of licensing more robust ones.
Every year in Game Developer magazine we give out what we call the Front Line Awards, which award the best tools in the industry. These tools are submitted by companies and our advisory board, and then are voted on by developers in our audience. But this year, there was a huge request for more free tools in these lists, to the degree that we’re adding a special category for that next year. Free really seems to be the way smaller teams are going for their tools, increasingly.
The following list is a sampling of the free tools our audience has told us they frequently use.
Visual Studio Express
Linux MultiMedia Studio
TargetProcess (project management)
Lightworks (video editor)
Tiled (Tile maps)
To be continued…
That’s it for part one of our two-part series. Join us next time for a look at some of the big tech, design, development, and marketing trends across the industry! (source:gamecareerguide)