The SF Game Development Conference – Key Takeaways for Small Game Developers

The SF Game Development Conference was held from March 19 through the 23 and saw record-breaking attendance. That’s a testament to the value this conference offers to game developers large and small. Over 750 lectures, tutorials and discussions were held, along with more than 550 exhibitions. There were also quite a few key takeaways that bear on small game developers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important considerations.

Indie Games Are Growing

One of the most important pieces of news from the 2018 SF Game Development Conference is that indie games are growing in popularity with gamers. They were featured prominently throughout the conference, as well. That’s good news for small game developers interested in getting their titles to market and anxious about the reception they might receive, or the size of their audience.

Console and PC Games Are On The Rise

To be clear, mobile games are still king when it comes to market share. However, new title adoption and play rates are slowly sliding downward. In the meantime, PC and console gaming rates are slowly rising. It’s not just consumers that are shifting focus, either. More game developers are releasing titles for PCs and consoles, and fewer titles for mobile devices.

The Switch

While interest from developers is on the rise with the PS4 and the Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch has the most interest out of all of them. According to findings at the SF Game Development Conference, a full one-third of all developers are interested in entering the Switch market in some way soon. In addition, that interest isn’t just for developers. Consumers seem to love the Switch, which makes it a prime platform for small game developers to get in on the action.

VR and AR Headed Down

VR and AR (virtual reality and augmented reality) have been huge focuses for several years at this point. However, it seems like the lack of ready-to-play technology is finally having a dampening effect on those two areas. Significantly fewer game developers are thinking about creating any VR or AR games.

This could also be a result of a less-than-ideal consumer response to the few VR/AR systems on the market. While those systems are selling, traditional consoles and PC sales far outpace them. In fact, only 37% of developers surveyed had an interested in VR or AR.

With that being said, don’t expect VR or AR to go anywhere anytime soon. While fewer developers might have an interest in developing new games for these technologies, there is still considerable interest. The Vive is the most popular platform, followed by the Oculus Rift, the PlayStation VR, and Microsoft Hololens.

For small game developers interested in AR/VR, the general consensus of those surveyed at the conference was that mobile devices would be the dominant form of immersive AR/VR in the next five years. From that, it appears that console-based VR/AR systems will see the lowest levels of consumer adoption, and therefore the lowest levels of developer interest.

Android over iOS

When it comes to mobile devices, Android is the undisputed king. iOS development is definitely there, but interest in developing for Android far outpaces it. Much of this is due to the fact that there are simply so many more devices running Android, with a very broad range of manufacturers involved, rather than just Apple.

In the end, there’s a lot for small game developers to be interested in. The future of the gaming industry is bright, particularly for indie games.