Monday, September 29, 2008

Game developers define success

The question I asked on LinkedIn was:

What is your primary measure of success for a title you have worked on? Is it the number of sales, the reviews, direct fan feedback or something else that matters to you?
Among those that answered were devs from Rockstar Games, Sony Computer Entertainment, EA, Gas Powered Games and more. What did they say?

"...sales figures. It's always nice to see good reviews, and it's great when you get a lot of positive feedback from fans, but if the sales figures are really bad, it's going to have serious consequences for the company you work for." (Eric Gooch, Insomniac Games)
After a couple answers like this, I thought this was all I was gonna get. But then there came more balanced answers like this:

"As an artist, this success comes from the satisfaction of seeing your work excel, and being acknowledged by the masses, and your colleagues. Success is not only measured in terms of numbers, but in terms of personal goals being met, and hopefully surpassed. The industry has shifted in the past 5 years to a pure monetary gain standpoint. Somewhere in that attitude the main point is lost, great games. Artists and designers alike, tend to not be equated in the overall completion factor of high profile AAA titles. If more development studios acknowledged their key and striving talent, the sales would increase and the turnover rate would decrease. It takes people to make great work and drive sales, sales don't necessarily dictate success." (Tom De La Garza, Rockstar Games)

And these:

"Now certainly, sales, earnings & client/fan approval are always a part of any design goal, and you absolutely strive for financial success every time, but I've found that if the dollar is the driving force, the game ultimately suffers. As a designer, I always prefer to stay focused on the game & game play, and let others worry about the best way to sell it."(Brian Colin, Game Refuge)

"A mix of sales figures, brand identity, reviews, and first hand accolades are all contributing factors to what I deem successful accomplishments for a studio title." (Robert Baxter, Blue Castle Games)
My question was inspired by an interview with Michael de Plater (on saying that first party titles had a better chance of success compared to third party titles. It made me question the definition of success. The first question that appeared on my mind was: "If a poorly designed, poorly built game still manages to sell well, exactly whose success would that be? Dev team or the marketing team?" That is why I felt a developer's understanding of success would have to differ somewhat from a publisher's understanding of success.

Looking at the answers, I am glad people are still aware of the distinction.

P.S. Interested in joining the discussion? Visit the Game Developers group on

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