In an effort to better understand the state of the European game industry ahead of GDC Europe, Game Developers Conference officials surveyed over 250 European games industry professionals who have attended GDC shows, read Gamasutra.com, or plan to attend GDC Europe 2015 this August.
Once again, their responses and opinions shed light on some fascinating trends, offering a European perspective on issues like which platforms are most appealing, the perceived value of crowdfunding game development and what the rise of VR means for the industry at large.
Organized by UBM Tech Game Network, GDC Europe 2015 will be held on Monday and Tuesday, August 3rd and 4th at the Congress-Centrum Ost in Cologne, Germany, co-located with Europe's video game trade and public show gamescom. One week remains to register before Wednesday, July 8th, at the discounted Early Bird rate.
PC topples mobile as the most popular platform, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gaining traction
When asked about platforms, European game makers are most excited about the PC: 62 percent of those surveyed said the game they’re currently working on will see a PC release.
50 percent are bringing their current project to smartphones/tablets, while 23 percent are working on a game that will come to PlayStation 4 and just 20 percent are expecting to bring the game they’re currently working on to the Xbox One.
What’s more, 46 percent of respondents said their last shipped game saw a PC release, followed by 40 percent who put their last game out on mobile and 16 percent who launched their most recent game on browsers.
That’s a notable difference from last year’s survey, when once again 40 percent of respondents said they’d brought their most recent game out on mobile but only 38 percent had brought their last game to PC.
Looking ahead, the PC seems likely to remain dominant in Europe: 67 percent of respondents said their next game will come to PC, while 53 percent are targeting mobile devices.
Interest in PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is evening out in Europe, with 34 percent of respondents planning to bring their next game to PlayStation 4 and 33 percent planning the same for Xbox One. Last year, 42 percent of respondents said they were interested in PlayStation 4 and only 26 percent said the same about the Xbox One.
Android trumps iOS in terms of active development by European game makers
For the first time in the history of the GDC Europe State of the Industry survey, respondents favored Android over iOS when asked which mobile platforms they were actively making games for. 63 percent said Android, 57 percent said iOS, and 32 percent said they weren’t working on any mobile games at the moment.
For comparison’s sake, last year 67 percent of those surveyed said they were actively making a game for iOS, 62 percent said they were working on an Android game and 24 percent said they weren’t working on any mobile games at the time.
Interest in crowdfunding game development projects is dropping
This time last year, few survey respondents (6 percent) were working on a crowdfunded game but almost half of them (42 percent) said they were planning to use crowd-sourced funding on their future projects.
Now, a year later, even fewer respondents (less than 5 percent) were developing games that had received crowd-sourced funding, and only 34 percent of respondents said they had plans to crowdfund future games.
“Crowdfunding is no longer relevant for proper business cases, other than marketing and product awareness,” wrote one survey respondent.
“It feels like we're already way behind the curve, with crowdfunding campaigns nowadays being much more suitable for a final pre-release marketing push than for securing actual funding for the game,” wrote another. “Public expectations of how much a game's development is ‘supposed’ to cost being as unrealistic as they are certainly doesn't help.”
Most European developers aren’t making VR games, and those that are favor the Oculus Rift
73 percent of survey respondents said they weren’t working on VR games at all, while 22 percent said they were working on a VR game that would be released on Oculus VR’s Rift headset.
7 percent of respondents are working on a game for Samsung’s Gear VR headset, while 6 percent are making a VR game that will come to Sony’s Morpheus headset and just 3 percent said they’re working on something that’s expected to release on Valve’s SteamVR system.
But while SteamVR may not be a popular target just yet, many European developers seem excited about its potential; when asked which VR platforms interest them most as developers right now, 52 percent of respondents said “Oculus VR” and 38 percent said “SteamVR.” Another 30 percent simply said “None.”
Europe believes there will be a long-term, sustainable market for VR game makers
European developers seem to think virtual reality is more than a passing fad, with 71 percent of those surveyed saying they do believe VR is a long-term, sustainable market.
“I think VR is the next leap in immersive gaming,” wrote one survey respondent. “However, we as a community have to find a way to sell the idea of VR to the gaming public in such a way that it will generate mass market appeal. Without that it will be difficult to sustain VR and fuel the advances it needs to become truly amazing.”
Another opined that “I think it will be a successful peripheral market for games, but not a market in its own right for sustaining a games business.”
(GDC organizers intend to field a similar survey next year in the spring before the show. Of this year’s survey respondents, roughly 29 percent hailed from Germany, 16 percent from the UK, 12 percent from the Netherlands, 10 percent from Sweden, 6 percent from Finland and 5 percent from Spain, with even smaller percentages hailing from other countries like Russia, Norway and Poland.)
Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech.