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Diversification is key to development studio survival

In Gamasutra's latest feature, various game developers discuss ways in which your studio can avoid going under at a time when layoffs at video game companies ar
In Gamasutra's latest feature, various game developers discuss ways in which your studio can avoid going under at a time when layoffs at video game companies are a rather common occurrence. One method in particular is popular among those developers questioned - diversifying your content and your target platforms. "[Studios] have to be able to diversify, Dan O'Leary, president and co-founder of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3DS dev n-Space, explains. All options should be explored, from different platforms to varying ways of publishing your games, he suggests, while noting that n-Space self-funds projects today. Mighty Switch Force developer Wayforward's CEO John Beck absolutely agreed, stating, "Diversification is really how WayForward has insulated itself and survived. Would it surprise you to know that in some circles [WayForward is] known as the leader in the field of EEG biofeedback games?" he asked. "I'm not kidding. No really, I'm not kidding." He added, "WayForward is also a leader in kids' educational content. Bet you didn't know that. We have probably done more educational content over a longer period of time than any other independent in the industry." Another method discussed is specialization, although O'Leary notes that it can be a risky one. "[Studios] have to be super focused on making one game of one type for one platform and be the absolute best in the world at that," he said. Pete Collier, co-founder of Tiny Invaders studio Hogrocket, believes specialization with an established franchise could work and would have helped his former employer Bizarre Studios as a second party. "In retrospect, I think Bizarre would have benefited from being put to work exclusively specializing on a core established racing franchise rather than a new IP," said Collier. The studio was shuttered after its first title for Activision, Blur, failed to find an audience. But for many, that's not the best strategy, according to Carey Chico, former executive art director and producer at the now-defunct Pandemic Studios. He reinforced agility and diversification. A team that is agile can bounce back and search for the next patch of blue ocean, he added. The full feature is now live on Gamasutra.

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