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Epic's Sweeney: Studios need to react to the changing industry to survive

The game companies that react early to the constantly changing industry are the ones that come out the other end as survivors, says Epic's Tim Sweeney.
The game companies that react early to the constantly changing industry are the ones that come out the other end as survivors, says Epic's Tim Sweeney. As part of a talk at Develop Conference today, the industry veteran discussed how Epic has undergone major shifts throughout the last couple of decades, and it is the act of leading rather than following that can help a studio survive. For example, just three years into the life of Epic, Sweeney and his team saw that 2D shareware games soon wouldn't work anymore, and that 3D games were the future -- hence, his team had to make major business changes so early on as a necessity. Elsewhere, Epic switched from PC games to console games during the last decade as the PC market began to decline. But the recent move onto mobile was a tricky situation. "I have to admit, I didn't notice mobile," he says of the original launch of the iOS App Store. "I didn't see the potential for it." Mark Rein at Epic kept telling Sweeney that the company should move into mobile, and that it was important, but Sweeney wasn't so sure. In fact, it was three generations into the iPhone -- the 3GS model -- that Sweeney finally realized just how big mobile was going to be. At this point, Epic jumped onboard with iOS "to show the industry it was possible to bring AAA to mobile." And now, says Sweeney, we're moving into persistent online games, so studios should already been looking into this. "The industry is in constant turmoil," he adds, "and the companies that react to it are the survivors." However, he notes that Epic as a whole hasn't really changed its core beliefs in 22 years. "We've had our ups and downs," he says, but Epic has always wanted to make games and tools, and it will continue to do so. "We're not just making games to sell them - we're participants in this industry," he adds, noting that he loves to see other studios doing well too. And Sweeney briefly touched on the immenent launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, noting that, "You're not seeing console gamers giving up on console games and moving to mobile" -- there's just lots more new players who enjoy mobile games. "It's like YouTube versus movies," he says -- YouTube is great and accessible, but you'll always have people who want to sit back and watch a full movie, much like you'll always have people who want to sit back with a console game.

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