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From the Outside, Wanting In: Introduction

Based on the information available on each platforms' digital distribution services, what impression would one with no industry experience think when looking into game development? In this first of many articles, we introduce the concept and prospects.

As a non-games programmer looking to get into game development, I am absolutely astounded by the number of choices available to develop and distribute video games to my potential customers. As a non-games professional, I do not have a strong desire to move house and get a job with a professional games studio but would much rather  strike out on my own. I have been watching the options available to a prospective game developer in my position and am now ready to search and compile what is to be learned and share it with others before embarking on my development journey.

Firstly, let me introduce you to the prospects of this journey in no particular order:

  • Nintendo WiiWare
  • Microsoft XBLA
  • Microsoft XNA Community Games
  • Playstation Network
  • Apple iPhone
  • Striking it out on PC

Those are the prospects. Why choose these as my only options? Why not the actual disk based services for the consoles? Mainly because I have no background in game development and would not qualify. Nor do I feel that those would be an option for a person in a similar boat as me.

Now what will I be looking for? First I will be looking at what public information is provided by the companies backing the platforms. What kind of information will these companies provide openly to anyone who wants to get into game development. Do they freely share anything or will I have to actually start the application process to learn anything? Keep in mind, I am testing the waters and don't want to be locked into any contracts or NDAs.

Then I will look into what costs I will have to incur in order to develop for these platforms. Will I have to buy any SDKs, special hardware, or pay any licensing or listing fees? What state does my prospective company need to be in to be considered for development?

Finally, I will look into what kind of return on my investment I will receive. What are the royalty rates? When will I start seeing money? What kind of sales statistics are available? 

These are just a few questions that I will be trying to have answered. As I learn more about each option I may be adding more general questions and questions specific to each platform.

First platform on the chopping block? XNA Community Games.

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