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No Country for Small Indies

No Country for Small Indies
By Todd Mitchell • Issue #10 • View online
Welcome back dev fam! For big issue #10 we’re running through a collection of very recent stories that, oddly enough, all fit into a pretty specific theme. Lots of great coverage from all over the game development web–let’s get into it!

Are Indies running out of places to turn?
When I wrote about Buildbox’s pricing overhaul in May (and later interviewed the CEO for the podcast) about what I felt were potentially predatory changes targeting new developers, I viewed it as a uniquely alarming situation. To Buildbox’s credit, they’ve improved some of those choices and greatly clarified others, but it seems nearly every major engine and game-making service provider has made a recent move that complicates things for–if not outright hurts–soloists and small teams. This week’s stories vary in degree of impact, but they seem to indicate a trend in the industry that raises the entry barrier for new developers at precisely the moment they need the most help.
Devs now need Unity Pro to publish on consoles (Gamasutra)
GameMaker licenses have changed again (GamesIndustry)
Steam's two-hour refund policy leads to indie developer quitting game development (Eurogamer)
Unity workers are questioning the ethics of the company's government contracts (Vice)
A Facebook hacker beat my 2FA, bricked my Oculus Quest, and hit the company credit card (CodeWritePlay)
Hacked: No Facebook, No Oculus Quest (CodeWritePlay)
Where do we go from here?
We all seem to agree on the importance of representation in the industry and inclusion starting as early as possible, but in practice, game development companies clearly seem to be squeezing small-timers out of the competition, funneling them into over-reliance on publishers, or pushing them out completely. The unfortunate reality is that small indies rely on huge companies at their own peril.
If you’re an ace coder, nothing beats the satisfaction of working on your own engine! It’s not entirely realistic for the majority of us, but it’s also well worth rewarding emerging open-source options with our time and support. While there aren’t a ton of killer open-source options for serious game development, several are great and getting better all the time. I’m currently learning Godot, hoping to replace my previous reliance on Unity. If you’re not interested in coding from scratch but don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there are loads of great open-source libraries and frameworks that are surprisingly capable these days. A little trouble now can save you a ton of trouble–and money–down the road.
Until next week!
Huge thanks to everyone for following along during a chaotic couple of weeks. I’m working on a fun podcast and video show for next week with Brian Riggsbee, a project manager at Slack and the author of The Legend of Argus: The Complete History of Rygar. If you’ve never played Rygar (like I never had before Thursday), try your hand at a super-challenging arcade classic with a dozen weird and wonderful ports. It really is a whole world of its own!
Thanks all.
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Todd Mitchell

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