Tech as a Key Differentiator for Game Studios

Posted by in Gaming, Technology

At the core of a great game are often outstanding game mechanics that one would enjoy doing over and over again. The mechanics are then intertwined into a story, adding art and music to make those mechanics sexy for as long as possible.

Every new generation of hardware has enabled new game mechanics, thereby creating new generations of games. More recently, touch devices have brought us swiping, for instance allowing the throwing of Pokeballs or the slicing of fruits. Just as the Wii and its Wiimote brought us endless fun playing bowling or the Xbox Kinect allowed to use the force like a Jedi.

2016 has seen VR headsets spreading from basic ones such as the Gear VR or the Daydream to the more polished Playstation VR, Oculus or HTC Vive. AR has also seen its first mainstream success with Pokemon GO, motivating millions of people to chase Pokemon in their cities using the lenses on their phones.

Beyond such obvious leapfrogs in hardware, software has also played a key role by enabling the creation of more realistic simulations of game universes. From the crazy realistic hair & fabric movements in Final Fantasy XV to the crazy realistic car simulation in iRacing, software has helped define new genres and has brought new ideas and opportunities to game developers.

Despite all the recent innovations I still find tech to be underrepresented in the video game industry.

The best games have always been made with a fusion of innovative gameplay, art and technology. One of my favorite examples is Jordan Mechner’s Prince of Persia. If you haven’t, read through his narrative of the creation process (The Making of Prince of Persia) as it’s fascinating to see how Jordan hacked through basic motion capture to bring realistic movement physics to his main character. As a consequence, he created one of the strongest franchises of our industry.

As game developers and creatives, being on top of the latest tech for your video games is essential to make sure you can push it to its limits and define new golden standards. If studios are all using the same tech, for example the same game engine, it makes it really difficult to gain a competitive edge. What could be an asset becomes a market liability.