Revolving Doors • Page 2

Studio closures aren't a sign of crisis.

The reality, however, is that such closures - regardless of whether they're spread out or clumped together, with the timing largely influenced by a combination of unfortunate coincidence and synchronised project evaluation sessions by publishers - are part and parcel of the industry landscape. Indeed, they're part of the natural lifecycle of development - studios are created, they exist for a certain amount of time, incubating the creative talents of their staff in the process, and then they dissolve, releasing their staff back into the workforce to disseminate their talent to other studios, new and established alike.

Sometimes, the dissolution happens because of a publisher take-over of an independent studio, which inevitably results in a significant number of creative staff leaving over time. Sometimes it simply comes about as a process of attrition over many years at a successful independent studio. More often, however, it comes about because a project is cancelled, and a studio goes bust. It's harsh, but it's the reality of this kind of industry.

Consider, after all, how many movies never make it past the green-light stage - or how many albums are recorded that never end up on the shelves in HMV. Creative industries are, ultimately, not the right place to work if you're looking for stability and security in your employment - and the games business is actually doing better than many of its media industry peers in this regard.

I don't think it's fair, then, to look at how many studios are failing and pronounce an atmosphere of doom and gloom about the industry. What those figures don't tell you is how many new studios are starting up - some of which we'll never hear anything about until they announce a game. It doesn't tell you how many studios are getting funding, or how many have just signed new projects with publishers. Moreover, it doesn't paint the full picture regarding how big team sizes are becoming, with staff who had previously worked at small studios being absorbed into creating huge next-gen titles.

The figure I'd like to look at instead is the one showing how many people in total are working in the games industry - and that, according to just about every measure I've seen in a decade, is rising. More games are being sold, more money is passing through tills, and more people are employed - in the face of that, despite the unfortunate shake-up to the lives of those involved, the bubbling on the surface of the studio landscape is not only immaterial, it's also perfectly natural.

There are things that still need to be addressed in this corner of the industry - concerns over work practices and life/work balance remain pressing despite the lack of attention in the media of late, for instance. However, the future prospects for game development studios aren't something to lose sleep over. Individual studios will always face a fight for survival - but the sector as a whole is in rude health and seems set to stay that way for a long time.

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