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5th Cell: Gaming's creative "golden age" is on the way

And traditional publishers may not be invited to the party.

The game industry's "golden age" is imminent, so says the boss of Scribblenauts and Hybrid developer 5th Cell.

Jeremiah Slaczka told Eurogamer that players will see truly great things in the next five to ten years, once developers have finally got a grasp on the myriad platforms that have sprung up of late.

"I love that the games industry is exploding," he said.

"I think there is going to be a golden age soon. Like a Renaissance of games. I don't think it's happened yet.

"There's going to be a point where we're all firing on all cylinders with all the different platforms. People are still trying to understand how Facebook works, how mobile works, how Steam works.

"All these new systems have been coming so fast in the last couple of years - it's kind of like a big grab bag right now. But I think in the next five or ten years that will all settle down and we'll know where we want to be. That's when people can really start focusing. Certain developers can focus on this niche, certain developers can really focus on that niche."

And will traditional publishers have a role to play in this digital-fueled creative revolution? Not unless they can prove their relevance, argued Slaczka.

"Publishers are huge companies that have quarterly earnings, and tonnes of people, and they were set up for business that is now evolving, rapidly. They were set up for business that was about warehouses, distribution through CDs, having relationships with those stores - things that indies can't do.

"But that's wearing away. We're not going to have physical copies soon. Games like Angry Birds or Farmville can explode. Zynga is valued at more than half the publishers that exist right now.

"I think the smart ones will be agile and change, and the dumb ones won't."

While the transition might be causing sleepless nights at big name publishers, Slaczka added that it's an "awesome time" to be a developer, with a huge wealth of opportunities starting to open up.

"An investment meeting used to be like 'I want to invest in you, or your IP, but we still need to hook in the publisher as I don't have distribution channels, and we'll still have to give them 20 per cent.'

"Now that doesn't exist. You're on Steam, you're on mobile, you're on Facebook, you have Kickstarter. It's pushing the power back into creative hands. And that's where it should be as they're the ones who make the games.

"People play games because of the execution - nine times out of ten that's down to the developer behind a game, not some giant corporation. They help, they do their thing, but mostly it's the creative people.

"Publishers have to show that they offer something," he added.

"And if they don't, they deserve the fate they're going to get. If they can't move with the times, and they're being dinosaurs, then guess what? That's survival of the fittest."

Slaczka's independently owned and operated studio has a busy future. As well as ongoing work on self-published iOS hit Run Roo Run, it aims to finally launch ambitious persistent online shooter Hybrid this summer on Xbox Live Arcade. See the trailer below for a closer look.

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