Indy dev going strong - Braben

Elite man predicts growth.

Veteran game designer David Braben has said that he believes there's still very much a future for independent studios, despite a more cautious attitude from publishers.

Braben's comments came during a Q&A session following his speech at London's Science Museum last night. He argued that independent developers "essentially survive on the strength of our last games, but that doesn't mean there won't continue to be an independent sector. If anything, the independent sector will grow and grow."

Braben observed that big publishers often go through cycles of bringing games in-house in a bid to gain maximum control - but the projects can fail as budgets spiral out of control, and a return to independent developers follows.

"Saying there is no place for independents is like saying there would be no place for independents in the film sector or the music sector - there always has been and there always will be," he said.

However, Braben added, the success or failure of an independent developer can also have a lot to do with the studio's location. "I think there are a lot of difficulties relating to where those independents are based. Britain is a harder country for that; there are a lot of countries that are becoming ever easier, especially places like Canada."

Braben's speech, 'Gaming: Now and Then', focused on comparisons between the development of the games and film industries. He discussed his experiences in creating classic title Elite as well as more recent projects such as forthcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 title The Outsider.

"People are much more happy to go with a tried and trusted formula. So actually games like The Outsider, which are very brave, are also the hardest ones to get made - in the same way Elite was hard to get made, because it was so different," Braben said.

"I actually think Elite probably would never have been made had we not been students who essentially had already finished it when we took it round to publishers. People do tend to be a lot more cautious."

Braben's speech was one of a series of lectures held as part of the Science Museum's Game On exhibition, which showcases more than 120 classic and modern games and will run until February 25. The next lecture will be given by Professor Mark Griffiths on Tuesday November 28, and will focus on the psychology of gaming. For more information, visit the Science Museum website.

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