30 years ago the games development industry underwent a ‘crash’ – it seized up because there were too many consoles on the market at that time. Now, in the age of multiple platform and device gaming, the games development industry is once again under pressure due to a “chronic-oversupply” of games.
The annual Games Fleadh at LIT Tipperary’s Thurles campus, held recently, heard that Irish companies’ capacity to survive the current market saturation does not look good.
Organiser of the event and head of department of Technology & Flexible Learning at LIT Tipperary, Seamus Hoyne said the marketing of Irish games and Irish developers has been sub-standard so far and this must change if Irish developers are to survive in this competitive space.
“Marketing for this sector is a specialised activity but we don’t seem to have invested in that specialism,” says Hoyne. “When you are a start-up company, ordinarily you have a local market to break but not in this sector. Therefore, we need specific supports for start-ups but, regrettably, don’t have them.”
Stephen Byrne, of game development company exgamers Studios, said that Ireland is falling “embarrassingly short” in terms of the stated ambition in the 2011 Forfás Action Plan for growth in the industry by 2015.
“Ireland has delivered in servicing but not in games development. We are way behind here in terms of the goals of the action plan for the sector. We can make games to beat the band but where we have trouble is on the marketing side,” says Byrne.
“If you look what happened with Flappy Bird; that earned $50,000 a day in its peak from advertising. That’s what can happen if your game becomes a hit but it will not happen for Irish game developer companies if marketing supports are not in place.”