'We Were Still Stuck In The Past': 16-Year Game Dev Veterans Explain Why They're Quitting

When it comes via an unexpected studio closure, the end of a career in video games can be sudden. Other times, the writing is on the wall and the best thing to do is try for a graceful exit and figure out what’s next. The makers of upcoming shooter/platformer hybrid Rive say that they know that their time is up.


In a blog post accompanying a new trailer, Dutch dev studio Two Tribes explain why they don’t think they can keep on making new games in the coming years:

The big change happened around 2008, when new technologies and tools allowed developers to make games way more easily and faster. Suddenly, because of digital distribution, small developers were able to create and publish their own games without the help of big publishers. Initially this was great for us, as we were one of the first developers to enter the Steam, WiiWare and iOS markets. Business was good. We were on the shortlists of companies like Nintendo and Valve.

But the situation didn’t last. While we were working on Toki Tori 2+ for two years, the industry was changing without us realizing it. The market was flooded with games by developers from all around the world. Game development schools were erected, and every year thousands of students tried their luck under increasingly difficult conditions. With game changers such as the Humble Bundle, the ever-continuing race to the bottom and a growing focus on free-to-play games, it became tough for a game to even hit the break-even point.

The industry had moved on and we were still stuck in the past. We learned this the hard way, when most of our employees needed to be laid off in 2013. But it would be too easy to solely blame the industry.

This post also sheds light on how the increased importance of YouTube and Twitch as vectors for marketing, changes in software engines and shifting economics made the members of the studio feel unable to keep pace with the demands of making and releasing successful games. It’s not often that a game-making entity can knowingly point to a release and say it’s going to be the capstone of a decade-plus career. Two Tribes have been clever enough to try and get Nintendo and Valve working together. But knowing when to quit is probably the smartest thing they’ve done. Rive hits PC and consoles in September.

Contact the author at evan@kotaku.com.


Stanley Kirk Burrell

I think we’ll see this happening more and more often for a while. The video game market is clearly oversaturated and there’s no way developers are making a profit on many of the lower priced games that are flooding it.