Triple A titles released by major video gaming developers generate millions if not billions in profit every single year. The creation of games such as Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto require thousands of hours of work, and this creates hundreds of jobs for developers, marketers, scriptwriters, and even lawyers. Nevertheless, gaming is not just about multi-million-dollar production games and about endless promotional budgets, which can take a game straight to the top of the best-seller list. Sometimes, it is the smaller studios that manage to market gaming products that reach the top of the sales list.
What Does it Take for a Smaller Studio to Make it in the Industry?
It is no secret that players are normally attracted to the gaming creations of major studios, regardless if the creation is a role-playing game released by Bethesda or a casino game created by Microgaming. While this is somewhat normal if one considers the quality of games released by studios such as the above, it does make things harder for studios that do not have the budgets to put together large development teams or to create brand awareness through expensive promotional campaigns. Smaller studios have to find creative low-budget solutions to help them share their product with the world. On top of that, smaller studios will normally rely on external investments in order to continue running their business, and sometimes this means that they have to sell the rights of their prized gems to larger studios.
From Obsidian to Unknown Worlds and from South Park to Subnautica
The acquisition story is not something new in the world of gaming. Large studios have bought smaller studios time and time again. On some occasions, even large studios get bought by larger tech corporations. It is extremely hard for studios like Obsidian to keep funding gaming products like South Park by themselves and this is why they have to pitch their products to studios like Ubisoft. This is a scenario, which the gaming industry has seen over and over again and sometimes, it does only apply to big and small relationships. The most popular example of a big studio acquisition is ZeniMax. The mother company of Bethesda, which has released games such as Fallout and Elder Scrolls, was sold to Microsoft for 7,5 billion dollars. This amount may sound like a lot of money, but it gave Microsoft the exclusivity to market ZeniMax titles on its Xbox gaming systems.
When a gaming studio is bought by a competitor, it normally loses a lot of its freedom in terms of creativity. This can have both positive as well as negative effects on a gaming product. The most popular example of a game that went from great to terrible is Metal Gear, as Konami tried to release a game without the involvement of legendary director Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Survive was one of the biggest flops of 2018 and a mistake that Konami will probably never make again.
Parent studios should always allow for some creative freedom in order for the original creators of a game to be able to produce a product the way they have visualized it. A very successful post-acquisition relationship is the relationship between Unknown Worlds and Krafton. The South Korean gaming giants have given Unknown Worlds all the creative freedom they need in order to work independently and to produce games without interventions and interruptions.
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