Game Developers Seek the Creative Freedom of Independent Firms

  • Experienced game developers are increasingly leaving the security of big publishers to work for small independent companies that offer greater creative freedom and the possibilities of making their fortunes through digital distribution.
  • Easy-to-use and inexpensive game creation tools also make it easier. Still, success stories are hard to find.
  • “Working for a major publisher can be rewarding, very quickly: you get to work on known IPs, you have job security, you get a good paycheck every month, you have the business card with the big name on it to show off to your friends,” explains Audrey Leprince of The Game Bakers, an independent developer of mobile games.
  • But there are downsides, she says. “You don’t really know how much you will be listened to or if your ideas will be taken into account, how much freedom you’ll have in your work, or if you’ll end up crunching on a B project after the perfect project you joined for gets cancelled.”
  • Developers also seek smaller independent companies when the company they are working for is acquired by a larger name and the environment changes. For example, Ars Technica cites a happy employee of Black Box who later felt like “a cog in the machine” when his company was bought out by EA, so he left for a position at Radical Entertainment. “It was a large but independent company with talented industry vets, free food, beer on tap… I was happy again,” he said.