The video game industry has become one of the most profitable industries around, and the sheer level of importance given to this particular vertical has increased over time. Fans from all over the world have invested a ton of time and money in the video games of their choice while supporting entire genres in the best way they can. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Fortnite, and Minecraft becoming all the rage is proof enough of the fact that the landscape of video games is massive in every sense of the word.
In fact, one can confidently say that the landscape of video games has shifted to such an extent that fans have even become quite engrossed when it comes to what happens at the video game studios. We're pretty sure that fans of Fallout, The Witcher, and Titanfall would like to know how their favorite series has been made from the ground up — it's only natural, after all.
However, we're pretty sure you've heard the popular saying — never meet your idols. It's a statement that might not seem all that relevant in this conversation, but the fact of the matter is that most fans would not really like to see what happens behind closed doors at a video game studio. After all, you'd expect organized deliveries, mapped-out plans, and a streamlined process to be synonymous with these studios. However, the reality is nothing like what you're dreaming of — here are 25 wild things happening in video game studios that will make you question your obsession with these developers.
All of the issues that we've discussed above contribute to an overarching problem that absolutely needs to be addressed — games that are released well before they should be and don't end up resembling anything close to a quality title.
While these clunky and irresponsive games might understandably be lambasted by the general public, do keep in mind that developers always try and put their best foot forward with their releases — with some minor exceptions. So, if these games aren't all that great, then chances are that it might be because of unreasonable deadlines.
Video game development is a time-consuming process, and time is a commodity that isn't considered precious by many. Thus, when developers or publishers announce the release date for a game, you know one thing for sure.
The months before release are going to be an absolute nightmare.
Horror stories of employees working from anywhere between 12 to 16 hours is a common thing. This perhaps explains why some games get delayed at times — the expectation that has been set is just way too unrealistic.
Expecting every employee to work themselves to the bone is just not right, after all.
The video game industry is a creative industry at the end of the day, meaning that clashes are bound to happen over time. However, instead of throwing a fit during these arguments, most staff members try to resolve their arguments like gentlemen.
So, they decide to spread something like a character design — or anything else along the same lines — around the office to get a popular vote on the same. This is the case with Tifa's iconic character design — Tetsuya Nomura finalized two versions of Tifa's clothing and circulated them around the office to get a vote on the same.
If the votes were skewed in a different direction, then our perception of Tifa's character would've been wildly altered.
Sigh... you knew we were bound to come to this topic sooner or later. After all, the fact of the matter is microtransactions have become one of the most controversial forms of in-game purchases for valid reasons. Critics of this system are right to point out the fact that players are being cheated out of their money for something that's not even worth it in the long run.
Mobile gaming is rife with microtransactions, but — sad as it may be — proper gaming releases also feature this system at times, which is what doesn't sit well with the majority of hardcore gamers.
An investment is required to launch any product — something that is pretty obvious at this point. Obviously, video games are no exception to this golden rule, meaning that developers need to figure out the best course of action that can be taken to secure this funding.
More often than not, this course of action is accomplished by taking a loan or anything else of the sort — especially if the project is quite overambitious. This makes it all the more important for studios to attain a profit, lest they have to shut their doors down.
The prospect of closing down a video game studio is never an exciting one — in fact, it's downright horrifying, especially for the people who've put in all their money into this venture. There's a pressing need to obtain as much revenue as possible to turn over a sizeable profit... and most of the times, the route that studios take to achieve this goal is not all that ethical.
There are many avenues games opt for to boost their revenue streams. DLCs, expansion packs, and anything else along the same lines are highly overused in games nowadays.
The number "0451" is one of the most popular references in video games, being featured in pretty much every immersive sim game — along with a number of titles in different genres.
The story behind this number has etched itself into video gaming history.
Looking Glass — one of the pioneers of immersive sim games — had this number as the keycode to enter their office, which became a staple across most of their games. Deus Ex, System Shock 2, Dishonored, Prey, BioShock, and Thief are just some of the many titles where this number has been mentioned in some capacity.
Mobiles are truly the best way to describe just how far we've come along in terms of technology, providing us with the power of a computer in the palm of our hand. It's an amazing innovation that most people just tend to take for granted, which is why studios are looking forward to mobile games as a viable source of revenue.
The idea of being able to play a game whenever you please is something that is quite an amazing idea indeed, but the manner in which companies leech money from players through these apps is not exactly ethical.
The consequence of teams working in silos varies across industries, and in the context of the video games the last-minute work — something we're already discussed before — becomes way too egregious near the end when kinks need to be sorted out.
A game that is great but sports too many bugs becomes an unplayable mess, making it all the more important to ensure that no glitches impact a player's experience. However, this is easier said than done, since the team responsible for fixing these bugs — more often than not — don't mesh well with the rest of the company.
Bethesda is a great example of this phenomenon.
We're already discussed Steam — although not in detail — and that's just the cusp of all the developer and publisher platforms that are available on the market. From EA's Origin to the Bethesda Launcher, it seems that more and more platforms are going to come up in 2019.
It's obvious as to why studios are going for this particular course of action — the fact of the matter is that more money lies in providing a platform since it can lead to another stream of income.
The recent case of Telltale Studios almost closing down is a painful reminder of the fact that even the best video game studios aren't immune to financial woes. Once a person takes a look at this reality, the tactics we've mentioned before that provide a stream of income make all the more sense now.
This brings to light a rather important question — how far are you willing to go to ensure that your favorite video game studio sees the light of day? It's the answer to this question that governs the attitude most people have about the behind-the-scenes action of video game development.
We've mentioned before that the video game industry involves a ton of creativity that goes on behind the scenes. However, what you may have failed to take into account is the fact that corporate bigwigs also tend to pull the strings behind the scenes.
So, there's always a chance that creative ideas might clash with business plans — a situation that never really ends for the better in the long run.
The following point will serve to illustrate this further.
Why do most people find Nintendo to be a company that never innovates or tries anything new? This is not completely true, but it must be said that most of Nintendo's stalwart titles are established franchises which don't need to be constructed from the ground up.
This is the case with most major companies, which see to it that their little cash-making machines chug along as fast as possible. Franchises like Call Of Duty, The Elder Scrolls, Grand Theft Auto, The Legend Of Zelda, and Final Fantasy are constantly churning out titles for one sole reason — money.
We've already touched upon this subject, but the developer-publisher dynamic is something that most gamers should understand properly. After all, it's solely because of the funding that the publisher is providing that a developer is able to make their game in the first place.
However, this relationship is not perfect all the time — not every game can be a DOOM, after all. Instead, you have games like Star Wars Battlefront that clearly has little to no effort put into it, serving as nothing more than a cheeky cash grab by EA.
With rumors of the PS5 being in development, it must be said that video game studios are already giving their all to optimize their offerings and prepare the next generation of titles that will surely titillate the senses of any hardcore gaming fan.
It's obvious as to why this is a reasonable assumption to make — most video game studios don't want to be caught off-guard if a new console is introduced, meaning that most companies would find it more feasible to ensure that the quality of their video games can be upgraded if need be.
The concept of a cold war is something we know all too well, and most major video game companies generally don't tend to get along well.
Thus, there's a constant level of tension between these major parties.
Just take a look at the recent controversy with Sony, as they refused to promote cross-platform multiplayer for reasons that we're not going to delve into right now. This has led to a situation where Microsoft and Nintendo are quite open about the disdain they share towards Sony's baffling business decision.
People might have a general perception that video game studios are awfully boring to work in — a viewpoint that is understandable but completely untrue. After all, at the end of the day, the video game industry is just the same corporate life with a different coat of paint.
...or is it?
Stories of the people at id Software having actual parties (along with their LAN parties as well) are well known in the industry. Of course, the most prominent video game personality who was known for major parties is none other than John Romero — one of the godfathers of the FPS genre who also spearheaded the development of the horror show that was Daikatana.
Virtual and Augmented Reality has taken over the world by storm, with a whole host of devices entering the foray to provide people with entirely unique experiences. So, why should video gaming take a backseat and not adopt these latest innovations?
We're already witnessing the rise of VR devices such as the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. To say that this is nothing more than a fleeting trend is a shortsighted statement to make — if anything, VR is here and it's here to stay.
Indie game development has become the rage with the advent of Steam as a prominent developer platform. All of a sudden, the prospects for indie gamers to market their product has grown spontaneously. This means that talented people who know their aptitude for making a video game have a platform that provides them with the possibility to get a bang for their buck.
It also means that talented video game developers who can ideate and execute a brilliant idea have the opportunity to earn the big bucks by nailing down a reliable job with a major company.
Of course, not everything is roses and sunshine in the video game industry. At the end of the day, a 9-to-5 job is not going to be the most interesting thing in the world, so the least you'd expect is a cohesive team structure and planning.
However — as is the case with most companies — this is rarely the case. Instead, what you have is a company with teams that do what they do best in a silo, without interacting with other teams for the same.
It's honestly not all that great of a system, to be honest.
Office politics have always been a constant in the corporate world, and — as much as we hate to say it — the video game industry is not a complete stranger to a corporate structure. Hence, while processes might be followed to a T for the most part, there are certain... hiccups that might arise at one point.
Anyone who's worked in an office job will dread the following two words — office politics. It's a dynamic of favoritism and elitism that most people would prefer to avoid since it comes at a rather hefty and unfair compromise.
Unfortunately — at the end of the day — money makes the world go round. That's why most companies tend to have a board of directors that take a look at profit margins and decide upon the best course of action to take that will improve their financial status.
This is perhaps why the creative versus business dynamic is a frustrating one that most fans never take into account — more often than not, the business side will always win.
So, if your favorite video game studio is doing something that is not as per your tastes, then don't overthink it — a corporate bigwig is probably pulling the strings.
However, no matter how bad this cross-platform multiplayer situation might be, the fact of the matter is that this argument has never escalated to a situation where legal action was required.
Unfortunately, that is not a hard-and-fast rule in all situations.
The best — and most hilarious — example that we can give right now would be to talk about the absolutely foolhardy release of the SouljaGame systems that promptly received a cease-and-desist letter from Nintendo.
While such a reaction might be warranted in this situation, there are times when this course of action is simply not a reasonable one to take.