Can Agile Development Save the Video Game Console Industry?
It’s only natural that, as we replace our bulky desktops with slimmer laptops and tablets that allow us to do the things we love to do away from the comfort of our homes, video game console abandonment should follow suit. Consoles are not only bulky, but the highest performing models are often outrageously expensive and come with limited to zero needed accessories and games.
In the past, the major players would trade the top ranking for console supremacy back and forth, but as Michael Brown at uTest recently pointed out in an article posted at Boston.com, the crown is being worn by a newer, predictable, smaller heir:
We’re now witnessing another displacement, except that it doesn’t apply to any particular console gaming system, but rather all of them. This time, the usurper is the mobile games industry, and it may bring down console for good.
Brown lists some reasons that console gaming isn’t dead in the water, even with a “21 percent decline in console sales last year.” Many of the examples deal with moves by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to try to get up to speed with what’s been done in mobile gaming for years, including: new devices on the horizon, an “indie development community,” and in-game social connectivity.
One strategy that these corporations may want to look at in order to catch their mobile counterparts is adopting agile development practices. Jonathan Amor at Supermassive Games explains how agile has helped his company focus on what really matters to everyone:
A lot of what we do in a project’s early days is to iterate and discover the elusive ‘fun factor’ in a game. That’s not a process you could build a tool or process to achieve. It can only be accomplished with iteration and collaboration. What works in theory can’t be proven until you play the game.
Harnessing individuals’ passion for making games is essential; that’s what motivates them. It’s important that they know their great ideas could end up in the finished product.
Clinton Keith has been preaching agile to developers for years and points out not just the importance of the “fun factor” but also the challenges that “fun” creates, especially where budget and scope are concerned. Keith explains that constant collaboration between the client and the development team is absolutely vital when he writes, “We can’t leave it to a team’s passion alone to decide how good a game is. It has to be part of the business model and process.”
Video games will always need to be compatible with changing devices; it’s been that way for twenty years. For the future, here’s to agile development enabling the success of both console and mobile gaming.