Development engine GameMaker has announced a new pricing structure that allows would-be creators to use the product for free. The offer is restricted to developers making games for non-commercial purposes on non-console platforms.
Announcing the deal in a blog post, GameMaker head Russell Kay referenced rival engine Unity’s recent turbulent experience with price changes, that enraged developers and led to the departure of company chief John Riccitiello.
“We have seen other platforms making awkward moves with their pricing and terms, so we thought, what if we did the opposite, something that could actually be good for developers?” he wrote. “Our success is measured by the number of people making games!”
GameMaker is a relatively straightforward, drag-and-drop engine, mainly used for 2D games, and is popular with beginners. Previously, the company offered free limited usage to people learning to use the tool, but this change represents an extension of that model.
Developers who decide they wish to publish their games, in pursuit of monetization, are required to play a $99 fee. Educational game developers also get special treatment, while console publishers can buy an Enterprise level subscription.
Russell said that GameMaker has enjoyed “a three-fold increase in its active users” since parent company YoYo Games was bought by Opera in January, 2021. “Lots of young people came to try GameMaker, over 6,000 games were published on [publishing hub] gx.games, and as a result of the product evolution”.
He added: “The free version serves as an entry point for beginners, a one-time commercial fee is for the curious ones, while the subscription-based enterprise tier provides a scalable option for more experienced developers and professionals.”
In Other News
Ubisoft expands Web3 gaming partnerships
Ubisoft has teamed up with metaverse game The Sandbox to offer a limited edition set of NFTs, based on the new Netflix show Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix. The TV series, launched last month, is a spin-off from Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Players are being offered 3,000 avatars “created in collaboration with Ubisoft, bringing you a unique collection to acquire, play, and earn with”. Owners can “participate in events, contests, and raffles for the opportunity to get branded products, games, and exclusive virtual meet-ups”.
Meanwhile, Animoca Brands this week announced a partnership between its Mocaverse and Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab, which is behind forthcoming Web3 game Champions Tactics Grimoria Chronicles, a tactical battle role-playing game featuring mythical fighters, which players can collect as NFTs.
Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands said that the company “is dedicated to onboarding users to Web3 through gaming, culture, and entertainment. We’re incredibly excited to partner with Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab to drive awareness and facilitate user onboarding by tapping into the Mocaverse program and incentives”.
Report – most mobile games are gone within three years
A new report from SuperScale, looking into the mobile games market, found that 83 percent of mobile games “die” within three years. The report is titled Good Games Don’t Die – Unlocking the Full Potential of Legacy Games, and is based on conversations with 500 developers.
It also found that 43 percent of mobile games are canceled before completion. 76 percent of games hit their revenue peaks in their first year. 32 percent of developers have made layoffs in the last year.
SuperScale offers a variety of services to games studios and publishers. CEO Ivan Trancik commented: “These are volatile times for the games industry. Many mobile game developers are finding it hard to remain profitable in the face of challenges such as [Apple’s data sharing rule-change] ATT, heavy competition in a mature mobile market, and macroeconomic conditions like high inflation.
“83 percent of games are flat-lining in the first three years is an eye-opening statistic, which indicates a new mindset is needed within the industry. Findings from the ‘Good Games Don’t Die’ white paper serve as a wake-up call for the industry, a source of inspiration with actionable data; equipping developers and publishers with insight on how revenue can be maximized across their portfolio – for games both new and old.”
Niantic faces discriminatory pay lawsuit
A former employee at Pokemon Go publisher Niantic has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging discrimination against women who work at the company. According to The Verge, the unnamed worker was paid at least $20,000 a year less than a male co-worker, who was at a lower job level.
The woman, who was recently laid off from Niantic as part of a large cost-cutting exercise, says she took her concerns to HR, while still working at the company. The lawsuit alleges that “they and male upper management at Niantic were hostile to her complaints or voiced concerns about sexism or sexual bias in the workplace.
The complaint continues that the former employee “seeks to stop Niantic’s custom and practice of fostering sexual bias in employment decisions” including “paying women less than similarly-situated men” and favoring men over women when promotions come around.
Niko predicts China game market upswing
In its latest report on the Chinese game market, Niko Partners is predicting that game software and services revenue will reach $47.76 billion, up 5.2 percent year-on-year. The increase comes after a 2.5 percent decline in 2022. Additionally, total gamers will reach 710.3 million, up 1.63 percent YoY with monthly average revenue per user hitting $5.60.
Niko puts the increase down to the Chinese government’s “return to a regular cadence of game approvals”. The government approved 844 domestic and import video games in 2023 through the end of October. For the whole of last year, the number was just 512 games, a fall from 755 games the previous year.
Chinese live streaming platforms have also seen a jump in popularity this year, with Douyu, Huya and Bilibili up 12.7 percent for the first nine months of the year. You can access the report’s findings here.