I couldn’t help but view the news that Japanese games giant GREE was to sharply close its UK studio as darkly ironic.
Too many times in recent years have I been lectured by industry know-it-alls keen to predict the swift suffocation of consoles at the hands of fast growing firms like GREE.
Yes, these online innovators have schooled the core business, with engaging content a smart answer to boxed game lethargy and direct customer communication an advantage over physical retail.
But the baby/bathwater talk only hypes up impossibilities. No, not everyone is sacking their sales force because they have an app out, and managers didn’t suddenly go extinct when the AppStore asteroid hit.
GREE’s problems were its own and a symptom of an overall depreciation that also hit the likes of Zynga. It’s now, sadly, a footnote in UK games industry history, not the emblematic shift of change some touted it as a year ago.
When the firm formally opened its office last year in London, a few people crudely commented to me that ‘everyone wants to be their friend – they’ve got money’. But you can’t buy real success.
My only sympathies lie with the UK staff, who were tempted to switch sides by a company that said a lot and ultimately did little.
LIGHTS OUT FOR EDINBURGH
UKIE insists the event will return but confirmation that Edinburgh Interactive is taking a year off is end of the road talk.
When it sprung up, Edinburgh Interactive was a valiant flag-flying exercise for games. It was cool, and a cultural touchstone the then infantile industry craved.
But times changed. We’ve had two generations come by and a whole new digital world open up. Event backer Nintendo has new priorities. No execs can justify a trip to Scotland during Festival season as ‘business’ with a straight face.
There are better local events in Scotland now, and globally E3 is resurgent while Gamescom keeps growing. Other more relevant UK conferences are now in play, too.
And anyway, through market expansion and stronger ties than ever with businesses and talent outside of the old school core industry, games achieved that desired cultural benchmark.
Ultimately, Edinburgh served its purpose and helped achieve what it set out to do. Now we’ve moved on.