Building a game is today almost an unfathomably difficult undertaking.

Develop 100 – 2009: Emergent toasts winners

The sheer depth of creative intellect necessary to invent new forms of interaction that can sustain discerning interests without the aid of traditional story techniques is akin to developing a whole new language. Add to that the awesome scope of conceiving the technical architecture to make a 3D environment come to life. The creative alchemy that follows and is manifest as a fully fleshed out and completed game is a mammoth achievement.

These accomplishments are what the Develop 100 is here to acknowledge – some of the best creative achievements that the entertainment industry has to offer.

Let us take a moment and look at who we are and what we have accomplished as an industry.

To those on the list of this year’s Develop 100: our hats are off, and this moment is an acknowledgement of you and your work.

With this achievement comes great expectation. In this past year, we have seen some incredible events in video games. A single game surpassed 11 million active subscribers (about the population of Los Angeles), generating over $1bn of annual revenue (maybe $2bn), a fully procedural triple-A game was launched to great success, and a phone became the hottest game platform in the market within just a few months of its launch.

These milestones feel like just the beginning. Responsibility falls to those honored in this publication, and all of us in the industry, to push the boundaries even further.

In the midst of all this success, there are some great pressures. The greatest liquidity crisis in the history of the world is having its impact on our industry and many of our colleagues are experiencing new challenges.

Over 5,000 people were laid off in our industry this past year in the US alone, and we may not have seen the end of it. Substantial consolidation in the publishing community continues, many established and new studios with great ambition are being forced to close their doors, and further economic refinements are causing contraction in the number and the budget of large titles.

These challenges are accelerating trends that we have seen for some time, requiring some deep thinking about how we evolve as an industry and as a community. The demand for great games is still growing. Ours is the opportunity to deliver to that demand. Envision a future where instead of fewer, bigger games, there are more innovative games, more creative games and more variety in games.

The massive online migration adds a really interesting component. It is different than any other industries’ similar migration. Whether I buy my music from iTunes, or listen to it on Pandora, or even if I still listen to vinyl, my experience as a listener is linear. Same for movies or TV – these are all start-to-finish experiences.

Not so for games. The online components fundamentally alter our experience and the design of the media we consume with games. Episodic, social gaming, micro-transactions, cooperative play are all in various stages of evolution and sure to continue to evolve significantly. These elements not only change design, but also development processes, costs, business models and how we define fun.

A new level of investment in creativity and experimentation is at hand. We are in a perfect storm of pressures driving us to these new levels. The flip side to the pressures is very exciting to watch. Hundreds of new studios are forming all over the world with exciting ideas about process, technology, gameplay and/or business models. Every publisher I talk to is looking to change the status quo whether by choice or by need. I believe that our industry will work through this period and come out the other side more powerful, creative and central to the lives of mainstream culture. A virtual explosion of creativity is about to occur and it is going to be a wild ride.

We are creating new forms of entertainment – entertainment that prior generations couldn’t even conceive of, but that this generation can’t conceive of living without. We are changing the way people work and play. Soldiers, teachers, doctors and architects are using our technology to transform our world. Just a few years ago, words like social networking didn’t exist. Multiplayer games bringing people together across the planet and across generations to form ‘guilds’ for ‘raids’ was the stuff of science fiction. Where do you want to go? We are taking you there!

We are learning new ways to think. The kids driving this industry today are literally wired differently because of how they play and socialise. What they invent will wildly surpass the achievements of this past generation. We are changing, as an industry, as society, as a species because of what we are all doing. Something new is emerging from a vast community of developers. We call it the new face of triple triple-A. It moves at the speed of light. We at Emergent are truly proud to be a part of it.

Once again, congratulations to the Develop 100 this year. We implore all of you to come play some more next year. It will be our honor to work together, and invent what’s next!

About MCV Staff

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