Digital distribution expansion, Natal and legislative reform top wish lists, while one developer outlines App Store fears

Develop Jury reveals high hopes for 2010

This week’s Jury Service sees developers profess their burning passion for the industry, as the likes of Ian Livingstone and Microsoft’s Ben Board explain what they’re most looking forward to in 2010.

There was, of course, only going to be one thing on the top of Eidos life president Ian Livingstone’s wish list.

“I am looking forward to the general election,” said the decorated industry veteran. “And a pledge from whoever forms the next government to fully support the video games industry by way of implementing production tax credits, addressing the skills problem in universities, installing a high speed fibre optic network nationwide and stepping up the war on piracy.”

It’s hard to joke about Livingstone’s wonderful and wild optimism. However unrealistically huge his hopes are, he’s clearly not alone in thinking that government reform for the industry is today an unimpeachable necessity.

Fortunately, he did leave us with something we can all chuckle at: “Failing that, I’m looking forward to Manchester City finishing in the top four.”

Team 17 studio director Martyn Brown echoed Livingstone’s view, telling us that he’s “hoping to read a lot less about who’s moving to bloody Canada this week or next.”

Brown also revealed he was looking forward to see how Natal would perform and how the industry would continue to evolve in the digital era.

“[In regards to digital distribution], I think 2009 was certainly one of a mood where ‘if’ became ‘when’”, he said, reflecting a popular view in recent Jury Service features.

Doublesix studio head James Brooksby explored the issue further:

“I think I am most looking forward to watching the industry continue to change,” he said. “The digital future is inevitable and undeniable and is going to be clearer as we reach the end of 2010.”

Yet Brooksby is slightly anxious that, as more companies embrace digital distribution, the entire scene could be taken over by the industry’s giants.

“My hope is that through more agile companies such as ours, we can engage communities and generate new and interesting ways to have fun together playing games and keep that relationship alive through all the wealth of high speed communication and iteration that digital delivers,” he added.

The mobile digital space remains a matter of concern for some studios. Adrian Hirst, of UK indie outfit Weaseltron, went as far as saying that 2010 could be the year when the iPhone bubble finally bursts.

“We’re expecting the introduction of native Flash-based games to signal the arrival of a stream of sub-par me-too games, crowding out existing developers,” he said.

“We’re anticipating that work-for-hire to increasingly be the only way for independent developers to make money in this area over the next 12 months. All involved in the games industry would welcome external investment continue its upward trend.”

Elsewhere in the Jury, the buzzing Microsoft Euro development manager Ben Board listed a veritable cornucopia of games, events and personal moments to look forward to, and – quite touchingly – went on to express the unique joys of game-fuelled parenthood.

“Gamefest coming to London and Seattle in February, that’ll be cracking,” he said, “and the ongoing development of Natal as a platform, and our work with developers as they explore what it can do, will continue to get me out of bed in the morning, if the kids don’t get there first.

“Personally, I’m anticipating my son completing his first game before he turns five in July. He’s quite the little Jenson when it comes to Mario Kart Wii – he’s rinsed 50cc, and 100cc is developing a dark patch in its trousers. When 150cc is finally bested I shall burst with fatherly pride, perhaps planting a tree to mark the occasion; and then I shall ceremonially open the Drawer of Gaming and select the Second Challenge, and I shall know his great journey has truly begun.”

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