As many as a third of in-house studio developers are forbidden to sell their own independent games, new data suggests.
An industry-targeted questionnaire also found that more than half of studio developers have signed away ownership of “everything” they create to their employer.
Daniel Fedor, once an associate producer at Bioware and now an independent developer himself, published the findings from his recent survey of more than 120 industry professionals.
Over a third of respondents (46) said they were employed in-house. Of those, 35 per cent said they are contractually prohibited to sell their own side projects. Fifty-seven per cent said their employer “owns all rights to everything I produce”.
The revelations come as digital platforms continue to thrive, driven in part by the success of smartphones. Online portals, such as the App Store, have broken down barriers to publishing games and in turn thousands of game developers are hoping to release their own work independently.
But restrictions from studio employers mean this won’t be possible for many developers locked in contracts, according to the study.
The survey also found that 87 per cent of studio developers are considering life as an indie because they want more creative authorship.
Seventy-four per cent said they want to share their ideas with the world. Fifty per cent said they want to work on different IP.
There were significant obstacles in the way, the survey found. Seventy per cent of in-house developers said they might not be able to afford an indie life. More than a third were concerned they don’t have the business credentials to make a game to generate income.
Though the study did not boast a comprehensive number of respondents (128 people took part anonymously), it echoed the long-held view that a studio of numerous creative individuals can’t satisfy everyone’s ideas with a few long-term projects.