When it was announced that a Tokyo headquartered publisher commissioned a Brisbane studio to create a London Olympics game, I admit, it was difficult to keep quiet and smile politely.
I’m not exactly going to cheerlead thousands of Britons to each pay £40 for a sports game that will thrive at retail due to the London Olympics craze – which itself only exists because the taxpayer is already forfeiting £9.3 billion – only to have all the game’s huge proceeds be sent overseas.
But despite this deal exposing global trade at its most unprincipled, at least there was something positive to be taken from it.
At least, I thought, the Australian games development sector – which has capitulated in the most astonishing fashion across the past two years – would still have a triple-A studio with work to be done.
But that silver lining has dissipated. This week Sega decided to add another 40 developers to Australia’s unemployment queue.
As I understand it, that means a majority of the Sega Australia’s workforce has been released – seen off the moment they finished work on the London Olympics game.
The studio, now restructured, will proceed with development on smaller digital games. For Sega this may be part of a wider plan to modernise its business, but in truth it will be a very hard sell.
Put simply, why would Sega Australia developers build digital games for Sega when they can do it themselves?
The App Store, Xbox Live, SEN, Facebook, Android, Steam, the open web – these platforms have revolutionised game development. They make the dream attainable: Start your own studio, create what you want, keep your IP, take a huge royalty margin, work for yourself.
What would Sega Australia offer? Work for us, create what we say, give us your ideas, take a salary, and – as history continues to teach us – lose your job when the work is done.