GDC 2013 survey marks rise of the indies, low Wii U support

GDC 2013 survey marks rise of the indies, low Wii U support
The Game Developers Conference published an interesting survey of its attendees ahead of next month's event. The poll, which covers over 2,500 developers who attended the conference last year and/or plan to attend this year, shows a marked preponderance of indie developers, with more than half of the respondents identifying themselves as such. Perhaps the most surprising stat, though, is the lack of support for the Wii U.

Although it should be noted that the survey includes developers who attended last year's conference but aren't going to this year's, just 4.6 percent of those polled are working on a Wii U game at the moment, while 6.4 percent are making their next game for the console.

That compares to 13.2 and 13 percent currently working on Xbox 360 and PS3 games respectively, and 14 and 12.4 percent developing for the respective platforms next time around. Meanwhile, 11 percent are making their next game for the PS4, and the same figure for Microsoft's next-gen platform.

Also relevant to these stats are the number of indie developer respondents, which comes in at 53 percent. That may well explain why 55 percent said they're bringing the games they're currently working on to smartphones and tablets, and 48 percent to PC/Mac. On the other side of the extreme is handheld development, although surprisingly the Vita tops the 3DS here. 4.2 percent are currently working on a game for Sony's portable, while less than half of that are working on a 3DS game at just 2 percent.

Perhaps the most revealing stat of all relates to crowdfunding. 8 percent of respondents said they've worked on a project funded by such platforms, but a whopping 44 percent said they plan to do so in the future - just in case you thought Kickstarter was a fad.
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First Annual Survey of More Than 2500 GDC Attendees Reveals Game Development Trends In Funding, Platform Preference, Publishing Models and More in this Next-Gen Year of Transition

SAN FRANCISCO – February 28, 2013 – In order to paint a picture of the games business as it looks right before GDC 2013, the Game Developers Conference® (GDC) has polled more than 2,500 North American game developers who attended the conference in 2012 or plan to attend GDC 2013 in March about their development practices, revealing several notable trends with regards to platforms, money, team sizes and more.

The GDC intends to field a similar survey each winter, in advance of the conference in San Francisco. Organized by the UBM Tech Game Network, GDC 2013 will take place March 25-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

The Rise Of The Indie

A key finding of the GDC 2013 State Of The Industry survey is that independent game development and smaller teams are on the rise like never before. In fact, 53% of the respondents identified themselves as 'indie developers', and of those, 51% have been indie developers for less than two years.

In addition, 46% of the survey's respondents work within companies of ten people or less. Further proving the move to indie, only 24% of those surveyed worked with a publisher on their last game, while an even smaller 20% are doing so on their current projects.

Smartphones, Tablets, PC Dominate Dev Platforms

Another major focus of the survey was the platform preferences and interests of the development community, an important topic in a year when next-gen consoles are anticipated to come to market - alongside a slew of new types of consoles such as PC-based TV consoles and Android consoles.

The survey found that more of the respondents are developing for smartphones and tablets than for any other platform. 38% of the survey's developers released their last game for smartphones and tablets collectively, but 55% are making their current games there. Even more impressive, a whopping 58% plan to release their next games on these platforms.

PCs and Macs are the next strongest platforms, with 34.6% of developers releasing their last games for PCs/Macs, 48% developing their current games for the platform, and 49% planning their next games on PCs/Macs.

Console Development Stable At A Lower Base

In terms of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, the survey found Microsoft at the top, albeit from lower numbers, with 13.2% currently developing for the Xbox 360 and close to 14% planning their next game on the 360. For the PlayStation 3, 13% are releasing their current game for the console, and 12.4% their next game.

In terms of the Nintendo Wii U, only 4.6% of developers are currently making a Wii U game, and just 6.4% of our surveyed developers are making their next game for the console. (Finally, an identical 11% of respondents are making their next game for upcoming Sony and Microsoft platforms.)

Dedicated Gaming Handhelds Showing Minimal Support

Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld showed a slight uptrend in support, but from extremely low percentages. While less than 2% of respondents made their last game for the console, 4.2% are making their current game for Vita, and just over 5% plan to release their next game there. And North American developers are unconvinced of the Nintendo 3DS's potential. 2% are currently making a 3DS game, and only 2.8% of developers plan to release their next game on the 3DS.

Smartphones, Tablets, PC/Android 'Consoles' Top Developer Interest Charts

The survey also asked developers about their levels of interest in developing for the variety of platforms on the market or coming soon, and received a very different response from what they said about current and future projects.

Tablets and smartphones are still way out ahead in terms of interest, with 58% and 56% respectively interested in the platforms. PC-based TV consoles, such as Valve's Steam Box, have a very high 45% level of interest for developers. Android home consoles, like the OUYA and GameStick, are also high up the interest curve at 37%.

Interestingly, when asked simply about expressions of interest, next-gen Microsoft and Sony consoles shoot up the relative graph ranking to 29% and 27% respectively. And Nintendo platforms continue to lag in developer interest, with a relatively small 13% and 5% interest respectively for the Wii U and 3DS.

Self-Funding Goes Big, Crowdfunding Interest Blooms

Finally, the GDC survey looked into how developers are funding their projects. The vast majority of games are being funded from the company's existing war chest (37%) or an individual's personal funds (35%).

Only 9% of our survey respondents were primarily venture capital funded. 10% are still primarily publisher-funded, and 4% are actually primarily crowdfunded. With regards to crowdfunding, 8% of surveyed developers have worked on a project that was crowdfunded, while a surprisingly sizable 44% plan to do so in the future.

For more information about the 2013 Game Developers Conference or to register online, visit

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This article was originally published on Joystiq.