5 Lies You’ve Been Told About Video Game Development

How people perceive most jobs probably differs substantially from what it’s actually like to work in those jobs. Game development is no exception. Developers toil away for years to make a video game, but once they release it to consumers it becomes a talking point in comment sections and on social media. Oftentimes gamers use these platforms to talk about what a developer should have done, or how easy it would have been to implement an obvious fix. We’ve covered video game myths, but what about before a game reaches consumers?

It’s time we got a little perspective into what actually goes on during video game development. Here are five myths about making video games, and why they’re not true.

1. That they don’t know a game is bad

Source: Activision

Source: Activision

You hear this kind of stuff on social media all the time: “How could they release the game in this state? Don’t they know it’s bad? Did they actually think this was good?”

The truth is that developers know when a game is bad. They released it because there’s some reason the game had to be pushed out the door. Maybe the developer was running out of money. Maybe the publisher needed a boost to its quarterly financial report.

Every game that comes from a decent-sized company is released with full knowledge of the kind of reception it will receive. That’s because the game has already been play tested and has undergone at least one mock review session. Developers and publishers know when a game isn’t ready. If they release it in that condition, it’s because they have to.

2. That it’s easy

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Game development is harder than you probably think. Every pixel you see onscreen when you play a game was put there purposefully by artists, programmers, writers, and directors. Development teams put tons of work into making games, including nights and weekends. Crunch time in particular, when a game is nearing completion but needs a long list of issues resolved, is no fun for developers. It’s a ton of work.

Don’t think developers are lazy or that their jobs could be done by anyone. They’re not and they couldn’t.

3. That developers ignore their fans

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The latest installment of your favorite franchise doesn’t have the feature you’ve been clamoring for since the beginning. They must not have heard your pleas, right?

Wrong. One thing you’ll hear over and over again if you talk to developers is how they’ve pored over forums, comments sections, and social media outlets where people talk about their games, figuring out what people liked and didn’t like. Developers want to make the best games they can, games that delight their fans. To do so, they listen to the fans to learn what they want.

If that feature you want isn’t in the latest game, it’s not because they didn’t hear you. It’s because they couldn’t or didn’t want to implement it.

4. All developers care about is money

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

I get it: You paid $60 for a game, and the moment you pop it in, you’re asked to throw down another $40 for the season pass, or a few bucks for in-game currency. Isn’t your $60 good enough? Where does the money grubbing end?

It’s true that those things can be annoying, but they’re also a necessary part of modern games. Game development on the latest systems is extremely expensive, and the only way developers and publishers can maintain the $60 price point — which started at the beginning of the last console generation, by the way — is to offer digital extras to fans willing to to buy them.

It’s not a perfect system, but unless you want games to start costing $70 by default, it’s what we’re stuck with.

5. That games are made by a single person

Source: Nintendo

Source: Nintendo

You may know the names of famous video game developers like Shigeru Miyamoto, Cliff Bleszinski, John Carmack, and Hideo Kojima. What you might not know is that those people aren’t solely responsible for the games you associate with them. Sure, Miyamoto played an enormous role in the making of games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, but whole teams worked to create those games. Other people had plenty of input in the finished product that you hold so dear.

Auteurs are important to the video game industry, but developing a big game takes a lot more than one person.

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