Here are the slides and notes to my GDC presentation, “The Game of Platform Power”. In our industry, history repeats itself again and again, but each new generation of developers often fails to learn past lessons. Platforms in particular have a well established life cycle and their relationship with a developer changes as they mature. Yet, I regularly see developers completely caught off guards as their new favorite platform suddenly stops being their friend and starts treating them as a harvestable resource. Don’t be surprised. This is the way of things and it has happened dozens of times in the past.
My small hope is that by naming and illuminating some of the common phases and practices of platforms, developers will be able to better deal with the inevitable shifts. I would like nothing better than smart game developers to divorce their businesses from the platform life cycle and build direct relationships with long lasting communities of passionate gamers.
I will note that I have nothing against platforms despite what my occasionally spicy rhetoric may suggest. I respect and appreciate them like a biologist appreciates a large predator. I’ve personally walked many miles in the shoes of platform developer. (I spent 10 years building platforms and I loved it.) It is a hard path and platforms do their best. However, ultimately I feel it is better for everyone to be a strong advocate for the users and the game developers that directly serve them. In the long view of history picture, these two are the essential players.