May 25

I’ve been doodling around with the new Game Maker Studio from Yoyo Games, and after reading up a bit in the forums and various announcements that were published, I’ve come away very confused.  First off, let me make it perfectly clear that this isn’t a review of Game Maker (I’ll leave that for another time).  What I’m confused about (and so is YoYo Games, apparently) is who exactly Game Maker is aimed at.  The “who are our customers” issue came to my attention while cruising the forums, where some indie developers were complaining about the costs of the various modules.  YoYo Games have chosen to go the whole module route for different platforms (like most game tool developers) and offer the following:

  • Game Maker: Studio (Win/MacOS) : $99
  • HTML Module: $99
  • Android Module: $199
  • iOS Module: $199

Whether or not the whole thing is worth $596 isn’t the issue here (it may, it may not), the issue is the mixed message that YoYo Games is giving out.  The standard response from the YoYo Games employees on the forums when people complain about the cost of the mobile modules is that Game Maker Studio is aimed at “professional” game developers.  I find this quite laughable, but that’s a topic for the actual review.  Here’s some choice YoYo Games responses:

Then I’d politely suggest that Studio probably isn’t for them….. We not aiming Studio at the lowest price point so everyone and their dog can buy it, we’re aiming it firmly at professional developers, and for what it does, Studio IS cheap – EVEN for developers in Poland.

We can’t reduce the price just because not all bedroom coders can afford it; it’s not aimed at them.

So, it’s pretty clear – if you’re an indie, bedroom or Polish game developer, then YoYo Games doesn’t want your business.  That’s all fine, I respect that (even though I suspect that the largest market for game development tools is indie and bedroom programmers, and the volume value exceeds the “professional” market).  So then why, in a quote attributed to YoYo Games CEO Sandy Duncan, do they say that “the tool is primarily intended for small companies working on a budget”?  In my books these small companies working on a budget ARE the indie and bedroom coders!

Anyhow, that’s my rant for the day.  I guess I’m just saying that no matter what the price, YoYo Games is shooting a bit high by aiming at “professional” developers.  It wasn’t too long ago that Garage Games had such lofty ambitions and morphed into the professional middleware company formally known as TorquePowered.  That didn’t work out too well, and mercifully Garage Games has gone back to its indie roots (and made huge price cuts).  Want another example?  How about Borland, which became the “professional” Inprise, and now is Borland again (but a shell of the former company after screwing up their developer tools division).

My point exactly?  Game Maker is still Game Maker – it looks terrible (I know it can produce some decent games, in the right hands, but so can pretty much any tool).  Putting “studio” in the name and aiming it at “professionals” doesn’t take the yoyo out of the company.  I suspect that competition from other similar products will squeeze them enough to force the price down and make YoYo Games become indie and bedroom coder friendly again.

As a final word, remember that Corona SDK got its much needed shot in the arm from the publicity around a 14 year old producing a popular game.  Think about that (and the fact that it’s cheaper)…

written by Paul \\ tags: , , ,

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