My two year sabbatical is coming to an end. I’m starting as Lead Designer at LucasArts in San Francisco this January which is the beginning of a new phase for me. In September I released Colors! for iPhone and iPod Touch. This has turned Collecting Smiles into a full-fledged independent developer, and I wanted to write a few words of thanks to Apple for that.
In my opinion Apple has done the most important innovation in the game-industry since the Wii. They have single-handedly provided a both a platform and a distribution system that allows developers to easily distribute their work, and even make money out of it, without having to get into the dirty business of business. Basically, you can as a sole individual, without even talking to another person, make millions if you release the right game or application at the right time. For all of you who have some experience with trying to get a game published, you’ll realize what a difference that can make. Now, I should note that Microsoft has been trying to do the same thing for quite a while with XNA, but instead of promises and delays, Apple just got it out and it was simpler and worked better than anyone ever expected. There are of course flaws, but none of them overshadow the step forward that Apple has done, and that I believe the others will follow.
App Store represents the giant shift in the industry that I will remembered 2008 by. While EA fails with safe bets like Need for Speed, small creative leaps like Braid is taking the glory. This may finally be the time of the independent developer. App Store, XNA/XBLA, PSN, DSWare, WiiWare, Steam. There are so many potential ways an independent developer can flourish. I hope I’m right. The games-industry will be better for it.