The Bell Curve is Alive and Well

Nice little article/interview over at the NY Times from earlier this month. What an optimistic bit from Stephen Totilo, editor in chief at Kotaku.com:

Big companies no longer dominate the creation of video games. Freethinking, independent creators are on the rise, and they’re making some fascinating games.

Yes, it’s true: Indie game developers are making great games, as they’ve almost always done. But the Bell Curve is alive and well  — only a few at the top are producing creative, interesting stuff. The rest are struggling with either 1) interruptions to implementation due to lack of funding, or 2) the need to put the dish on the table before it’s done — to “test” the waters before committing the time and money to complete the game, or 3) the low barrier to entry that tricks them into thinking they can somehow skip to the head of the curve without doing the work.

In fact there are plenty of big companies, old and new, and they all want to dominate (and most of them claim to be the “leader” in their markets — we sure have a lot of leaders these days!). It’s a roller coaster for developers, however — nobody wants to put their money in the pot until the meal’s already cooked, been reviewed and filled the restaurant with patrons.

For developers, there’s a promise of deep pockets to extend and maintain — perhaps even increase — revenues, but it’s next to impossible to figure out how that actually happens in the current crazy world of online (and especially mobile) discovery and distribution.