Christian Montoya

Lethal Industry

Legend has it that Neill Blomkamp, a young but promising director responsible for some technically impressive short films and commercials, had been tapped to direct the highly anticipated Halo movie. When this project fell through due to Microsoft not wanting to play nicely with the movie studios, producer Peter Jackson took the money he would have dedicated to Halo and told Neill to go ahead and make whatever movie he would like. The result was a full length feature film based on Neill's short "Alive in Johannesburg," entitled "District 9" which was a box-office success and was nominated for the Academy Award in 2009.

Legend also has it that when Scooter Braun discovered Justin Bieber, he organized a bidding war between Usher and Justin Timberlake, with Usher eventually winning out and having Justin Bieber sign to his label, Island Def Jam. He then provided for Justin & his mom with a house and made sure all expenses were paid while he was bringing up Justin and taking him on tour.

In the world of entertainment, we have 3 hits-driven businesses: movies, music and videogames. While we may see a thousand new movies each year and a thousand new songs each day, the profit margins are driven by a handful of highly successful standouts, with the long tail representing plenty of lost investment. This is the cruel nature of making art-for-profit. Anyone who chooses to make entertainment their livelihood knows that you just hope for your opportunity to make something successful. And if you have a knack for achieving success more often than once, then you just might be considered a franchise. That's showbusiness.

Still, videogames are a rather young industry compared to movies and music. I would say the world is still trying to figure out how to handle them. Even in my short career of 5 years, I've seen a lot of money invested in the videogame industry, but often only in "companies" or "business models." Never in talent. As a creator for hire myself, I've come to realize that people have the wrong idea on how to approach the industry. Money is misplaced and talent is wasted, all because the capital fails to reach the people with the ability to use it wisely. People don't invest in ideas, they simply invest in operations, and that is where they have it wrong.

Maybe it's out of line for me to suggest how the game industry should work, but I have this idea in my head that someday, talented game designers will be given the funding and means to bring their ideas to life, much like a talented director / writer or songwriter / musician. Those with the ability to produce successful franchises will do so without being tied down to big companies like EA or Zynga. And who knows, maybe the minds behind the next big hits will be famous and recognized for their talent, much like James Cameron or Diplo. I say these things because I think the current industry is horribly broken, so much that I don't wish to be a part of it myself. All the capital is tied up in entities that can't produce anything of value, and some of the most talented game designers don't have the resources to bring their ideas to life. If there is any reason why the videogame industry might be doomed, it's because they fail to invest in the talent they have. Time and time again, the people who are responsible for producing successful and profitable franchises are burned out while the credit goes to people who don't deserve it. If you've ever wondered why the most talented videogame professionals choose to go the indie route, it's as simple as this: they never get the respect they deserve in the major videogame companies, and their only option for making the games they believe in is to do it independently. And when you have an industry where all the innovation and success is coming out of independent entities while the major companies are going out of business, well, that's a big sign that something is seriously wrong. I think I've summed up the reasons well enough.

Will the industry change for the better? I can't say. I am at a point where I'm ready to take a break. Maybe someday in the future things will be better, and I'll be happy to come back and work on the next big hit. In the meantime I can only hope for the best.

Thank you for reading • Published on March 14th, 2013 • Please take a moment to share this with your friends


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