The Value of Creativity

And the Devaluation of the Developers in the Games Industry

During the weekend after GDC 2020’s cancellation, I tried to reach the devs that had tried to get in touch with me via the GDC meeting service GDC Connect. To my annoyance, it was shut down, and while I’m sure there is relevant and understandable reason behind this, it still made it a _hassle_ to figure out how to reach the devs whom I had not gotten an email address from. The system simply does not want the devs to be able to reach me outside of its own ecosystem, and only for a limited time. This creates a sort of FOMO for devs that makes it feel like they might miss the opportunity to pitch us, when in reality we are open to pitches all day, every day, all year round. It also got me thinking about something that’s been grinding my gears for quite some years and got me thinking about what could be done to change it. I accidentally went off on Twitter, but this is probably a better medium to put forth my thoughts.

The key to this problem is the way these sorts of meeting facilitation services are set up, who their intended customer is and how it is used. GDC Connect is just one of the many services that are around, but as far as I know, they all share the same basic flaw – they view the Developers as customers and Publishers and Investors as Content. This creates a situation that devalues what the developer brings to the table, which coincidentally is also the single most important thing. It’s what drives this whole damn industry; Creativity, and the willingness to create. It’s time to change this stupid narrative; That devs should be running after publishers and investors with their hats in their hands, begging for pocket money and possibly IP-rights.

Pictured: Current meeting facilitation services unique value proposal - with the addition of devs having to pay to be chosen

Put simply; Our ability as publishers and investors to do our work only matters if there are developers out there creating things. Not the opposite way around. Gaining access to a ton of developers in one place should be the value proposition, not getting access to x publishers and/or investors that can be accessed easily already. Most, if not all, publishers and investors in the indie space are very easy to reach via a plethora of platforms – but at a minimum via email. If you google How to pitch Raw Fury you get both the email address (magic@rawfury.com) as well as a guide on how to help us get what we need from you in a pitch.

A publisher/investor can do _a lot_ of good things for a dev/project, but the devs are always the ones that bring the most to the table – a willingness to take the risk to create something uniquely theirs. They bring what can not be bought, while most other things can be.

PR/QA/Porting/Mock reviews/Project management/Booth space/Advertising etc etc etc – with some cash, it can be bought. It’s not very hard, you can find many good service providers within these fields. Without cash, you can DIY guerilla something good enough, with time/creativity as the resource instead of cash. A publisher can take away some of these headaches – not only do we bring on our own experts in these fields, but these things are also literally our job to do or facilitate. That experience and know-how can make things a lot smoother and easier for a project and let devs focus on the development instead.

However, no investor or publisher can buy the sum of a team’s life experiences and the unique synergies of the intermingling of those experiences and then distill that into a playable artifact you can experience. That’s what devs/creatives bring to the table, that’s the immeasurable value that drives this ginormous industry. It’s not shareholders, it’s not publishers, it’s not CEO’s earning 306 times the median wage of employees in the companies they run. 

them's fighting words

So what can we do about this? How can we do our part in changing this narrative as a publisher, and as a participant in this industry? We are a “For Happiness”-company, our ambition is to always have the best of our employees and our devs (the Fury Family) front and center. If we just keep on keeping on, then we’re part of this idiotic narrative, and we are also dishonest to both our current devs and the devs we would like to bring on in the future.

My proposal is simple; If you want to have a meeting facilitation service, build one with the publisher/investor as the intended Customer, and good access to Developers as the value proposition. This would mean a lot of changes to how the current systems work, and it won’t happen overnight, but it would likely mean a more level playing field for developers globally (make it free for devs to sign up and put in their information, or as free as possible) when you’re not walled off by a $100-2500 fee for access. It would mean more devs would get proper attention from the right type of publishers and investors, as the system would be able to sort on platform, budget size, preliminary release quarters, genre, etc. It would get publishers quick and easy access to decks/trailers/builds, and it would make it easy to get in touch via whatever preferred platform of communication the devs prefer – not force the messages to be stuck in a messaging system on the site (which you can’t access when it’s shut down for the specific conference). Build something that works all year long, and just add the option to put a marker in the IRL conferences the dev would go to (and the ability for the publisher to sort based on that). It would also have to be a product that’s good enough to rival the scouts working for these companies, or significantly make the life of scouts smoother, and that is of course a harder customer to please than less experienced devs who might think you need to pay to get the opportunity to show publishers what they’re working on.

You’re welcome - now go change shake shit up.

So my call to current meeting facilitation companies is simple: Shake shit up. Make publishers live their words and values, and not just blurt them out as a nice marketing move. Build a product that facilitates access smartly, and reduces friction for all parties involved. Make publishers the intended paying customer, not devs who are already put their finances at risk by building something pitchable. 

However, as rightly pointed out by Jay Powell of The Powell Group (who by random chance tweeted the initial tweet that got me ranting, sorry Jay!) this won’t matter unless publishers and investors also do their part. There needs to be a paradigm shift in “our” part of the industry as well, and I want to call on other publishers and investors as well to do their part in not perpetuating the devaluation of the creators that are the foundation of this industry, and any other creative industry as well.

Until then people can reach me here, pitch us directly at magic@rawfury.com or just say hi when they see me at conferences/expos.

Johan Toresson,
Chief Say That Again Officer