Michel Kripalani, Senior Industry Manager/Games, Autodesk
Issue: December 1, 2007


STRENGTHS: The games industry is growing at a phenomenal pace. During the each of the last two years, with new consoles entering the market, worldwide growth was in excess of 16 percent per year. The Nintendo Wii is exceeding all expectations and selling into an expanded demographic, bringing many new gamers into the mix. Casual games are beginning to find their own significant market with many companies dedicated to producing only these smaller, bite-sized offerings. Finally, the success of massively multiplayer online games is driving significant revenue through monthly subscription models.

WEAKNESSES: There is not enough talent to feed all of the productions that are going on. It appears that the entire games industry is in a major talent crunch. More and more, artists are being pulled away from film pipelines and into games production due to their experience and their ability to write specialized tools for 3DS Max and Maya. There is also a shortage of good project managers who have the ability to wrangle multi-disciplinary teams. With many current games costing in excess of $10-15 million dollars to produce, these are not trivial issues. 

OPPORTUNITIES: There are opportunities in games everywhere you turn. At the low-risk end there are plenty of success stories from small studios who focus on casual games. There are emerging opportunities in Xbox Live Arcade and mobile games. At the riskier end, there are plenty of contracts to be secured for console titles, though these generally are given to seasoned developers. Across all of these areas, there are many opportunities for contractors and outsourced work. All skill sets are in demand in games today. 

THREATS: The biggest problem facing the games business today is escaping its own heritage. Traditionally, games have appealed to 18-35 year old males who have a certain level of tolerance for violence and repetitive game play mechanics. In order for games to expand their demographic and really become a mass-market form of entertainment, developers and publishers will need to shake those roots and embrace new genres and play styles. The Nintendo Wii is helping here tremendously. Expect to see many other game-changing initiatives along these lines in the next two to three years. If this does not happen, games have the potential of never breaking out of the stereotype of being toys for teenage boys. 

OUTLOOK 2007: The future has never looked brighter for the games business. New, powerful consoles are selling well into in the market. These systems, while being very technical in nature, are empowering artists to realize ideas. We are seeing many innovations that were not previously possible in games. New art tools, new game mechanics, and new increased demographics are driving a renaissance in the games industry. 

Michel Kripalani oversees aspects of Autodesk 3DS Max, Maya, MotionBuilder and Mudbox representing the games industry. A veteran of the videogame industry, he founded Presto Studios in 1991, which produced The Journeyman Project series, Myst 3: Exile, Whacked!, and many other successful games.