Game Development Reference
Interview with Jason Decker: Love Letters from
Q: Any final thoughts for social game developers out there?
A: Steal from the best. That's the best advice I have. There's so much
learning going on right now about what works and what doesn't. Don't
waste your time trying to invent brand-new stuff. I believe in being orig-
inal, but you have to look at what's done well and learn from it, then
bring your own voice to it.
Don't hold on to stuff to a point of perfection, either. Learn to fail fast.
When you're making a game, you can't be in the minds of the masses, so
get it out there quickly and react quickly to what they like and don't like.
You'll get fan letters if you do something right, sure. But you'll get
a lot more complaints. And you should treat every hate mail as a love
letter. They love your game so much that they care enough to write.
They've invested so much somehow into your dream that they really care.
Otherwise, you're just a commercial for them to ignore. They want the
soul in everything that you do.
Two things that are happening—first, the chips that are waiting to
come out on the phones now are about 20 times more powerful than
what you're holding today. And the reality is that we're now all holding
mega-PCs in our hands. Between the powerful phones and cloud comput-
ing, technology is going to be a big game changer in the mobile gaming
market within the next few years.
Q: Tell me about the erosion of the AAA market.
A: The reality is that for any device that's polished and expensive, like a
new big TV, you're going to always buy something to show it off. If you
buy a 3D TV, you're going to buy a $30 Avatar 3D DVD that shows it off,
even though you're still mostly going to be watching streamed movies off
Netflix that don't look nearly as good. If you have a PS3, you're going
to buy a $60 game. If I buy an iPhone 5, I'm probably going to buy that
new Unreal tech demo that runs on it. Stuff like Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA)
erodes that a bit because you can get really great entertainment for a frac-
tion of that price, but you're still going to occasionally buy those summer
blockbusters that show off your hardware. So social games aren't going to
kill the big AAA games, just give people another way to play.