Game Development Reference
The forces against innovation begin to grow around and inside him.
Shareholders start calling about their quarterly earnings. A growing staff
builds up expectations, assumptions, and specialized skill sets. Habits
form and become entrenched. Slowly, the risk-taking, ad hoc studio cul-
ture of the start-up is replaced by a ponderous paperwork machine. Worse,
the successful designer stops questioning himself. Perhaps he starts
thinking a little too highly of his own ideas. Perhaps he becomes afraid of
change now that he has so much to lose. Perhaps he just gets too lazy to do
the brow-sweating mental toil of innovation.
In the end, the successful designer and his studio lose their ability
to invent. His nothing-to-lose creative fire and his willingness to try wild
ideas are gone. He switches into defensive cash cow milking mode as he
attempts to stretch out his initial success forever. And then he is surprised
when some new kid comes along with a crazy idea and knocks him down
the same way he knocked down the guy before him.
This situation is called the innovator's dilemma .
The INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA is a hard choice faced by incumbent leaders
in a field: keep innovating by abandoning your flagship product, or don't
and wait for someone else to innovate instead.
The innovator's dilemma counterbalances the Matthew effect. From
the point of view of a small studio, the size and resources of an established
competitor can seem overwhelming. But most of those large companies
are hobbled by the innovator's dilemma. They're static targets, living off
an old victory, waiting to be taken down.
The game design tournament is played in multiple divisions, and each
division has different prizes. You can try to win a big division with a big
prize, but it will take a huge investment and you will face tough competi-
tion. Alternatively, you can target a smaller division with a smaller prize.
Smaller prizes mean less competition, but usually also less reward.
The divisions, of course, are market segments.
A MARKET SEGMENT is a group of players defined by their interests,
preexisting skills, price range, culture, available technology, and
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