Thanks to the Steve Jackson annual report thread, I realized that we didn’t have a thread to discuss the annual Stardock Consumer Report. I know how much some of you love to jump into any thread with Wardell’s name in it and go completely nuts, but I hope we can keep the discussion civil here, okay? Let’s try to actually talk about the contents of the report.
First, Brad announced the creation of a fund for promising game developers.
When Stardock divested itself of Impulse, it presented the company with some unprecedented opportunities. We suddenly had enough capital to do essentially anything we wanted. We took 2011 to consider how we should use this capital. Ultimately, it was decided that we would keep Stardock itself relatively small and create an investment fund (this will be discussed more later this year). This new fund we’re creating will follow the following four principles.
- We should use this capital to help the next generation of software and game developers.
- We should use this capital to help found new game studios and new software ventures.
- We will strive to have a minority share in these entities in the long-run.
- These entities should produce things that will help future start-ups in the technology industry.
After Brad discusses the ways in which Stardock’s productivity software has answered some Windows 8 users’ needs, he moves on to Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion and Elemental.
He then includes a section titled “Beating the 64-bit drum.”
For strategy gamers, the last few years have been a mixed blessing. There have been some great titles released but the innovation in strategy games has been diminishing. This is not the result of a lack of game design or inventive thinking. The problem stems from a catastrophic decision made at Microsoft: not giving DirectX 10 to Windows XP users.
As a corollary, Microsoft continuing to sell 32-bit versions of Windows well after the hardware stopped being natively 32-bit has held back PC game development immensely.
Game developers have been stuck with DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory for the past decade. While this hasn’t harmed first person shooters (they only have to manage a handful of objects at once), it has been poisonous to othergenres. Next time you’re playing an RPG in first person with no party you can refer to DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory as a big reason for that.
With DirectX 11 we can go to town with shader anti-aliasing and lowering the development capability requirements on having a multi-core based simulation (right now, nearly all of a game’s simulation occurs on 1 thread on 1 core). And with 64-bit, we can fit a lot more stuff into memory.
There are whole classes of games waiting to be made that require these kinds of advances. Luckily, after a decade long wait, we are nearing critical mass. The days of games supporting 32-bit OSes is, thankfully, coming to an end. DirectX 10 as a minimum requirement has also arrived.
He finshes with some advice for other game developers wishing to strike it out on their own.
Another key thing to emphasize is taxes. I mentioned it earlier but when I see people celebrate big Kickstarter projects, I am almost certain they’re not aware that a third of that (or more) is going to go away in taxes. I think Kickstarter is a game changer for our industry (in a good way) but there is a definite downside to get a big check in the mail. If you’re going to use Kickstarter, use it as it was intended – seed money. Don’t use it to fund a significant portion of your effort if you can avoid it.
Financial management is an absolutely critical part of running your up and coming software business. So make sure you set up cash flow projections for a year out. Create financial models. If you’re doing Kickstarter, take the first 2-days of revenue, you should be able to generate 3 to 4 times that total – with media coverage being the wild card.