GameMaker engine innovation slowing, but developers might win

Yoyo Games, the creators of Game Maker got acquired recently. What does it mean?

For one, the acquirers promised that everything will go on as usual. That’s a fair statement to make, but in a tech company, what matters is if the team can continue innovating.

Let’s get the lowdown of both companies:

Acquired: Yoyo Games’ GameMaker currently covers 9 platforms and is used to build indie hits including Super Crate Box and Hotline Miami. It has a thriving community of 750,000 developers, who created a self-sustaining ecosystem with games, templates, plugins and artwork transactions.

Acquirer: Playtech is a provider of sports betting hardware and software. It published its intention of acquring GameMaker as means to penetrate the casual gaming space.

Now, we all know that casual gaming within GameMaker is far less valuable than the gambling business, but what’s lucrative for Playtech, is that they get access to 750,000 developers, at the price of $21.80 per head.

I’m assuming Playtech would want to convert a percentage of these developers to start integrating betting-like features into their games, in a bid to bridge casual gaming with skill-based gaming or gambling. There’s a fine line to draw here, but I’m sure Playtech is very good as distinguishing between the two.

Hence, parallel to maintaining the GameMaker business, Playtech has to attempt to do a lot of integration, by starting to build rapport with the developer community, on- and offline. Technical integrations which include SDKs and documentation would have to be created, in order to bridge the gap.

I personally think that having an ‘integration’ mindset will almost always slow down the pace of innovation of the GameMaker engine itself. I’m talking about the core technology itself — being able to adapt to other distribution mediums (eg: Steam, Ouya, etc, or being able to support a 3D rendering engine). Or being able to support the next fast growing games platform. These matter in the long run, because as developers mature, the same is needed of the engine.

Slowed innovation in the engine sector, will almost definitely cause other game making platforms to rise, including smaller players such as Construct2.

Upside? If the integration works great, the developer community wins because it gets access into lucrative gaming sector.

Definitely an interesting turn of events, and worth watching.

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