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Kristian Segerstrale: Cross-platform, not new platforms, will drive growth

Super Evil Megacorp CEO says, despite industry turmoil, the "fundamentals are there for growth over the next ten years"

Kristian Segerstale believes industry growth will be driven by developers embracing a cross-platform strategy, rather than waiting for a single new platform to disrupt the market.

In the opening keynote of Develop Brighton today, the Super Evil Megacorp CEO was asked about the state of platform and the industry. Host and MobileGamer.biz editor Neil Long noted that, with console, mobile and PC well-established, it "doesn't feel like there's anything new on the horizon" that might bolster the games market.

He added that while some companies have attempted to disrupt the industry with Web3 and metaverse properties, there's nothing to rival the rise of smartphones and app stores, for example.

"It's true there is no single new platform that is driving growth," Segerstrale said. "That said, there's an awful lot of opportunity to make the most out of the platforms that we have.

"I think it's almost physics at this point – there's such gravitational pull around cross-platform for any core or midcore gaming IP... Once you've made a really good game, you can reach more players by being on more platforms. It's sort of obvious, but we don't always think of it that way."

He added that mobiles becoming more powerful will be key to this, although acknowledged that developers need to think carefully about the input mechanisms, business models, and so on.

At the start of the session, Segerstrale discussed the current state of the industry, attempting to offer a little optimism for attendees.

"If you want to feel good about games, the best thing to do is find someone who works in movies, music or almost any other kind of media and ask them 'how are you doing?' Because frankly in games we're doing pretty amazing.

"I know I sound a little flippant about it – this year is bad. We've had over 10,000 layoffs in the first half of the year, which is more than all of last year put together. We see projects being cancelled, studios being closed, some unfathomable decisions by really big companies closing award-winning studios. It doesn't look great at face value.

"That said, if you zoom out, our industry has more than doubled in size in the last ten years or so. What other industry can say that? We're north of three billion people playing games and growing every year. More people have access to game-playing devices. As an industry, the fundamentals are there for growth over the next ten years."

He added that, in his experience, the industry tends to "overreact to short-term trends and under-react to long-term secular evolution."

He pointed to the early days of mobile gaming as an example; Segerstrale began his career in 2001, around the time when the first phones that could download games were being released. He recalled that developers back then were hoping mobile games might become a $1 billion industry.

"But with feature phones where you could only use buttons to move up, left, down, right, and blank and white screens with limited pixels, you could reasonably say mobile gaming will never take off, or it will be super niche at all time. And now mobile games is a $90 billion industry and goes from strength to strength in different ways.

"None of that understates how challenging things are for developers today. We see that. But I do think the best companies in the long-term are punched in the face a few times during their journey. It happened to Supercell early on, it's happened to pretty much every company I've been involved with in one way or another. And when the industry punches you in the face, the best thing you can do is learn from it [and] learn how to become a more resilient company and make better games."

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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