The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
I guess the question is, after seemingly getting it all off my chest in the article above, what more can I possibly have to say about the OpenAI Vs Sam Altman pantomime that played out last weekend?
Answer is not that much, other than to draw attention to the important bit that didn't get enough attention at the time - the reason why they got rid of Altman in the first place.
With too much gawping drawn to the departure of their CEO, his co-founder and potentially the vast majority of their staff, the eye has been taken off the real ball in play here. That being that Altman's team have recently had a technical breakthrough of such a magnitude that a difference of opinion on what to do next, prompted the axing of the guy who - by all accounts - made the whole thing possible in the first place.
It would seem that this whole mess WILL make sense one day soon, and that will be with the reveal of just what caused OpenAI to rip itself apart. If the rumours are true and they've made something that can do for maths what their smart-alec what-comes-next chat app has done for text and speech, then we're all about to embark on a whole new trip.
The last couple of weeks has seen industry data surface that compounds longstanding and recent issues.
There have always been layoffs and studio closures in the games sector, but this year has proven particularly punishing. As noted in this article, one games industry layoffs tracker (!) estimates there have been more than 8,000 job losses so far this year - and that’s just the reported ones.
The other longstanding issue - I even ran a feature on the topic in September 2015 back in my Develop magazine days - are the lack of opportunities available for aspiring junior developers. Studios want the top senior talent to build the best games. That’s understandable, but it must be crushing for young developers fresh out of university (or other career path) to see that, according to Games Jobs Live, there are only 34 junior vacancies at studios in the UK out of 1,170 open positions right now.
And to get those roles, they are competing with thousands of other young developers, and numerous laid off employees looking for their next role in the sector. On top of that, remote work may not be an option, so it could require relocation.
It’s a shame more isn’t being done to provide opportunities. I’m sure for successful companies that’s just business. But if there is a skills shortage for senior developers in the UK, it’s a short-sighted attitude for the industry.
Papukaya’s CEO and co-founder, Drussila Hollanda, broke the sad news over Linkedin that Papukaya would be closing down. This just goes to show how difficult making games is and particularly how challenging the mobile market can be to navigate.
The company was founded in 2020, so it already had a tall order having to contend with getting off the ground during a pandemic, and the nature of Papukaya’s games being experimental and relatively niche just hasn’t worked out in the long run, despite having backing from the giant that is Supercell.
It’s sad to see a team with such out-of-the-box thinking unable to make this work, but at the same time, I commend the decision to know when to call something quits. Hopefully, it's just a case of going on to the next adventure. When the dust settles, I would love to chat with the Papukaya team because there are valuable learnings here that many studios would benefit from hearing.
My week started off at a preview event for the latest livestreaming platform, Noice, geared towards gamers who want to “play the stream” themselves. Giving viewers something to keep their hands busy and minds active while they watch a stream that relates directly to that stream is an intriguing concept, and I was eager to try it out.
It proved to be a fun time, but is this the future of livestreaming? Jussi Laakkonen’s latest project certainly fits the bill for an innovative new concept at the very least, with plenty for streamers and viewers to get involved with if they reach out for closed beta access.