Semester(s) Offered: Spring
Credits: 4
Course Call Number: GAMES-GT 301, GAMES-UT 261
Prerequisite(s): None
Taught By: Matt Boch / Joost van Dreunen

Video games are a mainstream form of entertainment, and a key economic driver in the broader entertainment industry. As the games industry has matured, it has also diversified, not only in terms of the identities of creators, but also team scale, target audience, funding model, and distribution channel. We can expect this trend toward diversification to continue, and for the games landscape to continue shifting, perhaps indefinitely.

This diversity means that there are a variety of opportunities for talented individuals to make a living within the games industry, but it also adds increasing complexity to decisions regarding financing, publishing, marketing, and selling a given game. Should your game be released as free-to-play with microtransactions? As episodic content? Ad-supported? Should you pitch your game to a publisher? Should you crowdfund your game or release it for early access? Are you better off selling your game on itch.io or to an art gallery as an edition of one? By the end of this course, you’ll have the tools necessary to evaluate and make decisions like this, as well as the foundational knowledge to be able to understand and address novel opportunities within the games industry as they arise.

The focus on this course is a core understanding of the economic factors that impact the development & business models of games. Depending on the interests & ambitions of the students, we’ll discuss a variety of topics: from the economics of Steam sales, to relationships with publishers, to App store charts, to one’s role working at a large studio, to forming a studio of your own. Over the first few weeks, we’ll investigate the major markets & strategies within the games industry. After that, we’ll address some core business skills and knowledge, while students develop & execute a plan to release a game.

Upon completion of this course, the student will have:
1) a broad sense of video games as a major entertainment industry.
2) a rudimentary business vocabulary integral to professional game development and publishing.
3) an understanding of historical drivers of change, dominant economic forces, market trends, and current topics.
4) enough information about the video games industry to formulate a credible plan for their role(s) within it.
5) production acumen as it applies to financial and business oriented decisions within their intended role.
6) presentational skills and considerations for their intended role.
7) experience releasing a game into the marketplace.