Klei Entertainment's founder says struggles of AAA devs are fueling independent dev scene

Klei Entertainment's founder Jamie Cheng believes the recent struggles of big AAA developers have given rise to the independent game development expansion, according to an interview with GamesIndustry International.

"With all the changes and layoffs, we're seeing so many new studios come up that are doing these games without the crutch of hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing...I think for sure that the layoffs are fuelling way more development in the small, independent space," Cheng told GamesIndustry.

That said, Cheng pointed out that AAA developers are still needed as sources of trained talent for independent development studios.

"I enjoy having the large AAA around because they were hiring and training tons of people, and I can't do that," Cheng said. "We have 30 people and that seems like a lot in the independent space. I can't go out and train a lot of people in development, and that's what they were doing."

When asked about his thoughts on the future of independent game development, Cheng said that as the growing trend of direct-to-consumer digital distribution gets "good enough" it will "overtake the retail stuff. And that's what's started to happen."

GamesIndustry also reports that Cheng is interested in seeing where the trends of pre-orders and alpha funding leads. He said that Klei tried to set a good example with Don't Starve's early access beta.

This was achieved by providing gamers with a solid game that isn't going to crash, despite it being an early access beta, and that the team is "going to be responsive on the thing that you bought." Cheng also said as new distribution methods emerge, developers have to be mindful of "what the player feels like."

Established in 2005, Klei Entertainment's stable of titles include Shank, Mark of the Ninja, Eets and soon to be released Don't Starve.

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