As part of our 10th Birthday celebrations, I reached out to a few friends from across the business to share their thoughts on the business over the last decade. There are some great voices to be heard, including some rare hardware chat on The Reticule. Please, read on.
Ten years have represented vast change in the indie game space. Ten years ago, getting your game on steam required some serious networking, and all the existing indies, including me, were concentrating on marketing and selling direct to customers. Ten years later and we have the dual forces of unity making simple game development vastly easier, combined with steam now taking pretty much every game in existence. The result is vastly more competition, but in a sense, we have come full circle, to the position where indie game developers are once again their own marketers and promotion managers. I would be amazed if the industry looks anything like it does now in 2028. Indie game dev is not a job where what worked last year will work this year!
I’m delighted to see Chris has brought The Reticule so far over the last decade, his enthusiasm working at Halflife2.net was always apparent but we knew it could only last so long before he fled the nest! First it was for hiw own cncnation.net thanks to C&C3 (if only that game was good) but The Reticule has clearly been his real passion project.
Chris and I came from that era of microcosm-ed communities on fan specific websites, usually forum based. Without social media, developers and publishers really had to rely on guys like us to reach their direct fanbase, it was a real privilege to do that for Valve, especially for a company notorious for being poor communicators! Beyond social media, Reddit communities are now king in this space and Discord is everything we wished IRC would have been. Alas, no sour grapes…with developers being able to communicate more directly to fans now, gaming sites need to work harder to produce their own original content and voices, something Chris has done so well for so long.
The games industry has clearly have become far more savvy in customer interaction and keeping gamers engaged with their games. I watch a lot of Esport these days – promotional items, influencer programs through pro-gamers or prominent twitch streamers or youtubers are common. I don’t think gameplay innovation has improved proportionally, visuals (especially animations) certainly have though. But I am older and more miserable now (scorned too many times by pre-orders) but the thirst is bigger than ever despite how bad some games are…*cough* Fortnite *cough*. Even though the industry appears to have matured, from my friends who work in development it still needs to grow up around job security and the dreaded ‘crunch’ in the run-up to release. RDR2 was the latest culprit that sounded dreadfully depressing for devs working insane hours to meet the deadlines of belligerent project managers. It is unfortunate because this industry has so much enthusiasm in it from incredibly young and talented individuals. I’m sure it will become less of a problem in time as we leave game development to our AI overlords who know exactly how to trigger our personal dopamine release responses.
Glenn was Chris’ first editor, back in the days of halflife2.net (now valvetime.net). A general friendship on the forum quickly led to an opportunity for Chris to contribute as a member of the writing staff. Chris would like to thank Glenn for his support, as without that first taste of writing, we wouldn’t be here today with The Reticule.
I’m a tech writer who loves games, so I’m always looking at how the hardware inside PCs and consoles will impact current and next generation titles. And, looking back over the past ten years, I’ve seen some incredible progress – but also some familiar frustrations, as the market pulls in different directions and the same cycles repeat themselves.
Take graphics, for instance. Nvidia has spent the last decade making fantastic GPU progress – its cores have become more powerful and more efficient, which enables a wider and more affordable range of PCs. But, over the last year or so, its cards have stopped becoming more efficient and no less affordable. You get more power now, sure, but its cards are more expensive than ever, efficiency is unchanged, and key features don’t work. It’s not a good look.
AMD, meanwhile, has a floundering presence in the desktop graphics market but is bolstered by having its hardware inside all of the major consoles. That’s good for business, but it doesn’t work particularly well when games are being developed for consoles but ported to PCs – most of which have Nvidia hardware. It just makes things more complicated and, in the end, that’s no good for gamers.
This sort of conflict can be seen everywhere. Monitors aren’t advancing like could be because they’re divided between AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync. AMD has made huge gains with its Ryzen processors, but Intel has retained its market lead. And, while both companies have spent the past decade concentrating on increasing their core counts, the firms are levelling out in this regard – and, arguably, in raw clock speeds too. There’s a big chance that this area of the market could stagnate.
And, amid all of this PC push-and-pull, new consoles are just around the corner. With most games being developed with consoles as the priority, the hardware inside those machines will inform PC game and hardware development for the next decade. And so, unsurprisingly, Intel, AMD and Nvidia will have to react to how those machines develop – and the cycles will begin again.
For all of my moaning, we’ve seen fantastic progress. Games look better than ever, and PCs and consoles are more powerful than ever. Everything is moving in the right direction – I just wish it would move with a bit more coherence!
Mike and Chris have been friends for many years. A frienship forged on Twitter thanks to a mutual love of wrestling and Game of Thrones. Mike is a great tech journalist, and it is an honour to have some of his words appear here. Find Mike on Twitter.
Sustainability is certainly a challenge in today’s open-ended, technology driven environment. With competition so fierce and a digital landscape so full, it’s never been more important to produce original content which offers expertise and insight you can rarely find elsewhere. So to celebrate a decade of doing that very thing is a magnificent accomplishment which cannot be overstated, nor should it be overlooked.
Over the years The Reticule has moved with the times, but it has always remained faithful to its core vision and maintained healthy relationships with those who’ve contributed, past and present. That comes from the top and is down to great leadership and direction.
I’ve been online chatting to Chris for several years now. We’ve liked each others statuses, commented on mutual interests, and genuinely shown support for one another being fellow countrymen in a UK industry predominantly based in London. But it wasn’t until EGX this year where we finally met in person. In the midst of a hectic tradeshow where he was busy seeing some of the biggest games of the year, he still found time to come by to my little stand to ask how my day was going.
Chris is a pro, through and through. But he’s also a humble, genuine, and grounded guy who has built a brilliant platform in The Reticule from the ground up and kept it going through the good times and the bad. His perseverance and work ethic are a great example to all in this ever-evolving, often times challenging, industry.
Thank you to Chris and The Reticule for allowing me to play some small part in this landmark moment for the site. It’s a real priviledge and an honor. Here’s to another decade!