Slitherine to Stop Making Games

By Nik Gaukroger 23 Jun 2015 0

OK, a touch dramatic and, of course, not the whole story but nevertheless basically true. However, to find out more of what the headline means, and some other snippets of information from the Slitherine Group’s annual conference you’ll have to follow the link …

Unlike the last couple of years, this year’s Sltherine Group annual conference is not open to the usual press suspects, instead it is a mainly developer only get together to discuss the future of digital wargames. However, the introductory session was broadcast on a live Twitch stream and as it included speeches from J.D. McNeil and Marco Minoli it did shed some light on developments within the biggest player in the traditional computer wargames market.

OK, let’s deal with the headline first.

 

 

The observant will, I am sure, have put 2 and 2 together and noted that we said “making”, and the main thing Slitherine does is Publish games as opposed to making them themselves. However, they do have their own (Slitherine) in-house development team – they developed Battle Academy - and it is this that is being discontinued. Slitherine will continue to publish games and, from the sounds coming from the conference, are confident to be doing so in ever increasing volumes. Additionally, the group as a whole will continue with the other in-house development teams of Ageod, the Matrix Games Close Combat team and, of course, Shenandoah Studio.

More importantly for the future, it was announced that the staff previously developing games will now become a new “tech support” division being set up to support other developers whose games are being published by the group. They are developing their own new game engine called Archon which will be made freely available to developers – and it was mentioned that the first game to use this engine will be called Steel Tigers and is being developed by 2 by 3 Games (i.e. Gary Grigsby, Joel Billings and Keith Brors). The name is also intriguing as it suggests we will be looking at a “spiritual successor” (to use the over used phrase) of Steel Panthers

 

 

A snippet of information that may be of interest to some was that it is estimated that the global market for strategy games is something like $1.25bn, however, as the global games market is more like $76bn it shows that it is still a small part. It was also noted that the Android strategy games market, unlike the market as a whole, is practically non-existent -  so if you’re living in hope of a slew of Android versions of Slitherine Group games I suspect you’re going to be disappointed.

More positive snippets now:

  • The Slitherine PBEM++ system is getting a Tournament System added on soon
  • Selling through Amazon has proved successful in trial and so will be expanded to the whole catalogue through Amazon US and Europe
  • More Humble Bundles are planned, although these will only be for back catalogue games (unsurprisingly)
  • The upgrade to boxed copy option is to be tested soon – allowing those who have bought digital only to get the physical version for a small additional cost
  • A new shopping cart system is to be implemented in July or August which will hopefully make buying easier

 

There was also some interesting news that Slitherine are in discussion with the South African military and Jane’s about possible cooperation on projects – unspecified projects at this stage … Also they are talking to The Pentagon about working together on “professional wargames” which, we can hope, if successful will feed through into our games as well. Finally on the subject of serious link-ups J.D. McNeil mentioned that they had signed a contract with BAE Systems and that one of the group’s developer partners, Warfare Sims, were undertaking the development in this.

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