Comment: YoYo Abandoning Game Maker Roots?
September 8, 2011
Game Maker is changing rapidly. Gone are the days of ‘Lite’ and ‘Pro’. For the veterans of Game Maker, the nostalgic days where users would refer to the paid version as ‘full’ and when Softwrap hadn’t yet dipped its troublesome hand into community, are a world away.
Future Game Maker users will be given more choice, able to select one or more of four editions to suit their needs. Game Maker Studio, HTML5, Mac, or what will no doubt be the most popular edition, Game Maker Standard. However with an increasingly steeper price tag for features better suited for professional developers, is Yoyo Games abandoning its roots and shutting out a big portion of the community in pursuit of a new and perhaps more profitable demographic?
The price tag of the HTML5 version of GM will hit triple figures, coming in at $199USD a copy, accorrding to a recent announcement from Yoyo Games. It goes without saying that Game Maker, generally regarded by much of its users as a tool used mainly by children and teenagers, has always been a popular choice for people who need a starting point in game design and programming. The earlier price tag of $20 was suitably placed, but even then for some younger users, it was a fair amount of money to obtain and spend in one go online (judging by the odd begger asking for a free key). A creeping price tag for the standard version, now at $40, may require more work than mowing the neighbours garden and doing chores around the house.
For older users and veterans of Game Maker the standard edition should still be within budget. But for those who may have been looking forward to porting their collection of work to an online format, at almost $200 for a single copy of HTML5, its an option that excludes most everyday homebrew users in favor for an audience closer to that of a professional developer. The prospect of someone thinking seriously about developing apps and using Game Maker, instead of Apple’s official developer tools or an alternative professional IDE, may seem laughable.
We contacted Yoyo Games CEO Sandy Duncan, who said he would gladly answer our questions by unconventionally posting a response on the YoyoGames blog. In an email, Mr.Duncan recognized the need to address issues regarding pricing and its affect on the existing user base.
“I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that this is absolutely not the case.” Mr. Duncan wrote in his post at the blog, after we asked him whether or not Game Maker was “abandoning its roots and prioritizing less on the everyday user”.
“We want to make GameMaker a tool that can be seriously considered by professional and semi-professional developers. In doing this WE ARE NOT DESERTING OUR ROOTS, in fact quite the opposite.”
He went on to explain in the post that Game Maker can be used to create professional software, perhaps referring to questions we asked about Game Maker being considered only as a tool for beginners and young budding software developers.
Erik Paldanius known as HighQuality on the GMC, the developer of Wuka World amongst other online projects and platform based games, has been part of the community since 2008, and expressed his views on Game Maker pricing.
“The price tag is way too high, it should stay at $99 and never go any higher…
“What they are doing here is taking a product designed for kids and adding ability to export for multiple platforms to it and expect people to pay hundreds, possibly thousands for it when GM Studio comes out.” he said.
HighQuality explained that the short (albeit significant) list of differences between Game Maker HTML5 and other versions of the program would have him paying no more than $99 a copy. He said he would be interested in paying up to $399 for the studio edition however.
“YoYoGames has a lot of flaws to sort out such as decompiling, speed issues and a better API. Until things like that are fixed Game Maker is simply not suitable for professional development in my opinion.” HighQuality said, addressing belief that Yoyo may be moving towards a new market. Rest assured, the standard edition of GM should remain affordable.
“We’re not intending to keep increasing the price of GameMaker Standard.” Mr. Duncan wrote in the blog post.
YoyoGames may have anticipated a revolt in the significantly higher costs for selected Game Maker products, as they have sparked a short time deal. Users who want to grab Game Maker HTML5 for half the price had the opportunity do so during the beta period where the program will be offered at $99.
38 Replies to “Comment: YoYo Abandoning Game Maker Roots?”
Nobody is ‘crying’ please don’t be so immature. Considering you have been very rude and have posted some not-so intelligent things, yes, I do believe your current frame of mind to be shortsighted. If you had actually read the article, you might have understood that this was about YoYo offering a product with a price tag that appears inappropriate for the current user base. Much of what you have commented on was already address by the article or by other comments here, I’ve seen nothing but moot points from you. But if you are going to be so brash you don’t deserve the time of day any of us are giving you.
Israel: “It amazes me how it seems there are a lot of “expert programmers” here. I don’t understand why they waste their precious time here. They should be using their knowledge in the professional world they belong to.”
That’s a bit pompous honestly. I help a lot of communities, GMC is only one of many that I am apart of..I just wish they would better themselves at YYG in order for me to give up the other places. For example, I did my own minecraftish clone in 4 hours with it’s own realistic lighting, only to find that GM is limited on model space:
(example lighting): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24657744/cubeshaded3.png
(example throttled background processing): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24657744/cubes3.png
If I were making a small-spot game like side-scrolling or topdown shooter, then I’d be ok with GM….but I don’t imagine on such small-scale. I imagine on MMO scale, and GM can’t even handle 10 concurrent connections seamlessly let alone do any largescale calculations. Even 1 chunk of 16x16x16 alphablend sorting drops fps by 13% for roughly 70 steps as a background….minecraft uses a 9×9 grid of 16x16x128, which is 648x bigger than mine. I can still optimize, but these things should already be apart of GM as they include the d3d functions built-in…yet, it doesn’t have the necessary things to help high-end programmers.
It amazes me how it seems there are a lot of “expert programmers” here. I don’t understand why they waste their precious time here. They should be using their knowledge in the professional world they belong to.
I also find intriguing how there are already some serious game developers that have turned to GM to make and throw some excellent indie games. Like Ninja Senki or Super Crate Box, to name a couple.
I guess those game developers are idiots like me, for using GM instead of serious tools. It’s a shame we don’t have more users like you, programming gods. I can only wonder how much better GM would be if you were in charge… how sad is it, isn’t it?
I’m writing a letter to Sandy and Mark right now demanding them to hire you right away! I’m serious!
Israel: “Call me shortsighted”
Ok, you’re shortsighted.
“To tie yourselves to a tree demanding things go back to the way they were back in the good old times?”
Why do you keep adding things that were never stated? YYG could do a lot better, but they stretched themselves thin. That doesn’t mean we want things back the way they were, just means we don’t want the way they are doing it now (overcharging for underproduced software).
“keep up to my expectations to deliver a product worth the $200 bucks I’ll spend.”
Then you are one of the many idiots that will throw money to the company that doesn’t deserve it…congratulations. There’s a name we call that…gullible–I have a bridge I’d like to sell you, for a good price too!
“If you’re complaining, it would be wiser for all of you to find and suggest solutions, instead of just ranting around.”
We have, a thousand times over…it’s called the “suggestion” topic on the GMC, which has even been placed into a nice little box called a document. Mike looked over it, but has pretty much refused to make any of it happen because “it won’t work in delphi” (which is bullsh* because delphi is Turing complete, he just doesn’t want to try). The “C++ version” is looking like it will be a direct port from delphi, so we’ll get ALL of the same crappy mess jumbled with a different executable header…but that’s ok, because we’ll have “waited for it” for over a year, so the anticipation alone will excite us to keep throwing gobs of cash at it, hoping it will fix it or something.
That reminds me of Family Guy “it takes a village idiot and I married one.”
Call me shortsighted, but what’s your solution, then?
To tie yourselves to a tree demanding things go back to the way they were back in the good old times?
I’m not the one complaining, I pretty much agree with the way things are going as long as they keep up to my expectations to deliver a product worth the $200 bucks I’ll spend.
If you’re complaining, it would be wiser for all of you to find and suggest solutions, instead of just ranting around.
You think I’m shortsighted? I might be, but I’m not the one crying here.
What I’m proposing is nothing new, and it has proven to work in some scenarios. Will it work here? I don’t know. And, to be honest, I don’t care much either.
It’s like piracy, everybody says it hurts business, some case studies has shown that it actually helped some businesses.
Some articles about this issues:
That’s why I said: “I think it would be reasonable to fight to change what you get in the free version… like fighting to remove the logo overlay… or something like that.”
Again, the free version has its limits to entice people to purchase the pro edition. Even humoring the idea you could get YoYo to close the gap between free and paid editions is shortsighted, that would do more damage than a bigger price tag. Why you even believe that is a more reasonable conclusion than to reduce the price tag is beyond me. You need to think this through.
If having a logo of the company that made the IDE stamped all over your product is what you’d call professional, then yes it is subjective. But since nobody is silly enough to think that, I’d say most of us can agree that is not polished and I certainly wouldn’t pay for a game from a developer who didn’t pay for the tools he was using.
Israel: “I will take that as a compliment, coming from you. It would be nice if you could offer some arguments instead, though.”
I do not need to offer arguments for you…I am Sabriath. If you knew me, you would know that my words are absolute in nature, the ultimate truth.
Dumb retort deserves a dumb retort.
Well, I personally didn’t say that you, Sabriath, said so. Did I?
I will take that as a compliment, coming from you. It would be nice if you could offer some arguments instead, though.
Well, I asked if I was getting your point. That’s why I added a question mark, it was not a rethoric question.
I would say that “Nobody can create proper polished products with the lite edition.” is also a wild assumption, or a highly subjective statement. But we are all making assumptions and subjective statements here, aren’t we?
I do agree with all of you: If YoYo wants to move GM to a more professional userbase / price, they have a LOT of homework to do in order to rise the quality of its products. Check the other recent posts and you will see I do agree with many of your concerns.
However, with their latest hires and by the latest announcements by Sandy, it seems (to me at least) that they’re well aware of their “homework”, and plan to do it all.
Call me optimistic.
Nobody said that, please don’t make such wild assumptions. The price for HTML5 is inappropriate for the existing user base. Just because something isn’t free doesn’t mean it needs to be overpriced.
Israel: I believe you blew through the points that were being made. I personally didn’t say that I “couldn’t afford it,” what I said was the product is “too inferior for the price that is given.” Everything else you said is complete gibberish and moot.
The ‘lite’ version, just like ‘trial’ versions of other programs, is designed to give the user a taste of the program and pay to get all the features. It may seem like a kind gesture, but in truth is just a tactic to entice more customers. Nobody can create proper polished products with the lite edition.
So you want everything for FREE, or nothing at all?
Jeez! Good luck living life in a capitalist world!
There will always be open source alternatives, and freeware, I guess.
As far as I remember, Mark introduced the paid Pro version at least a year before partnering with YoYo, and I remember everyone agreed to the change because they were supporting “him”.
Now that there’s a corporation in the middle, even if Mark is part of that corporation, you start shouting and crying because they’re “abandoning” what you consider are “GM roots”.
Do you realize that if not for the YoYo Games partnership (or whatever you want to call it), Mark would have stopped developing GM any further?
Ok, so let me see if I understood your point, chaps.
You think that just because you don’t have the money to pay for it, EVERY SINGLE NEW PRODUCT YoYo releases should be priced at $40 or less?
Even if they said they’ll mantain a FREE lite version?
I think it would be reasonable to fight to change what you get in the free version… like fighting to remove the logo overlay… or something like that.
Or maybe, asking for an “innovative” way to get a free GM Studio license. Like: every month, the best 10 games developed with GM Lite will get a free license for GM Studio.
This approach would be better for all, IMHO.
I understand that time is money, but that doesn’t mean we have the money to save the time.
Nice point Mark but to pay $199 for a html5 tool is expensive and i have no doubt that you believe that. We all understand that your targeting a more rich, professional audience and that’s what makes people think your deserting your roots. Don’t forget, the 20-40 dollars we paid is what built yoyo games and gamemaker. And when you release a tool for something like html5, don’t forget there’s a gang of guys or even a university professor who’s making a product jst like that and is willing to sell it cheaper
That’d be a valid argument if GameMaker weren’t a toy.
The main problem with that is GM is NOT yet fully professional…it is still a hack production of bytecode without even the hint of optimization techniques used in already available bytecode languages (java). This leaves the “compiled” code open for decompilation and stealing (as we’ve seen with Robbie Swifthand). YYG can obfuscate all they want (or try to), but changing names of variables doesn’t matter to a real programmer (“for(i = 10; i < 200; i += 1)” performs the same duties as “for(bh432h2b = 10; bh432h2b < 200; bh432h2b += 1)”).
If YYG wants to target the professionals, then they need to make their bytecode more “java-like” so that compilation produces a reduction of the code which cannot be reversed to original without a huge amount of finesse (much more so than obfuscation). Plus, memory access would be reference offsets rather than word lookups in a table. But GM does nothing of the sort, and therefore will always be a child’s toy in my opinion…not worth >$39.
I thought Game Maker Studio will not release this year, but as I can see if this confirmed to many users
I think this will hurt GM4HTML sold, many people will choose to wait for studio than to get HTML5 version, i remember Mike Daily said it’s GM studio may take a time.
anyway I’m indeed interested in the 2 products, good luck for yoyogames.
Hey, if selling ugly, buggy, overpriced software is what gets Sandy his fix, more power to him. It just surprises me that there are people who will really spend $200 on a piece of software, when for $30 they can buy a book that’ll teach them to do a lot more than GM can accomplish.
Everything you said is just the way it should be done… that’s how canvas should be used.
If you think it’s trivial to port the runner and optimize it enough… well then write your own engine; it’s trivial after all.
It’s the same old argument of the people complaining GM was pointless as writing a 2D game engine was not that hard.
About deobfuscating the runner, there’s an old saying: Everything is obvious, once you know the answer.
The thing is, while it is true that writing a decent 2D engine is relatively easy. GM is more than a 2D engine, it’s an entire framework that takes complex tasks and dumbs them down to a few functions where you don’t even need to know the basic math that goes behind it.
Like I said, it’s not that GM4HTML5 is useless, it’s just overpriced. $40 is probably as high as I’d ever price for such a tool. Of course YYG doesn’t think this would be profitable so who knows, people seem to be stupid enough to want it so their gain.
I purchased Game Maker way back when by washing dishes for my old siblings. (We had to take turns, so I would take their turn since they had jobs they enjoy the break) Sad to see that option go away as the price grows, but really, I don’t it is much of an issue, kids these days are buying 50-60 dollar PS3 and 360 games.
Really unhappy that so much attention has been on the HTML5 version. There is no market yet for HTML5 games. Everyone is setup for flash and it will be a while before the major online game websites change to support HTML5 as well.
You’ve got to be kidding.
I think the 40$ price tag for the Standard edition is justified given the new features and current work (bug fixing and enhancements) on the Standard edition.
And I agree with xot that the HTML5 version is more than just a render target and obfuscation. Also the features of the Studio version (more platforms, team capabilities) make it attractive for professional and semi professional game development.
I’m also afraid the Studio edition will be way too expensive to be really interesting enough for indie devs. Huge professional game studios will port their stuff anyway across platforms without using a tool like GameMaker because they already have their platform independent code bases and wrapper libs for their C++ games.
YoYo Games needs to find the proper audience for their tools and the proper pricing.
Honestly I expect them to mess it up at first (with prices too steep) and they will have to adjust the prices (or decide to drop the product because it doesn’t sell good enough) before they run out of business.
I’m in the same boat.
I am currently trying to learn actionscript (flash) so I can port my game (originally made in GM) to iOS because I thought studio would come out next year and this is taking WAY TO LONG. But if studio comes out this year (like they said) I would probably buy that instead. The problem is that from past experience, YOYO GAMES CAN NOT KEEP TO A RELEASE DATE. So yeah, I really don’t know what to do now…
Oh, and you can play my game free here if you want:
As a hobbyist currently making the transition to professional game development, I honestly don’t know what role Game Maker will have in my future work. I currently have the GML skills to make just about any kind of game in Game Maker, but there’s no easy way to get those games onto the commercial platforms I’m interested in (Android and iOS primarily).
If GM Studio gets released relatively soon and is a solid (but also affordable) option for that, I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. However, if GM Studio takes too long, is too buggy and/or too expensive, then I’ll likely just keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is learning how to use more mainstream programming tools.
I still think $200 for HTML5 is way too much, and if GM Studio is priced similarly (like $200 for each exporter), that will definitely be a problem for me. I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on game dev tools right now, especially when so many (arguably superior) professional programming libraries and engines are open source and cost nothing.
I don’t know what percentage of the market I represent, but I imagine that I’m not alone. I think there are a lot of people like me who cut their teeth in Game Maker and now want to start earning some income selling their games. For us, GM Studio could be a very compelling option, but its by no means the only option, and YoYo Games needs to realize that. They need to make GM Studio so compelling in price and features that people like me won’t even want to consider anything else.
The ball’s in your court, YoYo Games.
Most of those functions can be coded easily, as well as all of the resource types that GameMaker provides. I do think that GameMaker is better in that it has a room editor and such, but that’s about it. You can use other programs for other things. I don’t remember hearing that the “tough” parts like online play and 3D are included in GM HTML5. JS already some of the features(the important ones like math) that GameMaker has left and I’m pretty sure I can remake everything else in a single day.
My stance is with Greg. There’s more optimization to be done. For me, an (empty) object only has to have x and y variables and only have to have Create, Step and Draw events. Some resources in GameMaker, I don’t use like Paths and Time Lines. They just seem pointless and I don’t think I’ll ever need them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned everything from GameMaker and I program my engines with it in mind.
In my opinion, the company has tanked their primary asset. All that is left is a shell of what was once a great line of increasingly better software spread out into multiple domains filled with garbage. I’m stunned that they actually get any money, I have to imagine these people are impulse buyers because there is no way a sane person can buy a product that has as many negative points as GM does.
“Look mom, candy!” “But it has poison in it” “Who cares, it looks like chocoloate! yummmm chocolate!”
I pretty much agree with Loaf, however I do think it is possible to turn GM into a “semi-professional” tool.
Obviously, bigger companies that have the resources to pay for teams of better and more capable programmers, and artists, will keep developing their way.
There’s always a gap between “professionals” and kids pretending to be game developers.
There’re small teams, indie developers, or even professional developers that want to throw a quick prototype. I think that’s the market they are trying to reach.
I’d also add ad agencies to the equation: It’s cheaper and quicker to develop small advergames or interactive ads with a tool such as GM than working “from the scratch”.
Already we can find some tools playing in that field: Unity, Torque, GameSalad, Construct… So I don’t think it’s laughable to attempt to go in there. I would rather say it’s the way to go.
I also think, a lower price tag would make it far more competitive. Time will tell, I guess.
The sad truth is, if I wanted to make an app for iOS, I’d get the SDK and code it from scratch. Same with Android and the rest. Whilst a single tool that ports to all devices may seem attractive, I can’t help but feel anything I code from scratch has more flexibility and trustworthiness.
As said here, newbies to game development are going to be put off and will consider other options which were previously priced much higher than GameMaker but are now in its circle. Similarly, people looking to create high quality applications for particular devices are likely to look at more traditional SDK programming. The gap in between of potentially interested parties is very narrow now.
The problem is, I’m hugely bias since I’m one of those who believe everything will be running straight off HTML soon, so programming for anything else is a dying art. Honestly, I’m sure GameMaker will find a profitable audience for at least the next while.
It is a lot. What makes it dumb is that the HTML5 canvas element is easy to learn. People highly experienced with GameMaker can learn it in one day and it’s free to use. Plus, they can make their own(and better) optimizations. GameMaker 8 is the last version I am using. Even with 8.1, they made the GUI look a little more ugly. After my project is complete, I am ditching GameMaker.
You make it sound like the only thing GameMaker HTML5 provides is a render target. GameMaker is obviously a lot more than that. It is feature rich to the extreme and you can’t pretend that vanilla HTML5/JS is a drop-in replacement or anywhere near as approachable as GameMaker’s API. There is a vast gulf of a difference between the two.
Interesting. Definitely something I wasn’t aware of.
One key point you didn’t mention is that Sandy also said unit sales of GameMaker had increased since they raised the price.
They may be attracting a different demographic of user but they have no real way of tracking this other than seeing what games are released a few months down the line. Importantly they now have higher income and are actually investing in both the existing and future products, unlike a few years back where development was stale.