Spacetime & Blackstar in Austin Economic News

Spacetime's Blackstar featured in Austin gaming discussion.

We have all been reading about how recession proof or prone the gaming industry seems to be these days. We won't know the truth until the economic turmoil is over (wait, is economic turmoil ever over?), but that doesn't keep the newspapers from trying to find out. This week it's the Austin American-Statesman and actually they have a good reason, over fifty gaming companies reside there. Well at least they did, until we started hearing the news about Tabula Rasa and the rest of the NCsoft woes. Midway, EA and THQ are also local companies sending some of their employees packing. But the article has a silver lining in it too. It interviews Gary Gattis, the president of Spacetime Studios which has had an on-again off-again game called Blackstar. In the interview Gary shares some of the troubles that he found his company in and where they are today:

"The economy was challenging for someone to bite on a science fiction project, so in August we had to let people go and go down to a core team," he said.

Spacetime was operating on a shoestring budget with a staff of 15 people until an unnamed game publisher hired Spacetime to develop a "very large-scale" massively mutiplayer game, he said.

"Being able to weather the storm served us very well," Gattis said. "There's always work out there, and we just had to adjust our business model."

Game publishers are placing more conservative bets because of the economy, Gattis said. "The model has moved away from large subscription-based titles to free-to-play titles because they can start generating revenue with a smaller investment," he said.

Gattis said there could be a silver lining in the recent layoffs by the larger game firms in Austin: "Anytime one of the big guys blows up, a lot of smaller (independent firms) typically spring up from that, and I think that's really good for the economy."

Gary says a lot about the potential for his game while discussing the market. I believe we will be seeing a free to play game from Spacetime in the not-too-distant future. And considering Spacetime purchased the Blackstar IP from NCsoft in September (not too long after they scaled back to a core team), my guess is that we'll be seeing a free to play Blackstar. That is almost Nostradomus like isn't it?

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