The developers behind Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater have suggested that no matter what size you are -- big or small, in-house or independent -- games development is something of a gamble, and that the industry "crap shoot" is not going away any time soon.
I don't think us or anyone else will ever be 'stable', per se," said The Behemoth's Dan Paladin. "I say this because game development--whether AAA, mid-size, or small--has always been the same big-size gamble. As a developer you'll spend (proportionally to your size) a very large amount of money on something you can only hope people want to play. You live game-to-game, because that's where all your income is coming from. If your latest game doesn't do well that's probably the end of it for you no matter whether you're big or small. Gargantuan companies get a bit more leeway of course!"
This generation, perhaps more so than ever before, has seen huge shifts in personnel from large studios to small indie outfits, but that the notion of make-or-break is a constant now more than ever. Giants and minnows can rise and fall alike, and much has been made of managing expectations against the rising costs of game development.
"In a way it is kind of a crap shoot since a big studio with a big budget and a well-reviewed game can still go bankrupt and a small four-man studio can crank out what looks like an unfinished game and make millions," said he studio's John Baez. "It is that kind of serendipity that will keep the industry moving forward." [GII]