Sean Barton - Game Developer

1,099 retail games in 2009

29 December 2009

Hi there! This is an old post that may reference technology or views I now consider outdated - or maybe even a little embarrassing. Enjoy at your own risk.

According to a report cited by Gamasutra, there was a staggering 1,099 console video games released to retail this past year.

And of course half of them were either Rock Band or Guitar Hero properties, am I right? 🙂

Anyway, today I took stock of the retail games that I purchased or were gifted to me in 2009 …

  • 12 Xbox 360 games
  • 4 Nintendo DS games
  • 2 Nintendo GBA games
  • 1 Wii game*

Spirit Tracks box

Nineteen games? I would have figured a number much smaller than that. Hey, I’m an enthusiastic gamer and all, but we developers have a large network of gamers to borrow from and free access to a large library of titles at work. So look at me being a good American consumer anyway. During a recession, no less. Capitalism!

I don’t know exactly how many games your average console owner buys, but it is certainly a much smaller number. When I worked for Microsoft I remember our marketing guys claiming consumers buy, on average, 9 retail-priced games for each console they own – during the lifetime of the platform. Incidentally, this is how Nintendo ** and Microsoft and Sony make money on their consoles, through the license fees of a meager 10 or so new (i.e. not from the used rack or bargain bin) video games over a 5 year run. Sony would do well to remember that before releasing another $600 console.

Modern Warfare 2 box art

To me, with your average console owner buying maybe 4 new games annually *** in a year with 1,099 titles to chose from, there’s a very sad truth to be found: There’s a lot of game developers taking a severe pounding out there. And this is only for the developers that actually ship a product and have to compete with Modern Warfare 2 for shelf space.

There might have been a day where you could wander aimlessly with a schedule and some money and a room full of gaming geeks to release a game to market and hope for the best … but that day has long gone by. This is serious business.

I truly believe that rule number one for our business is that we must find fun in our work (really, why even bother with it otherwise?) … but it’s also a tough industry that requires us to be a little bit grown up about it too.

Good luck in 2010 to all my developer buddies.

* Looking back, I’m a bit surprised the Wii games didn’t compete better for my dollars. But then again, it was a relatively weak year, with respect to the games I prefer, for that platform. 
** Yeah, I know. Nintendo actually turns a profit on console hardware sales alone. Sony and Microsoft take note. 
*** I’m being generous here because that statistic is a bit old and many homes have more than one console.


Hi! My name is Sean Barton (aka Seanba).

I’m an American-Canadian software developer working in Austin, Texas where I never have to shovel snow. :fire:

My career focuses exclusively on video game software and tools. You can read more about me here.


Aseprite2Unity imports sprites and animations for use with your Unity projects. Like all my tools it is available for free or name your price.

Get Aseprite2Unity.


SuperTiled2Unity is a collection of Unity scripts that import Tiled Map Editor files to your Unity projects. You can download for free or name your price.

Get SuperTiled2Unity.

(Note that regular Tiled2Unity is now deprecated.) :zzz:


Like my tools? Consider making a donation as a way of thanks!