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How reliance on one system or approach creates vulnerabilities

March 22, 2020

As a game developer we have a number of key systems that we rely on to function; that can be engines (Unity, Unreal) or distribution stores/platforms (Steam, Switch, Xbox, Playstation etc). However either by success via one route or lack of resources to expand to more, we’re, as game developers, all too often on a limited path (say one engine and one store?). That can be an efficiency that makes sense, but it is also a potential vulnerability as if one of those critical systems make a change that impacts you, you can be in serious trouble!

Here’s an example of how that can pan out:

For a few years, Ben Cohen was living the dream. His political opinion site, The Daily Banter, was growing in leaps and bounds, generating enough traffic and ad revenue to support several full-time writers. At its height, the site was getting upwards of 6 million unique visitors a month, fueled in large part by readers sharing his content on Facebook.

But you probably know what happened next. In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was pivoting away from news, and that publishers would see a decline in exposure in the Newsfeed. Virtually overnight, Cohen saw his Facebook traffic drop by 90%.

We’ve seen how this can happen in games too!

Here’s the graph:

So as we’re seeing in the world around us now, a good tip is aim to build resilience and redundancy in your game-dev practice where you can, as you can never predict what will change.

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