Video game developer

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{system, computer, user}
{game, team, player}
{work, book, publish}
{film, series, show}
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{theory, work, human}
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A video game developer is a software developer (a business or an individual) that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Sony's PlayStation 3, PSP, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii, Nintendo DS, or may develop for a variety of systems, including personal computers.

Most developers also specialize in certain types of games, such as computer role-playing games or first-person shooters. Some focus on porting games from one system to another. Some focus on translating games from one language to another. An unusual few do other kinds of software development work in addition to games.

Most video game publishers maintain development studios, such as Electronic Arts's EA Canada, Activision's Radical Entertainment, Nintendo EAD and Sony Polyphony Digital. However, as publishing is still their primary activity, they are generally described as "publishers" rather than "developers".

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Third-party developers

Third-party developers are usually called upon by a video game publisher to develop a title for one or more systems. Both the publisher and the developer have a great deal of say as to the design and content of the game. In general, though, the publisher's wishes trump the developer's, as the publisher is paying the developer to create the game.

The business arrangement between the developer and publisher is governed by a contract, which specifies a list of milestones intended to be delivered, for example, every four to eight weeks. By receiving updated milestones, the publisher is able to verify that work is progressing quickly enough to meet the publisher's deadline, and to give direction to the developer if the game is turning out other than as expected in some way. When each milestone is completed and accepted, the publisher pays the developer an advance on royalties. The developer uses this money to fund its payroll and otherwise fund its operations.

Successful developers may maintain several teams working on different games for different publishers. In general, however, third-party developers tend to be small, and consist of a single, closely-knit team.

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