There’s More To Gaming Than Just ‘Triple A’

In this weeks podcast we have all the usual fun frolics and frivolity as the guys discuss the week in gaming, what’s hot to play and everything in between. Hold on to your control pads gamers, it’s Episode 89 of the Lost Spark Podcast.

An interesting point in the news (courtesy of wccftech) this week was made by Cliff Bleszinski (Cliffy B) of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War fame and more recently the co-founder of Boss Key Productions.

During industry conference Reboot Develop 2017, Cliff took to the stage and put forward his view that ‘AAA games’ cost too much to make and the development of such games are a ‘nearly unsustainable’ model, his reasoning behind this is based on a number of points including the fact that:

  • Customers can only afford a few $60 dollar games a year and this price is a high point for most consumers
  • Consumers have been burned with DLC / Bugs in their games
  • Player expectations are very high in terms of Graphics. feature sets and polish and quality

Citing Horizon Zero Dawn as an example, Cliff went on to posit that the seven year development cycle for a project like this can be undertaken and afforded by Sony with the reason that they can get so heavily invested in something like this is that they will be the ones profiting from the sale of their consoles, which a game like Horizon Zero Dawn is very likely to have a positive effect on.  So Sony – whom Horizon Zero Dawn’s Developer Guerrilla Games belong to – has two branches here, both the software and their hardware, with which they can recoup their investment and further to this make a profit.

In contrast to this he then made a comparison to the financial commitment that was made by Take-Two with regard to Bioshock Infinite where the outcome of overstretching to fulfill a AAA vision resulted in a number of lay offs over at Irrational Games.

A remedy for this, he suggested, would be the advent of the ‘AA game’. These games would be games that despite a restricted budget focused on what matters most, giving examples of his type of game being the likes of Rocket League by Psyonix and Digital Extreme’s Warframe adding also that digital only would also be a consideration for success.

So, have our expectations got out of hand, or is the amazing high standard and polish of the games we see nowadays simply a result of the evolution of technology and the desire of creators to improve, innovate and deliver that next big thing? Is it all simply about the bottom line (obviously to a great degree, it’s business), or is there something to be said for the ambition of developers and creators to express themselves and push the limits of the gaming medium via the technologically impressive consoles we use today?

Whether it’s gamer expectation, businesses pushing for profit or creators with the passion and determination to bring their ambitious gaming visions to the gaming community, it does look like there is a point here. No one likes to hear about studios closing, job cuts, or devs not getting paid for their hard work and if this can be avoided by simply scaling back ambition on a project and being more realistic in financial terms of what can be achieved then that’s great. Though conversely, it would definitely be a shame if the spectacle of the ‘AAA game’ was only within the reach of the hardware manufacturers.

Ultimately, if the costs of the AAA’s continue to get out of hand and cause businesses problems the amount made will dwindle as the lessons are learned.

In the ‘What We’ve Been Playing’ section this week the guys have been getting themselves involved in some – dare we say it – fantastic AA titles. Antony has been braving the enigmatic and alluring world of ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’, this PS4 console exclusive title from Giant Sparrow, makes of the amazing ‘Unfinished Swan’ couples an exciting narrative driven story with interesting gameplay, a must play for any PS4 owners who may have like titles like ‘Gone Home’, ‘Firewatch’ or ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’

While Darren has been getting himself all done up like a super sleuth of murder prevention in his new favorite haunt – The Sexy Brutale, this clever and original game has Darren eager for more after only a few hours of play, with it’s mix of thoughtful gameplay and ingenious puzzles. Definitely a game worth checking out if you feel like something different.

The Sexy Brutale is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Also this week Darren is getting geared up and ready for a gaming exhibition near him as Game Mania comes to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on the 6th and 7th of May.

Celebrating gaming from past and present it looks like this event is catering for the whole family with an array of free to play pinball machines arcade games and consoles plus a kids area full of Minecraft, Lego and Marvel fun. With VR making it’s presence known and a NES Mini Classic up for grabs it sounds like a great day for any gamer.

It’s time for free monthly game announcements, On Xbox One, we have Giana Sisters: Twisted Dream’s – Director’s Cut will be available May 1 – 31, followed by the co-op adventure Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris on May 16 – June 15.

Then on Xbox 360, and Xbox One through Backward Compatibility, we have a pair of great Star Wars games. Starting with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and the return of Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice on May 1 – 15, followed by LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and the opportunity to play through all six classic Star Wars movies in LEGO, what’s not to love there!

The free PS Plus games for May have also arrived this week and it starts with a MUST PLAY title, the fantastic Tales from the Borderlands by Telltale Games.  Set in the unforgiving world of Pandora after the events of Borderlands 2, follow the journey of Rhys and Fiona as they are thrown together to recover a fortune they both believe is theirs.

Even if you’re not a fan of the Borderlands series, this game is a must play; it’s incredibly funny, well written and has a stellar voice cast too, what’s not to like!

The rest of the line up looks like this:

  • Tales from the Borderlands, PS4
  • Abzu or Alien Nation, PS4
  • Blood Knights, PS3
  • Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants, PS3
  • Laser Disco Defenders, PS Vita (Cross Buy with PS4)
  • Type:Rider, PS Vita (Cross Buy on PS4)


And finally just before the Sparks went to pod news broke of an awesome new add-on for a Spark favourite, Forza Horizon 3 that you never saw coming.

Forza fans, your Hot Wheels fantasies are about to come true! The second Forza Horizon 3 expansion – Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels – arrives on May 9 exclusively on Xbox, and is included in the Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass. This expansion lets players travel to a brand-new location in Australia, a place where lazy Sunday drives are replaced by insane high-speed stunts on miles of looping, banking, giant iconic orange Hot Wheels tracks. Starring famous Hot Wheels vehicles like the Twin Mill, the Rip Rod, and the Bone Shaker – THE SPARKS CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS!

If you want more information on some of the items in this weeks Podcast here are some handy links:

If you would like to give us a rating or a review on iTunes then we have this handy link for you, click here to jump to iTunes review for the Lost Spark Podcast!

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