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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.