Current production model for AAA video games is 'unsustainable' says former Sony chairman

Markoni35

Posts: 677   +229
If you buy an old, slow, cheap computer, the game will last longer. Plus you'll save lots of money on the computer, to buy more long-lasting games.
 
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Oh I am sooo sorry hear that Greedy corporations are not making 1000 % return on their investment
a production cost of a AAA rated game stands at 100 to 200 million dollars over a three to four year time period
they also sell between 10 to 20 million copies world wide at $100.00 a game the first year of sales. then lower value as the game ages
but as the game ages they put out DLC to increase their profit on the game selling more over a four additional year time period
that is between 1 and 2 billion in sales plus DLC
then some time later they sell the game again as classic for even more sales.

OH BOOHOO the poor gaming companies their 60 meter yacht can only handle one helicopter at a time

this is what we call "spin" or things as the rich see it.
CUT COST
GET RID OF STAFF
INCREASE PRICES
ALL SO MY great great great grand kids can still rule the empire I built with my thoughts
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,008   +971
Staff member
For every big budget/AAA success, like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, that rake in the millions, there's at least one absolute commercial disaster, such as Kingdoms of Amalur. Yes, the profit made from Odyssey will certainly cover the developments of costs of AC:Vahalla, but KoA's losses bankrupted 38 Studios. Very few titles actually sell in the millions, even fewer generate profits the likes of GTAV has given Rockstar.

If one wants to see the stranglehold of Ubisoft/Activision/EA on the 'big' title market loosened (it's certainly not going to end any time soon), then Layden does make a fair point about the development costs being too high.
 
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axiomatic13

Posts: 263   +202
Fire half of the executives. Increase the coder's and artist's salaries and watch the great games come out in droves.
 

brucek

Posts: 398   +440
I'm still bummed that Kingdoms of Amalur didn't do well. I was really fond of that game. Hmm maybe it's time for a replay.
 

amghwk

Posts: 714   +485
Have we outgrown the era where we expected 40-50hrs of pure gameplay from the main (completed, final retail) game (without any so-called f-king DLCs) for our money?
 

GamerNerves

Posts: 42   +21
This guy is partly right. Great example of a well handled long AAA game is Dark Souls 3 (costwise). It is quite long because it forces you to take a careful approach, it has great graphics on the enemies, while it has not wasted time with little details throughout the world. You could even say the game is partly ugly, but as we know, nothing is perfect and the audience have always forgiven graphical shortcomings if the gameplay is good.

The great thing today is commercial engines are more and more robust, so you can make a good looking game with less effort and people can also share assets, so even having those details in your gameworld shouldn't cost as much time as before. The industry should tone down with the detail hunting so teams could be smaller and they should use efficient tools. By these methods the issue is already partly solved.

I think the length of a game is completely up to the type of game at hand. Some games are okay if they are short and others need to be longer. Deciding to make simply shorter games in general is not a solution. Often most expensive games are not developed that efficiently and money can be wasted on too expensive actors or basically anything. The greater your game, the better the planning needs to be.

PS. Since Skyrim was mentioned in the comments, it can be used as a great example. Sure the game was pretty much unplayable at launch, but it was a great looking game with a dynamic world. My philosophy is that "story games" and such are the big money and time wasters. An AAA game can be made with more limited assets like Skyrim. Also a pretty good example is the latest Prey game, which can look often the same in many rooms, but clever design hides the fact and of course the engaging gameplay.

If you are going to treat your game like a movie, where every scene needs to be carefully crafted and visualized, your game will be either super expensive or very short. Games are not a medium with such nature; they require an engine and assets, and from there you just build and try things out. You could say cinematic games have hurt the quality of games as well as the industry itself quite a bit.
 
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Namtrooper

Posts: 76   +33
What is he talking about? A majority of AAA titles that are longer then 20 hours are filled with repetitive trash for the most part. The fact that there are indie studio's (or prior indie studios) like Larian and CDProject red producing games that are longer, higher quality, and at a fraction of the budget says to me this is a problem with the big publishers, not the game industry as a whole.

When are they going to take their heads out of their asses and realize yes, spending a ton of money to milk the same cash cow will eventually stop working. I stopped playing assassin's creed after the first game. They've got all that money yet they can't fix their trash engine and have done very little to move the genre forward.
I wouldn't call the ubisoft's engine trash. I would call the Bethesda engine they use for their fallout and elder scroll games trash. Creation engine?
 

williboi

Posts: 8   +3
I see a problem more so with game developers focusing way, way, WAY too much on graphics and raw power than actual content. There are lots of games with hyper-realistic graphics that are great and well-made, but a good amount of AAA games focus on high end graphics and not enough on actual content. That's why a decent amount of AAA games have such high system requirements - because they only care about graphics. They need to focus more on story, gameplay, and that sort of thing instead of extreme realism that ends up forcing players to buy super expensive computers and not even really having fun playing. And don't even get me started on the GeForce NOW drama...
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,102   +5,345
I wouldn't call the ubisoft's engine trash. I would call the Bethesda engine they use for their fallout and elder scroll games trash. Creation engine?
They call it the creation engine but really it's just the Gamebryo engine with a few additional plugins. Still all the major limitation and bugs they've had with ever prior TES or FO titles that ran on the Gamebryo engine.
 
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Ryan Barrett

Posts: 37   +10
Is this guy high on crack or what ? AAA movies have 100-200mil budget not including marketing that are 2 hours long and cost just 5usd or less to watch at cinemas.
Just don't spend 100mil on developing a trash game and another 200mil bribing critics and harassing fans, problems solved...
The last of us 2 spent over 100 million. You forget that while a blockbuster is only 2 hours long, they do have to pay top dollar for the actors on top of a ridiculous large special effects budget. It kind of evens out by the amount of development time it takes for a game which means you're paying employees for much longer than you would on a movie. All the Avengers movies cost at least a billion to make I think.
 

Shaitan

Posts: 61   +41
I hate short games, as example RE3, just about 3 hours playing time. I love long games +50h. Don't even talk DLC, mostly all are rubbish and expensive, I absolutely don't waste my money on them, micro transaction are horrible and always ruin my games. If the development is going up, the solution is easy take your development team to a cheap country to develop, India, China, Poland (btw they have done magnificent long games without complain for money), Brasil, Mexico, and the list go on. All other industries have take that route, car makers, phone makers, anime industry, call centers, IT support, program development.
The problem is that despite taking the game to poorer countries, the games cost more and more: DLC, MTX, Season Pass, in-game skins and so on. Except for CyberPunk, I won't pay a dime for this year's "new" games, neither the politically correct nor the repetitive *****ic stories don't compell me to open the wallet
 
What is he talking about? A majority of AAA titles that are longer then 20 hours are filled with repetitive trash for the most part. The fact that there are indie studio's (or prior indie studios) like Larian and CDProject red producing games that are longer, higher quality, and at a fraction of the budget says to me this is a problem with the big publishers, not the game industry as a whole.
Why are you talking about indie titles when the subject is specifically AAA titles? On top of that, CDProject is based in Poland, IIRC. This is a major boon to their financials as they can rent commercial space and pay for talent to fill it for a fraction of what it costs to do this in NYC, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Montreal, Southern Cali, or any of the other gamedev hotspots in North America.

So, neither of your two counterpoints have actually managed to demonstrate that he's wrong. It would be incredible if you could actually demonstrate that though, because the thing is, he's not wrong at all and anyone who can answer the following questions with valid figures (basically only those of us who work in it, barring a handful of very well-informed [and very old] industry enthusiasts) already knows this to be true and has for a long time.

How much did it cost to buy a game in 1992? How many personnel worked on a title, on average? For how long did they work on it? How many copies could it realistically expect to sell? How many hours of original content was there in each game, on average?

Games are actually cheaper to buy today than they were in 1992, yet they require dev teams of 300+ compared to 10-15, and they're expected to provide hours and hours of original experiences when games of the 90's all had to be completed in asingle sitting since you couldn't save your progress.

This was sustainable until recently because the size of the market continued to grow, meaning increased sales volumes were able to provide the increased revenues needed to cover all of these other cost increases, but the market is now saturated (meaning they are now selling games to pretty much everyone they could realistically expect to sell them to, leaving little to no room for future market growth to continue providing the buffer against cost increases like it has done for the last 20 or 30 years.

Everyone in the games industry already knows this. Nothing being said in this article is even remotely debatable between anyone with a decent grasp of this industry's prospects.
 
Comparing the price of games in the past with development cost currently is false correlation. The market is so much bigger these days and many more games are sold in much shorter time periods than ever before.
The market's explosive growth was how they funded these costs for 20+ years but that explosive growth isn't happening anymore and actually started slowing down close to a decade ago now, so no, it's not "false correlation".

The market for video games is now saturated and increased dev costs are moving further and further away from realistic sales expectations, even for AAA powerhouses.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,102   +5,345
Why are you talking about indie titles when the subject is specifically AAA titles? On top of that, CDProject is based in Poland, IIRC. This is a major boon to their financials as they can rent commercial space and pay for talent to fill it for a fraction of what it costs to do this in NYC, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Montreal, Southern Cali, or any of the other gamedev hotspots in North America.
Well for starters CDProject red is located in Warsaw poland. The cost of a basic apartment there is $1,113 USD ( 4,701 zł). Don't know if you've seen Larian's studio either but it doesn't look cheap. Kind of arrogant to assume that just because it isn't in a major American city, it's cheap.

The difference in cost between the SF area and Warsaw wouldn't even equate to 1% of the game budget.