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Average Budget For Major, Multi-Platform Games Is $18-28 Million

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the large-potatoes dept.

The Almighty Buck 157

An anonymous reader passes along this excerpt from Develop: "The average development budget for a multiplatform next-gen game is $18-$28 million, according to new data. A study by entertainment analyst group M2 Research also puts development costs for single-platform projects at an average of $10 million. The figures themselves may not be too surprising, with high-profile games often breaking the $40 million barrier. Polyphony's Gran Turismo 5 budget is said to be hovering around the $60 million mark, while Modern Warfare 2's budget was said to be as high as $50 million."

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Shouldn't be surprising (5, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735292)

I don't see why this is surprising. A game has as much visual design per frame as a Hollywood CGI movie, yet is typically much longer. Add to that the interactivity. The hours of dialogue. The playtesting.

It's surprising that games are cheaper to make than movies.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735332)

Correlation is not causation.

I'd have thought the logic from the publishers would be, if we're going to spend $20M on a game, we'd better make it multi-platform in order to sell more copies.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735766)

At least get it right, please. That stupid saying is, "correlation does not imply causation."

We know damn well that correlation is not causation. "Correlation" is a relationship between two things, such as the tendency of two measured values to change in unison. "Causation" is what produces a given effect. Clearly, they're two very different concepts. Correlation is obviously not causation.

What a lot of dipshits here like to try to point out is that just because a relationship is visible between two measurements, it does not mean that one is necessarily responsible for the other. Of course, even idiots are aware of this, so it doesn't need to be constantly pointed out by people like you, who strive to appear "intelligent".

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735824)

The stupidest thing I did was attach the reply to the wrong message.

The correlation is between games being multi-platform, and being around double the cost. The post I *meant* to reply to, expressed surprise that multi-platform development should be expensive.

Nitpicking about the exact phrase is not particularly welcome, thanks. We could argue about the subtle nuances of the word "imply". For certain uses you could argue that correlation does "imply" causation in the colloquial use of the term rather than the mathematical use.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735836)

What a lot of dipshits here like to try to point out is that just because a relationship is visible between two measurements, it does not mean that one is necessarily responsible for the other. Of course, even idiots are aware of this,

A surprising number of people (not even idiots) often fail to realise this. Examples abound.

(Yeah, I should probably just leave it)

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30737334)

Of course, even idiots are aware of this...

Correlation does not imply causation (you rude fuck).

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (5, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735354)

I wouldn't be surprised if half the budget on MW2 was marketing, if not more.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

skreeech (221390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735538)

Anecdotally I have read that marketing budgets are never included in these development costs thrown around.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736256)

That was the case when I used to work for a large multi-platform games development house.

Add anything from $2-50+ million for marketing.

no.. 200 million for marketing mw2. (4, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736222)

Re:no.. 200 million for marketing mw2. (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30738292)

I love how video games cost more to make then a typical hollywood movie

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736900)

The figures I've seen was that the marketing budget was another 250 million dollars.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735444)

But you don't have to pay for Matt Damon!

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735606)

No, but Call of Duty 5 (World at War) did use Kiefer Sutherland as a voice actor.

MW2 did use professional actors also, although I can't remember who.

Perhaps if games didn't spend money on Hollywood types like this they could cut costs a fair whack- most people wouldn't even know it's Kiefer Sutherland in CoD5, so why not just use someone else who can speak and would be MUCH cheaper.

I wouldn't be suprised if between all the actors paid in MW2 to do voices there was a few million spent.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736436)

Perhaps if games didn't spend money on Hollywood types like this they could cut costs a fair whack- most people wouldn't even know it's Kiefer Sutherland in CoD5, so why not just use someone else who can speak and would be MUCH cheaper.

Perhaps because there can be a thin line between "not spending on those hollywood types for voice-acting" and "hire uncle joe to do it".

We had a few generations of cd-rom games to prove the latter doesn't work that well, even when the games embraced the B-movie-feel of cheap acting for their own atmosphere (Texas Murphy, anyone?). Professional voice acting is one of the things that have improved on gaming regardless hardware upgrades - and it does make a difference (if the game needs voice at all, of course).

Now, most games certainly don't need to hire James Earl Jones for NPC dialogue, but I imagine the thinking goes something like animated movies in the US: a single case of atrocious voice-acting kills the story, so if you need to hire pros you might as well not take risks and use known actor names to get more sales.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736676)

Professional voice acting is one of the things that have improved on gaming regardless hardware upgrades - and it does make a difference (if the game needs voice at all, of course).

Absolutely. I've just finished Bayonetta -- hardly a budget effort. They've clearly used professional voice actors, but even so it would have improved matters greatly if the acting had a bit more spark. Long speeches performed slowly and only just well enough -- well, it's a blot on an otherwise superb product.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737222)

I don't disagree bad voice acting can ruin a game, I had the misfortune of buying Rogue Warrior recently to see that first hand.

I'm just suprised you'd need to pay for acting talent when all you want is voice- I'd have thought you could get voice actors cheaper than you could get physical and voice actors. Similarly, although I agree you wouldn't want to just use any old joe for it, I'd have thought there are plenty of low end voice actors that are perfectly good enough for a game well below hollywood rates.

I agree using big names would get more sales, but I didn't even know Kiefer Sutherland was in CoD5 until the end credits, so it's not as if they really even capitalised on that.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737974)

I'm just suprised you'd need to pay for acting talent when all you want is voice- I'd have thought you could get voice actors cheaper than you could get physical and voice actors. Similarly, although I agree you wouldn't want to just use any old joe for it, I'd have thought there are plenty of low end voice actors that are perfectly good enough for a game well below hollywood rates.

But all you want isn't just a voice, what you want is someone who can take someone else's movements and do a voice so well that even without a human body, you can still pick up on things like, emotions, fears, desires, interest, etc. A good voice actor is what takes your character beyond: "Wow, that villian sounds like a villain" and brings you to "I really despise that villain".

  And to put the proper emotion into a character's dialog, you have to understand how that character behaves and acts. Thus selecting a standard actor isn't such a bad idea given how much they do know about the total package of human behavior.

The voice actor is the bridge over the uncanny valley.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30738348)

But all you want isn't just a voice, what you want is someone who can take someone else's movements and do a voice so well that even without a human body, you can still pick up on things like, emotions, fears, desires, interest, etc.

Just a nitpick: typically the voices are recorded first, and the animator matches the actions to the voice.

In movies, they're increasingly doing mo-cap and voice recording at the same time (e.g. Andy Serkis acting Gollum or Kong). Game cut scenes would be improved by using decent actors and adopting this technique.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735870)

Three figure quantities of staff on average salary takes up a large percentage of that. Then you have equipment, motion capture, voice capture, software licenses, general overheads. It makes me wonder how any new companys get into the business... well... I guess they don't really unless they are holding hands with a large publisher.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (3, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736020)

New companies make smaller games. Bear in mind these figures are for "major" games.

World of Goo was made by two self-employed men in under a year.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736926)

And notice how the gameplay didn't suffer a bit for it.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737416)

World of Goo is a great game, but I don't think it follows that the money spent on big budget games is wasted.

To make the comparison with movies: lots of people like the low budget Clerks. But millions more like the expensive Lord of the Rings. Part of what they like is all that expensive looking grandeur. You couldn't make Lord of the Rings on Clerks' budget.

You couldn't make GTA IV on World of Goo's budget. I think there's room in this world for both games.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735894)

Half of why movies are so expensive is actors and scriptwriters unions and the hollywood monopoly, so far games have much more indepence. But i am suprised at the the cost of these Major games, i'm old enough to rembember when one teenager could write a game on his home computer with a budget of zero. But yes a modern computer game needs a room full of visual design artists and a enough room full of programmers, and lets not forget game play design and testing.

---

3D Shooter Games [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736396)

Half of why movies are so expensive is actors and scriptwriters unions and the hollywood monopoly

I'm going to have to go ahead and ask you to provide some sort of citation for that statement.

Otherwise, take that weak conservative bullshit to the park where the squirrels might give a shit.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736704)

Here's some weak conservative bullshit for you

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_Actors_Guild#Beyond_the_major_studios

"SAG members may not work on non-union productions"

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30737282)

...many film schools have SAG Student Film Agreements with the Guild to allow SAG actors to work in their projects. SAGIndie was formed in 1997 to promote independent filmmaking using SAG actors; SAG also has Low Budget Contracts that are meant to encourage the use of SAG members on films produced outside of the major studios and to prevent film productions from leaving the country

Stop quote mining.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737854)

I wasn't quote mining you just don't understand what your reading, Physburn said that the unions drive up costs. You said Bull. I said Union rules say they have to do union work.
 
Try reading your quote again. It say they charge $x amount for the major studios because they can afford it. For small studios they charge a lot less because they can't afford it and if that small studio decides to leave the country the SAG gets nothing.
 
Its a business decision

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736512)

Half of why movies are so expensive is actors and scriptwriters unions and the hollywood monopoly

Feh. Seriously? Was that necessary to bring in to this conversation? You REALLY think unions are the reason why actors get paid so much?

By the way, there are a TON of movies made on a shoestring budget that rival anything out of Hollywood. I Like Killing Flies is a move that is a perfect example of that. Directed, Produced, Edited, AND Filmed all by one guy.

District 9 is another great example, although on a much larger scale. Do you know how much District 9's budget was? Go ahead, take a guess. $30 Million. [latimes.com] Compare the visuals to that of any big-budget CGI laden film.

'm old enough to rembember when one teenager could write a game on his home computer with a budget of zero

Check out Kongregate, Newgrounds, etc. There are also a TON of games on XBLA/PSN, as well as very popular games made by folks using the XNA (I Made a Game with Zombies in it) and pretty much no cash.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (1)

Icarium (1109647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737666)

It's surprising that games are cheaper to make than movies.

Not really. You don't have actors demanding to be kept in 5 star opulence for the duration of the shoot. You don't need to move film crews and casts from location to location. You don't actually go around blowing up tanks, or crashing $100k sportscars. Granted, I see no same reason why you would want to do any of those if you could get the same result by using CGI (which to be bluntly honest isn't always up to the task - especially when it comes to explosions) but until all CGI is photorealistic there will always be a case for the more expensive option.

Re:Shouldn't be surprising (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737936)

It turns out that many movies are actually cheaper than these big games.

http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/allbudgets.php [the-numbers.com]

$20M was the budget for Into The Wild - no blowing up tanks there, but lots of location shooting.

28 Days Later: $15M
Bubba Ho-Tep: $1M
El Mariachi: $7000

Half the cost for another platform? (2, Interesting)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735306)

I didn't read the article, but, how can making a game multiplatform almost double the cost? I thought the art, levels, motion capturing, all the data, etc... was the most expensive. Writing the code probably also is expensive, but if you develop for multiplatform a lot of code (AI etc...) can be shared and only things like renderer and input need multiple implementations, which can't be THAT much more work??

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (2, Insightful)

unts (754160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735328)

Two words: Bug testing

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (2, Funny)

floatednerd (1667997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736230)

You mean bug testing still happens?

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (3, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736308)

Of course it does, only now it's done by end users and we pay for the privilege :)

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736936)

8 million dollars for bugtesting on a second platform when the whole project for one platform would be 10 million?

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735340)

Ugh I responded in the wrong place. See "correlation is not causation" above.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (2, Informative)

rJah (1216024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735402)

I read somewhere (maybe slashdot story or an ars technica article, can't remember) that multi platform games are dificult to develop because of the underlying hardware differences, specifically the CPU(s) and they have to take the number and types of CPUs installed in the system into account. For example, the PS3 has 1 GP core an several vector cores while PCs have 1, 2 or 4 GP cores, and the threading systems have to be completely different. And XBox has a different CPU as well (3 PPC cores, but I may have made it up). The PS3 also has far less RAM than an average PC, and this also has to be taken into account while deevloping games.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (5, Informative)

laird (2705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735794)

Exactly. Getting something to run on an Xbox 360, a PS3 and a Wii is very hard because they are very different platforms. So while there are frameworks and tools that help get the code running on all platforms, so the differences between the hardware is less of a hassle than it used to be, it's a lot of work making the game run *well* on all platforms. For example, you can't use the same 3d models or textures on a Wii and a PS3 or Xbox 360, so you need to redo them (unless you want the PS3 and Xbox 360 to look like a Wii). And, of course, each company has its own approval process, with its own UI standards, etc., as well as unique hardware to be taken into account (e.g. Wiimote). What this means is that while you can reuse the core logic, level design, etc., there's still tons of work to do for each additional platform.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (2, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735928)

Ok, I get it now, I guess with multiplatform games I was thinking too much about games for Windows, Mac and Linux. But of course I had forgotten that PC gaming is dead and games refers to consoles today.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (3, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736206)

Getting something to run on an Xbox 360, a PS3 and a Wii is very hard because they are very different platforms. So while there are frameworks and tools that help get the code running on all platforms, so the differences between the hardware is less of a hassle than it used to be, it's a lot of work making the game run *well* on all platforms.

However, the engine is a small fraction of the cost of a game, especially when an existing cross-platform engine is used (although even these often get tweaked).

Model design, level design, scripting, voice acting, motion capture; all these are very significant costs, and are portable. Level scripting is usually done in a higher level language than C, and is portable across platforms.

And, of course, each company has its own approval process, with its own UI standards, etc., as well as unique hardware to be taken into account (e.g. Wiimote). What this means is that while you can reuse the core logic, level design, etc., there's still tons of work to do for each additional platform.

True enough. Xbox Achievements and so forth.

I'd still argue, though, that the reason cross-platform games tend to correlate with expensive-to-make games, is that having spend megabucks on designing a game, publishers want as many potential buyers as possible.

(The key exceptions, of course, being Sony or MS exclusives, which those companies use to increase the prestige of their platforms)

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736274)

Getting something to run on an Xbox 360, a PS3 and a Wii is very hard

The 360 and PS3 are quite similar from a performance, memory and graphical standpoint, so making code that runs for both platforms (and the PC) is probably a hell of a lot easier than for the Wii. The PS3 is probably the odd fish since it uses SPU tasks but it can still share virtually all of the graphical / audio assets and probably 80-90% of the code. Much of the code in places like EA / Ubisoft etc. is probably middleware anyway so a game coder hits the middleware and leaves it up to that to do the right thing for the platform it is on. To some extent the situation is analogous to Windows & Linux where apps like Firefox and OpenOffice manage to run on multiple platforms and they do so by abstracting and isolating the platform specific parts so the bulk of the code is common.

The Wii is the odd console one out. It doesn't have anything like the same performance characteristics which is probably why with few exceptions the Wii title is usually written from scratch (or code shared with the PS2).

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

skreeech (221390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735522)

I think it might be something to do with multiplatform usually meaning PS3, 360, PC, while Single platform includes the Wii, portables, and download service games so small that they are unique to one service, the latter having much lower costs.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735574)

Next Gen consoles have significant differences in programming models. Its possible to write pretty standard c++ code that will run relatively well on the 360. The ps3 on the other hand requires you to code everything by hand to handle the multi threaded cell processor. This includes things like communication between the PPU and SPUs on the cell processor and a complete software memory cache(if thats how you decide to go about it).

Thats not to say that their wouldnt be a large amount of shared code, but for efficient use of the platform large chunks(even standard stuff like AI) may need to be rewritten.

On top of that both microsoft and sony have a very strict validation process. Fail that and its back to more testing and another whole bunch of cash to get it ready for another try.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736246)

Actually, if you start development on the ps3 and make everything nicely parallel you can just port the parallel SPU stuff to 'normal' threads on the microsoft platforms. It's very hard to do it the other way around, parallelizing existing code to work efficiently using the SPUs.

Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735834)

if you develop for multiplatform a lot of code (AI etc...) can be shared and only things like renderer and input need multiple implementations, which can't be THAT much more work??

I know of no single language that compiles to every single bytecode. For example, say you want to publish a game on several platforms. One only runs ActionScript bytecode. Another only runs JVM bytecode. Another exclusively uses CLR bytecode (unless you're a large enough business to qualify for PowerPC instructions). Another uses ARM instructions. Another uses x86 instructions. So in what language should the developer write the physics and AI to target all platforms?

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735912)

C++?

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736384)

Sure, a subset of C++ [wikipedia.org] is known to compile to CLR bytecode. But does C++ compile cleanly to ActionScript and JVM bytecode?

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736258)

I'm pretty sure TOA is talking about PC+Xbox360+PS3 and maybe Wii. Nobody's blowing $20M on making a Flash game.

Having said that, PopCap and their ilk make games in the space you're talking about. I'm certain Peggle didn't have a $20M budget.

A decent strategy for that kind of game would be to write for a VM, and implement that VM on all the target platforms. That was the approach taken by Infocom for their text adventures, and by LucasArts for their point+click adventures.

Somewhere there's an interview with PopCap, however, where they explain that they don't do that. They reuse what they can, but every version of Peggle is a "hard work" port. If that involves rewriting the physics engine in a different language, so be it.

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736406)

Nobody's blowing $20M on making a Flash game.

Unless it's a handheld device that runs Flash and the game is a port of the $20 million Xbox 360/PC game to the handheld device. I thought I had made that clear (x86 is PC; CLR/PowerPC is Xbox 360).

A decent strategy for that kind of game would be to write for a VM, and implement that VM on all the target platforms.

Then you lose iPhone and iPod Touch due to Apple's developer program restrictions. In addition, on the ActionScript, JVM, and CLR platforms, you take a big performance hit of running a VM in a VM.

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736576)

Unless it's a handheld device that runs Flash and the game is a port of the $20 million Xbox 360/PC game to the handheld device.

I don't know of any such titles. Do you have one in mind? Handheld "versions" of games (e.g. gameboy versions) tend not to actually be the same game.

Then you lose iPhone and iPod Touch due to Apple's developer program restrictions.

Is that strictly true? As long as you distribute the VM and the code to run within it as a single bundle, and don't provide a way to load arbitrary code into the VM, I'd guess that would be OK with Apple. The iPhone C64 emulator was approved by Apple when they removed the ability to type in BASIC commands. (Then it was pulled again when it turned out the feature could be re-enabled as an easter egg).

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736830)

Handheld "versions" of games (e.g. gameboy versions) tend not to actually be the same game.

A lot of handheld games are completely different games in the same series (compare Metal Gear Solid on PS1 to the PS1-era GBC games for instance), but plenty are more-or-less direct ports (compare Dr. Mario 64 to Dr. Mario + Puzzle League for GBA).

As long as you distribute the VM and the code to run within it as a single bundle, and don't provide a way to load arbitrary code into the VM, I'd guess that would be OK with Apple.

True, I could write the physics and AI in Lua as long as I take appropriate measures to lock down the script loader. But interpreters still have overhead. In commercial games that make heavy use of a scripting engine, how much time does the CPU spend in the interpreter vs. in the (native) graphics, sound, and input code?

Re:Flash+Java+Xbox 360+iPhone+PC? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736798)

Then you lose iPhone and iPod Touch due to Apple's developer program restrictions.

Who cares - that's their fault. Won't run on an Amiga too. Perfectly good cross-platform strategies shouldn't be ignored just because they don't include a minority of the market. It worries me that Apple's policies will end up dictating how games are written, even when they have little share in these markets...

Minority of the market (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737374)

Who cares - that's their fault.

It's Apple's fault, but it's developers' problem. This is true especially as the market share of smartphones grows at the expense of dumbphones, phoneless PDAs, and dedicated gaming devices.

It worries me that Apple's policies will end up dictating how games are written

The policies of Nintendo and Sony have long dictated how games are written: if a game is to allow multiple players to use one TV-sized monitor and multiple controllers, it needs to be for one or more consoles, not the PC (EA Sports being the exception), and therefore it needs to follow all the console rules including minimum size of business. Only recently have the majority of new TVs become able to handle the EDTV and HDTV signals that PCs produce on their VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI connectors.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736566)

Testing, development kits, more staff to work on each port...not to mention the porting itself. It isn't as simple as just clicking a button, it's actually a fairly intense process. It's safe to say that hiring people who know what they are doing when it comes to the porting process doesn't come cheap, either.

Re:Half the cost for another platform? (1)

alteveer (979070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737590)

There are different certification processes, but if you use crappy middleware like Unreal Tech, you can put pretty much the same game out on PS3 and 360 with minor additional effort. A lot of major studios are eschewing PC titles and focusing only on console, as well.

More complicated and less fun (2, Interesting)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735338)

Games keep getting more and more complicated and more expensive but no more fun. I just completed Assassin's Creed over the weekend. I found the gameplay mechanic for Theif, which preceded it by over ten years, to me much more fun.

Re:More complicated and less fun (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735380)

You are also 10 years older.

It is very much like the idea that modern music sucks (the best music is always the stuff that played when we were in college), or the quote about sci-fi:

The golden age of science fiction is twelve.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737008)

No, that's just Assassin's Creed being a fairly bad game (they spent all their money and effort on making a believable city with tons of climbing opportunities and whatnot and forgot about putting a fun game into all that).

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737826)

No. No it is nothing like that.

There is to some degree that kind of thing going on, one could argue that Super Mario Bros 3 is better than the new Super Mario Bros Wii, while the latter one is merely a re-iteration of the former, it has quite a few of its own quirks. I could understand how the older see it as derivative and the younger would not understand how they think #3 is better.

But that is specifically from the console perspective. PC Games - specifically ones from the Era that he is refering to, had a degree of complexity that has been unmatched in all my years of playing games. He mentioned Theif, which was the original First Person Looter. It started the whole "Stealth" idea in a game, which up to that point was completely non-existant. While almost standard now in every game - there seems to be a level where you are either difficult to spot (blizzard levels in Call of Duty) or you have some games that try to re-iterate that stealth element, like Oblivion or Fallout 3. Oblivion had really come the closest, but it didn't quite capture ALL of the elements that were involved in Stealth. You don't get levels with large casted that you have to sneak in, avoiding the light. You don't have to be careful what floors you walk on, you are just as undetectable on stone as you are on grass. You don't have non-lethal options. All of these things that made the game rather unique are no longer present in modern day games.

Its like a little while ago when people were talking about how great Duke Nukem 3D was, given that it had Hologram deploys, pipe bombs, security cameras, flame throwers, RPG's, remote mines, laser trip mines, etc etc. Everything in there has been redone somewhere, but no where else has ALL of them combined so flawlessly to make balanced gameplay.

And these aren't the only ones I can think of. X-wing vs Tie Fighter, one of Lucasart's Finest in my books, was one of the best space flight simulators out there. You had the standard fly around, barrel rolls, and fire lasers that are present in just about any flight game. But it also had a laser and shield recharge system, that would draw from your engine power if you put too much into recharging those systems. You had shield balancing (like when they say in A New Hope: set shields to double front!). You had targetting and locking on, and you could tell when other crafts had you targetted and were locking on. There were countermeasures for missiles, countermeasures for chasers. You had full 0% to 100% throttle support, ability to match speed with your target, or you could attempt to out maneuver them. You could call for reinforcements, though it would hurt your score. The amount of game mechanics in the game is staggering. There were so many ways to play it too. It even had online support, for dogfights, co-operative missions, or different scenarios (where you can play on opposing sides).

Another game from Lucasarts at the time was Rebellion, which had terrible graphics but good gameplay. As opposed to its most recent re-iteration; Empire at war - it had certain elements that are tough to find in any game now a days. I could send Princess Leia on a diplomatic mission, or if I play the other side, send Darth Vader to try and Capture Luke. These had different outcomes based on chance - which altered the characters. Perhaps the planet will join the Rebel Alliance, thus boosting my production and resources, or perhaps Darth Vader will succeed in Capturing Luke, not only forcing Luke to learn about his heritage making him stronger but also taking an agent away from my opponent. They could then mount a rescue operation. You could build fleets, you could build armies, and you would have to manage the two efficiently. If an opponents fleet is above your planet they initiate a blockade, meaning no production or resources on that planet. As such, fleet dominance is ultimately one of the most important things. But you cannot take over a planet without troops. And doing so affects the planets standing of you. Aggressively going to war to gain a planet makes the citizens of that planet like you less. If possible, you could try to sabatoge key military facilities, and if the planet likes you enough, they will declare neutrality in the war. The weakest part of the game was that space battle weren't quite entertaining or had the same finess as Empire at War, mostly because the graphics were not up to date. They also had no system for ground battles, just merely simulated events in which you only see the final outcome. However, Lucasarts has shown that they could do this in games like Empire at War, and the other handful of RTS they've released.

I could go on, there were plenty of games to come out late 80's and 90's that were SO good because there was SO much written into them. But now mostly what I see is a new flashier first person shooter. I wouldn't mind games completely ripping off of other games today, if only they made sure they ripped off the whole thing. I feel like somewhere along the way we lost a core part of games. Enough complexity to play it your own way.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735400)

Not a particularly fair comparison. Thief was acknowledged at the time as a classic; there are usually one or two games per year that achieve this status. The original Assassin's Creed had distinctly mixed reviews, with criticism particularly levelled at poor and unintuitive controls and mechanics (apparently the sequel is better, but I haven't played it).

I've played plenty of recent games from the same genre that I'd rate more highly than Thief in objective terms; Batman: Arkham Asylum being probably the best example of the last few months.

Re:More complicated and less fun (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735536)

You seem to think that "fair" means "agrees with you". There's a bright future for you in either politics, or professional refereeing.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735818)

Nope. I seem to think that "fair" means "comparing like with like" (in this instance). Comparing an acknowledged classic from one era to a game recognised as mediocre from another and basing your entire argument around this does not qualify as this.

I don't really think there's a bright future for you anywhere, outside of forum trolling.

Re:More complicated and less fun (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736078)

It's an apples to apples comparison. What you're saying that you can't compare Friday Daddy assraping you to Tuesday Daddy buttfucking you, because Tuesday Daddy has a much bigger shlong. That's quite literally worse than anything that Hitler ever did.

Re:More complicated and less fun (3, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735464)

Modern game development focuses more on expensive, movie-like graphics than on clever, original, innovative gameplay. In fact, with budgets like this, innovation is dangerous. Better stick to what's been proven to sell. Just like in Hollywood. Innovation usually starts small, and the bigger the business becomes, the smaller innovation has to start.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736628)

In fact, with budgets like this, innovation is dangerous. Better stick to what's been proven to sell.

Yes. Those evil big software companies never mix innovation with big budgets. Yet again, we rely on the indie developers to pour $18-28 million on average into innovative and original games.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736734)

Which is why original gameplay tends to come from small games without masses of fancy (read: expensive) CGI.

Or, to put it another way: How is this year's football/American football/driving/basketball game any different from last years apart from slightly updated graphics, minor tweaks to the engine and they renamed the players/teams/cars to account for changes in the last year?

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736896)

Which is why original gameplay tends to come from small games without masses of fancy (read: expensive) CGI.

I'm not sure if it explains anything. If a small group of people can make a small game in a relatively small amount of time, with a small marketing/distribution budget, then why can't a big company do the same thing with a tiny fraction of their budget/workforce/time?

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737024)

Good question. I'd imagine they're being ruled by finance guys, who want the lowest risk ROI they can think of.

If SuperFootball 2007, 2008 and 2009 were huge sellers, it seems logical to put the effort towards 2010.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737060)

I'm seeing tons of innovation on the App Store and most of those games look like someone made them in their spare time. Of course in most cases the innovation falls flat because it wasn't thought through very well but they are working on changing up the foundations of their "genres" (which they often don't even fit into anymore) while in a blockbuster core game innovation usually means some new take on bullet time.

Re:More complicated and less fun (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735514)

That fact makes me increasingly interested in just treating the history of games as something to mine for stuff to play. I used to have basically a 1- or 2-year game horizon: what I'm going to play this weekend was determined by choosing from the list of recent games. But now I have more like a 20-year horizon; I might play a recent game this weekend, or I might play a classic game I've heard a lot about that I haven't gotten around to experiencing myself, yet. It seems that as games get taken more seriously as a medium, instead of just throw-away entertainment, it ought to move in that direction. I mean, it's not like avid readers read only new-release best-sellers. Sometimes you do, but sometimes you read Victor Hugo or Isaac Asimov.

Even for new games, there are fortunately still a lot of less-expensive games that come out that can be innovative, and some even manage to get some decent press; World of Goo and Braid are two of the more prominent recent success stories. This year's Indie Game Festival [igf.com] has a lot of interesting stuff, too. Indie games might be even more vibrant than indie film is, these days.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735586)

That's because AC was an awfully dull game even though it looked stunning and the fighting was impressive.

Try Assassins Creed 2, far, far better and puts even classics like Thief to shame.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736316)

Combat wasn't impressive at all. Unless you call countering until you die of bore impressive.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737136)

Well playing in such a boring manner is your choice.

You could run through Doom with just the shotgun, but that wouldn't mean it had only one weapon choice throughout the game.

Re:More complicated and less fun (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736380)

Welcome to getting older. I can't believe how easy I was to entertain when I was a teen, plus then I didn't really know the meaning of "work". It was all either fun or learning, even the grinding was just a little interlude. And every generation talks about something, like how say vinyl had more soul than CDs, or the people in costumes had more soul than CGI, and how real world makebelieve had more soul than virtual makebelieve and so on.

Each one of these megagames probably used far more skill and time on a professional writer than the computer geek who part-time doubled as gfx artist, sfx artist, composer and sometimes writer on your garage setup obscure game. I can at least say that with most old games I can have kind memories but if I start playing then many of them I get fed up because it's so simple and boring to a mind that's had another ten years of experience at figuring stuff out.

Re:More complicated and less fun (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736812)

No older games where just better, and no I don't have nostalgia goggles on either. I'm basing that opinion off of me playing old games that I didn't play when I was younger.

Must suck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735456)

That I usually just download the game, testplay it and dump it.

Marketing Budgets can dwarf Dev Costs (5, Interesting)

Zeussy (868062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30735542)

If you took at any recent AAA title game, marketing and distribution costs are huge. Apparently the marketing budget for COD:MW2 was $200 million (although that probably includes distribution costs) with development $40-50 million. According to http://www.thatvideogameblog.com/2009/11/19/modern-warfare-2s-development-budget-40-50-million/ [thatvideogameblog.com]
Halo 3's was $40 million+ of marketing, similar to dev cost. GTAIV would of had similar if not more, being a multi platform title. Although wiki says the development of GTAIV was estimated to cost near $100.
A friend of mine from THQ complained that De Blob sold really well, then they blew the equivalent of profits on the marketing campaign for japan, and the game flopped there.

COD money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735810)

I wonder how much the US guvment funnels into this atrocity of a 'game'? I mean there's no better advertising than that which the consumer pays for.

Re:COD money (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736200)

$0. America's Army and Call of Duty are different games.

Re:Marketing Budgets can dwarf Dev Costs (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736150)

"GTAIV would of had similar if not more, being a multi platform title."

God dammit! It's "would HAVE had"!

Re:Marketing Budgets can dwarf Dev Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736424)

I'm so glad it's not just me.

Concerning Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30735728)

while Modern Warfare 2's budget was said to be as high as $50 million

I'm sure that there are a lot of cost-saving measures out there, such as simply porting a console version to the PC and leaving out dedicated servers.

Oh wait...

Re:Concerning Modern Warfare 2 (1)

mambodog (1399313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736084)

...simply porting a console version to the PC...

No, no, no. The PC version had plenty of new features, such as "Keyboard and mouse input" and "Customizable resolution settings"!

Excuses (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736030)

Sounds like more fodder for game developers and publishers to whine about lost revenues due to used game sales and piracy, as well as justifying their pricing models and DLC systems. Kind of pointless having a huge game development budget when it's the same, uninnovative, linear experience time and time again. Thankfully, the increasing success of so-called "indie" games may have them rethink their huge dev costs.

Multiplatform. Really. (1)

BForrester (946915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736088)

Did I miss the 360/Wii/PC/Linux release of Gran Turismo 5? Now that I know that it's a major multiplatform release, I'll be on the lookout for a copy to play on one of my non-PS3 systems.

Re:Multiplatform. Really. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736292)

Could it be that the facts given about GT5 are an interesting associated fact, to the related information about multiplatform games.

Re:Multiplatform. Really. (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736340)

I know your being sarcastic but the only reason I ever purchased a ps2 or ps3 was for the GT series. They will never bring that game to any other console.

Re:Multiplatform. Really. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736428)

and yet Forza is now the superior series yet so many GT fans sit with their eyes closed refusing to see it.
(disclaimer: PS3 fanboy here, dislike the 360 and dislike the way Microsoft handle live, nickel and dime customers and STILL got a 360 just for Forza 3 - worth every penny)

GT is finished, they have diluted the game so much with nascar, indycar, WRC, F1, regular cars - they don't know WHAT they are doing.
The driving physics are getting worse, not better and in the most recent release (GT Academy) the FOV and camera position is simply 'wrong' - it feels like driving a shopping trolley.

I'm not even exaggerating - try it. Forza is leaps and bounds more superior as a driving game. Oh and F1/F2 and Forza 3 have ALL come out since GT actually last shipped a full game (GT4) ANNNND it's not like Turn 10 rushed them out either for goodness sakes! 18 to 24 months between each title.
ANDDDDDDDDDDDDDD Polyphony Digital are so arrogant they insist 'we don't need to see what the competition are doing, we're the best' (that's a partial quote)

I could go on for hours, let's just say - buy Forza 3 if you like racing, goddamn it's great.
Get GT5 too, I will be - but my expectations are rock bottom based on their attitude and demos / trials / 'prologues' of late.

Do large budgets lead to boring games? (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736220)

Funny how not one of the big-team $20 million + games can compete when it comes to fun/playability/originality with the 2-man team's World of Goo.

Re:Do large budgets lead to boring games? (2, Insightful)

flickwipe (954150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736298)

objection! opinion

Re:Do large budgets lead to boring games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30736358)

True, but then people buy games for the looks on the whole. Always have and always will...

Re:Do large budgets lead to boring games? (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736826)

No, the people who think it is a good idea to spend $3000 on gaming computers and are willing to pay $700 just for a game console buy games for the looks. Meaning rich teenagers whose mommy and daddy throw money at them.

The masses don't really care about 10 billion polygon "realistically" shaded 3d scenes rendered by massive chips. But then the masses wouldn't pay $60 just for a video game, and the video game "industry" calls anything but FPS and RTS titles "casual games."

Re:Do large budgets lead to boring games? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736924)

Do you have any idea how stupid powerful a $3000 computer is these days? You really don't need to be spending any more than $700

Re:Do large budgets lead to boring games? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736804)

World of Goo wasn't that good. Sure I enjoyed it, a lot, but I enjoy many games as well.

For example, I just finished New Super Mario Bros Wii the other day, and I had a blast pretty much all the way through, especially during the multiplayer.

I also enjoyed GTA Vice City (I haven't tried 4 yet). A lot. That was pretty fun.

Let's see... Hm... There was EA's Boom Blox for Wii. I really enjoyed that, and the gameplay felt pretty fresh, as much so as world of goo.

Also for Wii, I'm currently enjoying Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer. The tactical point-and-click gameplay feels really good, and makes the actual fun part of virtual soccer, the movement puzzle, as accessible and natural as possible.

So yeah, I think big budgets don't exclude fun. The worst they can do is extend the possibilities (even though they often don't from a gameplay perspective).

Is that including the marketing? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736236)

Is that for game development only, or are we including those highly expensive spots during super bowl to show call of duty 23
I like computer games as much as the next guy, but a lot of budgets are also grossly exaggerated so that the next year you keep that same budget, as in the military, wasting money so you don't lose your budget the next year....if a new company comes out and puts out a game as good as some of these with big budgets, and obviously with 1/10 the budget being new and all, does that not mean you CAN make a game for less, but just choose not to?

How far we've come (1)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736244)

10 years ago I worked on a major title for the Dreamcast, "Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future" and our budget of somewhere around 2.5M was considered excessive.

Re:How far we've come (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30738002)

It's exponential growth. For the costs, at least, doesn't look like the sales are growing exponentially.

And then there's Duke Nukem Forever... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30736702)

... which spent that much just on strippers. But hey, it was really important to get that part right!

Licensing Fees? (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30737176)

I've often wondered how large the licensing fees are. Every big-budget movie needs a big-budget game with a synchronized release date. But the game developer is taking a big risk that the movie doesn't bomb and no one will buy the game (no matter how good it is). Even if the movie is a success, the game is really part of the movie's marketing, so maybe the movie studio's licensing fees are fairly small to encourage game developers to take the risk of creating the game? Even things like automobiles in racing games involve licenses, but again the car company benefits by having it's product promoted to a generation of future drivers, so maybe the licensing fees are relatively small? Does anyone know?
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