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EA Says Game Development Budgets Have Peaked

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the nowhere-to-go-but-down dept.

The Almighty Buck 157

Gamasutra reports on comments from Electronic Arts VP David Demartini indicating that the company thinks AAA game development budgets are not going to continue their skyward trend. "If [a developer] happens to make a lot of money based on that budget, great for them. If they come up short and have to cover some of it — y'know, they'll be smarter the next time they do it. That's kind of the approach that we take to it." Certainly this has something to do with a few major economic flops in the games industry lately, such as the cancellation of This Is Vegas after an estimated $50 million had been dumped into the project. Another example is the anemic response to APB, an MMO with a budget rumored to be as high as $100 million. Poor sales and reviews caused developer Realtime Worlds to enter insolvency and lay off a large portion of the development team.

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157 comments

Bout time... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365668)

Lots of money does not a good game make...

Bring back innovative fun gameplay and stop pushing graphics!

Crappy games with awesome graphics... Are still crappy games.
   

Re:Bout time... (4, Insightful)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365724)

So true, gameplay is far more important than graphics.

Re:Bout time... (-1, Redundant)

odies (1869886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366270)

It's not a either this or that situation, you can have both. In fact the gameplay is probably better if you good interface and great graphics that create good immersion. I love Dwarf Fortress as a game, but seriously if it had even a little bit better interface and graphics it would be a lot more enjoyable. Some games like Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2 wouldn't really be so immersive or make you have "wow" moments if it didn't have good graphics and in Bad Company 2's case amazing sound system.

Personally I expect a great gameplay with graphics and special effects that make me go "whoa".

Re:Bout time... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368582)

Preach brother! Just this week I've been enjoying some No One Lives Forever 1&2 and some Soldier of Fortune 1&2 along with Half Life 1 and Alien VS Predator. I have plenty of newer games, yet I keep going back to games like these and Freelancer, why? BECAUSE THEY ARE FUN!!!

It seems like game devs, in their "search for the best ePeen graphics" have forgotten that games are supposed to be fun and that just because a game is pretty will NOT cover up for shitty gameplay. How many of us have played a new game lately where this description applied? "Game looks cool but controls suck and gameplay is wonky. It just isn't fun". Hell I've lost count of the games I've played like that. Shitty AI that makes the first DOOM seem like geniuses, lousy controls that suck on both console and PC, level design that any 15 year old could do better at, just horrible. And then you realize somebody sunk millions of dollars into this turd, and it is just sad.

I don't know if they should force game devs to play the classics, get in playtesters to warn them they are on a wrong path, or what, but the amount of expensively made games I've played that just sucked is frankly staggering. Hell the bargain bins are full of the things. I just wonder if this is the end of another "dot bomb" style bubble, where too many VCs heard the numbers for GTA and were willing to throw money at any game dev that had "it is kinda like (famous game)" pitch.

Re:Bout time... (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368764)

I know people say "Gameplay is more important than graphics" and I agree with them - lets get that straightened out, but lets clarify exactly why it seems to be that so much money gets dumped into graphics.

Before you can even start much of anything else for your game, you need an engine to run it in. You can either dump a ton of money into licensing one, or you can dump a ton of money into building one from scratch. The latter is of course going to take more time - and the former is taking from people who basically program JUST the physics and graphics, in fact, its in their best interest to have the most aesthetically pleasing engine out there.

Next, you've got 2 big core parts: mechanics and design. The mechanics is usually the hard, tricky to understand bit because not everyone likes looking at code, and debugging something running in an engine is not exactly like event driven command prompt. You have to apply some serious logical thinking in order to transpose how you want a certain gameplay element into something the player executes, and in cases where you want to be innovative: There is no prior existing code (just ask how many devs on here copy and paste code. No wheel to reinvent with games).

Now I'm not trying to belittle the design stage. It takes a special kind of person to pull off the high quality concept art that you see for a lot of games. I value these people more than I value the actual modellers, and in case you're wondering why, I'm going to tell you. Modelling itself is not something difficult to learn. I had about 1 modules worth of Maya way back when I was in High school, and I've just recently taken online Youtube tutorials in Blender. Essentially everything required to make a game work; I've learned in a few hours. But seeing how a new game will require all new models: This is a bulk of the workload. This is also what most game dev programs at colleges will focus a good part of the program on. So when you get 100 graduates, and EA is pumping out a new game, they want to get all this modelling and texturing done, so they hire these people and put them in the monkey position of creating all the new models that will be required. (First years to trees and blades of grass! How fun!)

In summary, there are far more people willing to get into character design and modelling for a game, because what they do is far more tangible when their component is completed. So when the big shops are working on something, their team of a dozen coders will spend a year working out the code to make the game run exactly how they want it. Then it'll take the design team of 99 modellers and texturers the same amount of time to get their part done, but because there are so many of them, they can get a lot of work done.

PS - The other part I forgot to include is Animation for the models, which is another time consuming but not particularily difficult thing to learn, its actually very similar to using Flash.

Re:Bout time... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365742)

The Hollywoodization of the games industry has killed it in my opinion. I've seen more quality and had more fun from games coming from companies like Valve and publishers like Paradox in the last 5 years than I have from EA or Activision or any other big name. Hollywood is not the direction that the game industry should be looking for inspiration, it should be a lesson in what NOT to do.

Re:Bout time... (3, Insightful)

odies (1869886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366290)

You talk like there's no alternatives. Go search for some of the indie or freeware games, some of them are quite impressive. A lot of times they're also how games would be without big budgets. You don't really need to play big budget AAA games, but you want to, don't you?

I think it's only good we have a lot of choices, something for everybody.

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367164)

The Hollywoodization of the games industry has killed it in my opinion.

Killed it in what sense? I would rather be a gamer in the current generation than in any previous one. Some of the stuff that was released during the 8-bit and 16-bit days was just awful.

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

ekwhite (847167) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367652)

The Hollywoodization of the games industry has killed it in my opinion. Killed it in what sense? I would rather be a gamer in the current generation than in any previous one. Some of the stuff that was released during the 8-bit and 16-bit days was just awful.

Just as some of the stuff released now is awful. Some of the things released back then were classics, also, just as some of the things released now are classics. Just as in Hollywood, you can produce big budget crap, or great films on a low budget.

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368672)

However, that's the direction that a lot of consumers look in. To many people, budgets = quality. If there's a movie put up by some tiny studio that didn't have any advertisements or famous actors, then you're not going to get many people out to see it. If there's a game put out that doesn't have state-of-the-art graphics and a flashy cover, then only so many gamers are going to end up having their moms pick it up for them at Gamestop.

This is the direction that movies have gone it, it's the direction the TV has gone in, it's the direction that music has gone in, because in the end, that's where the money is. It might be better to say - don't spend large budgets on games that aren't going to have a large general audience (a la APB).

Re:Bout time... (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365752)

Gamers will not play a game with anything less than brilliant graphics. It will get savaged in the reviews and everyone will dump on it. A tiny minority will defend it as a great game but the company who made it won't make any money. You think gamers spend thousands of dollars on top-end graphics cards just to play games that don't stress their equipment? The answer is no. But make a game with great graphics and reviewers will sing, gamers will buy, and the company will rake in tons of money. As long as the gameplay is barely adequate, and in a pinch you can do without that, too. It's happened plenty of times.

Re:Bout time... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365786)

Nethack proves you wrong.

Re:Bout time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365840)

Nope, nobody would ever pay for Nethack.

Also the popularity of those kinds of games are greatly exaggerated, nobody is really playing them outside of the computer science dorm on Saturday night.

Re:Bout time... (3, Informative)

rdwulfe (890032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365922)

Actually, reality seems to state otherwise, time and again, when people make statements like this.

While it is not a requirement to pay for a game such as, for example, Dwarf Fortress, it seems that people will quite gladly donate enough money to keep it going, and allow the developer of said game to live entirely off of those donations. In effect, they are paying for that game. Some of them are even paying more for that game than they would be for any other game except for an MMO.

There is also the fact that people will pay for games with "less than brilliant graphics", since people pay for games like World of Goo to name one example. By far, it did not have state of the art graphics.

The world of who is out there willing to pay for what is far more grey than black and white. People look for different things when they decide to spend money on a game. The hardcore, "OMG, must haz rendered pores!" gamers are only a small segment of the market. Game studios seem to enjoy forgetting that fact.

Re:Bout time... (1, Informative)

Zediker (885207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367114)

case in point: ps2 beat the ever living snot out of the xobx and the gamecube, despite being the weaker system of the three. wii, has beaten the ever living snot out of the ps3 and xbox360, again, being the weaker system. Graphics have never won over the gaming audience as a whole, the hardcore segment yes, but never the entire segment, and wii just makes it worse as its filled with the most crap games and worst looking games.

counterpoint: ps2 had the best games of all the systems (you could even say better than alot of today's games, play wise), wii had the most clueless purchasers.

Re:Bout time... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366222)

If a game has sucky graphics and gets gutted in reviews then gamers who otherwise would have enjoyed it won't even give it the time of day.

Nethack doesn't count because it's got a cult following much like Zork. New games can't exactly piggy-back on nostalgia.

There is no room in the market for diamonds in the rough that get outshone in reviews by polished turds.

Re:Bout time... (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366696)

Gamers who would give it the time of day won't be relying on reviewers. They may see what other players are saying about it but not professional reviewers.

Re:Bout time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365802)

Casual gamers with attention spans that make a kid with ADD seem patient will not play a game with anything less than brilliant graphics.

FTFY

Re:Bout time... (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365918)

Unfortunately this does seem to be the case in the market the AAA companies are going for. It's getting a little less true overall, though. An "MMO" with hilariously ancient voxel graphics [minecraft.net] made by one guy has racked up about $1m in sales, because the super-simple, low-overhead, and low-programmer-hassle graphics free him up to do interesting things with the gameplay.

These do seem to be "alternative" games, though--- I can't imagine the mainstream game-review mags giving such a game a glowing review.

Re:Bout time... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365958)

Tell that to Darwinia (http://www.introversion.co.uk/darwinia/) and Defcon (http://www.introversion.co.uk/defcon/) (no I didnt know that it was the same company until now).

Extremely fun games, raving reviews, appallingly bad graphics.

Re:Bout time... (4, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366022)

Extremely fun games, raving reviews, appallingly bad graphics.

Erm... I bought my delightfully GREEN boxed copy of Darwinia partly because it had wonderful visuals (and audio). It's got great graphics. Most definitely not photorealistic, but for some reason 'photorealism' is the only thing that equates to 'good graphics' in many people's minds.

World of Goo? Lovely smooth bouncily awesome. Machinarium? Gorgeous hand-drawn beauty. And so on.

Re:Bout time... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366062)

I think there needs to be a distinction between bad and simple. defcon and darwinia are examples of simple. I wouldn't call them bad, since they do what they're suppose to do. In defcon is quite easy to tell the difference between factions (by color) and the icons for everything are easy to distinguish.

Re:Bout time... (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366220)

Never heard of either of those companies. How many top 10 hits have they produced?

Re:Bout time... (3, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366232)

As in music, why should the goal be something as ridiculously unattainable as a "top ten hit" if you can make a decent living for yourself for far less?

Re:Bout time... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366052)

A tiny minority will defend it as a great game but the company who made it won't make any money.

Unless the game is cheaper to make than what the tiny minority would pay. And not many people complain about the graphics of a 10$ game.

Anyway, I also disagree with your main statement (to the point that, at this godforsaken hour in the morning, I'm not sure you aren't being sarcastic). I have no problem at all with playing WoG, PvsZ or, nowadays, puzzle quest 2, in my gaming beast machine. I also play brutal graphics games, of course, but I somehow think the simpler games are racking a better benefit ratio.

And I'm eagerly waiting for Diablo 3, but also for Torchlight 2, which must be an order of magnitude cheaper to make.

Re:Bout time... (2, Interesting)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366058)

Yet a game like eg Torchlight which is hardly state of the art graphics wise got a ton of praise.

Do I have a top-end graphics card? Yes, I do. But my first and foremost concern with a game is whether it is *fun*. Gameplay is king. Does it tickle my brain, does it make me laugh, does it make me cry, perhaps even pound my head on the keyboard in frustration?

Graphics look sweet for about 5 minutes and after that you have to deal with their downsides for the remainder of the gameplay.

Besides, there's more to big budgets than just graphics. EA lined up a whole bunch of celebrities for Mass Effect 2 to do the voicework. Yet another case of "cool for about 3 minutes". Nice for the marketing guys to play around with, but the fact that the ingame character you're talking to was voiced by Martin Sheen ends up adding very little to the actual game in comparison to how much it added to the bill...

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366254)

Yet a game like eg Torchlight which is hardly state of the art graphics wise got a ton of praise.

Parent did not say "state of the art" graphics, he (or she) said "brilliant" graphics. There is a difference - brilliant graphics need not be extremely hard on the GFX card or take enormous amounts of effort and budget to produce - one artist with a great visual style can do a lot for the graphical appeal of a game.

Re:Bout time... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366394)

he fact that the ingame character you're talking to was voiced by Martin Sheen ends up adding very little to the actual game in comparison to how much it added to the bill

You might be right about the value / cost ratio, but good voice acting can make an otherwise average game far better.

e.g. Hostile Waters - Antaeus Rising - voice work by Glynis Barber, Paul Darrow, and Tom Baker. In particular, Baker's work as the narrator (together with Warren Ellis' redoubtable wordsmithing) helped some of the cutscenes literally bring me to tears.

The other thing that can make or break any piece of visual media is the music - a good composer can make your emotions dance to his tune.

Without a core of fun, these things are of course worthless, but they can make a game/film/tv-show more engaging than it would otherwise be. Mass Effect 2 is in a genre I just consider to be a sci-fi show that involves the player, so good production values are essential - you can see this in the success of recent Final Fantasy games, which at their hearts are just CGI movies you have to work hard to unlock.

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366532)

The other thing that can make or break any piece of visual media is the music - a good composer can make your emotions dance to his tune.

Part of that is timing and when a game changes pace depending on what you are doing the music has to change to fit. Which makes this a job not just for the composer but also for whoever programs the music system. Two minutes of dramatic chase music is just annoying when you finish the chase after one minute...

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368722)

So true about the voices. Sometimes it's cool to see known celebrities do voices in games (I thought Leonard Nimoy in Civ4 was a nice touch), but the best voice acting I've heard in games has always been some random nobody who was chosen to fit their character. More often than not, I think big celebrities are shoehorned into a part for their name, without regard for how they fit into the game.

Re:Bout time... (4, Insightful)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366096)

The cruel truth about the game development industry is even if you have good graphics, good gameplay, a great storyline and writing, there is still a chance that your game will flop, you will lose your publisher and with that your studio. A hit driven industry is always cruel to some games, none more so than psychonauts [steampowered.com]

Re:Bout time... (2, Interesting)

MozzleyOne (1431919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366178)

To be honest, most of the gamers in that mindset are moving to the consoles, and I really don't have a problem with that. I have been enjoying the recent round of indy-style games immensely, and hope the trend continue.

Some of my favourite, non-graphically intense recent games:

  • Alien Swarm
  • World of Goo
  • Braid
  • Osmosis
  • And Yet It Moves
  • Plants Vs. Zombies

For 3d games, Half-Life 2's Source engine is the sweet spot. From then on, graphics have been good enough, and what makes a game "good" is the gameplay.

Re:Bout time... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366194)

Really? Hmm, I thought I heard something about some small games called Starcraft II and World of Warcraft. Respectively cost a gazzillion dollars to make and maintain, but doesn't have really fancy graphics. Oh, guess what: It both sells like cupcakes.

So your premise is flawed and is caused by the paradigm that indeed 'all' gamers want realistic graphics. Which is clearly not the case.

Re:Bout time... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366258)

Well done with the logic there, Mr. Spock. Where did I say "all"? I suppose the fact that Blizzard is widely regarded as unique and Starcraft is more of a sport than an actual game has nothing to do with it. The plural of anecdote is not data. Funny how people can read a premise the wrong way and reject it because it doesn't suit their preconceived notions.

Re:Bout time... (2)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366332)

Give us a break - reading the whole post is nearly as inconceivable as RTFA. You gotta say it all in the first line.

Re:Bout time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366282)

Wrong. We had enough examples of commercially successful low-graphic titles from indie developers and artists recently... surely, graphics do matter, but producing them at any cost will not be viable.

Also, yes, quite many gamers DO spend unnecessary amounts of money to inefficiently run hot-air producing gpu in triple-sli or whatever combination when their games get designed for current normal models, anyways, and will run just fine on such. They pay many hundreds of dollars for bragging rights and the ability to massively oversample (anti-alias) their game graphics so things look a few pixels less edgy when downsampled again.

Re:Bout time... (5, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366320)

Gamers will not play a game with anything less than brilliant graphics.

Nintendo would probably beg to differ with you, but they're too busy rolling in piles of cash.

A game can be visually compelling without being photorealistic or whatever, it's just that photorealism is easier to buy than creativity. In most cases, this leads to rather predictable decisions by game producers, especially given that they're waging rather large up-front budgets against possible payoffs several years down the road.

The truly tragic part here is that making the product visually compelling through artistic means rather than through uber-high polygon counts will be compelling more or less forever, while the high polygon count game will necessarily be using technology that is several years old by the time it gets to market. It's a losing game which only works at all because you're competing against other companies with the same problems which are making the same mistakes.

So it's not really that gamers won't accept anything else. Yeah, it does have its uses as a selling point. But it's more about market dynamics than gamer preferences.

Re:Bout time... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366598)

Only because they, the game makers, rip people like my daughter off on every sale.

How many shit £20 party games can they sell before people stop buying them?

And the shit pop-star branded games with 20 minutes playability? It's beginning to cost me more to sell them on eBay than they're worth. Even the eBayers have stopped taking a punt when I offer free postage. The games are truely shit.

People are not happy with Nintendo. They are pissed off with buying extra hardware for every game. They are pissed off with the only four games a year that are worth playing. They are pissed off with playing Mario for the billionth time.

Re:Bout time... (3, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366726)

They are pissed off with playing Mario for the billionth time.

You might be right if it was Mario 2010 (now with updated stats and rosters!) but Nintendo does do a good job make them different but still fun. It does seem like they're jumping more and more into similar sequels though. I guess the same could be said of Super Mario Bros 1, 2, & 3 but the upgrades between them as well as the differences more than made up for the platforming, brick breaking, and goomba bopping.

Re:Bout time... (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367330)

Nintendo's own releases for the Wii are generally quite well-regarded.
The third party titles are nearly all dogs. This might actually be because Nintendo is one of the few developers focused very tightly on *gameplay* instead of being flashy and "huge".

Re:Bout time... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367048)

Yeah but come one, the Wii graphics look like something out of last century. Even the casual gamers know that.

Nothing fancy is needed for their cartoon-style games, sure, but being able to output a High Def signal and have a bit anti-aliasing would work wonders.

Re:Bout time... (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366432)

I call BS. Thousands of Flash games, Facebook with Farmville, independent game developer like 2dboy (World of Goo) and Stardock (GalCiv and more) and so on. The thousands and more games for IPhone and soon for Android. The success of the Wee. All this says quite the opposite what the consumers really want.

I think gamers that are spending thousands of dollars for equipment are the minority here. I think the gaming industry is in a bubble for quite some time now. Overpriced games, DRM madness and so called "market consolidation", there are just a few big publisher that avoid any risk. But don't believe me, here are nice 10 reasons which I pretty much agree with: http://www.truegameheadz.com/blogheadz/top-10-reasons-the-video-game-industry-is-in-trouble/ [truegameheadz.com]

Re:Bout time... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366860)

The thousands and more games for IPhone and soon for Android.

How many of those actually make real money? The top ten probably do, but what about the rest?

Re:Bout time... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33369008)

I know the developers of fingerzilla (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fingerzilla/id351733272?mt=8). They made money off of being the #1 game on the app store for a single day. At that rate, you can have 365 indie firms profitable each year.

Re:Bout time... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368884)

Ot, but you DO know the page you linked to is infected with a security tool variant, right? I clinked on your link and got redirected to a fake Windows Update page that tried to install "update.exe" so you might want to warn those on IE not to click your link. It only seems to bring up that page about 1 click in every 10, so I'm guessing one of the ads they are hosting is a malware redirect. Just FYI.

Re:Bout time... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366540)

I'd say the exception to this is if the game has some awesome mechanic or quirky trend associated with it (ie, Katamari Damacy). It helps to hype the hell out of the game too, but word will spread if it's terrible and you'll sell nothing. At least deliver something and let the gamers judge. Don't spend years and 10s of millions of dollars and say "Oh, it sucks, scrap it."

Re:Bout time... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366914)

Three words: World of Warcraft. It's graphics were dated from day one, yet it still holds up decently well to this day due to the fact that they chose to eschew the realistic art style that most other MMOs have chosen to take. By making their art slightly cartoonish, they enabled it to stand the test of time far better than their competitors. So while graphics definitely do help, you don't need them by any means to have a blockbuster. And it's not just WoW. Braid was a success with extremely modest graphics requirements, TF2 did a lot with very little as well, and you could easily find financial successes which don't fit your mold in every genre this year alone. But generalizing is fun, so I can see why you did it.

Re:Bout time... (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367770)

What are some examples of innovative games that are fun to play? When I look for new games I look for games that interest me due to themes, graphics, or gameplay. Innovation isn't on my list of requirements.

APB, Fallen Earth... (4, Interesting)

Beardydog (716221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365698)

I never saw APB advertised, or evenmontiioned anywhere but Steam. If the software had been free, with a brief trial before a subscription stage, or if the software had cost, but the game was free to play, I might have given it a shot. Too many companies, and EA in particular, seem to see MMOs as both magical money machines and silver bullets against piracy. In my mind, MMOs in particular have to prove themselves before a sane humanwould join up, even if they have a reasonable price structure.

I also wanted to give Fallen Earth a chance. Oh, well.

Re:APB, Fallen Earth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365862)

They probably knew the game was going to bomb, so they slashed the marketing budget and let it slip away quietly into the night, hoping people would forget it and it wouldn't become a red flag on the resumes of everyone involved.

Re:APB, Fallen Earth... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365866)

If the software had been free, with a brief trial before a subscription stage, or if the software had cost, but the game was free to play, I might have given it a shot.

Uh, it did have a free 5-hour demo.

Re:APB, Fallen Earth... (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366736)

...which is about as long as it took me to complete the whole Modern Warfare 2 single player campaign.

Re:APB, Fallen Earth... (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367868)

I am also continually mystified by the refusal of developers to port even a single MMO to a console. Every developer is spending a fortune to make the PC-only WoW-killer and losing their shirts when it inevitably either fails or flounders. Meanwhile, not a single modern MMO has been developed for a console (and modern consoles have more than adequate hardware to handle it). Considering how many console-only or console-primary gamers that are out there, that seems like a downright bizarre oversight. Everyone is treading the same well-worn path as everyone else and ignoring the one blindingly obvious path that no one has ever went down.

I know a lot of people say that MMO's are somehow impossible to do on a console. But I remember when people used to say that about FPS's and RTS's too.

possible, and I hope so (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365730)

It's possible game budgets have overextended, and I personally would welcome a move towards lower-budget games: these really huge budgets are somewhat stifling for innovation, because there is very little risk you can afford to take with a $50m+ game. If you made ten $5m games out of that money, you could try out some more interesting things, and you'd also have smaller teams that can inherently move a little more nimbly (it's very hard to steer a ship the size of the current AAA dev teams, and changing anything requires heroics).

Nonetheless, I'm not sure one big-budget failure is enough evidence of a turnaround. The film industry has had a few large-budget films that failed so badly they bankrupted studios [wikipedia.org] also, but pundits' predictions that those films marked a peak in film budgets all proved to be wrong.

Re:possible, and I hope so (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365744)

They probably have, in order to break even a game with a budget of $50m would have to sell 1m copies at $50 a piece and keep every bit of that change to pay off the costs, as in probably not paying the IRS. Which is a risky move to say the least. A better move would probably be to cut the budget to a more reasonable figure and then either lower the asking price or accept a smaller number of purchases initially.

Re:possible, and I hope so (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365778)

In the US (since you mentioned the IRS) you are taxed on net income (more or less) not gross receipts. Paying the IRS would be the least of their concerns.

You are mostly correct though. Given that GameStop and Amazon will get 1/3->1/2 of that $50, EA would have to sell 2m copies, probably more. Continue to pare away at the amount of money coming in and you'll wind up in a place that "SRS gamrz" can't buy the studios out of. There simply aren't enough of them.

Re:possible, and I hope so (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366064)

And, since you mentioned retail markup... I think it's going to be *really* interesting to watch how Blizzard does with their model for Starcraft 2, where they are doing significant sales via download, letting them keep 100% of the purchase price.

Of course there are 2 angles to that: 1) studios make a shitload more money 2) studios can lower their prices on games because there is no longer a need for a now-useless middleman. Who wants to take odds against the studios attempting #1?

Re:possible, and I hope so (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366204)

Bear in mind there's also money flowing the other way...you don't think the studio's put in those big nvidia logo's and other advertising just because they felt like it, right? ;-)

Re:possible, and I hope so (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366664)

All I know is you might want to lay low, lest George Lucas discovers your username...

There's only so much worth spending (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366338)

I like big budget games because they can have cool visuals, full spoken dialogue and so on. However once you've hit that point, you have pretty much peaked. There isn't a point in spending money on other things.

In particular I think some games make the mistake of spending money on big name actors. I really don't care, I'd much prefer a good voice actor, and there are many, to having money wasted on an actor because they are a big name.

I also think you are right that smaller titles can be a benefit too, so long as they spend money in the right places. Unfortunately I've seen too many lower budget games that try to be big budget and just end up being bad all over.

Re:There's only so much worth spending (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366940)

I like big budget games because they can have cool visuals, full spoken dialogue and so on.

This rises an interesting question: is voice synthesis nowadays good enough to handle most of the dialogue? Most voice actors are pretty bad, sometimes hilariously so, so I'd imagine that a computer reading a script - perhaps with some markup cues for emotional state and such - would do just as well, if not better.

This would cut development costs for dialogy-heavy games a lot, and as a bonus also make modding a lot easier.

However once you've hit that point, you have pretty much peaked. There isn't a point in spending money on other things.

All too true. Turd polishing is popular as ever.

Re:There's only so much worth spending (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367076)

I like big budget games because they can have cool visuals, full spoken dialogue and so on. However once you've hit that point, you have pretty much peaked. There isn't a point in spending money on other things.

Agreed, big budget games generally don't spend any money on gameplay/balance, testing, or creative ideas. Minor disagreement in that they do blow a lot of money on marketing (TV commercials for my mom to watch?)

Re:possible, and I hope so (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367172)

I don't think that a temporary decline in game budgets marks a permanent decline. Rather I think it likely marks a re-aligning of resources within the industry. We'll still see games like Modern Warfare get ridiculous budgets and those budgets will continue to climb. However, I think most developers are starting to come to terms with the fact that there's only room for so many Modern Warfare level games in the industry, and that sometimes it's better to set your sights a bit lower. So I don't think the big budget games are going to disappear, but I do think that we might be seeing fewer of them in the future.

Re:possible, and I hope so (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368330)

If you made ten $5m games out of that money, you could try out some more interesting things

Hint: I worked in the game industry when games cost less than 1/100 of $5m, and I coded games during 20 years, so I saw the progression about games being more and more expensive.

The problem is that nobody is willing to invest $5m for a "small" game, because they don't earn enough money in the end.
There is a big delusion about videogames: videogames earn more money than movies.
It's probably true, but I dare to say that only a few games are earning a lot of money, and these are only big titles, or big companies like Nintendo.
For one successful game or company, there are 10 or more that fail miserably.

I worked for companies that did nice products, but badly publicized, so in the end, they had to close.
When you have a large budget for creating a videogame, say $20 millions, you need to invest as much in publicity ($20 m).

I also worked for companies on games that only relied on their license (one movie and 2 commercial products), and the games were so shitty that they had to close.
I don't think it's a good idea to invest a lot of money in a licensed game, so that explains why licensed games are so shitty.

What irritates me is that people working in videogames do not earn a lot of money, so I really don't understand why writing a game costs these insane amounts of money.
I noticed that a lot of game companies never wanted to do games, but instead movies, that's why they put tons of CGI and cinematic scenes, and this adds nothing to the game.
Writing a good videogame needs at most 10 developers, 20 graphists and 5 testers, and such a team is pretty cheap, even with comfortable wages.

Often, managers believe that increasing the number of people in the team will allow to release the game in time (as in the Mythical Man-Month).
They fail because they try to pack as much features as possible, instead of trying to reduce the features as most as possible.
I remember games I worked on where we had to scrap 2 or 3 levels entirely designed, because there was no time to finish the game.

A game is not about having the largest possible universe, but instead by having the funnier possible, and that's where Nintendo wins.

Finally, I got bored about the dumb managers I worked for. Very few managers are able to release games and motivate their team.
I was disappointed about the low wages I got even after 20 years of games and the games were becoming more and more boring, so I finally quit making games.

it's very hard to steer a ship the size of the current AAA dev teams

That's called the Titanic.
It's one of the visible symptoms of a failing game.

Translation: (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365760)

EA's executives got some nastygrams from their shareholders about returns not matching expenses. Not a good thing when you're trying to sell something that isn't essential to survival in the middle of an economic depression.

Entertaining PR press release.

It couldn't be (2, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365848)

the fact that Steam (not their fault, thy're a reseller here) charged 50 Euro for APB, which gives you the privilege to pay a recurring subscription fee on top of that?

Nosire! Of course not. It's probably due to evil software pirates.

Re:It couldn't be (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366654)

Yes, that appears a bit greedy.
For games with a recurring subscription fee, it seems smarter to make getting in cheap. Like CCP did with EVE Online:
IIRC purchasing the game was 20 Euros, including the first month. Not too bad. So I got in, found I liked the game and stayed (and payed) for a few years.

There is also a growing trend of "free to play" MMOs, where you only pay for in-game advantages like faster leveling or special items. That is an even more consequent version of making the entry threshold low.

Except for Madden! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33365890)

Good old EA "If it's not Madden, it's a waste of money and we'll shut it down eventually" Games.

I stopped listening to anything they said years ago.

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33365960)

"EA games is going to invest less in their games. After all, it's the big franchises making EA a fortune with practically no development whatsoever. Just look at Madden!"

Who would have thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366070)

Hmmmm, so should we read into these comments?
1. Development budgets have peaked: But advertising budgets will continue to eclipse dev. budgets. (COD4 cost 1/4 to develop compared to the advertising budget.)
2. Game programmers, artists and everyone involved in the production side of games, are, in general underpaid and overworked: Now we'll pay them even less, and renege on bonuses.
3. Get ready for COD15 white-ops, still based on the COD4 engine.
4. The next generation of consoles will be a re-package of an Atari 2600; those games could be done in a week.
6. We'll switch off most of the multi-player servers, when we think you've had 'enough' fun... Or the next game is out...
7. Game distribution company executives bonuses are predicted to reach an all time high.
8. Game distribution company know that they are heading the way of the music industry, this is their last chance to 'milk' the public/industry.
9. Short term view, remember that a AAA game can take two-three years to produce, What happened back then...

As console generation improve, the requirements in terms of graphic quality, and expectation of quality game-play, and solid programming; console games are on par with TV and cinema, these days, sound, visuals, game-play dynamics, expecting the game industry to produce products at this level requires equivalent budgets(TV, cinema and game CG all use the same process, abet optimised).

Consider this, if a AAA game came make more money that a AAA film, why should it not have an equivalent budget.

So what do these distribution companies do?, apart from rip off the public(and shareholders), grind the people that actually create games, into the ground; it's hardly a sustainable model, look at Infinity Ward...

Re:Who would have thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366098)

You can understand why game distribution company executives are scared, the entire business model their companies are based on is about to become a menu in xbox live!!

Maybe For This Generation (1)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366074)

You can only stream data so fast, and hold only so much in RAM, which limits the amount of geometry/textures that can be shown (and thus need to be created) per hour of cinematic gameplay. Unless some revolution in multiplayer modes comes about, multiplayer costs will mostly be for a predictable number of coding hours. As long as people are ok buying $60 action games with 4-12 hour campaigns and some standard multiplayer modes, the costs for that type of game are pretty predictable if it's not a mismanaged project. MMOs are where the costs are really huge, although single-player open world games tend to have highly reused geometry (*cough* Crackdown 2 *cough*) that doesn't cost as much for some reason.

I imagine with the next generation of consoles that costs will start increasing again, though.

Re:Maybe For This Generation (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366978)

I imagine with the next generation of consoles that costs will start increasing again, though.

Assuming there'll be a next generation, of course, which is a pretty huge assumption for this very reason and a number of others.

I predict that the next revolution in gaming will come from AI-directed procedural generation of content on the fly; not only does it lower development costs a lot, but it'll also allow truly open-ended gameworlds.

Re:Maybe For This Generation (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367052)

I predict that the next revolution in gaming will come from AI-directed procedural generation of content on the fly

That is probably correct, as far as the use of procedural generation goes. I'm not so sure if it will always be on the fly, however. Maybe we will see a generation of games that say "start me now and wait five hours while I build the game world". Or the developer studio will do the generating inhouse and just ship a stack of DVDs.

Either way, the makes of game consoles might need to upgrade their memory sizes a lot to handle the resulting flood of data ;-)

Re:Maybe For This Generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367568)

I predict that the next revolution in gaming will come from AI-directed procedural generation of content on the fly; not only does it lower development costs a lot, but it'll also allow truly open-ended gameworlds.

Like the meta-director in left for dead? May not control much more than zombies and item placement, but it is there.

game prices (1)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366426)

Next thing you know it they will jack up the prices of games to help off-set the costs. They will probably wait till mw3 comes out and activision thinks they are so cool and can price their shit for whatever they like then everyone else will follow. Then charge 25 bucks for a 6 map dlc add on....etc etc etc

Doubt it... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366486)

... MMO's are definitely an area I doubt will ever have a "peak budget" as huge markets like asia and india have serious economies of scale.

My rules for buying games (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366564)

Since the advent of games-for-show instead of games-for-fun, I have certain rules for buying games. These will probably explain why huge development budgets are a waste of money and why indie games are increasingly occupying more of my hard drive. It'll also explain specifically why APB died a death, because it was one of the games I looked at in the last few months.

1) No subscription. If I buy a game, I buy it. I don't rent games - never have, never will. I may borrow them from friends. I may have to (at some point) pay in installments to "own" the game, but when I do that's more a financial arrangement than an ongoing subscription. I've never played WoW, or any other MMO, because of this.

2) Demo. I do not play a game that I don't know *exactly* how it plays. I do not pre-order games, either. Some FPS's are vomit-inducing to me because of the motion (for some reason, Duke Nukem 3D was like that, but almost no other game). Some games *don't* let me change the controls to something I can actually get on with, or that works comfortably on my laptop. Some games do not play well despite looking nice (I *cannot* get on with DogFighter because the control system is just so horrendously out-of-tune with how I want the aircraft to move - thus the game is unplayable to me). If you don't offer me a demo, the only other options open to me are: playing a friend's version, playing a pirate version, or not buying the game until it's incredibly cheap and therefore worth the risk.

3) Value. I don't pay for any game that I won't get value back for. Asking £50 for a game is ludicrous unless I get hundreds of hours out of it. They are £6.99 games on my hard drive that have hundreds of hours of gameplay from me - you have to compete with that. For some reason, this seems to operate on a bell-curve... very cheap games are usually shit value, very expensive games are usually shit value, with the peak being at about £10 or so. If your game is too expensive, I *will* wait until it's cheaper - I don't mind playing games that are several years old so long as they work. If it never gets cheaper, it never gets bought.

4) System requirements. If I need a PC greater than the one I have, I won't look at the game. I don't buy PC's to fit the games, I buy games to fit my PC. There is no excuse any more for slow-running games on modern dual-core processors with Gb's of RAM available to them. Dogfighter CRAWLED on my PC and to get it to run smoothly required me to put it into 800x600 with no texture detail - it looked like a version of F29 Retaliator from my DOS days, without the fun, and with broken textures everywhere - and still my PC struggled (in fact, I loaded up F29 Retaliator in DOSBox soon after and had much more enjoyment out of it). If Tom Clancy's HAWX can work fine on my PC without me changing any options, Dogfighter should as well. If you require Windows Vista or 7, that's me done too. There's no reason for that. If you require a particular Service Pack, I will be suspicious and want to play the demo to be sure that you're just fibbing - most games run fine on SP2 even if they demand SP3 for example. If you require gobs of disk space, that's probably the biggest killer because my hard drive space and bandwidth is my most precious commodity.

5) DRM. If I can't play my friend's copy on my computer to see how it runs on my machine, that breaks Rule Number 2 above. If I can't play a legit version or demo on another PC, then I won't pirate it - I just won't buy it. However, if I do decide your game is good enough to make it onto my machine, a good way to kill Rule Number 3 is to reduce its value by making it a hassle to install / uninstall, making it require Internet access even just for "activation", making it unremoveable, limiting my installs artificially, making it impossible to backup to media, etc. Pirate versions and cracks will solve this for games I do buy but if I have to do that, you have a serious customer service problem. It's like me buying a car and then breaking all the locks off and throwing them away, to replace them with a version that the garage down the street produces that is simpler, more efficient, more effective and actually works better overall. If I had to do that for my car, the manufacturer would see a HUGE drop in sales.

6) Playing nice. This is kinda related to Rule Number 5. If your program does not play nice on install, I will not like it. Every program on my PC should be a "good citizen". It asks me where I want to be installed. It lets me install on non-C: drives. It lets me move the start-menu icons from the install program (I like to install in Games/GameName instead of having thousands of company names and program names sitting in the root of my start menu). It asks me if I want a desktop icon. It asks me if I want to install/update DirectX, the PDF documentation, or whatever else. The instruction manual is in a nice format (PDF is usual and more than adequate). The game keeps itself to a folder except possibly savegames. It does *not* create a "My Documents / Company Name / Game Name / Savegames" folder every time I run the damn game, even if I don't save. My Documents is for MY DOCUMENTS. Stick your savegame somewhere else or, even better, let me choose where if I want. It doesn't require a service to be running all the time and does NOT try to load anything at startup (how arrogant of a program to assume it will ALWAYS be needed! Adobe, I'm looking at you!). It doesn't require firewall exceptions for several dozen internal programs and ports (Half life is annoying for this - all the Half-life games have their own HL.EXE which has to have a firewall exception authorised for it). I can back up the install program, maybe even the whole game folder itself, and not have to worry about registry dependencies. I can move the game to another machine without too much hassle.

7) Backup. If I have bought the game online, I need to make a backup. I still have my CD's from 15 years ago, but I like to backup their contents too. And if I'm downloading online, I want *TWO* backups of that install file. I may never use it. 99.99% of every backup I make is never needed, but that's not the point. When I backup, whether it's a CD, or a download EXE, or even just an extracted program folder, I damn well expect that backup to be useful in 50 years time. I don't expect the backups to be time-limited, computer-locked or impossible. I would also appreciate being able to get a copy of the game from the manufacturer even if it's ten years ago and I only have my purchase receipt. I've done this for several shareware games in the past and the authors were *ALWAYS* accommodating (after checking it was in fact me who purchased the game originally) - try doing that with a large software house.

8) Game. You'll notice that almost ALL of those rules are before I've even decided whether I like the game or not. They have nothing to do with the gameplay, they're just the basic requirements to get into my good books with your demo and your product offering. If the game is still shit, it still won't get bought. Your millions spent on video, 3D models, etc. are completely wasted on me if you can't follow these simple rules. Even then, the games that *haven't* spent millions tend to be better - Red Alert was famous for spending a HUGE amount of money (for the time) on FMV... it's a fabulous game but I can't remember ever having sat through an entire FMV cutscene even though I've played it through several times since it was released. If your money hasn't been spent on programmers and play-testing, it's completely wasted. Art assets etc. are expensive but art assets on their own just look pretty. It's the programmers and play-tests that make a game fun and therefore popular. Stop selling me a movie and sell me a damn game.

Indie developers, the people who don't spend millions and are sucking business away from you, have stuck by 99% of these rules. Most indie games are one-off ownership purchases. Most indie games have a free demo available. Most indie games provide hours of gameplay for a small price (I consider £5 or £10 per hour of gameplay very expensive - even back in the days of my Spectrum games didn't cost that much - relatively speaking - and I see no reason for modern games to cost more than that given that most titles DON'T). Most indie games have very low system requirements. Most indie games have NO DRM or quite tolerable and reasonable DRM (I think Bridge Construction Set / Gish had the "worst" DRM I've seen on a small indie game - a CD-key-based install). Most indie games play extremely nicely and some of them have "unzip this file" as an installation process... fabulous! Most indie games allow you to backup as much as you want, as simply as possible, and most of the indie downloads are perpetually available to registered users. And most indie games have a game behind them, not some 3D-fest where advertisements consist entirely of cutscenes and the graphics.

And do indie games require millions of pounds of budget? No. And this is why indie games are sucking all your custom away, too.

Start playing nice with me, YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMER, start selling something I want, start investing in tiny, simple, cheap things that make a huge difference (Nice installs and backups, demos) instead of huge, complicated, unwieldy, expensive things that only cause me problems (DRM), start letting me see what I'm buying before I buy it and that means you ALSO have to make something I actually want to buy once I've played it. If a one-man operation can sell me a game that follows these rules, I will give him the money - that's almost entirely profit to him. If a hundred-strong development team can't, they won't get my money - that's a hundred people who aren't getting paid for their work.

Stop pissing the money I do give you away on stuff that I will NEVER want to buy, and your budgets will shrink and your games will start to sell and you'll make MORE money than the $60m projects are giving you now. If World of Goo can make hundreds of thousands of dollars of pure profit in a matter of days when people are choosing what to spend on it, months and months after its release, after its already recouped all its development costs, you are just throwing your money away by giving it to artists, cut-scene makers, DRM systems, "official" licensing, sound artists, voice actors, TV advertising executives, etc. They do not add significant value to your project and yet cost you millions.

Stop trying to be Hollywood and try to be "early Codemasters" again and you'll do much better.

Re:My rules for buying games (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367314)

Some FPS's are vomit-inducing to me because of the motion (for some reason, Duke Nukem 3D was like that, but almost no other game).

turn down/off the view-bob, if you can. Duke3D had some seriously rolling view-bob.

Re:My rules for buying games (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368342)

4) System requirements. If I need a PC greater than the one I have, I won't look at the game. I don't buy PC's to fit the games, I buy games to fit my PC. There is no excuse any more for slow-running games on modern dual-core processors with Gb's of RAM available to them. Dogfighter CRAWLED on my PC and to get it to run smoothly required me to put it into 800x600 with no texture detail - it looked like a version of F29 Retaliator from my DOS days, without the fun, and with broken textures everywhere - and still my PC struggled (in fact, I loaded up F29 Retaliator in DOSBox soon after and had much more enjoyment out of it). If Tom Clancy's HAWX can work fine on my PC without me changing any options, Dogfighter should as well. If you require Windows Vista or 7, that's me done too. There's no reason for that. If you require a particular Service Pack, I will be suspicious and want to play the demo to be sure that you're just fibbing - most games run fine on SP2 even if they demand SP3 for example. If you require gobs of disk space, that's probably the biggest killer because my hard drive space and bandwidth is my most precious commodity.

I agree with most of that. Except the service pack level (I presume you mean SPs for Windows XP?).

Unless you have some really important application that refuses to run on SP3, it is a good idea to run the latest service pack. SP2 recently went out of support and does not get security patches anymore. And surfing the net with unpatched Windows is not so good, as I found out myself some years ago.
I even had the latest SP for Win2000, but forgot to install the post-SP patches =>Hello MSBlast...

Too many games put graphics before gameplay (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366662)

It doesn't matter if the graphics are good enough that you can read the (made up) names on the dog tags of the enemy soldiers through the scope of your sniper rifle. If the gameplay is crap, people wont buy it (at least once genuine reviews start appearing showing how crap the gameplay is rather than paid "fluff pieces")

The fact that demos no longer exist for many titles (on PC anyway) is also hurting things as people cant try games before they buy (and so they pirate the game to see if its any good and once they have pirated it, the incentive to buy disappears)
Although the downside (and why games companies may not be doing demos) is that gamers may download the demo, play it, decide the game is crap and not buy the full game at all.

APB, and the 100M number (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366776)

100 millions where invested in the company.
the company has produced 1 mmo and about 60% of another one.
so you can say about 60M where invested in it.

now you can buy RTW for 4M, and get 1 MMO and half. *hint*hint*hint*

cut thier advert budgets maybe? (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367412)

Of course it's peaked.. they've learned they can saturate TV and Radio, and other media, with a slew of ads for their products... They can't very well push thier stuff MORE then they are, so they've reached the top.

Maybe if they took some of that Prime Time ad-slot money and put it back into making a decent game, they'd get a better return?.. ok.. probably not..

workflows man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367442)

the development workflow:

1. is your game sh1t? if yes goto 2. if no goto 5

2. improve graphics. is your game still sh1t? if yes goto 3. if no goto 5.

3. improve graphics. is your game still sh1t? if yes goto 4. if no goto 5.

4. improve graphics. is your game still sh1t? if yes, go gold, blame piracy, goto1.

5. consult a publisher to make it sh1t and goto 2.

Personally, I think it's all down to piracy anyway. I was about to write the most awesome game imaginable but before I could write a line of code it was leaked on the net and I was losing an estimated 500bn USD/day from 200 trillion downloads. Nobody can make the most awesome game imaginable in these conditions. ban the internet... and stuff.

EA sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33368008)

I'm not buying an EA game until it's fun, worth the price they're asking for and they stop using that fu**ing Cider piece of crap to port their Windows games to the Mac. Unless they bundle their games with a free 8-cores Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM, because that's what Cider requires to run properly.

Like most business (1)

adewolf (524919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368560)

The CEO and top management should get less $$$ (try like $75,000USD/year instead of $750,000USD/year) so the coders can get a reasonable salary.

Re:Like most business (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368904)

CEO making $75,000 a year? I'm a tech-writer/instructional designer and I get paid more than that.

I don't that the guy who writes the user manual and develops the story line for the tutorial (me) should make more than the guy in charge of everybody, sorry.

APB was a flop anyway. (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368744)

- APB cost over $100m in investment capital. That's a warning sign right there.
- APB has been in development for five years. No-one I know had heard of it until it popped up on Steam pre-orders.
- APB gets bad reviews on user sites.
- APB *didn't* get bad reviews in magazines, etc. because of a review embargo (until a week AFTER release) that stopped people publishing reviews - this arguably killed the game's publicity.
- APB changed over 5 years from being originally planned for the XBox and ending up being announced as a PC-only title.
- The APB studios seemingly have not-much-else in the pipeline at all. APB was their sole "saviour" really, and $100m of risk is a hell of a situation to start from with an MMO that basically relies on lots of people playing it a lot and liking it for a long time.
- APB is quite expensive compared to other MMO's, probably to compensate for the HUGE deficit and to keep lots of servers running 24/7.
- APB is very different in terms of genre, content, etc. to other MMO's.
- APB's parent company went into administration SIX WEEKS after release - they must have known that it needed to bring in millions within the first few weeks or the company would die like it did - they must have known that WAY BEFORE release, probably before the beta even started. They must also have known that it was a bit shit, given that they'd been running beta's for nearly a year.

Basically, 200 people lost their jobs because someone spent too much on something so enormously risky that they were betting on paying back millions of dollars in a matter of weeks on an untested concept on something that had been in development for five years, beta for a year and still couldn't get good reviews (or even ANY official reviews from professional sources), had been delayed and delayed, had priced itself too high, etc.etc.etc.

It was a classic bad investment, with bad management. Some games programmers operate like this in perpetuity - form company, make popular game, get investment, spend it all, declare company bankrupt, sack everyone, move over to a new company and hire the now-out-of-work "good" staff again (probably on worse contracts), rinse and repeat.

APB and Realtime Worlds have *nothing* to do with the games industry being weak, with games budgets getting too high or anything else. It was just stupidity.

Game Development (3, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368886)

So the game companies are beginning to realize that, although they are a game company and hire a lot of young guys who get into programming because they took some video game design courses, they still have be a functioning business to survive...interesting!

I tell my kids that video game development is a good entry into software development because the two should be indistinguishable. Writing code for WoW shouldn't really be much different than writing code for Microsoft Office. The problem I've noticed is people that choose video game development don't think they are in the business of making software and thus don't follow the established business rules that work for any type of software.

Too much comunication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33368950)

I suspect the real problem here is that game companys listen to their customers to much. Or rather they listen to them in the wrong way.

If you ask a gamer whether they like the graphics better on a moder 3-d shooter or an 8-bit 2-d shooter it's ubnlikely you'll get votes for the 2-d shooter. Similarly if you ask someone what kind of games they find fun they will only list games that curently exist.

If that is the the basis for how you design your games you'll always make a higher graphics quality version of something that already exists.

On the other hand, if you don't bother asking people about the technical details and instead ask them "what would you like a game to be about?", you'll get a much more interesting range of answers, and can then pick one or a combination of them and build a game with gameplay features and graphics that fit the concept.

As Henry Ford once said "If I asked my customers what they wanted they'd have said a faster horse".

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