What with the likes of Cliff Blesinski himself saying about Gears of war 3 that its day one DLC skins were a just a sign of the industry long ago I thought it was probably about time to ask the question about the industry and ask if we're being too greedy to get there deep super high resolution pictures in gaming or if the publishers are pushing too far just to be able to say they have a larger solid gold 4K cock than another publisher.
What is absolutely apparent in the industry is that development costs have gone kind of through the roof. The general idea was that you worked at your affordable level now there are tales of teams up to 600 strong working to make the next release of a AAA game. Publishers are forever trying to push for a broader and broader audience and while admirable to an extent wanting to make something everyone will enjoy, the problem is it's not going to happen. You See plenty of people like Justin Beibler, but to me he sounds like a dog having a nasty accident and seems like a little bit of a prick, nothing more than a marketing tool to sell crap to gullible fans. However as I've proved I'll happily be that gullible fan when it comes to things I enjoy. Everyone is different and as such maybe it's not best to try to appeal and its far better to go with the artistic vision, be that of a Female protagonist or a purple creature named yelp.
The seeming need for mass appeal is in part due to the industry expecting near permanent sustained growth in profits, that is seemingly what investors are being brought in with the promise of vast returns, so in turn the games have to try and make this money. When they don't even though they will have made some money, Investors no doubt feel let down and will go elsewhere. So how are they trying to regain these profits as such ? Why more content of course because if there's one thing most publishers seemingly think now it's that consumers are waling piggy banks. The problem being its being proved false. One of the reasons I lament the loss of THQ recently is that near the end they were understanding it, on WWE 13 I bought the game for £20, then there was DLC all price appropriately, you could buy the pieces individually for 80 Microsoft points each or the lot for 1200. Now that's 1200 points for a season pass essentially. I was fine paying it because the game and the season pass only add up to about the cost of one of any other companies games. With Activision charging 1200 points per map pack for Call of Duty its showing publishers still don't seem to be getting it.
At present companies are calling games failures yet to put it in perspective. Twilight a film series hated by 70% of all males had a budget of $37 Million and made $392 million with a further $200million on retail sales of DVDs. Tomb Raider had a budget of $100 million apparently, it "only" sold 3.8 million copies which was not enough. Now that's without sales of things like season passes. The rather obvious problem is the huge bloated budget, it's three times the budget of Twilight. Now you might say that's not comparable well to put it in comparison the Tomb Raider film cost $115million to make and made, bearing in mind cinema tickets cost a bit less than games, $274 Million, this is also not accounting for DLC sales and things like the season pass coming with the game. It says something that the budget for Tomb Raider the game is now almost the same as filming and doing the things for real with all the safety guys etc. You have to begin to ask where the money went. Was super high physics hair that will run on only one type of graphics card on only £1,000 + gaming rigs really worth it ? Were people complaining that Lara's hair wasn't realistic enough ?
What it seems is that developers just don't understand budgets and can't predict sales anymore. If you check back there's reports of Tomb Raider: Anniversary having a budget of $2million. So the most recent title has a budget now fifty times that size. Just wow.
But who is really driving these costs up ? With Minecraft having sold 9 million copies on PC alone, I'm pretty sure it's not entirely fans calling for these higher and higher end graphics. The truth is development has become bloated and the video games industry has become a far more competitive place with far more choice. While Lara Croft had a fifty times bigger budget it only sold about a million more copies than the previous game. Does anyone care Minecraft Steve isn't voiced by Tom Cruise ? I doubt it. So is it really that important to have big Hollywood star names in the game ? No, not unless you really believe they will somehow sell more copies of the game due to their star power. However you have to remember in films you see them, in games they are really just a voice for a character.
What should be becoming clear the companies is that there's a clear problem in their model somewhere if games are costing more than feature films now to make, selling for more than films and yet for the developers to still be claiming that they need to sell you all this DLC and they need to charge for it in some cases up to the cost of the game again. Will I pay £2-£5 more for a DVD with a load of special features ? Sure if it seems worth it. Will I pay twice the cost of the standard DVD ? No. Just because you've budgeted so much for a game is no excuse to then try to screw over customers because that's the only way to meet the insane sales figures you need to make the returns you told investors they could get.
It's a worrying time and very similar to the comics bubble in the 90s when speculators invested in comics hoping to get the next big money comic down the line, so companies tried to pander to this demand by releasing lots of first issues and big dramatic stories with characters being killed off. What eventually happened was people realised and the speculators went elsewhere as they discovered that they weren't going to get that giant super high worth comic. Companies closed and for a while the industry was in a bad shape. It recovered but video game companies stand to take an important lesson from this and not to constantly go all in on every idea or you might find the U draw tablet wasn't every kids dream and snap out of the illusion that their next game will be Citizen Kane. If their game does make it big good, however companies should not be banking on it making it big. Companies need to realise the consumer won't be bailing them out. They need to work within their means and not think of consumers as their pay day loans guy bailing them or soon they might discover they are in rather a lot of trouble as they realise the nice consumers soon turn out to be debt recovery agents called Nigel with bats breaking the companies' financial stability.
Hello 90s comics
To be on the cutting edge costs money, it's no secret. For me with video editing to keep up with the latest software version is about £80 a year. I pay about £40 a year mostly because I work a year behind the present version. Do we really need games companies to be producing Pixar level graphical fidelity or is this actually a different medium which can afford to work a year behind. I mean as you go higher the costs do too but just like the public software the professional stuff also does very similar price changes from year to year.
With 4K as a seeming future thing, I have to say, I'm happy at HD, I was happy before HD too. I play games to be engrossed in them. If I wanted to be wowed by 4k explosions I'd be in the cinema watching an action film. Sure I can appreciate nice looking things in games, but I'd rather see gaming survive though than the exponential cost increase to 4K at present, kill it. The fact retro and mobile games are so popular should help companies realise that they no longer need to push, this isn't the bit wars era anymore. Having your game on the 32bit system over the 16 bit won't impress people as much anymore.
So has gaming delved too deeply ?
Who is getting it to delve there ?