Risk and reward: Frontier boss states that taking a gamble is good for business

One of the biggest problems in the games industry today is that far too many companies play it safe — afraid to take a chance on a new idea, comfortable in the easy money of tried and tested formulae or “me too” copycat titles. Frontier boss David Braben, however, would like to remind his peers that the big money is found in risk, not comfort.

Roller-coaster Tycoon initially didn’t sell well but gradually grew into a huge seller,” Braben told GamesIndustry.biz. “But there was mass skepticism within the industry. EA almost didn’t publish The Sims. They thought they’d humor Will Wright because he’s done good stuff in the past and it ended up as the world’s number one seller.”

Braben tipped his hat to the likes of LucasArts, praising the company’s willingness and ability to go with more inventive, riskier IP. Frontier itself is working on a PS3/Xbox 360 game known as The Outsider.

Braben is, of course, very correct in his suggestion, and it’s a theory that holds true of all business, especially entertainment. Some of the biggest successes have come from ideas that maybe didn’t sound too safe, that could have been huge disasters. It’s kind of sad that the industry seems to happily ignore its own history, time and time again, through fear.

Jim Sterling