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Ninja Theory: Innovative indie games “can’t compete” with triple A

Thursday, 6th October 2011 06:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The triple A model is blocking innovation in games, Ninja Theory’s chief creative officer Tameem Antoniades has said.

“If you’re paying 60 bucks for a game, you want it to give you everything under the sun,” Antoniades told Gamasutra.

“It seems like Hollywood’s got much more diversity than the games industry has. And I don’t know exactly why this is, but I suspect it’s the publishing, retail model of 40 pounds, 50, 60 bucks a game doesn’t allow players to take chances with their money. It doesn’t allow publishers or developers to take risks. And the only way you can be sure to sell to someone is to sell them something familiar.”

Having said that, Antoniades mused that Enslaved might have been a “bit too fantasy, or off the mainstream fantasy” to succeed, and noted that innovation needs to be “visible” to win over fans.

“I think that ultimately innovation does sell, and messaging is needed,” he said.

“But somehow there’s not enough diversity, I think, in our business models to create interesting, alternative games. At least on the triple-A side of things, the top end market. You’re not seeing very high end innovation happening.”

Antoniades said the games industry doesn’t support indies the way cinema does, where a $20 million arthouse production can outstrip a $200 million flop.

“There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in games. You can do those small downloadable games and things, but they don’t break out like the big hits. You can’t compete on the same level playing field – whereas in film, you can,” he said.

“I think if we go online with the big triple-A stuff, I think that will all change. Like properly embrace it – break the publisher-retail stranglehold.”

In the developer’s vision, publishers could benefit as much as anyone else from a shift away from the physical media triple A model.

“They won’t be held hostage to this model that’s so restrictive. They can release more games at different price points, different sized games – they don’t have to bet the farm on the one big blockbuster or the two big blockbusters every year,” he said.

“They can test games before they push the marketing; like release them early, beta them, release the first episodes. Instead of deciding, ‘Oh okay, we’ve got three games in our portfolio. We think this one’s going to be a hit, so all our marketing’s going to go into that one, and the other one’s going to have to sink.’”

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8 Comments

  1. FeaturePreacher

    In other news, Ninja Theory has a problem admitting they don’t know how to make games that appeal to enough people, even when they’re told what to fix, DMC hint, hint.

    I got some advice. Test your games at comic-con or the penny arcade show, where there are consumers who actually buy their games. Don’t depend on the praise of cowardly critics that won’t tell the truth about whether a game sucks or not out of fear of losing access and have lost the consumer perspective since they don’t buy the games they review with their own money.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Freek

    Bastion, Joe Danger, Super Meat Boy, Braid. Difficult? Yes, but not impossible. If anything you’re more likely to succeed as a smaller company then you are as a big one. Less risk, more passion.
    It’s why you see so many smaller start ups doing mobile and downlaodable titles.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. YoungZer0

    @1: I think you dropped your asshat. Here, sir.

    It really saddens me to read this, i loved Enslaved, loved it especially for it superb art-direction. Hopefully this doesn’t mean they’ll stop their fantastic art-direction and try the boring routine every ball-less developer in the world does.

    At least they refuse to listen to those so-called “DMC Fans”, who still act like stupid, spoiled brats because “Dante doesn’t have white hair.” or “Dante is not being represented by the same Motion Capture artist.”

    Pathetic.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. OrbitMonkey

    I’m not afraid of a download future. Anyone who uses kindle can see the positives. Though demo’s would have to be mandatory & prices lower. Punters will be even less likely to risk money on something they can’t trade.

    Added ballache if your Internet is crap too :(

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Clupula

    Can this douche stop whining and go back to ruining Devil May Cry? Just because you want to be Morrissey doesn’t mean you have to act like him. Enslaved sucked. Period. Good story. Pretty graphics. Simple, repetitive, boring gameplay. I agree with #1, that they should’ve tested it out. Gotten real gamers to play it and then gotten feedback on what they should change. I was excited for the title, then I played the demo and had to force myself to play it until the end. I mean, I couldn’t even die in the platforming sections. I know because I tried to.

    On the other hand, considering how they’ve dismissed all feedback on dMc, I don’t think they’d listen.

    Bottom line: There’s nothing innovative about anything Ninja Theory is doing. Heavenly Sword was an okay game with a great story. Enslaved was a shit game with a good story (I’ve played beyond the demo at a friend’s place, and the gameplay did not seem to improve later on). dMc just looks like a shit game, all around.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. TheWulf

    Cor, can you smell the egomania and condescension coming off of this guy?

    I think he’s absolutely terrified of indies, and thus he’s speaking the opposite of reality, because in reality indies often do compete for my money and win. Anther dull as shit, brown as shit man shooter, or the stunningly beautiful, clever, and charming Bastion?

    Here, Bastion. Take my money. Take my money four or five times over.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Stardog

    @2

    None of them have sold as much as the big AAA games. Minecraft isn’t even close.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Fin

    Re: DMC

    If there’s one thing I love to judge games on, it’s video. Like I haven’t played Uncharted 3 SP, but I’ve seen a video an it looks shit. Naughty Dog ruined the franchise. Shame shame. Drake looks all emo. Can’t argue with science bros!!

    PROTIP: STFU about saying a game is being “ruined” even before anyone has FUCKING PLAYED IT.

    And Enslaved was awesome.

    #8 3 years ago

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