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

Thursday, 6 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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