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Spector “a little scared” over potential production costs associated with future-gen

Thursday, 26th April 2012 22:01 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Warren Spector has said he’s a bit worried high production values with future consoles could prevent companies from breaking even.

Speaking with Digital Spy, Spector said that while he’s more into design over tech, he’s “a little scared” that once “Pixar-quality graphics with interactivity,” are achieved, games could cost in upwards of $200 million to develop.

“Honestly? I don’t care much about hardware,” said Spector. “Nintendo games are some of the best games in the world and from a more graphical standpoint, the Wii can’t do what a PS3 or 360 can do. It’s about design and not so much about tech for me. Honestly, I’m more scared about what will come next than I am excited.

“Once we can do Pixar-quality graphics rendered in real time with interactivity, I could see games costing $200 million to make and all of a sudden you have to sell a lot of games just to break even, so I’m a little worried someone’s going to do that.

“Someone’s going to spend… well, there are already people spending $100 million on games, that’s not even insane anymore. $200, 300 million games, I’m a little scared about that, there aren’t a lot of companies that have the resources or the courage to spend that much. So my gut’s in a bit of a knot about that but whatever comes along I’ll just make games that work on that platform, I don’t think about hardware too much.”

Spector said platform power is starting to outstrip the size of the audience, and $150 is just too much to charge someone for a game.

“If you’re spending $200 million on a game and you’re making $60 on 20 million copies sold, oh wait, you’re losing money if you’re the best-selling game of all time basically, right? I don’t know how the business works anymore, that’s the problem,” he said.

“It already takes three years to make a game, when all of a sudden creating assets at an even higher level of quality and animations that are even a higher level of quality, I don’t know how we’re going to do it. We’ll figure it out but right now I’m content where I am.”

Epic Mickey 2 is out in the fall for Mac, PC, PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360. A 3DS version subtitled Power of Illusion is in the works as well.

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8 Comments

  1. TheWulf

    It’s funny that it’s all going the way I’ve pretty much been saying for ages, now. He’s right, of course. Better graphical fidelity never made for a better game. Guild Wars 2 is a beautiful game, but one that can run on lower end hardware, and one that isn’t all about graphical fidelity at the expense of art direction.

    But the thing is is that the next gen consoles are going to further fetishise graphical fidelity – and this means he’s right, the costs will continue to rise. This means that publishers will have to put more funding into a game, and you’ll end up seeing console games sell for seventy quid for a normal edition.

    This can’t last. It’s already begun to slide away from what we’re familiar with as I’ve detailed before – indies, funding companies providing money for small developers, the popularity of Kickstarter and so on. The next gen consoles may just be the final nail in the coffin.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. xxJPRACERxx

    That’s BS. The majority of game assets are already created at “Pixar level of quality”. Then there’s a reduction process like the creation of normal maps and polygon reduction so the game engine can render all that at acceptable frame rate.

    What next-gen will bring is better resolution (frame buffer and textures), better AA and AF, better FPS, more objects/poly on-screen and better shaders.

    Next-gen should even allow easier and faster development. The only thing that will be tougher is writing engines that uses all that power but once the engine is written the artists (level designers, animators, modellers, etc) shouldn’t have a more difficult job and development costs should stay about the same.

    edit: Some engines like Cry Engine and Unreal Engine are already ready for next-gen and the creation process for games on these engines will stay the same for next-gen.

    I also think a lot more devs will use 3rd party engines instead of developing their own.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. TheWulf

    @2

    Missing the forest for the trees, mister. The forest for the trees. In other words, you’re not understanding the big picture – you’re not looking at marketing and consumer expectations.

    Let’s look at what you said.

    “The next generation is essentially going to be almost exactly the same thing.”

    Now let’s look at what I said.

    “The next generation is going to push budgets in order to look more impressive.”

    When a new console launches, people expect massive increases in graphical fidelity, because that’s the thought processes of your average console consumer. This isn’t an iPad we’re talking about, here. It’s been that way since the earliest days of consoles.

    The average consumer expects a marked increase in graphical fidelity, and increases in graphical fidelity equal increases in the money required to produce that graphical fidelity. So next gen games are going to be 1.5x to double the current costs of current gen games, simply because they have to beat the competition in meeting those expectations. And not only that, but the console manufacturers will offer bonuses to publishers who’ll give them exclusives which show off the increased graphical fidelity of their new hardware.

    What happens then is that every future game is judged by that standard, so they have to actually increase the funding of mainstream games further, just to prove that they’re ‘pulling more out of the console,’ and so on. We saw it with the PS3 and titles like Uncharted.

    I mean, the way you’re looking at this is adorably naive because if this wasn’t the particular consumerist world we happen to live in right now, you might actually be right. No, new generations MUST bring in greater graphical fidelity, otherwise the consumer sees them as a failure. This is why the whole thing is eventually just going to topple.

    And the evidence is there.

    Some important people recently left [big, brand name developer [possibly owned by big publisher]] to create [indie game]. An example of this is the guys that left Bioware in order to create the Banner Saga.

    So yes, ultimately…

    You’re not seeing the forests for the trees.

    You’re assuming that a few technical updates will make people happy, but it won’t. There’ll be higher resolution textures and higher polly models in order to actually make these new pieces of hardware look worth the money. There’ll be more detailed cinematic scenes, with more background and foreground detail. And if you really don’t think this is going to happen… well, like I said, you’re adorably naive.

    Let me know when you get back to reality.

    But the point is is that the higher resolution textures, these higher poly models, and all this extra detail overall will cost extra. So, again, like I said… you’re looking at a funding increase, you’re looking at costs increasing, and you’re looking at more expensive games.

    Likely even shorter games with more DLC and microtransactions.

    Let’s sit back and see who’s right.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. TheWulf

    “I also think a lot more devs will use 3rd party engines instead of developing their own.”

    Interesting edit. Mostly because it’s a straw man – I never brought this up, it’s completely irrelevant.

    The money won’t go on developing new engines, that would be an imbecilic assumption. No, as I’ve already tried to explain to you in much belaboured tones, the costs will come from increasingly detailed art assets. These artists have to be paid, you know, and the more art you have them create, the more you have to pay.

    As I said: I see more expensive, shorter games with more DLC becoming the norm, just to recoup development costs. And I see a lot of reused content a la Bioware happening, too. We’re already seeing a little bit of this and we aren’t even at the aforementioned next gen, yet.

    You really need to think about what I’m trying to convey to you, here.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. xxJPRACERxx

    @3 “But the point is is that the higher resolution textures, these higher poly models, and all this extra detail overall will cost extra.”

    Source assets on current-gen hardware are ALREADY created at a much higher level than even next-gen will be able to support. So tell me why it should cost more?

    Games like Gears of War, Uncharted, God of War use source assets that are at the million+ number of polygons and 4096*4096+ textures. Then there’s a reduction process to take these assets and reduce it to thousands of polygons and ~1024*1024 textures. But the source is already much higher.

    So why development of next-gen games should cost more when devs already create assets that is beyond what next-gen will be able to handle. The only difference will be less reduction from source assets to game assets.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. xxJPRACERxx

    Artists won’t have to change the way they work. Their jobs will be even easier since there will be less limitations. The only people that will have a harder job is programmers for engines and development tools, that why I see devs using more 3rd party engines, where the engine and dev tools are already mature and tested.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight

    @6

    And the desire for more outsourced work for artist continue. CHina, Mexico and India will enjoy next gen.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Charlie Sheen

    if thats the case then we will do what we did to sony and just not buy there shit lol

    #8 3 years ago

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