Red 5 boss calls console model “broken”, “dead”

Thursday, 3rd May 2012 00:33 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Mark Kern, the former World of Warcraft designer now heading up Firefall developer Red 5, is ready to suit up and attend a funeral for consoles.

“It takes billions of dollars of investment to create a console and then you have to milk it for five to seven years in order to get your money back. I think the model is broken,” Kern told Eurogamer.

The developer said that platform holders have to make bigger and bigger gambles, which means playing it safer and safer, until eventually innovation dires up and players ‘get bored and leave’.

“And you haven’t fostered any of the middle ground innovation and new ideas that you need to tap into next. So something has to change. Consoles, I believe, are dead,” he concluded.

Kern noted two symptoms of the problem: that games are increasingly divided into AAA and everything else with no middle ground, and lay-offs after failed major releases, which he feels is unsustainable.

Unfortunately, Kern doesn’t see major publishers coming around to his way of thinking any time soon.

“Even if the heads of these big organisations do get it – which is questionable to begin with – being able to turn on a dime when everybody’s salaries and bonuses are vested in the old business models is a very difficult thing to do,” he said.

“I think they’re at severe risk right now of being trumped by Apple, by Google, by Facebook. Look at indie games. Look at Riot Games and League of Legends. They have more users than World of Warcraft does. That’s crazy.

“And they don’t have a publisher. Who needs publishers any more? I certainly don’t. I couldn’t care less about them at this stage.”

Kern has no interest in bringing free-to-play MMO Firefall to consoles, either.

“Why would we? I don’t see that [platform holders] see how free-to-play can fit into their model and the fact that they’re royalty revenue share is not set up to take advantage of these types of games,” he said.

“There’s no incentive for me to be on console. I’m more interested in getting onto the Mac OS or even iOS in some form. That’s what’s more interesting to me.”

Firefall is in cascading beta, with current players regularly asked to extend invites to friends, making it quite tricky to get in; try your luck here.



  1. Virginityrocks

    Consoles are for people who want to play games that aren’t on the PC, which is, despite all predictions, the fastest growing gaming platform to date. Who needs an Xbox when every game you want to play is on the PC you already have?

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Erthazus

    “The developer said that platform holders have to make bigger and bigger gambles, which means playing it safer and safer, until eventually innovation dires up and players ‘get bored and leave’.”

    Truth with every console in every generation. Introduce new gimmick and then milk it for years or introduce some technology that is dated but keep the marketing campaign alive until people will get bored.

    This is also about it’s functionality. Consoles are very limited with it’s PSN or XBL services. Steam is not perfect but it is miles better then what is on consoles right now.

    Currently, Good games are the reason why people buy them and it’s the cheapest alternative to play AAA singleplayer/multiplayer titles.

    To me, consoles are dead since 2010. Nothing groundbreaking since then. Bring the Next Gen.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. BlueTemplar

    @1 “Who needs an Xbox when every game you want to play is on the PC you already have?”

    Thats not true though is it? One thing PC gamers on these forums seem to forget when gloating about how games run so much better on their hardware, is the simple fact that a large number of top games just arent available for that system at all. The best games I’ve played this generation – games like Uncharted, Demons Souls, GoW (God and Gears), Halo (3 and Reach), Killzone, etc arent are all 100% exclusive to consoles.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Christopher Jack

    Compatibility is also an issue. You buy a 360 or PS3 game, its guaranteed to run on its respected platform. You buy a PC games entirely at your own risk, a high spec ed machine doesn’t mean that it’ll run every game, particularly older ones, but even modern games have their issues. Console gaming is gaming simplified & on the cheap, console gamers don’t need everything that a $2k PC with 4GB+ RAM, an i7 processor & a GTX 590 offers.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. fearmonkey

    I prefer playing on a console over a PC, though I love the PC.
    I spend more time playing the “inferior” console versions of the game rather than the PC version. I prefer the controller and place in a disk and go rather than install it to the HD, which is one major reasons why I never got a PS3.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. jacobvandy

    @4 $600-700 will buy a PC that runs every game out there at 1080p with high settings (similar specs to what you have except for the 590, which is insane overkill), so at the same or better level of performance as a console but looking 10x better. The whole “gaming PCs cost thousands of dollars” argument is about as dumb as saying you refuse to drive a car because Ferraris are too expensive. You don’t need one of those to get the job done…

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Stardog

    @4 The argument about PC gaming costing more hasn’t been true for a long time, but it will keep you continuing with consoles and their simple games that are made for dumb folks.

    PC games cost a lot less too, saving you the cost of a console when you’ve bought just 10 games or so.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Christopher Jack

    @6, I know, I personally built one for the price as a bundled 320GB PS3: i3 processor, Radeon 6770, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, all for $450, but I will tell you this now, it will NOT run everything out there with high frames @1080p on high settings, it should be fine with the majority, but I’d imagine some heavy taxing games like BF3 or Metro 2033 may tax it quite heavily.

    @7, I don’t think it’s fair to call console gamers ‘dumb’ because they prefer simplicity, would be like Linux users calling Windows users dumb.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. TheWulf

    The funny thing is that I’ve been saying these exact words. Not specifically targeted at consoles, but rather at big publishers. More money gets involved, and as more money gets involved, less risks can be taken overall. Mainstream gaming products have become increasingly homogenised of late, trying to capture the widest audiences by not doing anything that could potentially offend.

    The film industry did it until that model broke down, and people in the film industry still continue to try it occasionally, but it doesn’t work out all that well. More often than not within the last decade or so you’ll have seen the film industry try to hit niches more, developing more films with smaller budgets aimed at specific demographics, rather than one big [i]ur-film[/i] which tries to bring in the holy grail audience.

    We’re at the tip of that now in the gaming industry, every single day you hear about people either saying things like this guy is saying (like I’ve been saying) or you have people jumping ship from the big publishers to form their own smaller development houses. They see the way the wind is blowing, and generally, it’s just history repeating itself.

    There are those who’re savvy to the way these things work and they’ll actually catch sight of this sooner than others. But the thing is is that the Modern Warfares and the like aren’t going to last forever, and in reality they’re just going to sell less and less over time as people become bored with the constant diet of gruel and demand something more exotic and challenging.

    Variety is the spice of life and you need it in your diet. Eventually every audience wakes up to this realisation and they look elsewhere for their ‘food.’ The savvy ones who’re just now setting up their own small development houses to target these outliers are the ones that know that soon those outliers will outnumber the people who still have any faith in the industry. It’s these small developers who understand the way the market is evolving, and they’re adapting to fit.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight

    People want better tech which makes the cost of development for hardware that much more critical which makes the cost of game development exponentially higher look at the cost of PS2 game compared to a PS3 game which creates the need for outsourced work and the game has to appeal to as large of an audience as possible in order to bring a profit which allows developers to continue making a game.

    I am pretty much with the developers that believe that games will become more episodic in order to meet demand while not breaking the bank of the consumer and the publisher.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Kabby

    We are nowhere near breaking point yet. This guy needs to shut up.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Virginityrocks

    @3 Of course, but believe it or not, there are more exclusive titles for the PC than there are for the console currently, and with renewed growth and less financial risk for developers, the number of developers creating a day 1 PC release will and has been increasing. Eventually the question will return to ‘Can I afford a PC? Yes, or no? If I cannot, I will settle with a console.’

    Of course there are reasons for wanting a console beyond gaming, such as simplicity of use, but at the cost of function.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Da Man

    You can’t send cross game invites on Steam, you can’t chat/mute anyone at any moment, everything is game dependent. Steam is shit..only good thing about it is the marketplace,

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Erthazus

    “You can’t send cross game invites on Steam, you can’t chat/mute anyone at any moment”

    that shows that you know nothing as always and talk trash.

    you can invite anyone to every game you want, by just clicking “invite option” by using Friends list (or groups/clans for example) while they are playing something else and you can chat and mute anyone at any moment.

    You can mute by just Hiting escape, then communications menu. Find the party you wish to mute listed under the team he is on and select to block his voice or chat communication. Easy.
    Same goes to chat. Shift+ chat with someone you want.

    You are indeed retard.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. Da Man

    There’s no centralized system like Xbl, did you even use it? Oh wait, you didn’t.

    Erthazus, I’m no retard if I couldn’t care less about some shitty computer network for miserable soulless nerds. Now spending 24/7 playing toys and chatting online on the other hand..

    Oh, and it’s a retard, genius. two years of pointless babbling and still no progress with the engrish?

    #15 3 years ago
  16. freedoms_stain

    @15, yes, the burden of choice precludes a universal system.

    Hmm, choice or minor convenience?

    Yeah, I’ll take the choice. Cheers.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Da Man

    #16, I don’t need inane choices.

    You’re welcome.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. freedoms_stain

    @17, right, if you want to buy a game you’d rather have no competition for your custom.

    #18 3 years ago

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