Small and mid range development are the inevitable casualties of increasing triple-A budgets, EA COO Peter Moore believes.
Speaking to Wired, Moore said we’ve “already seen” what happens to the games industry as development budgets grow ever larger.
“The higher-end games that land, land well. Everything else just falls off the cliff,” he said.
“If you think about the industry today, I don’t know what they exact numbers are, but the top 20 games globally probably deliver 80 percent of the revenue. Anything that doesn’t hit that top 20 or 25 finds it very difficult to justify itself, its existence, and you kind of wonder why you did it.”
Moore noted that “the big games are getting bigger” and the middle market is vanishing, with a “chasm” in between small and large budget games which used to be taken up by cost-effective games which “did okay and kept developers in work, and you do a sequel to it”.
“As a company, we made the decision many many years ago to do less is more. When I arrived we had 67 games in development for console and PC, that we were either about to deliver or had just been greenlit or were in alpha or beta. We’re now down to 14 this fiscal year,” he said.
“We’ve added 41 games this fiscal year which are social, mobile, and free to play.”
Moore noted that EA is very different now to when he arrived five years ago; he said the publisher used to throw out lots of games and hope something stuck, whereas now it wants to be sure.
“It was Hollywood. We’re no longer Hollywood. We’re more precise than that,” he said.
“We’re accused of being too safe, but then I’ll point to Mirror’s Edge – not a commercial success in the broad terms that we look at it, but certainly as an innovation, was brilliant. You take risks – we don’t get credit a lot for the risks we take.”
“We’re accused of being too safe, but then I’ll point to Mirror’s Edge – not a commercial success in the broad terms that we look at it, but certainly as an innovation, was brilliant. The art style, the character herself, the idea of taking this kind of parkour thing but a backstory of authoritarianism in cities, it was brilliant. Again, and you take risks – we don’t get credit a lot for the risks we take.”
Challenged on this point, Moore agreed that when EA narrowed its focus to a few big games, it was experiments like Mirror’s Edge that were cut, but blamed this narrowing of game type on the ageing console cycle.
“The deeper you get in the back end of the generation, the less that a new IP is going to work. You start saving up your creative bullets for when you think the next generation of hardware is going to come along,” he said.
“So you start thinking in those terms. It’s very difficult, if not impossible – I can’t think of new IP that launches five or six years into a generation of gaming hardware that is successful. It’s just not the time to do it. Over the coming years you’ll see a rebirth of new IP, new genres. With these platforms, you’ve got to be looking to re-imagine the way they deliver games. Otherwise, why would you buy them?”
Moore has a lot of interesting things to say about the changing face of the games industry throughout the rest of the interview; clock through the link above for his thoughts on new business models, streaming technology and more.