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Triple-A focus could kill the industry, warns former DICE producer turned mobile dev

Tuesday, 4th June 2013 22:42 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Former DICE producer Patrick Liu has said a perception that triple-A is the “coolest” development scene could kill the games industry.

Speaking to GamesIndustry, Liu – who left the Battlefield developer to become creative director of newly-founded mobile studio Rovio Stockholm – said young mobile developers are attracted to traditional triple-A development despite success in mobile, casual and beyond.

“They still have the image that those are the coolest games. Even amongst veterans there’s still an attitude that mobile and casual games are not really games,” he said.

“I think that’s a problem for the industry, to not admit that they’re real games. It makes an elitist group saying ‘oh, we are the real gamers, we make real games.’ That’s really concerns me – we could kill this industry if we don’t get more inclusive.”

The veteran developer said the new generation of gamers growing up know nothign beyond the current big-name IPs.

“I think it’s our responsibility as developers to show them all the other stuff we’ve been making for 25 years to see what they’ve got to look forward to. I think mobile developers, especially in Stockholm, there are so many veteran developers who know all the tricks of the trade, how to make really good games,” he said.

“At the same time, they’re embracing the new platforms, the new business models. Marrying those two things, that’s going to create something really really good, something fantastic.”

Liu said he doesn’t think the console market is at risk, because there’s still plenty of demand, but there’s so much expansion in other areas that the explosive growth of past generations is over.

“I think the console makers realise that and that’s why they’re concentrating more on other stuff like TV, so they become more relevant as machines. Mobile and PC do so much else and people only have so much money to invest. So they have to remain relevant, but that upsets the core gamers. It’s a dilemma,” he said.

The new Rovio boss said that “now is the best time” to be an indie, especially on mobile, thanks to reduced costs and greater opportunity to reach consumers, but that he expects big publishers like EA and Activision to stick it out on consoles for a while.

“It makes sense for them to be there a little longer because that market is still there and there will only be room for two or three publishers. They get to keep the rest of the cake,” he said.

“But for everyone else, they need to move to digital as quickly as possible. That’s partly why I moved – I think most of the innovation is happening on mobile – it’s the most exciting market to work in.”

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16 Comments

  1. Lahanas

    But mobile etc ARE NOT real games.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. stealth

    this is so silly

    #2 2 years ago
  3. YoungZer0

    I think we definitely need a bigger middle ground. Right now we have very few middle games (like MARS), the majority of games are mostly AAA and indies.

    I love indies but their production value is usually too low. I love AAA title but their focus is sometimes too broad.

    I remember reading that Dark Souls 2 is trying to compete with Skyrim.

    Fucking. Insanity.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. salarta

    It’s a mix of problems, really.

    AAA games are run by corporate figureheads these days. These corporate figureheads have no absolutely zero love or respect for the medium or the past, all they care about is making money. To that end, they do whatever they think it takes to boost sales. This typically means completely and utterly ruining great franchises and characters just to make them fit into whatever gimmicks and trends they think will sell more copies. Because a new IP with a familiar name and face slapped on it, despite being completely inappropriate, sells more copies to gullible people than simply making a brand new IP, and respecting these IPs is just something that never crosses their minds.

    Cell phone games are not going to solve this. There are inherent limitations to the medium, and expectations on how to use it. What’s more, all encouraging a move to mobile will do is get the big publishers to pile on to doing more with mobile than consoles (well, more than is happening already). Oversaturation of the mobile market with lackluster fare will kill the mobile market just as fast, probably even faster.

    All the while, video games that would have been great and needed to be put on consoles and PCs to be expressed properly will get passed over because they’re not the video game industry equivalent of reality TV: cheap, quick and easy to make.

    Another video game crash is inevitable. At best, a shift to mobile will only delay what’s coming. The heart and soul of the medium is dying out, a whole lot of trash is making its way into gaming, the people looking for a pay day will keep making bad decisions and bad games. And as expected, once the ship starts sinking, they’ll all flee for more lucrative businesses.

    At that point is likely when video games will be back to a golden age. The people that stay behind or start anew in that atmosphere won’t be there just to make money or boost sales, they’ll be going at it because they actually love the industry, the medium and the IPs they’re working on. We’ll likely see something akin to how the Marvel universe films are doing so well when we get to that state.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. zinc

    Its the money men strangling the creative process thats the problem.

    Videogames are not something you can churn out on a factory line.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. YoungZer0

    “Videogames are not something you can churn out on a factory line.”

    You can, it’s all the on-rail shooters that try to imitate the success of Call of Duty.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    Triple AAA won’t kill the industry.

    It just kills creativity.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. zinc

    @6, Which is indeed a symptom. The industry needs to start taking chances again, find the next big thing…

    And milk it to death until we’re in the same state again .

    Its the circle of life.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. DSB

    It’s really not a question of if, but when. It’s slowly strangling the industry.

    @7 Sure, but killing the creativity also robs it of hope for a greater audience. You’re only going to expand by upping the stakes creatively and improving the craft.

    It was the same for movies and popular music. Hell, even classical music back in the day.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. salarta

    @9: The comic book industry is a good example of where video games are currently headed. The medium became insanely popular in the 90s, corporate types were trying to bilk money out of idiots by making everything a tie-in or a “first issue” or one of many variants while also pushing forth idiotic changes that made no sense purely to fit popular trends. There were occasional good points, but they were few and far between.

    Today, the comic book industry is a shell of its former self, and mostly only there as groundwork for all the other mediums that are actually considered profitable for the IPs, such as films and cartoons. That doesn’t mean what’s written in them is worthless by any means, just that the comics themselves aren’t the real focus anymore.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Gheritt White

    Did you know that League of Legends has an average of 5 million concurrent users at peak hours? Just a little perspective for ya. Games that can make shit tons of cash don’t need to cost the earth these days and that’s where a lot of the big money is flowing – just look at WB Games with Infinite Crisis. These are the same guys that do Batman Arkham X and MK, FFS.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    @9 My point was that the industry will still make a shed load of money. It will just be at the expense of creative diversity. Much like Hollywood and the music industry.

    That doesn’t mean creativity will die out. You just won’t see it occurring in the Triple A mark half as regularly as you used to. That duty has fallen largely on the start ups and the indies. And frankly… right now, if it wasn’t for them I doubt I would still be playing.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ps3fanboy

    don’t worry Triple-A will just kill micro$hafts xbone… sony have indie covered..

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DSB

    @12 Right, but my point is that if the biggest titles aren’t ambitious, you won’t be convincing a lot of new people to sit in front of the TV or the computer. I think you do need the flagships to do that.

    Big names, big budgets, big impact.

    I’m sure a midrange production could do some good, but if anything, publishers have made it clear that they don’t see games as a creative or artistic endeavor. It’s just boxed goods, sum of its parts, no reason to worry about the actual content.

    I think indies mostly reach the people who are already there. You don’t have advertising, you don’t have millions of sales. Mobiles could change that in time, but right now it’s a bit of a long shot.

    It’s great to have a bunch of smaller titles with a lot of artistic value, but if they only reach the same couple of million people, who cares?

    #14 2 years ago
  15. fihar

    You either have $60 triple-A games or $10 – $15 indie games.
    It’s not often you get games that are priced between, discounting the HD remasters and the Dark Arisens.

    I know for a fact that Sonic Transformed was priced at $40, which was actually the main reason I bought it over LBPK.
    Why can’t more publisher do this?

    #15 2 years ago
  16. backup

    AAA not possible on PC because are are pirates

    #16 2 years ago

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