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Call of Duty dev: “games are becoming harder to make and more expensive to make”

Saturday, 21st September 2013 20:28 GMT By Phil Owen

Infinity Ward’s Mark Rubin, currently working on the upcoming megablockbuster Call of Duty: Ghosts, is disturbed by what he perceives as the high cost of entry into the AAA gaming space.

“It’s a scary thing, and I’ll take my Call of Duty hat off for a second here, but games are becoming harder to make and more expensive to make,” Rubin told Game Informer. “And I feel like smaller studios are having trouble. I can’t speak for them, but I would think they are having trouble making big games that hit the big AAA market because they’re harder to do.

“People want better and better graphics, they want more realistic looking art assets, and that comes at a cost and that’s a hard thing to have to deal with.”

On the other hand, of course, you have Devolver Digital, which publishes what they describe as “aaa” games like Shadow Warrior and Serious Sam, which could easily be passed off as $60 major publisher products despite being PC games that don’t come at the standard full price (you can pre-order Shadow Warrior on PC for $34).

Where do you think the line is between AAA and not-AAA? Does it even matter?

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21 Comments

  1. II-WAR-STEINER-II

    Huh really? I mean a COD “games are becoming harder to make and more expensive to make”

    Uh? Alright… -__- Activsion is clever or gamers are dummies idk

    Activsion have the baddest devs ever cuz using the same engine since 2001 lol helloooo? Then, shit MP, with bad matchmaking, cheaters/hackers etc.

    Oh my goodness it’s a lie not a news, wake up kids…

    #1 11 months ago
  2. pcbros

    It’s sad to see how much focus is put on graphics. Back in the NES/SNES era, every developer had a solid chance of releasing a decent game. You didn’t need millions in production to release a game.

    I think indie developers are bringing videogames back to their roots.

    There should be no seperation in games. “AAA” classification should not even exist. Videogames should be measured by their originality, style, story, gameplay and music, not by their budget.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. Sethos

    Those lazy fucks are the last to make these statements.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. DSB

    @2 Dream on brother.

    It makes sense for any visual medium to push its technical limits, it’s no different with Hollywood movies, but the main difference is that Hollywood has been competent enough to grow its business along with its expenses.

    I really do think videogames consistently target the exact same group, and all that does is keep everybody else away.

    I think it’s absolutely true for any form of entertainment, that the moment you stop being creative, you also start hurting your business. Maybe not in the short term, but definitely in the long term.

    You gotta bring in more people, and an effective way of doing that would be to make a number of smaller games, for smaller budgets, with an entirely different focus from the mainstream.

    The indies are doing what they can, but while they have the brains for it, they don’t have the brawn, and Kickstarter isn’t enough.

    I think there’s a real risk of hitting a wall there. Tomb Raider is a sterling example of a game that was clearly a success by any measure, but took a hit because someone wasn’t very good with spreadsheets.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. FuntimeBen

    If it costing more to develop next-gen graphics, imagine how much they are saving by creating bull-shit story lines and NEVER updating their engine? I’m sure they will break even. If they eventually do decide to raise the price of their games, I’m sure their petulant 14 year-old fan-base will understand and not make death-threats to the developers.

    It is the CoD circle of life.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. II-WAR-STEINER-II

    DSB

    Do u know David Cage or other virtuoso? So i don’t be scare about Activsion. They are a bunch of creepy dickheads right, ruin everything, the whole industry with their crap games, EA too…

    It’s a never ending story cuz COD gamers are retarded and full of shit. I mean look at the COD community… -__-

    1 for example

    http://www.vg247.com/2013/07/24/black-ops-2-team-threatened-by-fans-over-latest-pc-gun-tweaks-acti-calls-for-end-of-violence/

    #6 11 months ago
  7. Pytox

    yea their dog is so realistic it even takes down a chopper and fish swim away from the player, so innovative, they should better spend less on marketing and more on the game instead and try something new

    #7 11 months ago
  8. pcbros

    @4 – “It makes sense for any visual medium to push its technical limits”

    But it doesn’t have to be “realistic” graphics in order to be good. You can achieve great visuals through art style.

    I just don’t think we should measure games based on their graphics, just like we don’t measure a movie by it’s special effects.

    And I agree creativity is probably the most important factor in developing games. Something that I feel has been lacking with recent “AAA” titles.

    I’m seeing more exciting things going on with indie developers than with “AAA” developers. I’d say 7 out of 10 times, I’m playing an indie game on Steam.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. II-WAR-STEINER-II

    Beyond: Two Souls is a AAAA++++ game by far…

    #9 11 months ago
  10. AngryConsumer

    looking at Infinity Ward patched to death 10 year old unreal 3 engine.. <- A A A HAHAHAHA!…

    #10 11 months ago
  11. TheWulf

    I’m not sure indie developers would agree.

    There’s a simple, two-step solution to this problem, and it would lead to better games for all of us.

    Step I: Stop with the hyper-realism fetish already.

    Rather than that, concentrate on fun and the fantastic. If people are actually having fun, they won’t bother to stop to examine things so closely.

    There’s a reason why the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare looks like shit, while something like Klonoa 2, Wind Waker, or even Ultimate Spider-Man looks miles better. This is because they concentrated on making the game a fun experience, rather than making sure every detail was just like reality.

    This is why GTA V will look like shit in a few years (as if it doesn’t already), but there won’t be any complaints about Saints Row IV because people will be too busy having fun with it.

    More fun, less of an obsession with reality.

    Step II: Give up the obsession with fidelity.

    This is tied into the obsession with presenting a perfect reality. If you look at something like Aer then it’s immediately apparent that you can make something lovely without all of those shaders, and ridiculously high resolution textures.

    Games age because it’s easy to tell which one looks more like reality, and which one doesn’t. It’s easy to see which game suffers with the uncanny valley the most. Something like Dust: An Elysian Tale, will be around for decades, just as the original Mega Man game has, whereas games which fetishise fidelity are left behind.

    Why? Because games about high fidelity are one the same as another, and people just go for the least one of those. GTA: San Andreas became shit the moment that GTA IV came out, GTA IV is now terrible because GTA V is out. Yet there are games of various series which are timeless.

    For example, people didn’t stop loving Final Fantasy VI when Final Fantasy VII came out. And people didn’t stop loving Final Fantasy VII when Final Fantasy IX came out.

    You can create a timeless game.

    Conclusion: Games are only expensive because of this obsession with creating the most believable, the most perfect representation of reality.

    But if I wanted reality I’d get off my arse and walk outside.

    Are the youth today so unfamiliar with reality that they only ever experience it in games?

    #11 11 months ago
  12. TheWulf

    @2

    I couldn’t agree more. Sadly, it seems like the average person has had their imagination lobotomised, and they just want to watch reality television and play games centred around reality. So anything fantastic confuses and scares them, like a deer in headlights.

    I feel ashamed to call myself human, sometimes.

    #12 11 months ago
  13. XanderZane

    @11
    That’s not even the real Infinity Ward. Most of the original members of Infinity Ward left and is now working with Respawn. Activision’s Infinity Ward probably have about 15-20% of the original members still there. lol!! People wonder why there’s no innovation or major changes. The people they have don’t know how to take the series in a new direction or how to update the game engine to Unreal 4 Engine.

    Of course games are getting more expensive, but I also think developers and publishers aren’t allocating the funds properly and are overstaffed in some cases. They need to stop making CoD games every single year and they would have funds to make other games.

    #13 11 months ago
  14. pcbros

    I don’t think graphic fidelity is bad, but it shouldn’t be the focus.

    Games like Metal Gear do a good job of being somewhat realistic looking but still being creative (with one of the most engaging and wacky storylines ever).

    @13 – I think Nintendo games, indie games and games from the past definitely expanded people’s imaginations more than today’s modern offerings.

    #14 11 months ago
  15. DSB

    @8 I agree. An inspired artstyle goes a lot further. Look at something like Borderlands 2. I never get tired of looking at that game. Not because it’s crystal clear and there’s PhysX everywhere, but because of all the colors, and the environment and its inhabitants.

    I had the same relationship to WoW, at least when it came to some zones. The artstyle just nailed it even though the game was never technically impressive. It’s all a bunch of humongous polygons with a few choice textures on them, but most of us never really saw it.

    I think Rubin is dead wrong when he says “people want better graphics”. It’s one of these terrible delusions that happen in the corporate world when people start relying on focus groups instead of using common sense, or trusting their creatives.

    I’m sure we’d all “like” better graphics if we can get it, but I’m also pretty sure that it isn’t the main thing for the vast majority of gamers.

    @7 I fundamentally don’t get guys like you.

    “Wah wah wah, the dog took down the chopper, that’s so unrealistic, I’m insulted”.

    Fair enough dude, but would you mind explaining to me how that isn’t fucking awesome in every conceivable way?

    Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 90′s, but we used to live for stuff like that. Personally I think we have a dire shortage of helicopter-fighting dogs.

    Some people ask “Why”, others ask “Why not”. The Why Nots really tend to be the better entertainers.

    #15 11 months ago
  16. sebastien rivas

    No way Rubin… what a surprise duhhhh.
    I won’t express my thought on this one, I think I told this enough.

    #16 11 months ago
  17. pcbros

    @16 – “Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 90′s”

    Welcome to the club :)

    I’ll take my NES/SNES gaming days over any of this modern stuff. The PC had awesome graphic adventure games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle too.

    That’s why I love indie development. We have a lot of old school guys recreating classic games and we have new developers pushing the creative boundaries.

    #17 11 months ago
  18. DSB

    @18 It’s hard to find stuff like the Lucas Arts games, but if you don’t mind a serious plot, you should really check out Wadjet Eye Games.

    The Blackwell Saga and The Shivah are really quite something. Really really good stuff.

    Ben There, Dan That is one big hilarious tribute to the Lucas Arts games. And the sequel Time Gentlemen, Please was almost as funny.

    #18 11 months ago
  19. SpacemanSpliffz

    How can the publishers of the most bought game in the world, which has earned them billions, have the gall to whine and pule about production costs on a game that is based on a 10 year old, patched to shit engine?

    It’s like foreshadowing a price hike. This will come shortly after next gen. I bet games will be $70-$80 a pop because of all of this amazing input from “the experts of the industry”.

    I should just sell all my consoles and games, and get out while the getting out is still good

    #19 11 months ago
  20. ZappaBappa

    #11 & 14 I don’t believe CoD uses the Unreal Engine. Atleast all cods prior to ghosts haven’t. CoD started out with the ID Tech 3 engine which launched with Quake 3. they modified it so much that its become its own thing. But ID Tech 3 is already 14 years old, and they’re still using the same base for it. They could’ve gone with ID Tech 4, which would’ve been a huge jump graphic wise. Id Tech 4 has huge potential. All Id Engines do. Even Half life was nothing but a total conversion for on Id Tech 3.

    But as many said. They’re the last developers i wanna hear that from. They abused the system for 8 years long. And this whole stuff about Games getting more expensive is just because of consoles, because its expensive to spend dozens of days on just optimizing as much as possible to make it run on old hardware. Back when dev’s main focus was still on PC we didn’t have those issues, because they could just release graphic options alongside the game to improve your performance. They’d make games according to what was available on the market. They didn’t have to spend millions on optimization, and learning unfamiliar hardware.

    Star citizen will set a new standard for how games are made. Its going to be a crazy ambitious game that offers more features/immersion than most games out today on console. Its a game tailored to the gamers who invest in it. Making console games is nothing but a huge gamble. Its completely turned Game developing into a giant risk factor, what you get is what you’ll have to put up with, unless the developer is willing to spend another few grand applying a patch to the servers. The only thing that makes game developing so ridiculously expensive is Consoles.

    Wall of text. Disengage!

    #20 11 months ago
  21. stalepie

    “Are the youth today so unfamiliar with reality that they only ever experience it in games?”

    In regards to escaping from uzi-wielding astronauts on the International Space Station, yes, today’s youth are unfamiliar with that sort of situation.

    @1– I think their engine has been updated quite a lot because every game has looked better than the last, and certainly better than the COD from 2001.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWkNWsKzJME That looks the same? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SumIZb6qMJw as this?

    #21 11 months ago

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