Call of Duty Ghosts: smaller studios having trouble filling the triple-a market, suggests Rubin

Monday, 23rd September 2013 09:17 GMT By Dave Cook

Call of Duty: Ghosts’ executive producer Mark Rubin has expressed concern that smaller studios are experiencing trouble, due to games being more difficult and expensive to make.

Speaking with GameInformer, Infinity Ward developer Rubin commented on the challenge posed to smaller teams by the might of the triple-a pack. “It’s a scary thing,” he said, “and I’ll take my Call Of Duty hat off for a minute here, but games are becoming harder to make, more expensive to make.

“I feel like smaller studios are having trouble – I can’t speak for them but I would think – are having trouble making games that fill the big AAA market because they’re harder to do. It is kind of a bummer that games are getting so hard and difficult to make. 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.”

Do you feel the solo-small-to-medium developers are in trouble? Are people only interested in realistic assets and high production value? Let us know what you think below.




  1. Xbone

    Today… Triple A means they put a shit ton of money into marketing. AAA is not refering to the game quality. I know they wanna think it is, but its not.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Fin


    AAA means production values.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. hives

    Respawn is doing well. CDP RED did great with Witcher 2. If dev team is full of talent, game can be awesome.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Llewelyn_MT

    There is a plenty of indie game devs doing just fine without movie quality graphics. There is still much headroom for innovative new concepts. Hardcore gamers play these games too, not only self-proclaimed AAA titles.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. TheWulf

    Heh. It’s funny because not that long ago they were blithering about how expensive AAA games are to make, and I pointed out then that smaller studios and indie devs likely don’t have that problem. Why? They tend to be more responsible.

    It’s like with Kickstarter, with an indie or small developer, you can’t just try to target the lowest common denominator and hope for the best. If you try to create a reality TV game to compete with GTA V, you’re obviously going to fail, because Rockstar has the money and means to market a game like that better than just about anyone else. Plus, they’re very cut-throat with their approach.

    So what do small developers and indie devs do? They realise that there are games they want to play, and they make the games they want to play understanding that if they want to play them, there’s likely a demographic out there that does too. Instead of trying to aim for everyone, they have a laser focus on a very specific demographic.

    And instead of using PR drones and focus testing to ensure that they have a game for the lowest common denominator, they simply employ creativity, imagination, passion, and soul in their projects. If you look at something like Gone Home or Shelter, that’s incredibly obvious.

    And there’s a market for that out there. Yes, there are less creatively inclined people in the world than there are creatively inclined ones. But that doesn’t mean that content shouldn’t be made for them. Pan’s Labyrinth was never going to do as well as the Titanic, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that that film shouldn’t have existed.

    And Pan’s Labyrinth was a financial success, because there were enough creatively inclined people out there who’re into that kind of thing.

    This is what larger studios will never understand. They see people as this homogeneous mush of sameness. Sure, for a lot of people, that’s true. There are those you could swap out for another person and they’d be pretty much the same, we have posters like that on VG24/7 who think, act, and talk in overly similar ways. They’re almost like clones.

    But the thing is is that the AAA studio only sees those people.

    They don’t see the rest of humanity that doesn’t fit into that homogeneous mush, and they don’t understand that by budgeting their games correctly and marketing at subsets of less homogenised peoples, they’d actually be able to turn a profit. This is what indies and small studios understand so very well.

    If you make a game you love and you budget it right, it’s probably going to make you a profit in the long run.

    So, no. I don’t agree with him.

    I think it’s more that he wishes that indies and small developers had the problems that he has. Except they don’t, because they can see past the homogeneous mush to understand that there are other markets out there. That’s something that most AAA developers will never understand.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. TheWulf


    Exactly. That’s what AAA developers and people who share a mind with them will never understand. It’s possible to be bereft of creativity, we know this to be true at this point, not everyone is imaginative. So unimaginative games targeted at unimaginative people works.

    Yet if you do something that has real soul to it–and I use that word to describe something that very much has a personality of its own–then you’re going to draw in people from outside of the homogeneous mush. They exist. I know they do because I’m one of them. I’m going to toss out the term brain arousal here paraphrased from something I read earlier, because interesting things are a mental aphrodisiac to people like me.

    When we see something genuinely unusual, we get brain boners.

    Now, it’s hopefully easy to understand why something like this wouldn’t apply whereas something like this does. The one is just a very typical bad action movie as a game, but the other? The other is special because it has a storybook aesthetic and an otherworldly beauty to it, it’s inspiring. So, someone like me? I don’t care to go and drive around in a dull old city because I could go outdoors and do that! But to explore a evocatively alien place that doesn’t exist beyond my doorstep?

    I think what’s changing now is that certain facets of the industry are realising that creative people aren’t so much a minority any more. Creative people tend to be popular because they’re always fonts of new ideas and they have interesting things to say, they’re not just aping what the person next to them says, they have their own words. I have my own words. Very much so.

    So why is it that indies and small devs aren’t struggling?

    Because those people do it differently. To them, it’s by creative people, for creative people. And due to how much AAA gaming usually appeals to homogeneity (with the odd mutant like Volition aside), more creatively minded people are starved for good entertainment.

    I don’t want a dull, reality-based game. I want to walk around in the brain of another person, I want them to show me their personal strangeness so that I can revel in it. And that’s what indie/small devs are supplying.

    I suppose I’m a horrible hedonist. But then, so long a it’s ethical hedonism, I can’t help but wish more people were terrible hedonists and less of a hive of same-same drones.

    Still, people of a mind like mine aren’t trivial. We exist. And games are made for us, and we buy them.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. coristus

    @thewulf @4 @5 : Amen!
    “I don’t want a dull, reality-based game.”
    Same here. I want to see things beyond my imagination. And I have an exceedingly wild imagination:) Not some repetitive mission based maffia soap opera.

    #7 1 year ago

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