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$100 million budgets & $60 games will put more companies out of business, warns Volition

Thursday, 3rd October 2013 12:10 GMT By Dave Cook

Saints Row 4 senior producer Jim Boone has cautioned that $100 million game budgets and $60 releases can only serve to further harm an industry already feeling the pressure of the need to keep up.

Speaking with OXM, Boone said, “We’re all hardcore gamers at Volition, and at the end of the day I don’t care how much a developer spent on a game – it doesn’t matter to me. Its $60 of my money either way, so I don’t care if he only spent $80 million versus $200 million. What’s the best game – that’s what’s going to get my money.

“But that makes it really tough, because in my opinion gamers buy fewer games because of these $60 price point. If I’m going to buy six games a year then I’m probably just going to buy six of those $200 million games and call it a day – I don’t have to worry about anything else.”

With high budgets comes less room for risk, Boone continued, echoing my recent chat with Quantic Dream’s David Cage. “You can’t really innovate much any more” Boone added, “because the games are so expensive publishers don’t want you to take chances. That means you’ve got to do the best you possibly can and spend a ton of money or you’re going to do things that possibly won’t be the best they can be, in which case people won’t buy it and they’ll just go buy the game that did cost all that money.”

The ever-rising popularity of digital distribution gives Boone hope, however. “But now with all these different sorts of platforms – even with next gen now – I’m hopeful that this means they can come up with different price points. It’s certainly the implication from what we’re hearing from Microsoft and Sony – that there’s more ways to distribute games and more ways to price games.”

He concluded, “I just feel like if we keep going down this path of having to spend couple $100 million per project – man, there’s quite a few publishers and developers that are going to go out of business.”

What do you make of the above? Are budgets out of control? Do they quash creativity? Let us know what you think below.

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8 Comments

  1. Bam007

    That’s fresh, coming from a guy who worked hand-in-hand with THQ and Deep Silver to bring you DLC which should of already been in their games (Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV).

    Enter the Dominatrix, an April Fools joke for Saints Row: The Third, ended up being canned as an add-on then confirmed as a standalone title, which also got canned. Then it was decided that the add-on will be for Saints Row IV but you will have to pay for it.

    Yeah, keep talking about budgets and the cost of games, especially when you were apart of a monopoly which made THQ look like a huge f’ing joke!

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 “to bring you DLC which should of already been in their games ”

    Err..The game’s really fun mate, and they had nothing to do with THQ’s demise.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. DuckNation

    Come on depending on the game size and detail 100m is plenty to make an amazing game most great AAA games spend like 40-60m to make a game

    #3 11 months ago
  4. DarkElfa

    This is why modern media is at a crossroads. Fans want the goodies that big budgets bring but they also want the innovation that low budgets allow.

    Studios won’t take chances with 100 million on the line and Indies can’t blow your mind with only 100k to spend.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. ArithonUK

    “If I’m going to buy six games a year then I’m probably just going to buy six of those $200 million games and call it a day”

    Well with your budget you would! The rest of us buy one, then get dozens of decent games from Steam sales and the HumbleBundle at real-world prices and maybe take a punt on a KickStarter or two.

    Game development is like anything else, you can throw money at it with no guarantee of a good result, or you can spend only what you need to and manage your resources carefully and get an excellent result for a great deal less. I’ve seen the game industry gradually convince itself it’s Hollywood (in certain quarters) and have lost sight of what the end goal actually is – to make a playable game. Some developers now think that means one hour of game-play and four hours of non-interactive scripted animations, beautifully rendered, voiced by the most expensive Hollywood talent and motion captured to hell and back. And utterly worthless to anyone who wants a game.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. Hirmetrium

    HAHAHAHHA. Did he see how much Saint’s Row 4 sold on Steam? £45.

    Talk about a fucking disconnect. Wow. I love Volition and their games, but that is insane. Does he know how much PC games typically go for? ~£20 from sites like Green Man Gaming for new releases. That’s over twice the price for HIS game on the MOST POPULAR DOWNLOAD STORE.

    What does he have to say about that eh?

    @2, Dave: @1 has a point. Saint’s Row 4 is a good game, but it is the recycled leftovers of an expansion. IMO that sounds ridiculous, given how awesome the game is.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. Cobra951

    I’m sure Rockstar and Take Two are quaking in their boots after learning that wisdom.

    #7 11 months ago
  8. lookingglass

    Video games need to be more like TV shows.

    Release a smaller game at a cheaper price and add content to it weekly or monthly.

    Release the core of the game at $20 and make it an awesome 10 hour introduction to the world and story. Every week release a $5, one hour continuation of the story and expansion of the world. Do this for half a year and you’ve got yourself up to $150 a game.

    Clearly the current model is hard on some developers. They need to try new things. DLC is okay, but it’s always optional and apart from the base game. If the game is designed around 80% of it being DLC and episodic then it becomes much harder to ignore.

    #8 11 months ago

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