Murray: It's "really risky not to innovate" on consoles now
As current gen winds down, Hello Danger boss insists risk and experimentation helps indies shine on the market
Hello Games' Sean Murray believes that risk-averse publishers and their penchant for safe-bet sequels at the end of a console cycle means fertile ground for indie developers willing to try something different.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz at the Eurogamer Expo, Murray said that publishers who aren't willing to endure a little risk for the reward of innovation are short-sighted, calling a lack of innovation "dangerous".
"The thing that I see is that we're approaching, strange though this sounds, the end of this console cycle. I think in the next three years we're going to see the end of this console cycle and the beginning of a new one. I think whenever that happens the last few years are filled with a lot of licenses, sequel etc," Murray stated.
"I'm really excited that there are these new ways to create games, like digital download, XBLA, PSN. A lot of the stuff on Steam is way more interesting to me than a raft of new sequels at next year's E3 for example. I'm a lot more excited for that stuff, and I think a lot of people are."
"You see the way that Minecraft, for instance, is on fire at the moment, you know? People want innovation, it's just that at this stage, publishers don't want risk - and that's what they're saying. I think that's really short sighted, to me, but then I'm a small developer. I think it would be really risky not to innovate at the moment. "
Ubisoft European MD Alain Corre summed up the attitude among AAA publishers last month when he told GamesIndustry.biz that Ubisoft feels safer investing big budgets in one solid franchise rather than spreading money on varied, smaller titles - precisely the gap that Hello Games and its contemporaries are filling.
"The games that are not triple-A are not profitable anymore," said Corre. "When you have a triple-A blockbuster it costs more money to develop, but at the end of the day there's also the chance of a good return on it because there's a concentration at the top of the charts.
"To a certain extent it becomes less risky to invest more in a single game or franchise than spreading your investment between three or four games. Because if those three or four games are not at the right quality level, you are sure to lose money," he added.
This has, however, left plenty of opportunities for smaller developers to fulfil the needs of gamers craving innovation and new archetypes. Hello Games own Joe Danger, a PSN exclusive made by a four-man team, broke even on its development costs on the very first day on sale.
Read the full interview with Sean to hear his thoughts on self-publishing, the death of boxed retail and Hello Games' plans for expansion.