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Avalanche: We don't need 40 first-person shooters

Avalanche: We don't need 40 first-person shooters

Thu 04 Apr 2013 11:09am GMT / 7:09am EDT / 4:09am PDT
Development

Stefan Ljungqvist on the why fewer AAA games isn't a disaster for the industry

Avalanche's creative director Stefan Ljungqvist has predicted there will be fewer blockbuster games in the future as studios work on a combination of big games and smaller projects to spread their investments and their risk.

"I don't think big-budget games are going away. There's going to be less of them," he told Gamasutra.

"But that's a good thing, because maybe we don't need forty first-person shooters. I don't want to play them all, but maybe we need one, two or three."

Avalanche is best known for the Just Cause titles, but has also released downloadable title Renegade Ops with Sega and online title The Hunter. The independent studio was founded in 2003 and is currently working on an action game with Square Enix codenamed Project Mamba.

"What I like now is that there are more opportunities to be creative," continued Ljungqvist.

"Maybe over the course of the past five years, developers have pitched creative or more artistic games, but publishers had been more careful of betting a lot on those games, because they're associated with some risk. But maybe now they can [take more risks] because they need to be more unique in the marketplace."

9 Comments

Pier Castonguay
Programmer

189 105 0.6
This guy don't think clearly. How can having less good product a good thing? More choice is always better. Also, why would he think that AAA games equals first person shooter? I agree with the publishers needing to take a few risk and go more creative though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pier Castonguay on 4th April 2013 2:47pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Hugo Dubs
Interactive Designer

161 24 0.1
New engines seems to offer better development flexibility, as well as fast iterative processes.So it probably won't affect development time (money), but shorten it.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,009 1,402 1.4
Popular Comment
AAA doesn't mean quality Pier. As the industry grenerally defines it it refers to budget. A AAA game is a game with a massive budget ranging in the tens of millions of dollars including a heavy advertising push. AAA games are rarely paragons of innovation. His statement that we don't need 40 first person shooters is not far off. When you invest that kind of money in a project you tend to play it extremely safe. Nothing in Battlefield 4, Killzone 4, Call of Duty: MW4, etc is going to shake conventions. The FPS is a safe and formulaic genre. Being good at it takes considerably less skill or innovation than the majority of genres. So yes, I agree with his point in general.

@ Tom He's clearly not really talking about games like Borderlands, Dishonored, and BIoshock. Two out of three of which I would say are unlikely to make the cut of "AAA" anyway. We'll get plenty of competition in the mid end budget range. We just can't afford as an industry (and haven't been able to for a while) to continue to pay out this kind of money for game development.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

868 1,273 1.5
There have been times where I thought there were way too many fps games released in a year for me to keep up with them all. But competition is usually a good thing for the industry. One need only to look at the Madden series over the last several years for further proof of this. When theres no competition you have very little incentive to innovate or change things up.

Posted:A year ago

#4

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
I agree that 40 FPS games would probably be overkill in isolation but what constitutes "FPS"? Is it literally only a CoD clone? That lack of definition really limits the conversation that can be had here.

@Nicholas: Would love to know which two of these three (Borderlands, Dishonored, and BIoshock) don't qualify as AAA! :)

AAA isn't just amount spent on a game it's game quality and experience. It's just that historically AAA was only achievable by spending the most.... I don't think that is the case any more.

Personally, I think FPS is a broader genre than just a linear cinematically-driven experience (a.k.a. Call of Duty)... and, to be honest, I'm quite happy with a large number of them being made. The market can support lots of games in the same genre just not all at the same price point. The industry needs to realise that not every game is going to do 10+ million units and not every game should have a huge budget to compete with those that do and then on top of that it needs to realise that not every game needs to have the same initial price point.

Seriously, the industry can support 40 FPS games a year if the whole spectrum is taken into account, from the $5 million to develop $10 title to the $300 million to develop $60-70 title. That's just simple and very traditional economic rationalisation... shame it doesn't appear to get into the mindset of the games industry very often and even then less so (or appears to at least) at the large publishers.

Obviously, don't make the games all similarly themed (I would HOPE that goes without saying!!) as there are lots of action or sci fi movies in a year and no one complains about too many of them being made...

Posted:A year ago

#5

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

595 356 0.6
Ljungqvist was never quoted as saying anything about "AAA" games; that came only from the subhead for the article. He said, precisely, "I don't think big-budget games are going away. There's going to be less of them."

And I think that's fine. Competition is good, yes, but too much money pouring in to a particular industry segment is bad for the industry as a whole because everybody loses money. Having four or five big-budget FPSs per year is still offering plenty of competition, and if we can manage to get another dozen or two lower-budget shooters (such as ones like Hydrophobia: Prophecy), that's probably going to do more to drive innovation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 5th April 2013 11:52am

Posted:A year ago

#6

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
If games the ilk of Borderlands, Dishonored, and Bioshock aren't considered AAA, than the use of the term is becoming too specific. Only a handful of games have production values and extensive marketing support of titles like Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3 and GTA V. There's no strict definition of AAA, but to me it is used to differentiate games created by dozens of people that release for $60 on consoles and usual PC from games that sell for less than that and were made by significantly smaller teams. It is absolutely correct, however, that the quality of the game is not reflective of the title "AAA".

Posted:A year ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,009 1,402 1.4
@ David and James I suppose only Dishonored, which was created by a smaller team and budget by a large degree than the other two.

Regardless, high budget software is not where the innovation and change happens in the industry. It's not necessarily hurting the industry on its own, but it's certainly hurting publishers directly who are regularly overbudget and not profitable all that often anymore.

Posted:A year ago

#8

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
Regardless, high budget software is not where the innovation and change happens in the industry. It's not necessarily hurting the industry on its own, but it's certainly hurting publishers directly who are regularly overbudget and not profitable all that often anymore.
That I will agree on. Anyone who looks at the way that large publishers, the so-called AAA gaming industry, operate and say things are completely healthy and good are either optimists or not looking closely enough at what is happening.

Posted:A year ago

#9

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