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"Not a lot of hope" for mid-budget developers, says Kline

2K Boston's technical director feels that triple A or casual are the only options for new IP

Christopher Kline, technical director at 2K Boston, has told GamesIndustry.biz that one of the conclusions the team came to when planning BioShock is that there is no viable middle ground between big budget, triple A titles, and the blossoming casual scene when it comes to developing new IP.

"I think what we realised, which really started that transition back at Irrational, we were doing games that I'd say were mid-budget - maybe USD 3-4 million - that there was no real market left," he said during an interview at Paris GDC last month.

"You'd have to do something like what EA is doing and go into the casual market, or you've got to go for a really big blockbuster - just because of the economics, especially for the small independent developers, you're really squeezed out of the middle.

"I think you can probably still get contracts for that kind of work, but there's not a lot of hope there for developers being able to survive - just not enough money to develop new IP and keep staff going."

Asked whether or not he thought that situation would pose a long-term problem for the industry, he wasn't sure - but does think the markets definitely exist at either end of the spectrum.

"I think you'd have to see the future to know that," he said. "It's curious - I'm not sure it's the natural evolution of things, that there are two markets that are now just separating, whereas before they were just muddled, and this is a good thing - or if people have been left out in the cold.

"I definitely think there's a market for a shorter, more casual experience - something that's a little more light-hearted. And we hope there's a market for people who want very cinematic, very emotional experiences that are also intelligent and made for adults."

In the full interview, which is available now, Kline also addresses the issue of emotional attachment within games, and reveals that the Atlas character was completely re-written just five months before BioShock shipped.

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Latest comments (1)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Mid budget titles are still very viable but they do require larger marketing efforts now.

Profit margins have shrunk drastically in the past several years and we have 8 viable platforms to develop and publish on fighting for consumer money. But, that also means you have 8 viable platforms to find a good home for that mid budget title...you just have to make a little noise to get retail and consumers to notice it.
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