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1C: "It's almost impossible to make money even on a good game"

Russian publisher's games boss feels high-budget titles have become too risky

Nikolay Baryshnikov, head of games at enormous Russian developer and publisher 1C, has claimed it's become too difficult to score a success with a high-budget game.

Speaking to recently, Baryshnikov stated that "I think the industry is in such state now that it's almost impossible to make money even on a good game.

"Because marketing budgets are tens of millions dollars, consumers are expecting that they're going to pay $40 or $60 and get amazing things. Hundred hours of gameplay, tens of thousands of hours of DVD footage, super multiplayer...

"If we did this it would be, I don't know, $200 million... If we produce something of great quality but it lacks this component or that component, then the press says, 'oh, 85 per cent. I played the game, it's kind of nice, but it has no video or any of this..'

"And the consumer says 'it doesn't have multiplayer, I'm not going to buy it.' So it's catch 22."

Barishnykov also felt that there were too many demands for consumers' attention. "Time is precious. I think there was a time when there was less entertainment, so you had millions of people spending five hours a day playing a game. Now they have lots of tempting offers – fly to Germany for just £9.99, buy an iPad, play this free to play game..."

While 1C have made some forays onto larger-budget console games, with IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey and the upcoming Captain Blood, Baryshnikov felt the company would have to remain focused on smaller titles for PC and seek to expand the brands later.

"We've been successful in niches, and I think that's a good way for us to go. Try to find a niche like we did with IL2 or Rig'n'Roll or Men Of War, and try to get to the top three in the niche.

"Not compete with hundred million dollar development, with Call of Duty 7 – but make the best game and target it at much smaller groups of fans. We have developed a couple of highly accepted IP so far, like King's Bounty, Men of War.

"I think it would be a good idea to continue development. We'll have a spin-off where we are actually developing a King's Bounty massive multiplayer game; maybe one day we'll take it onto consoles and maybe to iPad."

The full interview with Nikolay Baryshnikov, in which he also discusses the changing face of Russian development, whether the company can break fully into console games and his government's attitude to the industry, is available here.

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Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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