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Antoniades: AAA retail model is "crushing innovation"

Ninja Theory creative chief says that current model is punishing risk

Ninja Theory's Creative chief, Tameem Antoniades has told GamesIndustry.biz that the dominant AAA retail model is stifling creativity in the industry, identifying smaller-scale development as a hotbed of creative opportunity.

High price points for boxed console titles mean that customers are less likely to take chances on unknown quantities, says Antoniades, resulting in a cycle of proven formulae which gamers feel comfortable with.

And, despite his studio's proven track record and continuing success in that very market, Antoniades believes that a switch to lower-risk digitally distributed titles is essential to cultivating variety.

"We're in this kind of AAA bracket, I guess you could call it," Antoniades explains in a larger interview.

"The high budget, high stakes retail model - the barriers to entry for that are so high, so difficult, that we seem to be getting, being offered, decent work in that area. It's hard to say no when you've got a team of 100 and you have to keep the payroll going. Another big project comes along, you tend to go for it.

"There's always an opportunity between projects to explore things, a lot of team members are hobbyists, they create their own iPhone games and things like that so I can see us kind of taking a punt with that. It can't come soon enough. The whole digital revolution is happening now and it can't come soon enough. The model we're under, the big retail model, is creaking.

"It's such an opportunity for fun creative games to reach a target audience, there's this stranglehold that the AAA retail model has which I think is just crushing innovation and access to creative content. If you're paying that much for a game, you don't want to take chances. You want everything to be there, all the feature sets. You want it to be a known experience, guaranteed fun. That's not healthy."

Ninja Theory is currently producing a reboot of Capcom's Devil May Cry series for the Japanese publisher, following on from two high-profile new IP releases in Heavenly Sword and Enslaved.

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Dan Pearson