THQ: "Costs are much lower" for Kinect, Move development

CEO Brian Farrell talks new tech and new pricing models

THQ's president and chief executive Brian Farrell has said that development time and costs for Move and Kinect titles are a fraction of those for core games, making them an attractive prospect for publishers.

Speaking at an investor conference in New York earlier this week, Farrell was asked how the development process for Move and Kinect games differed to the company's core videogames.

"There are more mass market type games, so the costs of games for Kinect and Move are a fraction of the games we showed you on the screen," Farrell told investors.

"They're just simpler forms of game, based on your movement and the input device and not on fantastic art and complex animations and backgrounds, that's the other reason we like those two products, because the development costs are much lower than they are for the other core products."

Farrell's comments echo the thoughts of Sony boss Michael Denny, who earlier this month that Move can be an easier point of entry to the console market for cash-conscious developers.

"Depending on the type of game we're looking at, the budgets are lower," Denny said, although he was keen to point out that costs are a secondary consideration to quality.

"When we're talking to developers it's really about them installing in us the belief and passion that they have to make something that's creative and innovative. The budgetary exercise comes second to that, we have to look at it and believe it's a sensible proposition. But first and foremost it's about us being sold a vision of a creative, innovative game that can be delivered to a high quality."

Farrell's presentation to investors, which saw THQ's shares climb as a result of its positivity, also touched on some interesting points about pricing models.

Discussing the price point of THQ's successful MX series of off-road racing games, the CEO revealed that the next title in the series, due in fiscal year 2012, will experiment with a new form of pricing which he likened to a 'hybrid' of microtransaction and DLC models.

"Normally, we bring the thing out at $59.99, and it does reasonably well - one million to one and a half million units, then when we lower the price to a mass market price and the thing really jumps at the mass markets because, as you might expect, MX is a very mass market brand.

"So what we're doing this time is coming out initially with a smaller game at a lower price point, at the $29-$39 range, and then doing a download model for different modes, different tracks, different vehicles. We call it hybrid because it's a take on the microtransaction and DLC models.

"I'm a big believer in monetising everything under the curve so we capture that $29-$39 user no matter what," he added. "But if a person wants to spend a $100 on a game then they can do that as well. I think that's the future of gaming. Whether it's a take on this model or the free-to-play model, this is where our industry is going."

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Latest comments (10)

Dana Olson Developer 7 years ago
Argh... It doesn't have to be one way or the other. Move can be used in "core" games as well...
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Private Industry 7 years ago
Sure if you just make some shovelware the production cost is much lower compared to a proper game.
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Otakar Schon Technology editor, Economia7 years ago
This just doesnt sound good... Gamers will let getting themselves milked for so long
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Show all comments (10)
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.7 years ago
This has been a problem with publishers the entire generation. The method of input is not a qualifier for budget and game complexity. This is why so many have failed on Wii and it looks like they (THQ at least) will continue to fail to grasp that simple concept with Move and Kinect.

Might also explain why I own just 1 THQ game this generation and I bought it used.
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Josef Brett Animator 7 years ago
I think the only THQ game I bought was De Blob for the Wii. I enjoyed it and THQ have been hinting at a sequel for ages, but not sure what to expect if this is thier ethos.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.7 years ago
Josef, that's the game I was alluding to above. Aside from an at times frustrating jump mechanic, it was a fantastic game. I played the sequel at E3 and it's shaping up to be just as good but I didn't get enough play time to really see if they fixed the jump mechanic.

I had considered getting Deadly Creatures as the concept is intriguing but the execution just failed. They chided Wii gamers for poor sales but never once owned up to the game being of low quality though they did admit to never once airing a TV ad for the title.

I just don't see THQ getting back on track without some serious corporate changes.
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Jordan Woodward Level Designer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
This isn't sounding very good. Looks like publishers will be pushing extremely fast production times and low costs rather than make a decent game. Can't blame them for wanting to make money really but it does seem like core games are being pushed out of the way to make way for casual games. Publishers will be extremely careful with their money now aswell and steering away from innovative and new ideas following large studio closures and massive loss of investment.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts7 years ago
I know a lot of hardcore gamers are always worried when they hear something like this, but if Studios can have profitable games with shorter production times it can help fund the business and allow it to really push the boat out on a big title at the hearts of the people in the business. Although a lot of people are in the industry for the love not the money there is always a balancing act and compromise to be made.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 7 years ago
A big publisher realised that there are smaller fish in the pond... and spotted that there is life outside of the AAA market. I wonder how a huge publisher would be able to compete in the casual/iphone etc segment - maybe they will move development to even cheaper places and spend a fortune on marketing ?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 27th September 2010 5:33pm

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Josef Brett Animator 7 years ago
Jimmy, Glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed De Blob - the jump mechanic was frustrating (and the saving/checkpointing).

Good to hear that the sequel is a) real and b) shaping up nicely!
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