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Next-gen consoles "putting fear in a lot of people's eyes"

Innovation will drop on consoles, says Doublesix boss

A new wave of home consoles is provoking fear in the traditional video game sector and will accelerate the decline of innovative games, according to Doublesix CEO James Brooksby.

Speaking today at the Westminster Media Forum, Brooksby noted in feedback from last month's Game Developer's Conference there was a mixture of excitement and trepidation over current and future technology.

"Having come back from GDC I saw excitement and fear in equal measure, I saw dismay and triumph. A step to the next generation of classical consoles seems to have fear in a lot of peoples' eyes."

People will stick to proven development houses which is going to be a challenge for the game development industry in the UK.

James Brooksby, Doublesix

He said he didn't expect costs for next-generation hardware to rise as significantly as during the last generational change, but with such high costs publishers will take safer bets on trusted development partners, pushing smaller teams out of the console space.

"It still seems pretty scary for a lot of people, for developers and publishers alike. I think people will stick to proven development houses or in-house development which is going to be a challenge for the game development industry in the UK, and will probably mean there's going to be less people around of that scale."

There is notable excitement around new opportunities to make and sell games, said Brooksby, but he also expressed caution over the amount of freedom available to the consumer and a content makers' ability to find the player.

"People are excited by all the new ways in which they can make, distribute and monetise their games. We're almost spoilt for choice," he offered.

"Even though digital distribution is much heralded as the way forward, if you follow this route it's clear to many that these markets have changed and change very quickly.

"The migration and demographics changes of the consumers to pastures new are occurring. Perhaps it's the tipping point or where we are in the console cycle, but certainly gamers are moving around because they have so many options."

"As a company we need to look hard at where our audience has gone," he added. "Some of the excitement around small developers creating innovative games and reaping lots of rewards - on console that will be the exception rather than the rule. We're going to see more of those stories on smartphones, tablet and the trusty old PC."

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Latest comments (16)

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 8 years ago
Not sure what to say really. If costs for games and making them rises with any significance in the next gen. I can't see any publisher surviving. We may as well start re-opening those old arcades, pre-soaking the rugs in sticky stuff, buying some flickering lights and hoarding those pound coins.

Seriously, I don't buy a lot of games anymore because of the price. With pre-owned seemingly the great evil who the heck will have the money to buy any games except christmas and birthdays.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios8 years ago
Digital Distribution is most definately the future.

Publishers would be able to sell a LOT more of a game at a lower cost, due to not having manufacturing overhead, logistics costs, and returned stock.

There is still a lot of infrastructure modification left to do before digital distribution can become the standard, but it's definately the way forward.
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Junior Enwright Writer - novelist, comic book scripts, game narrative, article writer 8 years ago
You make a good point. I only really buy games online now, because it tends to be cheaper that way.
I think too games companies are focused on making games look good instead of trying to make something new and break boundaries in terms of creativity. That is what is killing the industry, not pre-owned games.
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Show all comments (16)
David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers8 years ago
I've never seen a next generation of consoles that seem so precarious. No one is even sure if they're going to be economically viable or not. I certainly hope that things can be worked out, just given my love for those sorts of games.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios8 years ago
Well, they can only make a game look only so much better nowdays simply because of the limitations of current gen consoles. The graphic quality of games is limited to the console itself (not including Skyrim with the high res texture pack). At this point, trying to find ways to make the game look better is almost like reinventing the wheel. You can only do it so many times until you hit the technological ceiling of consumer available hardware. While PC games will always look better than any current gen console (provided your PC can handle high graphic settings), PC gaming has only recently come back as a serious market.
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 8 years ago
As a programmer I can assure you can take advantage of more processing power even in smaller-budget games. No need to have millions spent in artists for creating complex realistic worlds. This is for AAA games (and which they can't do now with current consoles).
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James Ingrams Writer 8 years ago
Gaming will be about I-Pad not PC, about Android not dedicated consoles.

The writing was on the wall, as far as I am concerned, when came along with classic retro PC titles and took off, then Steam started carrying retro titles and they sold like hotcakes, then the indie market came along. All this happened in a short period of time.

The consumer was telling us something. Then add the expansion of ebay selling retro titles and GAME struggling because people were buying the older second-hand titles, not the new titles, and it was obvious we were at the start of a revolution against "safe" modern gaming that has continued for the last 3 years.

Nobody saw these signs as the media, as normal, was bedazzled by the Bioshock's and Mass Effect's and other "star" titles and the belief of 2-3 "big" titles a year and all is well with the industry!
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Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News8 years ago
You mean the yearly-iterated iPad? How is that better than the 'updated every five-six years' console hardware, for developers who "fear" new tech and higher costs?
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 8 years ago
As far as I'm concerned, I will embrace gaming on a tablet or smartphone when they can deliver an experience akin to Dark Souls, Deus Ex: HR, Uncharted 3 or even Journey - and I mean like-for-like, not a watered-down equivalent. Don't see that happening any time soon though.
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Nick Parker Consultant 8 years ago
I have to agree we are in the dark regarding next gen console spec. It's unlikely that any of the three manufacturers will invest the capital resources into building a major step change device as we saw with the introduction of the PS3. It would therefore be more prudent to scale what they already have but focus on the services they offer, primarily online and how they can improve the gamer experience within them. The evolving tool chain (html5, Windows 8 etc) will allow progress to be made to a more connected gamer community and with greater bandwidth to drive the cloud, the anytime, anywhere experience will be the forefront of console development aspirations. That said, I'm not sure whether developers should be seeking a console progression ultimately leading to photo realistic graphics for example as gamers like to exercise their imagination and seek rewards than just purely replicate real life experiences.
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 8 years ago
James Ingrams you are obviously not a gamer. Small time-wasting micro gaming in the bus will NEVER replace real big titles. Yes they get a lot of sales, because it's accessible and cheap, but not because it's "better" and the "future". I'm with Terence Gage opinion on this subject. If smartphone allow us to plug in gamepads and output 1080p hdmi video with nice performance well great, but when they do the high-end PC and dedicated consoles will still be 10x better.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pier Castonguay on 22nd March 2012 4:51pm

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Siyuan Lin Sound Designer 8 years ago
Gaming will be iPad not PC? Really?

Please go do some research regarding WGC, IEM, GSL, ESL Pro Leagues, etc.

I think most of the high-cost games are not worth the money because majority of these are badly designed --- You don't feel rewarded by beating games on the hardest difficulties anymore. Most game difficulties are based on a few tweaks in numbers. The enemy AI rarely change, and the difference between 'easy' and 'hard' is usually defined by granting 'semi god-mode' to either the player or AI. I think this is the main reason why a well designed PvP game will always outlive its PvE part. How much investment do you have to put in the single player campaign just for a quick 8 - 12 hours playthrough?

Not to mention many of these games do not have any replay-value at all. The number of FPS out there, follow by the cinematic titles. Gameplay/combat use the same formula, rarely any decent puzzles and the cinematic/story moments are cheap (talk about budgets). 'Achievements' is a cheap trick to make players play the game again.

I don't think many developers try to keep their games alive after initial release. I think what usually happens is a bunch of layoffs in the mix with some bonuses shared between 'the others'. OK, now let's pitch a new IP and do the same again.

Keeping a game alive isn't easy. It requires a dedicated team who throughly understand its market. I think, the reason why indie games are doing so well is because the developers are very involved with the communities. They know what people want to play. Compare to "the others", quite frankly I don't think the management play games at all, I think they are more into business talk over the golf course (they decide when the game is done and shipped, you coders and designers just do what you are told).

Edited 9 times. Last edit by Siyuan Lin on 22nd March 2012 5:50pm

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Private Industry 8 years ago
If Sony and MS can expand and improve the support for PSN and XBL games you dont need a 50 million budget to make games for next gen. I wouldnt mind a better price range for big non AAA games that come in 15-20 bucks cheaper than the big releases from the medium sized companies.
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Tim Hull Co-Founder, Stuntpigs Ltd.8 years ago
It's great to see much change and enthusiasm growing in the independent arena.

Indies are passionate about games in the same way gamers are. The closer they come together the more innovative and rewarding the experience will become.

If you mashup a site like kickstarter with a gamer centric community voting system, great titles that gamers want will emerge from nothing on a regular basis.

The consoles, beautiful though they maybe, do carry a lot of weight causing an inertia that bright ideas get dragged down by.

Big developers should not fear the future but embrace it by diversifying.

The console owners need to worry about their massive investment in overweight strategies or pull a cheeky card out of the pack like Nintendo has done on occasion.
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Private Industry 8 years ago
PC games always have a graphical edge over console games when it comes to whats possible that`s just the nature of the constantly evolving hardware. I don`t think the increase in development cost would be big because of that especially if your lead platform is PC and you go for great graphics (i.e. Crysis 2) your game already looks better on PC than on console and all you do is scale down. If the next gen can do almost PC graphics when it comes out it`s probably even cheaper because you wouldn`t need to change that much to get it to run on the platform. Would Crysis 2 have been more expensive to produce if the consoles would haven been closer to what the PC can do graphicaly? No and the thing with consoles is that even if the specs are completely mindblowing and awesome and in theory better than what the PC can do you don`t hit that at launch. Uncharted 3 or Killzone 3 at the PS3 launch would have blown the PC gamers away (they still look extremely good).

Most 3rd party developers make their games anyway also for PC because unlike PS2 times the graphics are closer to what looks ok on PC and the platform came back again after struggeling a lot, but a bit longer and they wouldn`t have had any other choice than upgrading the graphics for their PC games a lot if they still make the games for PC because it`s falling behind again. The jump in graphics consoles do is just catching up to the PC and I don`t think that will be different with next gen and I dont see that as raising the costs a lot because you would need to do this anyway new console generation or not to keep up with the PC unless you only release your games on consoles. Besides many use a licesensed engine like UE3 and I`m sure those engines will be ready for next gen and pushed to the max they already look very nice on PC and even if you use your own engine you don`t need to make a complete new one because it`s in no way posssible that the jump will be as huge as from PS2 to PS3 and you should be able to build on what you already have. This gen was very expensive compared to last gen because you had the jump from SD to HD. That`s a lot more work you need to put into graphics and physics and a team that was doing PS2 games couldn`t handle that in a normal time frame. So you had to increase dev time and the amount of people you need, but I`m sure whatever graphics the next gen can do a current gen team size will be able to handle that in the same time.

Just to take 2 indie examples Limbo and Bastion could in no way live up graphicaly to AAA games, but they still did great. Indies don`t have to go for the best graphics ever they just need to look decent and that`s not expensive and unless the next gen goes from 1080p to 4k it can`t be more expensive to make a decent looking game.

I`m neither a Programmer or Designer so if my asumptions are way off feel free to correct me about the change from last gen to this gen and from this gen to next gen. I`m just guessing what I think might be the case. :)
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Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer 8 years ago
Sorry, I'm a little bit lost here but I don't see any connections between "High Development Cost" and "Next Gen Console" in this article. Like Werner said, if your game are aiming for photo realistic images, complex AI and mind blowing physics, you certainly need 100$ million no matter what platform you are targeting. And like every one said, good game are not defined by high budget values. There are plenty of games out there that totally sucks even after spend million dollars to develop. And there are much more indy titles that very awesome. This might seem a little bit too harsh, but, in my opinion, hardware limitations and budget are excuses for people who lacks creativity.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Nuttachai Tipprasert on 23rd March 2012 12:53am

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