Realtime Worlds boss David Jones, who's worked on some of the industry's iconic titles such as Grand Theft Auto and last year's BAFTA-winning Crackdown, has told GamesIndustry.biz that the cost of creating high quality original games with strong, new IP has skyrocketed to the point where he'd find it hard to spend less than USD 50 million on an full online title.
Discussing the fact that both the company's announced titles to date are ambitious and tough to pull off, Jones was quick to point out that it's important to be realistic with people.
"It's easy for some people to underestimate what it really takes these days to produce a great game," he said. "So we're very resolute, we know what it takes, we know how much it costs, and we don't kid ourselves that it's going to take anything less.
"Just sticking to that principle, not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, both internally within the company and with investors, saying yes, it is a lot of money, but truly that's what it takes.
"Unfortunately these days it does take that amount. Crackdown wasn't that long ago and our development budget was something like USD 20 million*, and even that to me now, I don't know if I could do anything for much less than that.
The company recently secured funding to the tune of USD 50 million to complete work on APB and another online title, and commented that a game on the scale of APB would take in region of USD 50 million to build from the ground up.
"You've got the Call of Dutys, GTA IV – some challenging stuff to try and beat out there, or at least set a bar equal to that."
Jones also revealed that, against a backdrop of a number of high profile deals going on elsewhere in the industry, he's had no offers for the company.
"No, not really, but we've been so focused on what we're doing, moving more and more into the online space, that we've not really have many dealings with [other companies]," he explained. "Really we worked with Microsoft on Crackdown when the company launched, and that's been it.
"Obviously we've had Crackdown, now we're just keeping our heads low and working on APB, and we're still relatively young. We've only had one game, so once you build up more of a portfolio, have more games live, and so on, there might be some interest there.
"But it's not been on our radar either, it's just not something we've thought about. People have wanted to visit, but we've said there's just nothing to show so far, and we don't want to show anything until we're happy with it internally. Maybe we'll have some conversations once we're at that point."
He also added that he felt that Realtime's independence from publisher influence yielded creative benefits.
"We're doing things outside of the box that are probably quite scary to publishers, in terms of risk and everything, and that's why it probably works better if we just go for external funding just now," he said.
"I think it's good for creativity as well, to have that funding that's not publisher funding," he added.
The first part of the GamesIndustry.biz interview with David Jones is available now.
* David Jones got in touch to clarify his comments regarding the cost of development for Crackdown, and clear up confusion over the USD 50 million budget.