The spiralling costs of next-gen games development are embarrassing, unworkable and an ego trip for publishers, according to Blast Entertainment CEO Sean Brennan.
Speaking at last week's Northern Exposure conference, Brennan slammed publishers for embarking on multi-million dollar development projects that he believes are financially unworkable and nothing more than an ego trip in the face of competitors.
"What a joke. What embarrassment. There's no way on a USD 20 million development project that you can break even on a game — not now in the cycle," said Brennan.
"Maybe in two years time when the installed base is high enough, but it's an embarrassment at best. But all the publishers are doing it because it's a copycat mentality."
"Some of the costs are absolutely outrageous. I did a project for THQ about 18 months ago and it's like a big ego trip for publishers," he said.
Brennan noted that US publishers are keeping development internal, so company's outside North America are unlikely to get a slice of the pie.
"With these big budgets, all these big American publishers are looking internally. Because when you're spending USD 15 or USD 20 million you don't want to trust an external developer with that sort of budget," stated Brennan.
"And they want the developer in America, first and foremost. A lot of the reason behind that is cultural. Since 9/11 American publishers have become a lot more insular. That's going to continue to be a key issue, it's a worrying factor."
Offering advice to the UK development community, Brennan said studios should play to their strengths and understand that UK taste doesn't always work on a global scale.
"US culture and taste works globally. You may not like that, but that's how it works. UK tastes don't always work. The world is dominated by the big US players and there's an inherent danger there for the UK development community," offered Brennan.
"Yes, the market is changing, but the consumer base is changing as well. You've got to look to areas where you've got a critical advantage. The UK development community is the most vibrant and creative development community in the world, in terms of implementing new ideas and having great gameplay."
"What the American's do better is the production values, which they can afford to when they're spending USD 20 million on a game - the games look sumptuous but don't particularly play so well. UK developers need to play to their traditional strengths," he concluded.