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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 told 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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