The Rising Cost of Making Games

With the newest game consoles arriving soon, there has been a lot of talk about the cost of making games. EA is insisting that next generation games will cost $30 million to develop. Outrageous! And then Will Wright comes along with Spore and describes a way to make huge games without spending money on creating your own content. I had covered Spore previously. Of course, not all games can be made in this way, and as I’ve read elsewhere, the use of HDTV by game consoles will mean that games will need better art. Blocky and polygonal models can’t hide behind low resolutions anymore. So the idea is that costs will rise for mainstream game development. I think it will be natural for most people to expect indie game development to follow in kind. Graphics on the par of Super NES won’t be good enough, and I don’t think it is good enough today either. Of course, I’m just guessing, so feel free to slap me down.

The Gamasutra interview with Epic’s Mark Rein on the topic of middleware solutions shows that Rein doesn’t think costs will rise that much. Since EA acquired Renderware, companies that compete with EA are looking to other middleware companies, so Epic’s tools have found a market. When asked about the rising costs of game development:

I guess one of the biggest things we’ve seen that’s bothered us lately is big companies like EA going and tossing out “it’s going to take $30 million to make a next-gen game” and we just don’t see that. I mean we’re making our next-gen games for 25-50% more than our previous generation games, and when we hear those kinds of numbers, we think that’s just bravado, that’s just them trying to scare their competitors out of the marketplace.

We don’t subscribe to that, we don’t think it has to be ridiculously expensive to make next-generation games, and we’ve done a lot of work – like our visual scripting system is a perfect example – in making our tools really optimized so that artists and designers can get the most out of the engine without having to involve a huge amount of programmer resources.

My favorite part was the last question. Apparently Activision and THQ have announced that their games will cost $10 more than before. Rein basically pointed out that the market will likely not allow games to cost that much more. He said there would be an increase in piracy and people revolting.

I think we spend enough money on games, and I just don’t think that’s reasonable. I think what you need to do is make better games, take your time, do them right, and sell more! I don’t think we’re ever going to have 20 million selling games, until we bring the cost of those games down, not up. I think the way to build the market is to decrease the cost of the games, not increase the cost of the games.

Make better games instead of making more expensive games? Who’d have thunk it?! B-) How does all of this talk relate to indie games? I think that making better games, taking your time, doing it right will allow you to sell more. Oh, and effective marketing to make sure that people know about your better and rightly made game in the first place.

1 comment to The Rising Cost of Making Games

  • The market isn’t growing fast enough to sustain that growth. EA is trying to reassure itself, scare the potential would-be usurpers from making an attack, and tell consumers that they don’t need to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. But the bottom line is that if they truly subscribe to that belief, they may be in danger of going out of business before the end of the decade.

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