RED 5: Who Needs Publishers?

RED 5: Who Needs Publishers?

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Former World of Warcraft team lead, Mark Kern, believes publishers are useless and consoles are dead.

"Who needs publishers any more? I certainly don't. I couldn't care less about them at this stage," he told Eurogamer. "You're either an indie game or you're a massive AAA, IP-backed sequel with derivative game play that's rehashed over and over again as it's the only safe bet you can make when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars."

Kern, who's worked on most of Blizzard's top-tier franchises, left the company back in 2005 to form Red 5 alongside fellow former Blizzard employees, William Petras and Taewon Yun. The company's only project to date is upcoming MMO/Shooter Firefall.

Kern voiced concerns that the industry's "hit-or-miss" development strategies are stifling creativity and forcing smaller developers out of the business.

"The failure is that there's no middle ground. All the games in the middle that could have been made but have been squeezed out and we've seen all these independent studios get closed down over the last few years."

He also claimed that the massive costs involved in developing and maintaining current-generation consoles are going to be the death of the format.

"It takes billions of dollars of investment to create a console and then you have to milk it for five to seven years in order to get your money back," he said.

"So something has to change. Consoles, I believe, are dead."

Permalink

I see what you mean. There's no middle ground. Or, rather, no middle ground developer that doesn't use a AAA publisher who bends their game to appeal to more money audiences.

No need for publishers? Agreed. Stupid, shortsighted, parasitic corporations that cant adapt to the age of the internet.
Consoles dying? No dice. They're just better for pick-up-and-play, and with the casual market growing, more people will want that. Why do we even have these wars about console-vs-pc?

After the news post about something as sure as Timesplitters 4 not being picked up, this really doesn't surprise me.

Lately I've been enjoying indie games a helluva lot more than triple A titles anyway. I got far more enjoyment out of Journey than I did Assassin's Creed Revalations for instance.

Given this state of affairs, I imagine Steam must be the best thing to have happened to the games industry in recent times.

This guy has it on the money but when did the middle ground die? I am sure that there are still studios that are bigger than indie but below triple A but where are they?

You quoted the same thing twice

Grey Carter:

"You're either an indie game or you're a massive AAA, IP-backed sequel with derivative game play that's rehashed over and over again as it's the only safe bet you can make when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars."

...

"You're either an indie game or you're a massive AAA, IP-backed sequel with derivative game play that's rehashed over and over again as it's the only safe bet you can make when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars," he said.

Permalink

Double quote! Haha.

But on the topic, I believe publishers are quite unneeded (though they can help with big budget games), but consoles? Neigh I say! I love having my console and computer separate. One is for work, one is for play.

The day all large publishers die a fiery mutilated death is the day I dance a jig.

Gearhead mk2:
No need for publishers? Agreed. Stupid, shortsighted, parasitic corporations that cant adapt to the age of the internet.
Consoles dying? No dice. They're just better for pick-up-and-play, and with the casual market growing, more people will want that. Why do we even have these wars about console-vs-pc?

Rather, that wich you call console today will die. Maybe itll keep the name, but the technology and method of distribution will be diferent. advent of super internet will bring forth the people who spend 50 bucks on a Onlive style machine thatll let them rent games n shit. no more barriers for developers when it comes to stale hardware.

btw, when it comes to the plug n play thing argument.... i can get a discounted cute lil game on steam today, download it in half an hour n play it with my compatible gamepad. and since its a laptop, and since its not some glitchy piece of shit game, just a cute lil casual game or mainstream, i can do this ANYWHERE.

Consoles will never die, they are still cheaper than a good computer and they are easier to develop for that the myriad of computer configurations.

Bottom line is consoles will sell so long as there are games available. If console makers offer better terms for their development kits and ease restrictions they will be able to offer more indie and small studio titles, increasing the strength and appeal of that console.

That said, I prefer the PC. Why else would I have paid so damn much for the parts and taken the time to put it together.

*captch graveyard shift

Is the graveyard a metaphor?

There are still middle guys in every industry. I mean, just look at Atlus and the companies they help produce games! Those guys are easily in the middle. Same with NIS America, Heck, you can find quite a few 'in the middle' video games if you search just enough. Only people who say it is only either indie or AAA are the ones who have no clue on what they are talking about.

minimacker:
I see what you mean. There's no middle ground. Or, rather, no middle ground developer that doesn't use a AAA publisher who bends their game to appeal to more money audiences.

I find rather amusing the Red5 studios is going on about being how cool and indie they are when the majority stake in the studio is owned by a Chinese game publisher.

Consoles, I believe, are dead

They're not quite dead. They're getting better.

Actually, if the rumors about anti-used game technology in the next generation are true, they soon will be. Can you just hang around a moment it won't be long.

Jay444111:
There are still middle guys in every industry. I mean, just look at Atlus and the companies they help produce games! Those guys are easily in the middle. Same with NIS America, Heck, you can find quite a few 'in the middle' video games if you search just enough. Only people who say it is only either indie or AAA are the ones who have no clue on what they are talking about.

You're right about Atlus, but I've never heard of NIS America. So while they exist you never seem to hear about them to the point of it not being unreasonable to not know they exist.

Would anyone disagree when I say I think Paradox games are middle ground games?

I wouldn't call War of the Roses Indie, arcadey or triple A.

newwiseman:
Consoles will never die, they are still cheaper than a good computer and they are easier to develop for that the myriad of computer configurations.

Bottom line is consoles will sell so long as there are games available. If console makers offer better terms for their development kits and ease restrictions they will be able to offer more indie and small studio titles, increasing the strength and appeal of that console.

That said, I prefer the PC. Why else would I have paid so damn much for the parts and taken the time to put it together.

*captch graveyard shift

Is the graveyard a metaphor?

Here's the problem: In offering exclusively small-studio titles, they will never make back the money they invest in a console.

There's R&D, testing, and production costs involved and nearly every console ever has sold at a loss. You really think even a huge helping of indie games is going to prop that up?

If the AAA game industry starts to wane, consoles will be the first casualties of the war.

Mcoffey:
You're right about Atlus, but I've never heard of NIS America. So while they exist you never seem to hear about them to the point of it not being unreasonable to not know they exist.

The only thing I know them for is localising Japanese indies like Cave Story and La-Mulana.

Oh great, more elitism. Not trying to step on anyone's toes, but this is elitism and I find it quite ugly. There's a place for both consoles AND PCs, both are capable of things the other is not
*CoughCouchCo-opCough*.

But the core issue of PCs -and has always been the issue- is that you can't guarantee the spec level of your audience's machines. It's insane to assume that everyone can run Crysis (old game, but still a good benchmark), such a machine costs far more than a console ever will (for the foreseeable future). It's just not reasonable to expect someone with only a passing interest in video games to fork out 500-1000 (yes I'm in the U.K.) just so they can play games, which I will admit tend to be cheaper on PC. This all boils down to alienating the next generation of players and ultimately, elitism. We need console to draw in the new crowds and keep the industry fresh, we shouldn't be looking at scrapping consoles, but using them in a wiser fashion.

*steps off soapbox*

all we need is a new publisher, whose primary goal is to publish games.
instead we have publishers whose only goal is to make money, and anything that cant guarantee that gets canned.

sadly its just how the world works, the people in charge seem to think that money now is always better than a healthy long lasting industry for the future.

I have nothing against consoles, or AAA titles, but id much rather see a wide range of A titles, that cost less and have rough edges, but are still creative and fun to play.

ScruffyMcBalls:
Oh great, more elitism. Not trying to step on anyone's toes, but this is elitism and I find it quite ugly. There's a place for both consoles AND PCs, both are capable of things the other is not
*CoughCouchCo-opCough*.

But the core issue of PCs -and has always been the issue- is that you can't guarantee the spec level of your audience's machines. It's insane to assume that everyone can run Crysis (old game, but still a good benchmark), such a machine costs far more than a console ever will (for the foreseeable future). It's just not reasonable to expect someone with only a passing interest in video games to fork out 500-1000 (yes I'm in the U.K.) just so they can play games, which I will admit tend to be cheaper on PC. This all boils down to alienating the next generation of players and ultimately, elitism. We need console to draw in the new crowds and keep the industry fresh, we shouldn't be looking at scrapping consoles, but using them in a wiser fashion.

*steps off soapbox*

If ya build your own box you can make an awesome rig that runs crysis very well for about the price of a PS3 when it was released and would last just as long.

Just sayin...

The problem though is really that what they are trying to do with consoles is turn them into mini PCs that are inferior to the real thing (other than equipment homogenization), think about all the crap that they have shoved into the PS3 and Xbox over the years. I would prefer a console that can play modern games without all the bells and whistles duct taped on it.

Though one backasswards thing that has always irked me is the crappy PC ports that asshole AAA publishers push out. The games are developed and made on PC, they dumped onto a console then recoded for PC again...Wut?

Gearhead mk2:
No need for publishers? Agreed. Stupid, shortsighted, parasitic corporations that cant adapt to the age of the internet.
Consoles dying? No dice. They're just better for pick-up-and-play, and with the casual market growing, more people will want that. Why do we even have these wars about console-vs-pc?

Being a dedicated PC Gamer myself, I had someone ask me what the difference was between Consoles and PC's.

My response was "Aside from the control device, absolutely nothing. Anyone on either side who tells you otherwise is mistaken, in denial, or lying."

minimacker:
I see what you mean. There's no middle ground. Or, rather, no middle ground developer that doesn't use a AAA publisher who bends their game to appeal to more money audiences.

See that's the part of the statement that is actually wrong. There certainly aren't many right now, but there are a number of "middle-market" developers, and even some publishers.

Stardock is the obvious one, they develop games, but are also a low budget publisher (see Demi-God and Sins of a Solar Empire). Their games are certainly low budget affairs (the entire budget for Elemental: War of Magic (according to CEO Brad Wardell) was less than most AAA titles' Cutscene budget. Yet they're too big to be considered indie.

Middle market.

I would also consider Pandemic to be a Middle market publisher. They're relatively well known, but their games are almost entirely Niche. They don't have anything like the advertising budget of the industry giants, and their one of the last PC exclusive Publishers. What ever else you can say about them, games like Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, even Mount and Blade (after the first, since that was obviously indie) have way too much financial backing to be indie, but are two restricted in audience/budget to be AAA.

Middle market

I actually see the number of Middle market developers and publishers increasing in the near future. As things stand, there are a lot of games that just can't be made because they fall into this middle Void: They cost to much time and money to make for indie groups to make, but they are too niche for big AAA studios to make enough money on.

The beautiful thing about the market, though, is that if there is a demand for something, Someone will eventually make it. It might be new start-up companies that are created to fill this void, or some of the AAA studios might create off-shoot studios with fewer people and lower budgets to capitalize on this gap.

And there is certainly demand for it. The types of games that would make up the middle market, those are the types of games the AAA studios USED to make. Back when the popularity of Video games was already a niched playing field studios had to make games for specific niches, otherwise they couldn't sell enough. That isn't the case anymore, but the demand for those types of games hasn't diminished.

I don't know who they will be, but I strongly expect the middle market to see some considerable growth in the next few years.

Consoles are still going to be around for the foreseeable future. Atleast one, maybe two more generations.

Who know, maybe the kickstarter future will force the big 3 to lower their prices.

FelixG:

ScruffyMcBalls:
Oh great, more elitism. Not trying to step on anyone's toes, but this is elitism and I find it quite ugly. There's a place for both consoles AND PCs, both are capable of things the other is not
*CoughCouchCo-opCough*.

But the core issue of PCs -and has always been the issue- is that you can't guarantee the spec level of your audience's machines. It's insane to assume that everyone can run Crysis (old game, but still a good benchmark), such a machine costs far more than a console ever will (for the foreseeable future). It's just not reasonable to expect someone with only a passing interest in video games to fork out 500-1000 (yes I'm in the U.K.) just so they can play games, which I will admit tend to be cheaper on PC. This all boils down to alienating the next generation of players and ultimately, elitism. We need console to draw in the new crowds and keep the industry fresh, we shouldn't be looking at scrapping consoles, but using them in a wiser fashion.

*steps off soapbox*

If ya build your own box you can make an awesome rig that runs crysis very well for about the price of a PS3 when it was released and would last just as long.

Just sayin...

The problem though is really that what they are trying to do with consoles is turn them into mini PCs that are inferior to the real thing (other than equipment homogenization), think about all the crap that they have shoved into the PS3 and Xbox over the years. I would prefer a console that can play modern games without all the bells and whistles duct taped on it.

Though one backasswards thing that has always irked me is the crappy PC ports that asshole AAA publishers push out. The games are developed and made on PC, they dumped onto a console then recoded for PC again...Wut?

I built the PC I'm using now and I built it as a Crysis machine so I'm aware of that route, but the reason I didn't mention it is because that just isn't a practical or even possible potion for most people, especially not the casual demographic (doesn't help that most people aren't even aware it's possible, I blame pc hardware companies for that). And while I agree, a console should be just for games, those bells and whistles do attract a lot of money to the industry, which is sadly wasted at the moment but COULD be pumped back into development to generate some awesome new titles.
About PC ports, that's always confused me too.. I could understand it back in the Dreamcast Dev-box days, but not these days. Weird..

Bhaalspawn:

Gearhead mk2:
No need for publishers? Agreed. Stupid, shortsighted, parasitic corporations that cant adapt to the age of the internet.
Consoles dying? No dice. They're just better for pick-up-and-play, and with the casual market growing, more people will want that. Why do we even have these wars about console-vs-pc?

Being a dedicated PC Gamer myself, I had someone ask me what the difference was between Consoles and PC's.

My response was "Aside from the control device, absolutely nothing. Anyone on either side who tells you otherwise is mistaken, in denial, or lying."

I wish more people could understand that...

Anyway, in reference to "You're either an indie game or you're a massive AAA, IP-backed sequel with derivative game play that's rehashed over and over again as it's the only safe bet you can make when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars."

I have only one thing to say.

 

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