Just Cause Creator: $60 Games Don't Make Sense Anymore

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Just Cause Creator: $60 Games Don't Make Sense Anymore

Mad Max screen

Just Cause director Christofer Sundberg wants to point out that the development of $60 AAA titles doesn't just stem innovation - it's draining profits all around.

Christofer Sundberg has been making games since he founded Avalanche Studios in 2003, and judging by the success of Avalanche's Just Cause series, it's turned out pretty well for him. That said, the industry has changed a lot in the past decade, and Sundberg seems concerned that the big-name publishers aren't adapting to the changing times. "It's really not healthy at the moment," he said in a recent interview. "Games have evolved, technology has evolved but as businesses we're still stuck where we were 15 years ago."

It's widely recognized that AAA game development is a risky market. Still, those big-budget games keep coming, in the hopes that one huge hit will make up for all the others that don't turn a profit. "Very few traditional $60 games make any money," Sundberg says, "and what used to make sense doesn't anymore. Publishers and developers very rarely see a return of investment from a 5-8 hour long game."

Interestingly enough, Avalanche is currently developing Mad Max, a AAA action game for current- and last-gen consoles and PC. Sundberg is cautiously optimistic. "It's a bit early for me to feel comfortable," he says. It's worth noting that the Swedish studio also has a couple other projects in development, so a financial letdown on Mad Max hopefully won't sink the whole company.

This isn't to say that there's no value in big games anymore. Sundberg praised Titanfall and Destiny for their innovations, so it seems like the key to a healthier industry isn't any specific price point - it's making sure developers can afford to take creative risks.

Source: Gamespot

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Wait, so is he advocating for cheaper, more expensive, or is he saying that game prices should be more based on content and length?

So, basically...
Games should be cheaper!
Why?

I always liked Avalanche since the first Just cause, and every interview I read of them, always strikes where its needed. Sadly, they're not in position to set an example, because I'm sure their publisher will try to sell their games at $60 on launch day, regardless of content.

With that said, I hope they manage to grow enough to put things in their own pace, and we can see the an industry that focus on making money through a wiser development and reasonable pricing. In fact, I think if the industry changes its pricing policies, we could see a lot more of variety in gaming without needing to rely on indies. Not there is anything wrong with indies, but now, most of the big publisher/developers have really awesome IPs on their sleeve they won't ever work on because it's impossible those games could sell at $60, and no one would support such projects with the current pricing/development cycle.

I still hope to see someday a release of the Strike series from EA, or Road Rash at a low price without spending millions in development, or a classic fallout while we keep the modern ones as well.

One can only dream...

Not a matter of cheaper just a matter of.. well.. Games need to be sold at a price that people are comfortable paying.

BigTuk:
Not a matter of cheaper just a matter of.. well.. Games need to be sold at a price that people are comfortable paying.

While I agree with the idea, most people would rather not pay a penny for a AAA game if they could get away with it, and sadly, this is a money making business so there will and should be a tug of war when it comes to pricing.

Yea, we need more multiplayer F2P's which require either 100 hours to get anywhere or massive amount of money, way more than $60.

Alternatively, more $1 mobile and facebook crappy games!

If that fails, just make a indie physics puzzle platformer and act all pretentious about it!

Because who needs proper lengthy, story-driven single player experiences these days!

:/

Hey, as long as Aus/NZ get to pay what the rest of the world pays and not upwards of $130 (or $210 for special editions!) then I'll be happy.

The real problem for developers is just how cheap one can stay entertained. Games are not exactly leaping forwards in graphics or content anymore, the only reason to buy a game at release is to experience multiplayer while it is booming or to show off you got a game early on. Just wait a few months or even a year and a 60$ game can be picked up for 20$ or less.

Sure I won't be playing GTA5 for another year, but I won't be enjoying it any less then the guy who spent 3 times the money.

Vausch:
Wait, so is he advocating for cheaper, more expensive, or is he saying that game prices should be more based on content and length?

I think he's advocating a revision of business practices such that the average game actually makes money.

Instead of the current system where a small handful of "big" titles serve as the tentpole for the company that props up all the other failures.

Then go and make more Renegade Ops, that game was fucken awesome.

Vausch:
Wait, so is he advocating for cheaper, more expensive, or is he saying that game prices should be more based on content and length?

He's saying that the development costs to make an AAA game are so huge it's not worth it anymore to the developers and that the AAA model is completely failing except for a few games that are supposed to "make up" for the loss.

("It's a bit early for me to feel comfortable," he says. It's worth noting that the Swedish studio also has a couple other projects in development, so a financial let down on Mad Max hopefully won't sink the whole company.)

"It's a bit early for me to feel comfortable," he says. It's worth noting that the Swedish studio also has a couple other projects in development, so when Mad Max is a financial let down it hopefully won't sink the whole company.

There you go FTFY.

I really hope mad max bombing won't sink them but it really shouldn't with WB being the publisher there huge.

Meanwhile, somebody at EA is reading this article and saying "I couldn't agree more! But people complain when we propose paying $70."

Sgt. Sykes:
Yea, we need more multiplayer F2P's which require either 100 hours to get anywhere or massive amount of money, way more than $60.

Alternatively, more $1 mobile and facebook crappy games!

If that fails, just make a indie physics puzzle platformer and act all pretentious about it!

Because who needs proper lengthy, story-driven single player experiences these days!

:/

There is quite a lot of possibilities for designing a pricing point between 60$ and nothing at all. 599 possibilities to be exact. Recent examples like Shadow Warrior (for 40$) or Call of Juarez Gunslinger (15$) have shown that it's completely possible to have a strong single-player experience without having to make that many concessions in terms of presentation or playability.

Also, in the Gamespot article this story is based on, Sundberg puts far more emphasis on the rising development costs as a damaging factor than he is on the 60$-pricepoint by itself. With recent blockbuster games like GTA V allegedly having budgets of over 277 million dollars it's hard not to see that it's a system that won't be sustainable in the long term.

edit: source for the 277.000.000 $ claim: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/technology/new-gta-v-release-tipped-to-rake-in-1bn-in-sales-1-3081943

if developers/publishers stopped chasing after graphics and were smarter about how they advertise (do it right and advertising could be practically free) it might be easier for them to make a profit.

also don't waste money shoving multiplayer into games where it will likely be dead in a week if your lucky.

(I'm aware he isn't saying they should cost more)

Well, I've surely had lots of fun with Just Cause 2 and it's MP mod, it costed me a few bucks and it looks a lot better than many AAA games, so yeah, I can see where these guys are coming from, but... What I still think developers should do is focus less on graphics and more resources on substaltial gameplay stuff, as fun as Just Cause 2 is, it's AI is pretty dismal, to say the least.

I find this kind of thing hilarious.

He's another developer saying in his own way that games have become so expensive to develop that they do not make a profit at $60 a pop. He's basically argueing that either they need to stop making AAA games, or raise the prices for games. Or in short basically speaking in defense of the industry and it's growing tendency towards shovelware.

It's comedic because the gaming industry as a whole has been making monster profits, sure, specific studios and companies fall on hard times and lose money, but almost every year you hear about overall growth. The losses endured are entirely subjective, either being compared to peak earnings, or companies not making as much money as the bean counters think they should be making. In short if 5 years ago your company made 50 million dollars in profit, and this year you only made 5 million dollars in profit, the companies try and claim this as losses. What's more if the bean counters say that an IP should be making say 50 million dollars in profit and it only makes 30 million that is the same as a loss. The key thing here is when you look at profit reports, see by the time this is calculated they have already covered their expenses, what's why it's profit. Despite implications to the contrary it's actually fairly rare for a game to not make back what it cost to develop, fail to meet projections yes, but truly lose money? Not really. Of course that DOES happen from time to time and you see studios suffer for it and even get bought out or go out of business, but that's simply what happens in business.

What's more when I read this and he acts like we're actually expecting a lot in getting a 5-8 hour game, it demonstrates how utterly detached from reality he is. A 5-8 hour game is a complete rip off for 60 bucks, especially if your loading it with DLC and microtransactions as well. 20 hours should be the minimum, and 40 hours should be roughly average, with many games clocking over 100 hours. If you think a 5-8 hour game is generous and we're expecting too much, no wonder your noticing the companies you work for failing, your screwing people over and they probably stopped buying your products. Your that guy whose game comes out, people ask the first adopters how it was and get "well, it was okay but I finished it already, took me about 5 hours" congrats, you just ensured your game is on people's "I'll get it used" list of relegated to things people might try if they see it for 75% off on STEAM.

At the end of the day I still maintain the problem is industry bloat. At the end of the day the big battle cry from the same industry that gouges us with the most insane forms of monetization possible (and still QQs about too little money) is that games take so much money and so many people to develop. Something which makes no sense given that if anything games have been easier and easier to make over time. That's pretty much the whole selling point of new technology "better, faster, easier" and what's being touted every new technology generation, and drooled over by developers when they go off about what the new toolboxes are going to be able to do, and how much easier it will be to achieve effects that took so much work beforehand. Yet at the same time, we hear companies like Square-Enix claim they could not make a game with the detail of "Final Fantasy VII" under today's technology because it would be too expensive due to this allegedly "better" technology. Basically if the current tech is incapable of doing what older tech could do, it would not be better, and thus never would have been adopted. It's actually pretty simple logic. What's more it begs the question of why more powerful technology, that let's one person do more, has lead to more people actually involved in the design of each particular game, when there should be less.

Now here is where things always get unpopular, the answer is simply laziness and bloat. Where previously you'd have fewer graphics people who would do a bit of everything and have to crunch and work hard every day to get their product out on time, you instead see entire teams being dedicated to each aspect of a project. Instead of say having a few graphics people, you might have hundreds each with a very specific job like say "this guy is in charge of creating mustaches". Not only does this cause problems... like say 40 different specialist that work within their own specific domain and do nothing else (and thus suck up dev money while they twiddle their thumbs) it's also exactly why you see problems where your character's mustache might clip through the visor of his helmet when he puts it on, because the mustache department and the helmet department were entirely separate entities with their own domains and they never dealt with each other except at general staff meetings. I use this example (which some people hate) because it's exactly how problems with various games were explained, like for example how "The Old Republic" has half of it's models clipping into each other, and guys with robes (which is 50% of the classes in the game) have trouble riding a lot of vehicles without it looking stupid due to the graphics not meshing properly... something that continues years after release because the problem was so ingrained to the design that they would likely have to re-do all the models and even parts
of the central engine to get everything to work well together. A what, 400 million dollar budget, and they couldn't even deal with clipping on their character models, and god forbid, people criticize their game because of it (and
really they should, because it looks like crap).

This also goes hand in hand with another unpopular point in that there seems to be a minimum of professionalism in game development outside of the executive level. Some companies like Valve pride themselves on this, but at the same time while their stuff is surprisingly good, they tend to produce more ideas than actual products... for example people are still waiting for "Half-Life: Episode 3" while entire franchises have started, gotten sequels, and everyone is currently dancing around singing about the console market and VR technology rather than actually finishing what they started. Outside of Valve, which is a singular example representing the high end of things it seems, you'll notice during various "studio tours" done by game companies to promote products, the entire environment is unprofessional to the extreme. Desks cluttered with garbage, people slouching and not working, and similar things. It seems like a great place where you'd want to work (which is why so many people get upset by this point) but really this all influances the product, while some dude is say sitting around running a D&D game in the office on company time (I mean you see the crap for it on his desk) or even just reading the books, that's all dev money used to pay him going down the toilet which comes down on us. Sure that dude can argue "well, I'm the mustache guy and you need me on staff if somehow there is a mustache emergency in the game engine", but at the end of the day he should be doing something, collaborating with other teams, and pretty much having his nose to the grindstone every paid minute producing content, hunting bugs, and working on graphics even outside of his assigned area... then you know... maybe the handlebar mustache graphic won't clip through a combat helmet with associated problems so heavily intergrated into the engine by release that it can't be fixed without re-doing the entire thing. Indeed if you enforce professionalism, have everyone work constantly, and do general, non-specialized jobs within their department, you wind up with fewer people meaning better communication, less money being spent, and a superior product in the long run.

I mean honestly, with the length of some games you might see credits that last half as long as the actual gameplay. I mean really, watch some of these lists sometime, and think "they needed how many bloody people to do this?!?!? Is that 4 different FX studios?... and they are thanking their catering service? They cater their offices?... and wow, look at all the recognizable celebrities doing bit parts....". I mean honestly it becomes easy to see where the problems are in a lot of cases, half the problem with the industry seems to be that it likes to basically shoot Dev money out of a confetti cannon, and then try and make up the money by skimping on our games, and finding every dirty little trick they can to suck money out of people, before turning around and doing the same thing again.

I don't expect a lot of agreement with me this time, since I'm not exactly being diplomatic here, but really if we do see a video game crash I really think this kind of bloat is going to be a contributing factor to it. It's not just going to be the shovel ware and out of control profiteering, but the sheer amount of money being spent due to this bloat even on that shovelware, since a lot of game companies don't seem to know how to do anything without dumping 20 people and an additional specialized outside studio on it.

Sgt. Sykes:
Yea, we need more multiplayer F2P's which require either 100 hours to get anywhere or massive amount of money, way more than $60.

Alternatively, more $1 mobile and facebook crappy games!

If that fails, just make a indie physics puzzle platformer and act all pretentious about it!

Because who needs proper lengthy, story-driven single player experiences these days!

:/

I think he wants more of the type of Renegade Ops or Far Cry Blood Dragon, and I do think he is right even thought there is still room for the big 60$ AAA game here and there, the big problem is when all games are trying to be the big 60$ AAA game (looking at you Square Enix with Tomb Raider 2013 and Hitman Absolution)

As much as I want it I can't justify $60 on Stick of Truth. I'm "middle class" according tax stats but that is just too much money for an entertainment product, regardless of how good of an experience it is or how many hours it takes to complete.

Especially considering I have a backlog of >20 games from humble bundles, and many $1-5 purchases (including Just Cause) that I haven't played through yet.

I don't think I'll spend $60 on a game ever again. More than even $20 would require serious consideration.

Non standard pricing would likely mean that RPG's would be priced higher than $60.

DasDestroyer:
So, basically...
Games should be cheaper!
Why?

I'm mad at myself for not seeing that joke coming from a mile away.

Also, after Mad Max is finished, Just Cause 3 is next on their to-do list, right?

Right?

Therumancer:
snip

It's hilarious because much of what you say is basically what he's saying, i.e. that AAA game-development has become so bloated in costs that everything has to be an immense hit just to get even, which in turn leads to publishers wanting to avoid risks by churning out the same stuff (or forcing the devs to put in new stuff at the last second, just because it's "in" right now) and instead trying to get an edge by having shinier normal mapping and ray-occlusion and a bigger marketing budget. If you had used some of the time you spent writing those ten paragraphs to actually read what the guy is saying, then you maybe would have saved enough time to make yourself a cup of tea, watch a funny video and all-together come across as less of a twat.

How about game publishers stop spending millions on massive budgets for marketing? How about instead of holding events that the majority of people cannot get to due to proximity/happens during work hours/etc, stop spending money on Billboards and posters, signs, TV commercials and other old forms of marketing. How about we instead utilize the internet for marketing on a cheaper scale and getting more attention from the wider internet using audience than the dwindling TV audience.

all the problems really boil down to the fact that non-game devs make the calls because they're in a suit and have their MBA. Thankfully with a growing indie scene and stuff like Kickstarter there is room for creativity to breath. I do not think we are in a decline anymore in general, although AAA games in specific have been in a decline for the better part of the decade

Simonism451:
Recent examples like Shadow Warrior (for 40$) or Call of Juarez Gunslinger (15$) have shown that it's completely possible to have a strong single-player experience without having to make that many concessions in terms of presentation or playability.

Are you sure that a remake of a 20 year old game and one that's about a 10th game in a budget series are good examples of strong single player games?

josemlopes:
I think he wants more of the type of Renegade Ops or Far Cry Blood Dragon, and I do think he is right even thought there is still room for the big 60$ AAA game here and there, the big problem is when all games are trying to be the big 60$ AAA game (looking at you Square Enix with Tomb Raider 2013 and Hitman Absolution)

Well Blood Dragon could only happen because FC3 was already completed.

And honestly TR20013 is one of the few games in the recent years that would make sense to actually pay that much money for if I didn't get for free to some hardware. This is actually a game that shows how good modern games can be. So... What can be a very bad example for someone, can be something great for someone else.

I don't know about the other 2.

And besides, we already know that when devs and publishers complain about expensive games, what they really want is to sell us more F2P bullshit and DLCs.

$60 games are perfectly fine if they're GOOD. And honestly you just don't do stuff like GTA or Mass Effect 3 without a massive budget. And I wonder why I want to play more of those instead of any alternatives.

Economics.
Supply and demand.

Look, $60 can buy me 6 unique and fun indie games on Desura or Steam that will probably be more enjoyable than another 3rd person shooter that's exactly the same as every other 3rd person shooter.

If you want me to buy your game and there are just so many other games that are 10x cheaper, I'm probably not going to buy your game.

I wholeheartedly agree, and I have for quite some time now.

1. Consoles are sold at a cheaper price than construction costs. To make up the loss in profits, the 600-pound gorillas like Microsoft and Sony need financially stable development studios to return to them with games that appeal to their fan-bases. So for most developers and even certain sub-publishers, a portion of their earnings are circulated back through the 600-pound gorillas.

2. Continuing from point 1, most developers find themselves under publishers, and so a portion of their earnings are circulated back through their publishers. Every now and again independent studios find success, such as Mojang, but this isn't very often quite yet.

3. Additional construction costs for the discs, game-boxes, manuals, etc. etc. etc. suck up a portion of their earnings, which while isn't much, still cuts in and are a part of buying their games instead of separately. This is being alleviated a bit more these days with digital games, but the point is still there (hell, digital games can be a bit worse in this scenario since some of them require you to buy the extra stuff like manuals).

*So, with construction costs and the fact that their earnings are split between 2-4 different parties (also taking into account the cut second-party distributors get), I understand perfectly well how 60 USD, in the face of increasing inflation around the world, is becoming less and less profitable across the game market, leading to shoddier products being released to make up for costs (even amongst Indie developers).
*In a ways, I do digress: Digital games on the PC have no legitimate purpose being full priced. But for physical copies that rely on consoles to play, an increase in price is a very legitimate argument in my eyes.

Sgt. Sykes:

Simonism451:
Recent examples like Shadow Warrior (for 40$) or Call of Juarez Gunslinger (15$) have shown that it's completely possible to have a strong single-player experience without having to make that many concessions in terms of presentation or playability.

Are you sure that a remake of a 20 year old game and one that's about a 10th game in a budget series are good examples of strong single player games?

Since they are both good and exclusively single-player, yes.

Or you actually produce a product that is worth 60 bucks, but that would require actual talent and integrity and understanding what people want out of the product you're making (and a large enough fanbase willing to fork over that kind of money in a economy where the trend is ever cheaper prices.)

I really don't like forking over that kind of money for a game, I've been dealt a shitty hand far to many times despite the best efforts on my part to be informed, and return policies have always been asinine in this industry. But that doesn't mean that it is completely out of the question, it just means the industry needs to get its head out of its collective ass and actually address all the problems we have with it. But that's a list thats a few miles long and we all know the old fucks aren't interested in doing any of that.

That's why people like me keep saying that this industry needs to be nuked from orbit, that way we can make place for some fresh blood to take to the scene. Who will just fuck us over in their own way, we're all human so why expect them to learn from your mistakes right?

Funny thing is though that I was actually able to get my money back on a Humble Store purchase, imagine that. I'm not allowed to return a actual physical product back to the store and just get my money back but a digital one isn't a problem at all. I simply got a full refund without any bitching, even after I had downloaded and tried the games, for all they know I was just scamming them out of their games but they didn't gave a shit about that at all.

Simonism451:

It's hilarious because much of what you say is basically what he's saying, i.e. that AAA game-development has become so bloated in costs that everything has to be an immense hit just to get even, which in turn leads to publishers wanting to avoid risks by churning out the same stuff (or forcing the devs to put in new stuff at the last second, just because it's "in" right now) and instead trying to get an edge by having shinier normal mapping and ray-occlusion and a bigger marketing budget. If you had used some of the time you spent writing those ten paragraphs to actually read what the guy is saying, then you maybe would have saved enough time to make yourself a cup of tea, watch a funny video and all-together come across as less of a twat.

You might need to re-read what I said then, as long as it might be.

He's talking about the industry as it is now, and working from the perspective that the current costs involved in developing these games are justified. He's argueing largely that while big games have their place, the industry needs to move away from AAA-level game development since it's so difficult to break even or make a profit.

In response what I pointed out was that AAA game development doesn't need to be that expensive, it's only where it is because of bloat. With increased professionalism and better organization you could make these games with half the manpower. The primary cost of making a game being the human resources, office space and computers are cheap when your dealing with budgets this size, the big cost comes from the huge number of people on the project, most of whom aren't likely to be working or doing anything of value for the majority of time they are being paid, especially seeing as many of them are going to be on staff for very specialized jobs.

The guy writing this is the head of Avalanche Studios, I can't speak for his particular company, but if it's like most I've seen "virtual tours" of and looked at the production credits of after a finished game, he could for example probably do the same job more cost effectively by cutting half of his team and demanding professional levels of conduct and productivity from the rest. That might not make it a "fun, creative workplace" like a lot of people going into gaming might want, but it also means a AAA level game wouldn't be the burden it is now.

On the other hand I was also more or less calling him a liar, because he's going off on how all these games are losing money or barely breaking even, and how companies are relying on the occasional success to pick up the slack for the rest. Looking at what's claimed by the industry almost yearly I find that hard to believe. We're talking a multi billion dollar industry, which is seeing constant growth, and countries wanting to encourage domestic video game development and associated companies because of what a profitable industry it is, and yet allegedly people are losing money hand over fist. As I explained what I think it is, is that "losses" are being defined as simply not making as much money as you think you should be. You'll notice most "bad news" involves companies saying "well, we made 25% less profits than we did during our peak earning period last year", or "our product fell far short of it's projections". That's touted as being a loss, but in reality it's making millions upon millions of dollars. Some company only makes 75 million in profit (profit being computed after expenses) instead of 100 million in profit like the previous year... cry me a bloody river. Some bean counter tells you that you should get 100 million off of a new product, and you only make 20 million, that's still 20 million in your pocket after expenses, you didn't LOSE anything, yet it's presented as some great catastrophe. Simply put if this guy was telling the complete truth and the gaming industry was in that bad a shape we'd likely have already seen the video game crash people have been forecasting. It doesn't happen because while some companies go under (like in any business) enough people are making enough money to keep it going, and the industry as a whole is pretty bloody healthy.

At any rate his bottom line seems to be a pitch for shovelware, albeit a phrased more diplomatically. He seems to be argueing that while big games have their place, the industry should instead focus on smaller, less ambitious, games produced in higher numbers, so less is riding on any one product. In short what your already seeing, as many companies move away from AAA game development and have turned to funding things in App-space or faux-indie productions. The idea being that you never know when some piece of shovelware will be the next "Candy Crush Saga" or "Angry Birds" games which can make as much as a big time AAA title for a fraction of the investment. You produce a thousand of those babies for the cost of one "Just Cause" and your odds of success go up.

You might disagree, but that's how I read what he's saying, and responded accordingly. I say keep working on high quality games, but streamline the development teams and manage them more professionally. 40 specialist graphics designers is a pointless excess, and tends to create messes like you see with games like "The Old Republic" with all the clipping issues. You get 10 people, carefully manage them, and have them work together and your going to get better results for a fraction of the price. Granted this means we won't see virtual tours where Coder Joe has all of his D&D stuff stacked up on his desk with the definite implication he runs a game in-office, and it might be a less fun place
to work, but it does mean a "AAA" quality game won't be costing as much to make.

Sgt. Sykes:

Simonism451:
Recent examples like Shadow Warrior (for 40$) or Call of Juarez Gunslinger (15$) have shown that it's completely possible to have a strong single-player experience without having to make that many concessions in terms of presentation or playability.

Are you sure that a remake of a 20 year old game and one that's about a 10th game in a budget series are good examples of strong single player games?

josemlopes:
I think he wants more of the type of Renegade Ops or Far Cry Blood Dragon, and I do think he is right even thought there is still room for the big 60$ AAA game here and there, the big problem is when all games are trying to be the big 60$ AAA game (looking at you Square Enix with Tomb Raider 2013 and Hitman Absolution)

Well Blood Dragon could only happen because FC3 was already completed.

And honestly TR20013 is one of the few games in the recent years that would make sense to actually pay that much money for if I didn't get for free to some hardware. This is actually a game that shows how good modern games can be. So... What can be a very bad example for someone, can be something great for someone else.

I don't know about the other 2.

And besides, we already know that when devs and publishers complain about expensive games, what they really want is to sell us more F2P bullshit and DLCs.

$60 games are perfectly fine if they're GOOD. And honestly you just don't do stuff like GTA or Mass Effect 3 without a massive budget. And I wonder why I want to play more of those instead of any alternatives.

With Tomb Raider its more of the fact that even though it sold well it still had a lot of trouble making profit, dont know if it was the marketing or those setpieces are that expensive but it did had a bad start even by selling doing well.

Hitman Absolution on the other hand really was taking a simple design and throwing money at it to include all sorts of big setpieces that came with linearity that completely went against its original design. They fucked up hard and its something that is also showing up in Thief, they want to make something big out of a niche game and its obvious that it isnt going to make it (and again with adding things that go against its core design like rewarding headshots in a stealth game, not present now after a big fan backlash).

Also Call of Juarez Gunslinger is actually fucking awesome and a really good shooter (as a shooter it was one of the best of its year), the only thing that it lacked was length since it was a very fast paced game.

Shadow Warrior 2013 isnt exactly a remake as it has barely anything in common with the original.

You really need to take a look at some cheaper games out there, not even indie stuff, here is a list of some:

Serious Sam BFE
Battlefield 1943
Mark of the Ninja
Counter Strike Global Offensive
Magicka
Kung Fu Strike
I Am Alive
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Stacking
Shoot Many Robots
The Wolf Among Us
State Of Decay
Trials Evolution
Section 8 Prejudice
Renegade Ops
etc...

No one is saying that 60$ games shouldnt exist (I also love big ambitious games like GTA), the thing is, when developing a game you shouldnt just choose with either not making the game or going full blown 60$ AAA game full of marketing and shit. For example, Hitman and Thief really dont need to be the bombastic game of the year, a smaller project would allow them to make proper stealth games out of them since they wouldnt need to target the product for everyone to make sure that is sells well enough ending up in creating a more focused title.

Also saying that "$60 games are perfectly fine if they're GOOD." doesnt mean anything, its not like they make shit games on purpose, for them they will only know if its good or not near release (most of the times at least). They should just make such games if they have need for such, for example, to make a open world sandbox with the level of attention that GTA has you sure will need a big budget but since that is a big part of what the game is then you really have to go with it. In Hitman going through linear setpieces with explosions and huge amounts of dialogue isnt exactly a big part of what Hitman is all about so maybe they should have understood that they didnt need to do that in the first place and keep the budget smaller.

BigTuk:
Not a matter of cheaper just a matter of.. well.. Games need to be sold at a price that people are comfortable paying.

Here's what I don't understand about the whole thing. Is it the publishers setting the prices for the games or is retailers setting the prices? If its retailers then the problem is that there is no legitimate competition for Gamestop. Department stores like Target and Wal-mart don't have a chance in hell. If there was a rival that could actually put games on sale and not have them be used games then we might actually see something. If its the publishers setting the prices though....I don't know what to do.

KazeAizen:

BigTuk:
Not a matter of cheaper just a matter of.. well.. Games need to be sold at a price that people are comfortable paying.

Here's what I don't understand about the whole thing. Is it the publishers setting the prices for the games or is retailers setting the prices? If its retailers then the problem is that there is no legitimate competition for Gamestop. Department stores like Target and Wal-mart don't have a chance in hell. If there was a rival that could actually put games on sale and not have them be used games then we might actually see something. If its the publishers setting the prices though....I don't know what to do.

Well let's put it thi way. If you're a merchant and you by apples at a dollar a piece from the farmer, do you sell it for 75cents? No, because that would mean a loss, you can't even sell for a dollar since you have your own expenses to cover. So you see the retailers have to sell at a particular price to make their own profit...

Point is though depending on where you are 60 dollars ain't chicken feed. Heck for many folks where I am, that's their monthly food bill. So the question one must ask... is this game worth 1 months worth of food? The answer will usually be no... but a 30 dollar game might be worth considering..and a 154 dollaqr game might certainly be worth a spin.

josemlopes:
[snip]

Sure, games can be made at different budgets and different price points. And mistakes can be made too. Disasters also. You can make a full-blown AAA game which flops badly or a $1 iOS game which makes you millions. Or anything in between.

I currently have 300+ games in my Steam account, the majority of them indies (from bundles and such). But most of them I just try out and dismiss with very few exceptions, while I still have games like DMC4, GTA4, 2 AssCreed games, Deus Ex, Mafia, HAWX, Mass Effect 3, Crysis, Riddick EFBB, TR2013 and a couple of others permanently installed. All big games.

Simply, when I want a good gaming experience, I usually turn to those blockbusters, although usually to those from a few years ago since the current trends tend to not appeal to me that much.

Recently I've been playing Hard Reset and Magicka and honestly both are massively underwhelming in my opinion. Concepts are good, but making a good game out of it is another thing. From your list Serious Sam BFE is the best one out of those that I played - no doubt Croteam are extremely talented, but and even that game could be far better.

So for me, there's a massive space for these big AAA games, especially single player ones. What exactly would they want to replace them with? No, I really don't believe the JC2 devs would suddenly turn to $20 budget shooters. If anything, they'd go F2P or something similar.

As for budget... Well that's not really my problem. If you buy a new TV or a cellphone, do you care that the manufacturer is most likely losing money? (Because most of them do.) By all means the devs can do compromises that are necessary, but saying that there's no place for this kind of games is just retarded.

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