Western mid-budget games, should they be more common?

AAA games are expensive to make these days. With more powerful consoles and increasing audience expectations, development cycles are longer, costs are expensive, and team sizes are enormous. To offset the costs, Publishers and platform holders have increasingly turned to cheaper products. Japanese developers, such as Square Enix, Nintendo, Sega, Bandai Namco, etc. have found a comfortable niche in developing "Mid-budget titles" games that occupy the space between massive AAA titles, and small indie experiences. These focus more on the gameplay, story, and experience of the game rather than pushing the limits of current gen hardware, while still generally having higher production values and more complex graphics/worlds than your standard indie title.

But so far, most of the big Western Publishers, EA, Activision, Take-Two, Sony Interactive, WB Games and Bethesda haven't cared much. In fact the only major western publisher who actually puts out mid-budget titles regularly is Ubisoft. There are some indie titles that do punch above their weight into "Mid-budget" status, but the major publishers in the west have focused strictly on AAA experiences, or Remasters of old titles.

Should Western publishers start exploring this hole more?

Ah... yes and no. Western publishers, yes. Specifically EA, Take 2 etc. No. Let the Ninja Theory's, CD Project's, Obsidian's and Larian's of the world take this role.

Yes. But the rare exception notwithstanding, a mid-tier game can reasonably be expected to make mid-tier money. So, that means the big AAA publishers are out. They bitch and moan everytime a game commercially performs below their all too often unrealistic expectations. The idea of a game that has little to no "go big or go home" franchisable megasuccess potential is probably anathema to them. They'd rather chase whichever bandwagon is currently doing the rounds.

As trunkage said, probably better to leave the mid-tier game to the mid-tier dev.

Also, Jim Sterling did a video about this a few months ago.

I hope they become more common. AA-games can take more creative risks that maybe alienates a part of the audience but also provide more original or niche experiences. Recent titles like Vampyr and Remothered are pretty good examples. Obviously higher budget than indie but way below the 100+ million of an AAA-game. It's a segment that isn't interesting for the big publishers but hopefully it can give rise to more smaller studios that over time can grow into bigger projects. We need more companies like CDPR not EA or Activision. Those companies haven't produced a decent AAA-game in years. Just the same gambling schemes and annual trash over and over.

There probably should be more I guess, but compared to last-gen, there's a lot more mid-tiers. Bethesda publishes a few games I'd consider mid-tier from Dishonored to Wet to Wolfenstein (maybe?). The 1st Dishonored was budgeted to be profitable with less than 1 million sold. You have Obsidian and Larian making RPGs like Pillars and Divinity. Dontnod seems to be in the mid-tier market with Life is Strange and Vampyr (not very good though). Ninja Theory made Hellblade in the mid-tier market. The Souls-likes/clones are pretty mid-tier as you don't need a big budget even for actual Souls games. There's a bunch of games that may or may not be mid-tier but indie like Supergiant games, Cities Skylines, Shadow Tactics, Invisible Inc., What Remains of Edith Finch, Sexy Brutale, Rime, Journey, Abzu, Hob, and several more.

Only if they price reflects the mid-Tier-iness of the game. If your mid tier gsme costs 80 CAD, You can fuck right off.

And if you're Indie game costs more than 20 CAD, you can fuck right off.

Yes, especially from the point of view of the publishers.
Right now, a lot of companies are making the mistake of betting everything on 2-3 huge AAA titles per yer. 1 of them fails and the company already has financial trouble.
Making 10 games for $10 million instead of 1 game for $100 million would be safer because even if 5 of them flop, the other 5 will cover the costs of that. If that $100 million game flops, you face the risk of laying off a bunch people and closing down and entire branch of your company.
Cheaper games also don't need to appeal to everyone and can only target specific demographics. With that in mind, it's easier to figure out what that demographic wants and what will they buy. Most AAA titles are just a mix of everything popular right now with no clear audience in mind, relying on the huge ad campaigns to sell them.
Every smart businessman will tell you that you need to diversify your investments.

Its not like they don't already exist. Just largely not from the half dozen mega-AAA publishers.

That or we get what would've been a mid-tier title, but its pushed to the full AAA pricing. Those're around in spades. From actual budget titles ranging to spin offs or sequels that are content updates.

I personally think that AAA budgets themselves are more than double what they need to be so maybe some reassessment in that department is necessary.

Lufia Erim:
Only if they price reflects the mid-Tier-iness of the game. If your mid tier gsme costs 80 CAD, You can fuck right off.

And if you're Indie game costs more than 20 CAD, you can fuck right off.

Also that.

 

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