Should AAA-games be made on a smaller budget?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Taleweaver, Jul 18, 2013.

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Should AAA-games be made on a smaller budget?

  1. On the contrary: they'll need a MUCH HIGHER budget to squeeze the best out of next-gen

    2 vote(s)
    9.5%
  2. The budget should be larger, but not by a large amount. They should be creative (DLC)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Keep it the way it is. I don't mind if there's hardly a difference with current gen

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  4. Reduce the budget somewhat: every game has fluff that shouldn't have been there in the first place

    13 vote(s)
    61.9%
  5. A much lower budget, so games are initially sold cheaper. aka: the Indy route

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  1. Taleweaver
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    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    The title kind of explains itself. Each generation, it takes more resources and effort (and thus money) to make a game. And why? Because the graphics have to be better, cutscènes have to be a more epic scale, standards on what makes a game 'good' are going up, mechanics have to be expanded on, testing takes more effort, and so on, and so on.

    On consoles, there is also the "loss leader" principle. These things are sold at a loss, which is compensated for in the games (in effect: the games actually pay the console for you). Result: prices for games go up. Or, if not, expectations of sales go up (yeeey for milking out franchises).

    That's only fine and dandy if the results are there too. And that's where things are starting to get iffy. With AAA-games like Tomb raider not breaking even despite selling 3.4 million copies, things aren't okay.

    There obviously has to come an end to all this sooner or later. In order to actually sell games, they are usually starting to get discounts a few months after release (I saw bioshock infinite at nearly half price on steam the other day). And second hand sales start to make it very hard to motivate people to buy things at launch. And that's not even taking humble bundles, steam sales, PS+, giveaways and the lot into account. Let alone the shady/illegal means (which device DOESN'T play emulators these days?).


    Hence this question: should these games be made on a tighter budget?
    Before you answer, keep in mind that this goes two ways: companies either going to make a profit, or they're going to quit making games in the end. And that profit has to come from somewhere. If not from them cutting corners (in other words: smaller worlds or less levels), then from quality (it's HD...again) then it'll be from your wallet (a rumor of 80 bucks for a game?).


    So...what's your opinion on this matter? :)
     


  2. calmwaters

    calmwaters Cat's best friend

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    Those were some tough choices: I'd love for the developers to cut back on costs so we could more easily afford to buy games at launch. I also like the idea of them being creative; they really won't need a big budget if they do that. Or it could cut back on that monstrosity they call their budget.
     
  3. RodrigoDavy

    RodrigoDavy GBAtemp Maniac

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    When they make a so-called "AAA game" (another useless label in my opinion) they make an estimative of how much the game is gonna sell. The problem is that, if they make an wrong estimative they might lose money in the process.

    Also it's not only a matter of how much money you spend in the making of a game, but also how well you can use that money. For example, a company might choose to make a Hollywood-like soundtrack for a game, but if they don't make sure that the soundtrack actually matches with the gameplay it won't have a significant impact in the game's quality, thus money wasted.
     
  4. UltraHurricane

    UltraHurricane GBAtemp Regular

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    in order to ask that question, we kinda have to know how AAA games are currently being made and whether more tighten budgets are even possible, i really hope all that money spend is only because of poor management
     
  5. AbyssalMonkey

    AbyssalMonkey GBAtemp Regular

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    Considering the marketing behind CoD MW2 was $200M, and the game itself only cost $50M, yeah, they need to tone this shit down. That's just ridiculous, they could have easily spared the $200M and made another 4 games, 2 is you want to toss $50M marketing behind each.

    Ubisoft recently stated "By increasing our marketing, our goal is actually to lower our risk" and I get this, but do you really need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to do it? People that are marketed to already know about the game, because the own the prequel. That's wasting money that you could be spending on a new IP or improving the sequel, I mean people aren't stupid, so stop treating them like uninformed little children, word of mouth is more potent than most people realize, and by increasing the fidelity of the game you are increasing its marketing via that method. Games shouldn't be about first week sales, if you are that pined for making money in the first week, then reduce your damn budget.

    Honestly though, some of the AAA games that are coming out now, have been in the works for several years, and were originally budgeted and sales forecasted several years ago when they WOULD have sold at that amount. Too bad today isn't several years ago. I hope they shrink their pants and use a more conservative curve next time they estimate how the game will sell after a couple of years.

    EA is just gonna screw themselves over by increasing the price, most people can't afford to drop $60 on a game as it stands, why the hell do you think that Steam sales are so successful? Some people can't afford to buy these games at full price.

    TL;DR Developers/Publishers take us for children and I'm sick and tired of it.
     
  6. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    +1 to the "one day I will find the cretins response for the term AAA game and issue a headbutt" sentiment.

    Though most days marketing people, advertising people and myself do not see eye to eye or even find ourselves not having conversations at knifepoint as the case may be it is not necessarily a frivolous cost and indeed may even be necessary/more than pay for itself. There is a very juicy market of those not necessarily with their fingers on the pulse of games and advertising is an easier way of getting in there.

    All that said if you are not making money back for your expenses and making your money back is your goal (you are not making a bit of library padding or aiming to win awards so your next project gets the benefit of the doubt, as a showcase for your engine or something) then yeah, if indeed it is just first week and long tail sales are not something you care so much for then that changes little as far as I am concerned (if you are not making money and acceptable rate then it is the same problem as not making your money back). I do have to note that sales (main game, DLC and whatever else) and subscriptions are far from the only revenue source though -- advertising in your game, merch, licensing for films/tv shows and cartoons, more merch, licensing for comics, even more merch, licensing for other games and it gets very odd but licensing out your game engine/assets is not necessarily limited to the ones that built the base engine (though it is far easier if you do).
     
  7. Slamicite

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    Given the complexity of AAA games, they should sell for much more; more than most people are willing to pay. They've been on that road for a while. Over the generations, top-tech games have been getting more and more costly to make, while still being sold at more or less the same price. The development costs for an AAA game today are unimaginably monstrous if compared to an average NES game's, yet they were sold at similar prices when they came out. Microtransactions, frivolous DLC and other bad business practices are on the rise to desperately try and avoid drowning. I'm not sure about why developers don't just back off and make simpler games. Maybe the publishers don't know jack about video games and just want to be Call of Duty. Or perhaps they fear the mainstream won't buy them, which I'm afraid might be true.
    It seems we've gotten into a technological race that is not controlled by anybody anymore. Getting huger, (technically) prettier games because that's what's acceptable, expected and worth your money. I think right now it's not a sustainable practice and they should lower their budgets, marketing or not, but they won't. I expect the AAA to take a big hit only once we hit the brick wall of photorealism, which is already nearby, as further technological upgrades are proving less noticeable. I do believe the indie market will grow and take over as development tools gradually become more accessible, though for indie I add regular studios that may eventually cease their publisher subordination and release their games by themselves.
     
  8. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Interesting.

    "Given the complexity of AAA games, they should sell for much more; more than most people are willing to pay. "

    Yet it is not all that different price wise to other things or perhaps even less (the 250 million all in for COD is not hugely different to a big film). If people are willing to wait for sales, price drops and the cheaper second hand games it would also appear to say things.

    "while still being sold at more or less the same price"
    We might have to play with an inflation calculator but my amiga stuff (which was as powerful or more so than the 16 bit consoles it went up against) were in line with CDs and DVDs (or more likely CDs, tapes and VHS) a lot of the time. TV show box sets aside the games do not sell at the same prices any more.

    "Microtransactions, frivolous DLC and other bad business practices are on the rise"

    No doubt there are questionable practices happening (though when did they not?) but that is a rather broad brush. Are microtransactions inherently bad, what counts as frivolous DLC (ignoring my dislike of multiplayer a lot of "new multiplayer mode" addons probably count as this if you want them to) and I am curious to hear more of these bad business practices (we can ignore the "we expect ? million sales just because" stuff though).
     
  9. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    The budgets are fine as they are, or more accurately, the trend is. You can produce better graphics, AI and design with current budgets - the bottleneck was console specs, not budgets.

    The budgets will slowlysteadily but steadily increase much like it was the case with cinematography. They need to reflect the amount of resources and manpower required to create the product and a lot of those was wasted on optimizing games rather than creating game content.

    With the dawn of Nextgens comes a brief period of prosperity when coders just don't have to worry about lacking memory or processing power - priorities in game projects will shift from optimalization to content creation and bugfixing.

    We have a few bright years ahead of us and it won't require much higher budgets - the tools of the trade just got better and by proxy will allow for more polished results at a much shorter development time.
     
  10. xist

    xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

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    AAA budgets are an unsustainable bubble in my view and given the financial risk involved in making these very expensive titles they're indicative of a dangerous trend. If money is lost even when a game appears to sell pretty well (See TR) then something must be broken. In fact i'd hazard a guess that if budgets remain at this level it would reduce creativity and risk in those big budget games are publishers have to ensure there's a market for their titles whether it' core or causal (who'll just gobble up remake 5 of a big franchise). It doesn't matter if the costs for the next gen don't increase much as the costs for this generation are already too inflated!

    Ideally what we'd see is a return to the PS2 era of game design where there was a vast range of differently priced games and budgets for them. The bigger the budget the less risk involved and that can only be a bad thing for gamers.
     
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  11. Sakitoshi

    Sakitoshi everything is going according the plan...

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    This.
    I remember games like Prince of Persia the Sands of Time trilogy that look very good that almost pass as a current gen game, has very well done visual effects at low hardware requirements, now days games can look as good as that because some of the techniques that were used at that time were replaced by newer ones that require less effort on the developers side thus cutting R&D time and cost, but on the other side, require more powerful hardware to run, like shaders or physics.
    sure game costs are scaling very quick, but development tools too.
     
  12. Qtis

    Qtis Grey Knight Inquisitor

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    Yes and no. AAA games are most of the time something different. Take The Last of Us: An apocalyptic game, which focuses on a dead genre, but still manages to succeed and get great scores from the vast majority of gaming publications. If that's taken into account, AAA titles are worth the effort. On the other hand, we have craptastic lackluster games like the new SimCity that is (or at least was before) considered AAA and did sell alot a while ago. Then they make a new turn in the gaming side (a good thing for many stable franchises), but do something that people don't want to begin with (bad thing).

    EDIT: Also I'm more than willing to pay for a proper script for most games. It does take more effort (and money) to get a proper writer onboard and get the person integrated in the process. For example, this TEDx is a nice walk into the world of writing for video games.

     
  13. xist

    xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

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  14. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Possibly slightly off topic but how well do you think "next gen" will work for people? Purely from an objective standpoint the graphics have not improved as much as one might expect when looking back. If you stick on a 3d modeller hat though such a thing changes somewhat radically.
     
  15. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Even the most ignorant gamers will notice a difference when cardboard cut-out football fans in Fifa become a thing of the past and so-called "crowd" sections in games will jump from 20 NPC's to 200 NPC's, quality of models aside. That, and contemporary 3D models tend to have a sweet spot at which they look as intended - if the camera is too close, it reveals that textures are pixelated and meh, if it's too far, the polygon count drastically drops and the animation becomes choppy to preserve resources. This situation can be improved when developers won't have to worry as much about the processing power or the amount of memory available to them.
     
  16. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Not really.

    There's room for all sorts of games. Big budget, small budget, the only issue is not finding a middleground. Plus it's not like budget always determines quality, I consider a game like Bastion to be better across the board than a lot of the AAA games. Not because it's "indie" and makes sacrifices for it, but because they used their budget well and it looks and feels like a polished game with great designs.

    So there's room for your indie games like Bastion and room for your AAA large budget games like Grand Theft Auto or The Last of Us. More money for some developers helps them fully realize their vision. A game like The Last of Us would not be possible on half the budget. The game works because it has a lot of polish on it, it has amazing graphics to keep you engaged and immersed, some great sound choice (in terms of environmental foley, music, and voice acting), and of course the budget to use an engine like that. Cut out any one of those things and it loses what makes it great.

    Tightening the belt on someone with a large vision that requires a large budget doesn't make them think outside the box, it just makes the box smaller.
     
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  17. Sakitoshi

    Sakitoshi everything is going according the plan...

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    if the developers center his efforts on details like "oohh look the game really is alive, see that plant?? is breathing, we made 50 different animations for the plants to make them look alive." instead of the most obvious visuals like the characters or other important aspects of the game sure the overall game will look better, but for the average user that just play through the game will be almost the same, I personally find that leave the principal graphics like they are now and add some improvements to the background details will make the experience better than just try to find the photo realistic look the developers are trying to achieve, and if you think about that a little, have graphics that look just like real life will be harmful for violent games that every time have more troubles passing the ESRB child friendly tests, moms will think that is a real video and their children are killing people for real this time.
     
  18. Gahars

    Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    There's nothing wrong with publishers investing big budgets into their titles. I think the problem comes when publishers think that every title needs to be a massive, big budget affair and then they start hemorrhaging money because they had to set implausible sales targets to even dream of breaking even.

    Hollywood studios have their big budget blockbusters, sure, but they also invest in a ton of smaller films as well (comedies, especially romantic ones, dramas, etc.). Sure, they don't bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, but they still produce a nice, healthy profit so they aren't so dependent on the big-budget affairs to keep them afloat. They can even afford to be experimental, because hey, even if it doesn't sell, it's a small loss that they can easily write-off.

    I think game publishers should look into that model. We'd get a wider selection of titles to choose from and the publishers would have a bit more financial stability - it would be a win-win.
     
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  19. Taleweaver
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    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    Some interesting things are being said here. :)

    * about the term 'AAA games'...yeah. I know. But it's a term everyone knows, so until a beter synonym comes along, it'll have to do.
    * at first, I thought of including a few poll options for where to cut some expenses. But that really depends on genre, and it could derail the thread into "they should cut back on X", "no, on Y!" "I'd rather want them to do less Z!". I admit I didn't know the marketing costs were so high on some, but still: I wanted a discussion on the global budget. We'll have to trust that those companies spend it wisely.
    * (@Guild) 50 or 60 bucks (AAA), or between 10 and 20 (indie). And there's quite a gap between those which is kind of strange. I, for one, am curious to see how a big franchise (take hitman or Tomb raider) would do if the budget was set so it would be sold for 35$/€.
    * the poll result...I'm not so sure if it surprises me. Okay, it furthers my question of "why the hell did sony and microsoft decide it was time for new consoles? The people like it on current gen"...but it wouldn't be the first time that the audience needs to be led. And it's something for another thread anyhow...
     
  20. RodrigoDavy

    RodrigoDavy GBAtemp Maniac

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    If people always thought like that we would still be playing Ataris :wink: