The Indies Will Ruin Everything!

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it's time to destroy "free" development of software by "the people". no, seriously. after windows 8 i think there is real chance we will be going in that direction from now on. remeber, large corporations don't act rationally and try very stupid things when they feel threaten.

"I'm not saying indies are destroying AAA games."
Read more at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/experienced-points/10904-The-Indies-Will-Ruin-Everything.2#z4DkhAbYaabIEZ0c.99

Yeah but then why the title... I'll admit it, it made me read the article, but that doesn't mean it wasn't misleading.

Smilomaniac:

(I honestly don't know where Wasteland 2 stands at the moment. The Steam early access suggests they need more money to finish.)

I'm fairly sure that's not an issue. The game came up on steam early access because the beta got a release and they used steam to distribute the beta to backers. The ridiculous $60 price tag on the steam early access was a result of the lowest tier required for backers to gain access to the beta in the kickstarter. The actual price is supposedly going to be a lot less than that.

reiniat:
Last time i checked the most expensive game that has been ever made is GTA V, with 115 million dollars. But here's the interesting thing; the second game is Halo 4 with 30 million dollars.
Now, these are of course DEVELOPMENT BUDGETS, this means that all the AAA games that you have ever played (with the exception of the above two), costed LESS than 30 million bucks to make.

And this is something you should all understand, MAKING GAMES IS NOT SUPER EXPENSIVE, as most big studios want you to believe, what really takes away the money is MARKETING. Halo 4 marketing was wort (see what i did there?) 70 million dollars and GTA V marketing was worth 150 million dollars.

Out of the top of my head Halo 3 was worth 60 million dollars in total, and it made 300 million dollars int he first week, that means 240 million dollars IN THE FIRST WEEK, Now, and this is quite interesting; according to MS itself Halo 4 also made 300 million dollars in its first week, and in case you dont know, GTA V made a billion dollars in the first week.

So my question is, why, or how is it that MS is in monetary problems when its games earn as much as 4 times their overall cost?, IN A WEEK, and this is not just for the biggest launch titles of MS, ODST earned 115 millions in its first two weeks (and it was a side project), and if we are going to believe MS approximations then 2.5 million copies is worth 115 million dollars and thus, each 60 bucks game sold by MS has a net income of 46 dollars (it a very rough estimation, but then im not counting different prices trough continents, as an example Xbox 360 games are worth 85 dollars in my country, either trough the digital store or in retail).

Considering the above Fable 2 made 161 million dollars in a year, Gears of War sold 270 million in a year, GoW 2 sold 230 million in its first 6 months, GoW 3 made 138 in its first week, and this is all MS info, and if we are to believe MS their most expensive game before Halo 4 was Halo 3 which amounted for 60 million dollars (including development and marketing), and as such all the above games costed less than 60 million dollars to make.

And were not considering DLC earnings here, so im quite perplexed, MS is the company that closed Ensemble in 2009 becuase it wasnt making enough money, NOT BECAUSE IT LOST MONEY, and yet were told that the Xbox division of MS loses a billion dollars a year. So please somebody tell me wtf is going on, how can MS lose money if all its exclusives earn that much money without counting DLC earnings, and none has flopped? Their console is cost effective, so what makes them lose a billion bucks a year? KINECKT?

The myth that Microsoft have made losses with the Xbox is spread by Sony fanboys, if you dig through the the investor reports and financial statements Microsoft have made billions when you count in software, peripherals, subscription fees, licencing fees and advertising revenues. They only lost money on the actual console itself which was sold as loss leader for a good portion of its lifespan and only became profitable after several revisions, of course it had its infamous reliability issues which put it even further in the black.

In total everything to do with the Xbox has earned Microsoft a constant profit of be tween $150-350 million (fluctuating) per quarter after Don Mattrick took over and turned it around.

I'm just saying indies have created a situation where are the developers are going to have to adapt or implode.

Good. History is full of examples where the holders of old technology has to adapt to the new world or disappear. Movie studios with DVR and TV, music record labels with mp3 and Internet... I am not looking forward to people loosing their jobs, but publishers have fought to maintain the status quo for far too long and the industry is in desperate need of a shake up.

It is ridiculous a game has to sell dozens of millions to be a profitable project. It is ridiculous every retailer game, no matter the size, sells for the same price, and has to compete with every other game. It is ridiculous every AAA game has to be part of a franchise, and a yearly franchise is the golden standard.

Therumancer:
Well, to be honest I will say that the indie scene has done a lot to quash some of my hopes and dreams, perhaps without realizing it. Largely because the types of games *I* like to play, RPGs on the deeper side of the spectrum with a lot of customization and party management and such, have been embraced by some indie developers. A lot of these games are good mind you, but it seems to actually work to reduce the chances of ever seeing games of this sort (and others) created at a AAA level, I've already caught wind of some devs pretty much sneering at such ideas as being "indie fodder" and a while ago was reading some opinions that indie creations in these generes might drive AAA development away simply because they do not want to compete, especially when the eye candy is going to be secondary to the game experience itself (though speaking for myself, I'd like that too). This help perpetuates a system where AAA games are increasingly aimed at a casual market (and yes most shooters ARE casual games, the equivalent of Farmville, but aimed at a different demographic), where more serious gaming is left to the fringes and indie development. Exceptions exist, they always exist, but apart from rare exceptions this leaves a lot of people like me with a choice of a game that looks like refried dog poop but has the kind of core gameplay I want, or one that looks really pretty but which I'm not likely to find entertaining for the long term.

The thing is, big publishers would not touch those (relatively) niche genre with a ten foot pole, so indies are the only way to get those experiences any more.

For example, I love point & click adventures and when Telltale started making Sam & Max games, I was all over them, because I realize LucasArts was just sitting in the property and no one else was making those games any more. The same with Star Citizen (space simulators), Double Dragon Neon (2D beat them up) or Contrast (2D puzzle).

The problem with your perspective is to think that, if indies didn't carry that torch, publishers would invest AAA budgets to make it happen, which is simply not truth. If anything, there would be one or two franchises after several years and no one else would touch it (think RTS and Starcraft). In your example, consider Final Fantasy 13 and JRPG, that is the future of the genre from the AAA perspective since XII, and they are never going back to turn based. Even Dragon Quest abandoned their classical approach in favor of an MMO style. If anything, the success of indie games in a particular genre would wake up publishers to the potential of getting into the genre, like the case of MOBAs.

Shamus Young:
The recent rumor is that it's about eight or ten times more expensive to develop for these next-gen consoles.

Wait, you're basing this on a biased rant from one company, and taking at as fact? Wow.

And it's also a company that hasn't exactly been known for keeping up with technology or the rest of the industry.

I just hope we get at least two more good years out of AAA video games before the industry crashes. If it's going to crash, I prefer it to wait until I have kids when I won't have enough time to play video games anyway lol.

Sniper Team 4:
Graphics have never been a selling point for me.

People love to say this, but it's simply not true. Graphics may not always be the most important point, but they are always a point. An awesome looking game will always be better than an otherwise identical game that looks shit. In addition, many indie games still have graphics as one of their major selling points, they just tend to focus on style over raw numbers. Simply increasing texture resolutions may not inspire most people to buy a new game, but unless you're someone who only ever plays text-based adventures graphics absolutely are one of the selling points in every single game you ever buy.

Gorrath:
I don't think it's so much that indies are killing AAA games so much as indies are filling up the vacuum left by disappointing titles and bloated budgets. Indies aren't destroying the AAA market, the AAA market is.

Very much this. Many indie games have been very successful relative to their budget and development-hours, but that's not actually the same as success in absolute numbers. Shamus says Minecraft turned out not to be an anomaly, but it actually is. Look at any list of best selling video games and Minecraft will be the only indie game anywhere near the top. Wiki, for example, puts it at 5th overall, with no other indie games in the top 30, and a quick scan of the lists by platform suggests you could probably make that the top 100 or more without seeing any other indie games. Or look at some of the things touted as huge successes on Kickstarter - Project Eternity is without doubt one of the most successful and most talked about games when it come to community funding. Under 74,000 people paying under $4 million. It's certainly a great success for what it is, but a few thousand people is hardly going to have a big impact on AAA games looking for tens of millions in sales.

Indie games, and lower budget games in general, are only get to more popular as hundred-million plus budget games become ever less profitable. But they're not going to get less profitable because indie games are taking away their customers, it's simply that they've reached a point where it's almost impossible to get enough customers in the first place regardless of what anyone else might be doing.

AAA Gaming is more killing its self than being killed by anything else; huge budgets, poor products, buggy releases, and a hype machine promising far more than it can deliver can only last so long.

Mush:

Smilomaniac:

(I honestly don't know where Wasteland 2 stands at the moment. The Steam early access suggests they need more money to finish.)

I'm fairly sure that's not an issue. The game came up on steam early access because the beta got a release and they used steam to distribute the beta to backers. The ridiculous $60 price tag on the steam early access was a result of the lowest tier required for backers to gain access to the beta in the kickstarter. The actual price is supposedly going to be a lot less than that.

Aha, that makes sense. I appreciate the information, I was genuinly worried about Wasteland 2 becoming a failure and was just desperately grabbing for cash left and right.

J Tyran:

The myth that Microsoft have made losses with the Xbox is spread by Sony fanboys, if you dig through the the investor reports and financial statements Microsoft have made billions when you count in software, peripherals, subscription fees, licencing fees and advertising revenues. They only lost money on the actual console itself which was sold as loss leader for a good portion of its lifespan and only became profitable after several revisions, of course it had its infamous reliability issues which put it even further in the black.

In total everything to do with the Xbox has earned Microsoft a constant profit of be tween $150-350 million (fluctuating) per quarter after Don Mattrick took over and turned it around.

While im inclined to think that MS doesnt actually lose money with the Xbox division, such idea is more than just a myth, it was started by an analyst, Rick Sherlund. But i dont know about analysts and stock value stuff, so the only thing thats clear to me here is that im not buying an Xboner, and everything else is smoke and mirrors :P

Gorrath:
Learn to love the niches, or die.

This is kind of off topic. Where I live the word niche refers to a place in the cemetery where graves are stacked on top of each other (we call them nichos). All these phrases and terms like "finding your niche", "niche audience", "niche-based market" have sort of an ominous tone for me.
Kinda ironic that major publishers have to learn to find them or die.

The only ones killing AAA is AAA why can't EA, Activision, or Ubisoft embrace indie like how Sony, Valve, and Microsoft managed too. It's not the fault of Hanako Games or Re-logic that they can't recognize a changing market and update with the times.

indies ruining everything? Achoo I'm sorry I'm allergic to bullshit. If anything the indies will deliver us from the boring but graphically impressive slog that is many AAA games. If some companies go down the tubes in the process then ok they deserved it. Also publishers and developers should stop trying to please everyone because that ALWAYS results in no one being pleased.

My old drum teacher used to say to me:

"A drummer with only a kick, snare and hats will reach the core of what it is to be a drummer in half the time of the rich kid with the worlds largest drum kit."

I apply this lesson to almost anything creative that I do. Obviously, the more tools you have, the better equipped you are to do a good job. However, sometimes limitations are the best creative tools you can ask for.

It is for this reason that I think indie games will always have the upper hand in making a truly remarkable gaming experience.

He also had some really great analogies about 'creative decisions in a large democracy' that seem quite relevant here too.

roski:

Gorrath:
Learn to love the niches, or die.

This is kind of off topic. Where I live the word niche refers to a place in the cemetery where graves are stacked on top of each other (we call them nichos). All these phrases and terms like "finding your niche", "niche audience", "niche-based market" have sort of an ominous tone for me.
Kinda ironic that major publishers have to learn to find them or die.

That is a rather amusing happenstance of language, isn't it? Niche can refer to the same places where I am from. Our definition of niche goes along the lines of any small place or group of people. In my usage there you could substitute the word "diversity" and it would still work, but I like the irony you pointed out! It works nicely with my point, so thanks for sharing that interesting tidbit.

Broadly, those indies are ruining things, but that's just the result of the market cycle at work.
The largest firms are being punished for their bloated costs and complacency, and as a general rule, the first firms to leave when competition intensifies are those with the highest costs.

Eventually, at least some of those upstart indie developers will succeed consistently enough to grow bigger.
And in time, will replace the current old guard. It happens, albeit slowly. The only way bloated companies ever avoid that fate is if they manage to install themselves into positions of power and exert monopolistic powers. In essence, force the market to adapt to them rather than how it's supposed to be.

(Hollywood has gone in cycles, but even then many of their biggest producers survive only by employing some very dirty anti-competitive practices...Wanna act? Better get that SAG card ready!)

While graphical fidelity is going to cost a fair penny to make feasible, it's mainly the rising cost of marketing that's causing AAA costs to inflate out of control.

As video games have become increasingly visible in the media market, the cost of advertising has increased accordingly. (I'm pretty sure other big media producers don't like it when games occupy "their" customer's spare time. They're going to charge a premium for advertisement that isn't in their empires.)

reiniat:

So my question is, why, or how is it that MS is in monetary problems when its games earn as much as 4 times their overall cost? ... Their console is cost effective, so what makes them lose a billion bucks a year?

That's a nasty question I was asking back when Microsoft was pitching the Xbone as an "All in One" system. To the point where people suggested that games did not matter. While the Xbone technically turns a profit, this doesn't fit into Microsoft's business model at all.

They shitcan their developers for not producing higher profit margins, yet the Xbone, sans games is projected to produce absolutely TINY profit margins per unit sold.

So, going back to your question...if their games and hardware is profitable So, the only explanation for how they keep hemorrhaging money must be insane operating costs and R&D.
Nothing else makes sense.

Some parts of the indie scene of their own problems; lack of QC, lack of visibility for quality games, constant imitation and follow the leader mentality and difficulty in finding the worthwhile content within a sea of barely concealed ripoffs of a popular genre or game. They have inherited some of the pitfalls of mobile gaming and as the scene grows bigger and more of a staple there will have to be measures in place to mitigate the visibility problems within such a mass of games (AS XBL indie, The app store, good store etc have well demonstrated)

The REAL threat to the AAA industry is that we might see a rise in lean, mid-budget games that rival the scope and experience of AAA games but without being a soulless mess of banal shite. We've already seen this growing in eastern Europe, where games like the metro series, the STALKER series or The Witcher series can survive and thrive even with inconsistencies in publisher and major setbacks. We are seeing a new breed of games that are unashamedly PC focused, developed with passion, ambition but within their means.

Games might start to follow the pattern of great 1970s auteur film making, the art is (relatively) independent of control and the publishers are only used as a distributor. This is the only way we can have big 3D gaming develop as an art form.

Hoplon:
I still have a real problem with this "8 to 10 time more expensive to develop for" this a close to off the self PC part and most of these people have been making game for the PC for years.

Are they really that different? There is a strong smell of bullshit about the whole thing.

Developing the same game, that is developing a gen 7 game on a gen 8 system, would be cheaper in principle. It is possible that the initial wave of games for the 8th gen would cost more because the studio's are not setup for the 8th gen, but that shouldn't be that much. Maybe a little more expensive to start with and then the cost should drop significantly over the next few years.

The problem is that they are not making 7th gen games, they are making 8th gen games. Maxing out the hardware is extremely costly. And that is the problem. Developing models, textures, AI, etc that take full advantage of what they have for every single game is financially impossible.

Developing for the hardware is not expensive. Making an 8th gen game is expensive. This is what AAA developers don't seem to get. They have it backwards.

And this is what low budget indie's are taking advantage of. They are making 3rd-5th gen games on 8th gen hardware. It is extremely easy (by game making standards) and stupidly cheap. Because they basically never have to worry about processing power and the like they can instead just make great games.

DrOswald:
Snipped for brevity

Yes but what i am getting at is the tech for "gen 8" games has existed for about 4 years for the PC, they shouldn't have to develop any new tech at all since these consoles cannot do anything PC doesn't already do better, faster, more of.

I don't see there all this expense is coming from. Decent texture resolutions can't be that much more expensive.

reiniat:

J Tyran:

The myth that Microsoft have made losses with the Xbox is spread by Sony fanboys, if you dig through the the investor reports and financial statements Microsoft have made billions when you count in software, peripherals, subscription fees, licencing fees and advertising revenues. They only lost money on the actual console itself which was sold as loss leader for a good portion of its lifespan and only became profitable after several revisions, of course it had its infamous reliability issues which put it even further in the black.

In total everything to do with the Xbox has earned Microsoft a constant profit of be tween $150-350 million (fluctuating) per quarter after Don Mattrick took over and turned it around.

While im inclined to think that MS doesnt actually lose money with the Xbox division, such idea is more than just a myth, it was started by an analyst, Rick Sherlund. But i dont know about analysts and stock value stuff, so the only thing thats clear to me here is that im not buying an Xboner, and everything else is smoke and mirrors :P

It was true about six years ago, some people are still thumping the drum like its true and a current issue though. After the console got a decent install base and Don Mattrick became CEO it started making huge profits.

Hoplon:
this a close to off the self PC part

I don't even..... what?

OT: Agreed. Not only are they cheaper, they also seem to be leading in the innovation department. Ya there's piles and piles of shit to deal with but there are a lot of gems in Indie gaming that are much more creative than any big budget games.

Hoplon:

DrOswald:
Snipped for brevity

Yes but what i am getting at is the tech for "gen 8" games has existed for about 4 years for the PC, they shouldn't have to develop any new tech at all since these consoles cannot do anything PC doesn't already do better, faster, more of.

I don't see there all this expense is coming from. Decent texture resolutions can't be that much more expensive.

Well, the tech has existed but 8th gen games have not been made. This is because 7th gen was still the standard. Take Tomb Raider for example. This was a game that existed in an environment in which 8th gen tech existed but it absolutely had to run on 7th gen tech. And because almost all AAA developers develop for console first virtually all games needed to run on 7th gen tech.

8th gen tech has existed for years on PC but it was never being maxed out. But now that the actual 8th gen has come along console developers feel the need to max out the hardware best they can. And maxing out the hardware is expensive.

It's not just texture maps, it is inventing new lighting engines, creating new character models, creating larger or more detailed environments. It is creating new AI and integrating social features and tons of other little things that add up to be a whole lot of things. And as things get more and more complex the code gets less and less efficient so you have to spend exponentially more time (and therefore money) optimizing it.

And then it is paying not only for the developers to make the game but for them to sit in meetings where they discuss with each other decisions about the game. A 10 man team can make a decision in minutes that will take a 100 man team hours, and even then no one is sure what is going on exactly. And then you have to pay for more managers and team managers and a head manager to manager the managers.

Hoplon:
I still have a real problem with this "8 to 10 time more expensive to develop for" this a close to off the self PC part and most of these people have been making game for the PC for years.

Are they really that different? There is a strong smell of bullshit about the whole thing.

Especially when the lack of backwards compatibility is attributed to the new PC architecture.

J Tyran:

reiniat:

J Tyran:
snip

:P

It was true about six years ago, some people are still thumping the drum like its true and a current issue though. After the console got a decent install base and Don Mattrick became CEO it started making huge profits.

This is from november 2013;
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2013/11/25/microsoft-xboxs-1b-plus-loss-makes-it-a-sale-candidate-says-nomura/
Youre talking as if we still were in the golden years of the 7th gen...

reiniat:

J Tyran:

reiniat:
:P

It was true about six years ago, some people are still thumping the drum like its true and a current issue though. After the console got a decent install base and Don Mattrick became CEO it started making huge profits.

This is from november 2013;
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2013/11/25/microsoft-xboxs-1b-plus-loss-makes-it-a-sale-candidate-says-nomura/
Youre talking as if we still were in the golden years of the 7th gen...

If we start talking about this gen no they are not in profit yet... but its the start of a new generation of devices and no-ones in profit yet. The original discussion was about the 360 never making profit, luckily for both Sony and Microsoft both consoles are doing well with record breaking sales with the PS4 being in the clear lead in console sale.

Cat Cloud:

Yeah but then why the title... I'll admit it, it made me read the article, but that doesn't mean it wasn't misleading.

That's the problem when you try to be ironic in the internet. But, yeah, being ironic in the title of an article is somewhat misleading, unless you're in a parody site.

Smilomaniac:

Mush:

Smilomaniac:

(I honestly don't know where Wasteland 2 stands at the moment. The Steam early access suggests they need more money to finish.)

I'm fairly sure that's not an issue. The game came up on steam early access because the beta got a release and they used steam to distribute the beta to backers. The ridiculous $60 price tag on the steam early access was a result of the lowest tier required for backers to gain access to the beta in the kickstarter. The actual price is supposedly going to be a lot less than that.

Aha, that makes sense. I appreciate the information, I was genuinly worried about Wasteland 2 becoming a failure and was just desperately grabbing for cash left and right.

As a backer I can confirm this. It is a fairness price.

Smile- I agree on the kickstarter angle. Some of the best "Indies" of late are actually kickstarter games. Looking forward to getting wasteland 2, torment and Pillars of Eternity. Enjoying Broken Age and Banner Saga right now! :)

I think the whole indie thing is blown out of proportion. i think most of the so called indie games are pretty much crap. there are a few good ones every year. I liked papers please, brothers and gone home a lot, but there were a few other indie games i simply hated. this is also true of many of the AAA games out there. There are a couple of things a would love to verify.

1. this whole 8-10 X development cost story. it simply doesn't add up. the graphical upgrade from this last gen to this gen is incremental and there are PC devs who have been using these same tools for a good 5 years now.

2. I would like some sales numbers on indie games. yes, minecraft has sold a couple of million copies, but what about the rest

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