As we all know well enough by now, the videogame industry is becoming an ever larger beast year on year. It consumes more and more of our money and developer resources. It grows hungrier for more of that green paper. As it stands, the videogame industry is now globally worth $99.6 billion USD, with a little help from the growing industry in mobile games.
While mobile gaming is cost effective for developers, with an ongoing marketing plan in the micro transactions that buyers expect as par for the course, big triple A titles that we play on our consoles are a different story altogether.
Just how long can the hungry gaming beast be sated for, before exploding like Mr. Creosote? In this post, which may or may not be concerning to those reading it, let’s take a look at all the money that rolls around in the undercurrent of the consumer base, only to be recycled aloft in the upper stratosphere of game development studios.
The VR Conundrum
First off, game developers have found themselves in a brand new sticky and expensive situation. With the arrival of Playstation VR, the first widely affordable (£350! Ha, we’ll get two, why not), accessible VR headset has left the gaming industry poised to explode even more. Yet games developers are now left with an interesting quandary. Do they leave all that intimidating new tech behind with their new game? Or do they get the eggheads prepped for pairing answers on a whiteboard while they elaborate on grand VR designs?
This development dilemma will, for the time being, be a huge gamble for any developer that decides to have a fiddle around in the old toolbox. Will they create a great and original idea for VR in a game available to both owners and non-owners of the headset? Or will they waste time, money, staff salaries, electricity bills and more on an idea that just won’t earn them a profit? My, what a lot of questions. How on earth is any developer not pulling their hair out at the prospect of keeping up with the industry?
It’s Not Too Expensive, I’m A Rockstar
Well it is apparently not a prospect that seems intimidating to Rockstar Studios. Sources suggest that VR and potentially AR (Augmented Reality) will be coming to Grand Theft Auto 6. This would compliment the idea that they are pushing for a first person experience by default. GTA 6 is currently penned in for a release date some time in 2018, regardless of how GTA games tend to have half a decade between them. However, despite the perhaps foolish fearlessness of Rockstar (hindsight can and usually is a bitch) there are several factors that need to be taken into account. Before we even start to hear bang-your-fist-on-the-desk fact facts on GTA 6, Rockstar need to take care of Red Dead Redemption 2’s release. If you’re as mental about Red Dead 2 as most people are, a rumour is currently circulating about it being released October 2nd this year
The point I’m leading up to here is the fact that GTA 6’s release date, combined with the game’s budget, combined with all this fancy VR talk – just doesn’t make sense. How will they afford all this? It all just whiffs a little of a developer trying desperately for a consumer demand that just will not wait. This is where the gaming beast has started putting on weight.
Rumours are also circulating about the GTA 6 team running into more financial issues than they are making developmental progress. These are tell tale signs of a videogame becoming too expensive for its own good, leading to issues with management of fan expectation and release dates. Leading me nicely onto the next dollar bill shaped court marshal…
Kojima’s 80 Million Dollar Baby
A while back I wrote a piece on just exactly what the heck happened to Metal Gear Solid 5. I’ve mentioned several times since, that the final moments of the game feel more like a thrown together montage than the epic conclusion to the saga we were promised. When a game is allowed to be developed for more than seven years, spending upwards of $80 million dollars, questions of whether turning a profit soon come into play. Indeed, they tend to come in to play and make a right mess of things.
A similar issue was more recently seen last November when Final Fantasy XV finally released. This one was an even bigger ball for profit margins to get rolling as it was in development for ten years! After a decade, this writer theorised in his review that Square Enix hit the panic button, just like Konami did. In the review, this had to be taken into consideration as some areas just felt empty or rushed.
It is now with these two examples that we have to wonder – if a game takes too long to make… will it be shit? Well no, not necessarily. Both MGSV and FFXV were brilliant. But Duke Nukem Forever was sadly a steaming pile of the stuff. There’s little doubt left that, after spending so much money for so long, devs have to work extra hard to create a passable game, ready for release day. That’s after the publishers have snapped their fingers and slapped a deadline on your project.
“Let’s Toss Ideas About – See How Much More Money We Can Make”
When all hands are on deck back at game studio central, our wallets come into play. After all, our wallets are the reason all this work has been put into a game. Now, we descend from the dizzying heights of corporate warfare, down to the drab greys of our everyday lives. In the last decade, the game industry blossomed at the rate of a Planet Earth flower montage.
In steps DLC, Season Passes and ultra mind blowing mega woppa editions. Sadly, whether you love or hate being dangled upside down for the pennies, this was a necessary next step for the games industry to go down. Developer’s mouths need feeding too! Although the gaming beast is now obese. Fat and spoiled by an endless stream of dollar bills tumbling into its gob.
To prove a point – developers keep on shafting us gamers with ever sneakier and extortionate deals. These “deals”, found in many a shiny deluxe cardboard box find success in playing on our fanboy tendencies. Back when Modern Warfare 3 came out, fanboys could buy a set of freaking night vision goggles with their game! From what I hear, they were fairly decent too. However, the important part of that example is the fact that they came WITH the game…
Soon, on January 24th, Resident Evil 7 will release. Just recently, new details released about the collector’s edition that will cost around £100. See the image below for details on all the lovely fan fueled tat you can expect.
However, there’s one problem here. The Resident Evil 7 collector’s edition doesn’t come with the game! For both, you’ll have to fork out another £40. To think, I was reeling at the collector’s edition for Black Flag. At least it came with the game!
Ultimate Troll Edition
There is a fairly insidious side to all of this, sadly. I wonder just how many people have gone ahead and put their money down on preordering this thing without realizing they shouldn’t expect to get the game with it. I wouldn’t expect them to either. It’s not like you go out and get the collector’s edition of Harry Potter movies only to get a box of wonky wands and no DVDs for Christ’s sake! Anyways, the fellows at up and coming YouTube success channel, Pretty Good Gaming, sum this issue up nicely.
So there we have it. Financial issues burning holes into both our wallets and the coffers of big game developers. How long until the great gaming beast can take no more, exploding into a gooey display of gaming recession? Simply put, videogames are becoming too big for their boots. Especially now that less and less people are falling for preorders after the No Man’s Sky scandal.
Scalebound just got cancelled on Xbox One after its staff were given a month off due to “too much mental stress”. The only out I can see for developers is a future where we only buy our games on digital market places. Yeah, I’m not too hot on that idea either, what with the death of pre-owned games that will follow. However you do it, take cover. Because the beast is going to pop.