According to calculations, it may cost up to 200% more to develop games for the PS3 or Xbox 2 than it does for current systems.

Source: EA expresses ‘concern’ about next-gen technology

Here's some blogging for you. This article brings two thoughts to mind for me...

First is this: Of course, if you're striving for some semblance of realism in games, the costs will likely approach and exceed the cost to produce movies. It'll approach the cost because, eventually, you'll need either movie-grade animators or real actors. And then it'll exceed the cost, because who wants a game that's as linear as a 2-hour movie? If you want any replay value out of the thing, you're going to have to produce the equivalent of a 4-hour movie at least, if not a 20- to 40-hour movie. And then, you're going to have to be satisfied that many players will miss most of it. Once things reach this point, I think in some sense video games will have arrived as a "successor" to movies, as movies were a "successor" to radio plays.

This brings me to my second thought: Right now, I'm listening to a streaming radio station that's playing old sci-fi and drama radio plays, like X Minus One and The Shadow. These shows are great, and I'm thinking of buying a few box sets of them. These old radio shows get quite a bit of mileage out of their less technologically advanced medium. In contrast to this, my consumption of contemporary and popular television, movies, and music has been dropping off from year to year as I get more tired of supremely well-produced yet worthless content.

Music gets sold on anything but a good tune, movies sold on special effects over plot, and video games head toward technological supremacy over a fun hook or even an engaging story line. But, I don't want anything to do with any of these.

A few days ago, a friend of mine remarked that many "retro" video games were just as horrible as modern video games, but I have to disagree a bit. There were a lot of horrible games. But, for games to be successful back when the dazzle factor of the hardware was low, you needed the fun trick or clever twist that addicted players. The constraints called for ingenuity. Sometimes this meant pushing the hardware, and sometimes this meant coming up with a brilliant yet simple-to-implement idea. (Tetris, I'm looking at you.)

As the hardware platforms progress, we'll see more and more absolutely dazzling demos of the hardware sold as games that completely fail at being fun. But they'll have insane budgets and probably sell very well just because people want to see the pretty sparklies and foobar shaders. The increased capabilities will offer more expressive ability to interactive storytellers, but I bet it will just give even more excuse for game makers to be distracted from that and keep pumping out stories that suck carried by game play that reeks.

It all makes me almost wish for a kink in Moore's Law that stalls the progress of dazzling hardware and forces developers back to being clever with their resources and game ideas. Maybe we'll see more and more of an indie games community rise, producing genuinely fun and amusingly ingenious games. (Gish, I'm looking at you.)

Meanwhile, my girlfriend and I will be playing massive amounts of Magical Drop III. shortname=crappyvideogames

Archived Comments

  • I generally agree, tho I love a lot of games for their eye-candy like I love (well, at least like, or wll pay to see) a lot of movies strictly for thier eye-candy (as opposed to a good story, acting, etc.) But, re your wish for a more constrained environment in which to draw out developers' creativity: it strikes me we're starting to see this with the mobile environments. The cellphones Russell Beattie describes are severely restricted compared to today's monster desktop/video-card setups that comprise even bargain-basement PCs (tho Russ DOES today talk about getting a 512MB memory card for his phone -- size of a thumbnail -- for about $100. The constraints won't be there for long -- enjoy while you can!)
  • Hey your right man. Tetris and Nintendo, Sonic and Sega, dude those games kicked a$$ andnow a days game makers do get side tracked by all the fancy stuff an what not.The only new game that i played and liked all the way through was halo 1. Then all the other games i got for my xbox blowed except the fact that soul calibur was alrighty, but game makers or whatever they're called need to do a better job with their plot and game play...peace out and keep on playin the old school games.