The margins for success with triple-A development are getting thinner and thinner, according to the head of UK studio Ubisoft Reflections.
Gareth Edmondson, a decorated industry professional with many years experience, said “if you’re going to play in the triple-A space, a studio needs to be massive”.
“You’ll need huge teams and very high production values,” he claimed during a Gamescom panel discussion debating the next ten years for PlayStation.
Quality demands on triple-A development have soared so high that blockbuster games commonly cost more than £50 million to develop.
The high-stakes that studios place on triple-A projects means there’s little room for error, Edmondson said.
“There are fewer and fewer games that are succeeding on that level.
“If you’re starting up a studio and you’re trying to compete with Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed then it’s mental.”
But opportunities are plentiful in the digital, mobile and social games spaces, he added.
“Look at studios like Rovio, which was recently valued at $1.2 billion, for a very lovely and very simple game. We’re now talking to more customers than we’ve ever talked to before, through Facebook, through tablets and iPhones and Android. There are all sorts of ways we can communicate now and the opportunities there are enormous.”
Kellee Santiago, the co-founder of indie group Thatgamecompany, who was also present at the roundtable discussion, backed Edmondson’s claim.
“Digital distribution opens up the possibility for different scale and scope in terms of price point and who your target audience is,” she said.
Santiago said “the notion of what’s necessary to create a triple-A game is today a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of what’s expected for a certain amount of money that’s being put into financing a project”.
“What’s expected in development in return for these investments has its own inefficiencies for what people think it requires in terms of work and manpower, which I don’t believe [in terms of scale] is necessary at all and that’s what we try to prove,” she added.