The need for growth that fundamentally underpins capitalist business structure is killing the development sector.
That’s according to Oddworld founder Lorne Lanning, who told Games Industry that the big successes of the highest grossing triple-A titles is shaping the decision making of publishers throughout the entire production train.
"I’d say it’s more of a capitalism trend, which means all those companies need growth,” he said. If you’re a public company you need to have constant growth and you need to conquer more territory, and the day you’re not, your shareholders bail. That’s it.
"Inevitability someone starts building a $100m title and then they kill it and then someone else goes, ‘Well, we need to be there too next year because we know X number of people are going to buy racing, X number of people are going to buy shooters, X number of people are going to buy football and soccer next year, these are aces in the hole. Someone’s going to be grabbing the billion and a half dollars in those sectors. We’ve got to go after it.’ The competition is getting more fierce."
All of which is bad news for those tasked with actually making the titles, Lorne argues.
"The terms got worse for developers,” he added. So the budget’s going up, and now [publishers are] saying, ‘Now we’re spending $20m on a title and not $5m and at $20m we need better terms. You’re going to do ten times the work, but you’re going to get a fifth of the backside because we’re risking all this money.’
Depending on how savvy they would be with the deals, usually they never made money. Most developers never really made money. They were able to stay in the business. But the way the deals were structured, they were basically dead.”
Lorne actually goes further to criticise the effect capitalism is having on the wider world, too.
"I think it’s killing the world,” he stated. I think by any measure of scientific reason it’s a provable fact. We’ve got a lot of problems. Now, I just happen to have been focused on those problems for a lot of years. And we’re in our ’emperor wears no clothes’ phase, right? But as soon as people can’t eat, we’ll get over that phase real quick, see how bad shit is. And hopefully we can overcome that. But we need to wake up first."