Attendees to the first day of Lyon GDC found themselves in the midst of an economic theory debate sparked by Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack earlier today, with the outspoken studio boss repeating his prediction of a one console future for the games industry.
Making reference to theories regarding commodification and the history of technology, Dyack said that in time "economic trends will overpower [first party publishers] whether they want it to or not and it will be inevitable" leading to an industry making games for one single console, rather than two or three Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo made devices.
Pointing to the printing press, automobiles, cameras and cell phones, he said that there is historical precedent for technology to eventually standardise itself: "This is something that has occurred over hundreds of years across the history of technology," he said.
While Dyack was quick to say that he wasn’t prepared to predict the specifics of such an ‘inevitability’, purely the end result, he was happy to point to the various conflicting market forces prevalent in model console game development which would bring it about, claiming that "the current business climate will accelerate the move towards this.
"Today’s market is not open, it’s monopolistic," he added, pointing to the formats devised, manufactured and owned by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. "Each is closed technology which does not allow competition. It’s important to realise this is not an open playing field."
He rebuffed the notion that the PC is already a single open platform saying it was "the exact opposite of that because there is not a single standard. The PC market make be open, but it’s not standardised."
Dyack said that the hit-driven nature of the industry, compounded with the rising cost of development and that fact that "for the first generation that this the case" the market has three conflicting but viable hardware platforms meant that consumers aren’t noticing or caring about differences between platforms.
"Hardware will continue to grow but it will have less influence on how games are made. First parties are spending tremendous amounts on R&D with results noticeable less distinguishable with each cycle. And they know this," he said. "I think we are starting to over-saturate people. 300 games were released in November – there are not enough consumers out there to play them.
"Have you ever wondered what happens when a parent who knows nothing about games goes into a story to buy one? They don’t have to worry about not having the right console when they buy a DVD."
And when it came to the production of games for each current console, and the ‘crazy’ manpower level that demands, he added: "There is no easy solution to making a game for all three platforms," and said that publishers were clearly acknowledging this via this year’s intense level of acquisition and mergers.
Ultimately, said Dyack, his theory of an inevitable move towards a single console would be good for the industry’s publishers, developer and consumers. And world with a standard and open technology base that had no first party licence fees or approval process would mean "one SKU, lower prices for games, better products and lower production costs."