A recent Guardian article has explored why the industry doesn’t have many games development stars – and quotes Peter Molyneux as saying that publishers are reluctant to promote individuals because "if that famous person leaves, they can take the franchise with them".
"I don’t think publishers like there to be people attached to a certain franchise," said Molyneux. "I don’t think they want Peter Molyneux known for the Fable franchise and they don’t particularly want a famous person attached to any franchise."
"Behind the scenes, I think it’s more true than ever before that a director or producer – or a ‘vision holder’, if you don’t want to think of it in film terms – is pushing a franchise forward," he said. It’s because how mainstream games have grown, from the single bedroom programmer into teams which, at their operational peak, can have well over a hundred people working.
"It’s not as if these teams are run in a communistic way, where everyone has their view and you can’t point and say well, this game is being driven by this person.
"It’s just not true. You can’t have 100 people working on a project without there being really clear creative leadership. Games aren’t done in that sort of way – no creative vision is".
Molyneux also says the same situation means we has been "credited unduly" in the past for other peoples’ efforts: "Not so much these days, because the role of a designer is much, much more understood. But for a very long time, I was way, way over-credited for many things."
The Lionhead co-founder also predicts that the situation will change in time: "I think you’ll get more people sticking up their hands saying ‘I was here from the first moment to the last moment, I was in on every single meeting, I understand the game.’
"I think more and more they’ll be recognised as the spokesman or the visionary of a game."
His comments are timely. Last week, one analyst said publishers would benefit if they made more of their ‘superstar’ developers – while Capcom has caused a mini-scandal by choosing to omit mention of Okami’s original design studio Clover in the Wii port of the title.
But, at the same time, this week has seen the release of the biggest selling game in recent history – GTAIV – and the producers and creative directors of which rarely do interviews. So do developers really need their day in the sun to succeed? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.