Develop Conference: Sumo Digitalâ??s Gareth Wilson casts dire assessment of national triple-A sector

‘Something is horribly wrong in UK triple-A’

Sumo Digital chief games designer Gareth Wilson has said that the UK triple-A games industry is in a bad way, noting the large number of studio closures and layoffs that have occurred over the past year.

Speaking at the Develop Conference in Brighton, Wilson impressed that he believed the reason for the on-going industry troubles had nothing to do with a drop in quality output.

“Right now there are very good games being rated [on Metacritic] at around 80 per cent that just aren’t selling at all,” he said.

“They sell around 200,000 or 300,000 copies. Obviously something has gone horribly wrong in the UK industry.”

Wilson cited international IP of the likes of Motorstorm, Enslaved, Singularity, Blur and Alan Wake as examples of this. He went on to note that certain critically well received triple-A titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Borderlands were still doing well commercially.

“You can make a good IP at this point in the console cycle, its not impossible,” he added.

Wilson stated his belief that the core and console markets internationally are in a natural ‘dropping off’ phase, having gone through growth and complexity in the traditional business cycle model. The sheer volume of competition that currently exists in the market was singled-out as a major cause of this.

“We’re in this dormancy phase at the moment,” he said.

“When Blur came out, it was in a six month period where the most 80 per cent plus rated games were released in the entirety of the current console cycle.”

Wilson also gave a series of informed suggestions for ways in which developers who are still making or wish to produce new triple-A IP may be able to succeed.

“If you can get your new IP to be the first on a new platform, that’s a great place to build from,” he said, citing Wii U, Onlive, Amazon Android and the upcoming Zeebo console for the Latin American and African markets.

“If you got yourself on that platform quickly, and produced something cheaply, you could have something major on your hands. But new IP is really, really hard at this stage of the console cycle.

“We’re competing with cinema, we’re competing with TV, we’re competing with going down the park to play football, and we’re competing with having sex with your girlfriend. We need to be better than all these things.”

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