The man leading the Total War Battles team at The Creative Assembly has predicted that mobile developers could soon find themselves facing the same challenges currently prevalent in the sphere of triple-A console games making.
Speaking in a feature in the new edition of Develop, The Creative Assembly's Renaud Charpentier, who lead the internal division that created Total War Battles: Shogun for iOS, stated a belief that as mobile game development tools, team sizes and techniques increase in scope and complexity, studios making mobile titles will soon mimic those making big budget console games.
Initially reflecting on his pleasure at moving from working on the likes of The Creative Assembly's infamously intricate PC games to a small mobile team and a smaller team, Charpentier spoke fondly of the efficiency, creativity and energy he experienced in building an iOS title, drawing comparisons with the console development space in the mid-to-late-ninties.
"It sounds perfect," Charpentier stated. "But it is going to change quickly, because those [mobile] devices are getting more powerful all the time. As that happens, surely we will need more people. It's the same as the change in the console space from PlayStation 1 to Playstation 3. Perhaps the 'iPad 4' will probably be more powerful than a PS3, and you will have big players wanting to do triple-A on the device.
"I don't see how they will avoid having at least 30 or 40 people on the game. That is even already the case at some places making triple-A games for mobile. It's almost going full cirle. A console complexity is starting to be seem when making mobile games."
Charpentier also suggested that the new monetisation models establishing themselves as standards in the mobile space may prove incompatible with the expense and effort typical in the triple-A development model.
"Another thing that is interesting is that players expect to pay very little for these games or expect a freemium model," Charpentier stated. "As mobile dev teams grow, will they manage to sustain teams of 50 people and recoup their cost? It could be just like where console is now, where games need to sell two or three million copies, just to break even. It is a huge risk. Even if the installed base for iOS is six or seven times what the Playstation 3 has, it will be very hard. And mobile development is moving that fast. When you can run a game like Skyrim on a tablet, mobile development will be the same as Triple-A console development. That may happen very soon."
The recently released Total War Battles: Shogun reappropriates the RTS format seen in the PC Total War games for iOS.