Tuesday during a presentation at Gamescom in Germany, Epic Games president Mike Capps made a statement that should see PC gamers and hardware manufacturers dancing with glee in the streets: the company is refocusing its attention back to the PC. The news is a bit surprising given that, just a few months ago, it was suggested that the console sector is where the real money resides.
But that industry viewpoint has rapidly changed over the course of the spring and summer quarters, and Capps brings this up during the presentation. "Everyone knows the middle class is disappearing from the console business," he admitted to the audience. "Gears of War I hope will do really well, but a pretty good game doesn't make its money back any more. A game like Homefront sells a couple of million copies and they close the studio, right?"
That's just not enough anymore, he admits, and it's pretty depressing. "You don't want to see what happens to an industry where it's Call of Duty, Halo and Gears and no-one else has enough money to make any games any more," he added. "That's not a fun industry. I can't bet my entire company every time I make a game. That's a really dangerous business."
With the console era seemingly coming to a close, where does that leave Epic? Returning to its PC-based roots. "It's nice to target the PC as a primary platform again," teased Capps, "not just for ports."
This time around, the studio may not be focusing on games with a multi-million dollar budget. There's indication that Epic may be setting its sights on smaller titles that would appear on Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. He said that developers and publishers need to create smaller-sized games to counter-balance the larger, costlier blockbuster titles. Was that a hint to the size of Epic's current projects?
Right now the Raleigh, N.C.-based studio is working on five, unnamed titles not related to the Gears of War series. "At Epic, we didn't multiply the studio size by five when we started working on these multiple projects," answered Capps when asked if the projects would be just as large as what went into the Gears of War titles. "So you can make some assumptions about the size of those projects."
Perhaps Epic should work on an Unreal Tournament title built for Facebook and Google+. Like many other multiplayer FPS games on the former social network, gamers can frag for free with options to purchase upgrades immediately or slowly collect virtual currency for purchasing needed upgrades.
Actually Epic, just crank out Unreal 3 for us. It's long overdue.