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BioWare: Developing Triple-A Titles Is Pointless

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 46 comments

Unless developers have a huge bank account, developing AAA titles is apparently pointless.

Is big-budget game development getting out of hand? Dr. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of BioWare, recently said that for most development houses, working on triple-A console projects would be pointless. While it seems that big money resides in creating big-name console titles, apparently only the top ten companies can actually accomplish the feat and walk away with a little pocket change.

"It's more competitive than it's ever been, it's more dangerous than it's ever been," Zeschuk told attendees of the Develop Conference in Brighton. "Right now it's precisely the wrong thing to chase."

Zeschuk added that better opportunities are developing such as providing gamers with content directly rather than go through the traditional "brick and mortar" avenue. This helps make up for the losses stemming from boxed games sales on the traditional retail front, as these are seeing a slow year-on-year decline.

"Retail still works but it's not a panacea," he said. "The risk-taking is disappearing on the publisher side. There's exceptions but it costs a lot of money and you've got to set the right goals."

He also gave a thumbs up to "elder developers" breaking up into smaller teams rather than tackling blockbuster development as a whole. He said these smaller units are able to build a tight business with a positive working culture.

Current;y BioWare is branching out and experimenting with new platforms as seen with its iPhone and Facebook projects.

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 43 Hide
    03RAH03 , July 14, 2010 11:50 PM
    Remember when every other game wasn't a military shooter?
  • 29 Hide
    maigo , July 14, 2010 11:47 PM
    Remember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?
  • 27 Hide
    polly the parrot , July 14, 2010 11:49 PM
    maigoRemember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?


    Those were the good old days...
Other Comments
  • 29 Hide
    maigo , July 14, 2010 11:47 PM
    Remember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?
  • 27 Hide
    polly the parrot , July 14, 2010 11:49 PM
    maigoRemember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?


    Those were the good old days...
  • 43 Hide
    03RAH03 , July 14, 2010 11:50 PM
    Remember when every other game wasn't a military shooter?
  • 18 Hide
    LATTEH , July 14, 2010 11:53 PM
    well if mass effect 2 isn't considered a triple A title i would want to see what a real triple A title is like for them!
  • 12 Hide
    Arethel , July 14, 2010 11:59 PM
    Yes, but remember when games weren't as complex with Hollywood B-rated scripts, text vs voice acting, and graphical immersion came from all nighters laden in Mountain Dew?

    It's somewhat regrettable to admit, but what he says is true. If we want to see AAA titles, by today's standards, only the largest game studios have the capability to make it happen. Sure, there's talent everywhere, but this is a matter of quantity vs. quality. AAA game development takes years, something that would put smaller studios under.

    There's still a myriad of lesser titles out there that are still fun to play. They're just not up to par with the AAA standard. I've played a lot of great games from smaller studios and they're still fun. They may not have all the bells and whistles of the AAA titles, but they're also cheaper. A few that come to mind recently include: Braid, Ceville, Machinarium, Mount and Blade, Torchlight, and Trine.
  • 21 Hide
    nukemaster , July 15, 2010 12:04 AM
    maigoRemember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?

    I miss those days. Now we get to buy games to finance the patches to make them work right :( 
  • 8 Hide
    joytech22 , July 15, 2010 12:16 AM
    maigoRemember when they would just make a game and release it when it was ready?


    Oh how i miss those day's.. i could go to the game store every week and see something new!
  • 12 Hide
    jaysbob , July 15, 2010 12:26 AM
    nukemasterI miss those days. Now we get to buy games to finance the patches to make them work right


    you mean finance the $15 "DLC" or $30 "expansion pack"
  • 5 Hide
    Trueno07 , July 15, 2010 12:51 AM
    I think titles like Tropico 3, Ruse, etc are what keep me gaming. Not entirley AAA titles, but big enough to have a good balance between Community and Developer Support.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 15, 2010 12:55 AM
    Sorry, but what is "triple A"??? :s
  • 6 Hide
    smithereen , July 15, 2010 1:04 AM
    Well Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, and Assassin's Creed 2 were all fantastic, and triple-A by any standard.
  • 15 Hide
    maigo , July 15, 2010 1:07 AM
    The real problem with Triple A games is they shouldn't suck and yet the 'good to suck' ratio is the same as other games.
  • 4 Hide
    martin0642 , July 15, 2010 1:26 AM
    Before the internet took over, there wasn't really a decent way to get patches to people so the quality control had to be higher.

    These days we have things like OnLive where you don't even get the game itself.

    I do miss games like Full Throttle...but I'll trade that in for the Matrix when we finally develop that.
  • -3 Hide
    sheytan , July 15, 2010 1:48 AM
    What he meant to say is:
    "There is enough money to go around for all of us (companies). Lets make more budget games and not compete, the gamers buy our sh*t anyway."
  • 4 Hide
    NuclearShadow , July 15, 2010 1:57 AM
    Some of the best games I have ever played are games that hardly anyone heard of. Remember when game-play was the main focus on a game as it should always be? It doesn't take much of a budget at all to achieve making a fun game with good game-play heck even some flash games have achieved this and in some cases they are made from a single individual.

    As long as the game is fun to play gamers will buy it. Not every game has to be the most graphical thing ever. Not every game has to have voice dialogue and especially does not require a celebrity to put their voice into it. As long as the music within the game matches the atmosphere and sounds good it does not require a giant professional orchestra or the music of real life big name performers.

    Last but not least escape try to stay independent and not be bought out by a publisher. This has turned into hell for so many developers.
    Sure the publishers big money sack they offer to the founders of the dev team is tempting and sure they have more money to fiance your games but the only devs that ever get bought out are the ones who met success already and if they did it before with even less money they could certainly do it again with the profits they made previously. Publishers also never push to be innovative instead they push to imitate.

    With the age of the digital distribution and less and less physical copies being sold publishers are no longer needed to make mass copies of the games and ship them around the globe. So what exactly makes them a publisher once this is no longer needed nor practiced anymore?
    What I would like to see is games being made by independent developers
    and the games being disturbed by Xbox Live, PSN, Steam and such.

    If that was how games were delivered to the gamers then the developers would keep a much higher % of profits. Microsoft and the others couldn't go and try to screw them because failure of the developers means failure to them as well. They require these developers to make the games otherwise their console fails or in Valve's case with steam the program fails. In fact the PC would be the easiest way to achieve this as nothing stops anyone from developing for the PC and there is no cost to release it for the windows OS. Dev's could even create thier own method of distribution and not have to use steam or similar
    services. Or perhaps even a PC dev co-op project for a nonprofit digital distribution program. Meaning a small amount of sales goes to the program and not a specific company.
  • 1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , July 15, 2010 1:59 AM
    I'd say they're Kotor series was Triple A for me, the story was enthralling, and listening to what people had to say, and learning the "history" kept me in game.

    Needless to say... What the hell is Revan DOING?! I WANT TO KNOW! T_T
  • 0 Hide
    fayzaan , July 15, 2010 3:38 AM
    Remember AYBABTU! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fvTxv46ano

    You have no chance to survive make your time!!
  • -1 Hide
    matt87_50 , July 15, 2010 4:12 AM
    damn bureaucrat, they make everything complicated, even the assembly based, software rendering days of old seem like child's play compared to all this complicated mess...
  • 1 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , July 15, 2010 5:07 AM
    LATTEHwell if mass effect 2 isn't considered a triple A title i would want to see what a real triple A title is like for them!


    That's exactly what I was thinking. That and Dragon Age.
  • 1 Hide
    braneman , July 15, 2010 5:51 AM
    Master of Magic, the one game with smart AI not "SMART" AI like devs make today, it could win without cheating, extra knowledge etc. most games have glorified aimbots or a simple build que component to start up a base.
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