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Willits: Industry Too "Hit-Driven," Only Getting Worse

In an interview with MCV, id Software creative director Tim Willits said the gaming industry -- the one that pays his bills and fills his belly -- is completely hit-driven. His own studio, backed by hits of its own including the Wolfenstein, DOOM and Quake games, is taking a big risk launching RAGE in a crowded back end of 2011. Studios with less under its belt wouldn't be able to pull off the same launch.

'[Gaming is still a hit-driven industry], but it can't be," he told MCV. "The big titles will only get bigger, but it's not sustainable. I think it's getting worse. The big titles, they're hits - make no mistake. There are a few titles that do really well and all the other ones struggle. Look at what Call of Duty sells versus what Crysis sells, and Crysis is a good game. There's millions and millions of copies in difference, and there's very little between them in the fun value."

For developers and publishers, these factors are making things tougher and tougher to create and publish anything. The games industry itself is so much more expensive now, and key talent is just as costly, he said.

"It's risky to develop a new IP and take a gamble," he added. "If you take a gamble, you'd better make sure you're going to hit that home run. Nobody would care about RAGE if it wasn't from us! At GamesCom, at this judges' event, we had Modern Warfare 3 next to Diablo 3, we had RAGE, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Batman 2. It was almost the row of threes."

When asked about his thoughts on the biggest change facing gaming as it transitions from a boxed good to an ongoing provided service, he said that companies will likely focus on the big franchises and have a big plan from the beginning.

"For us, we always try to support our community with patches, Quake levels and John giving away source code and mod support," he added. "The business aspect of it has to join in at some point, and we will begin to see economic models that support those types of games. So, we'll see more games which support those types of models for sure, although I'm not sure what those might be: more microtransactions, more pay-to-play, new content etc. Developers have to take the risk at the beginning."

To read the full interview, head here.

  • techseven
    Not every game has to be a multi-million dollar venture, why not try to do something new?
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    "...we had Modern Warfare 3 next to Diablo 3, we had RAGE, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Batman 2. It was almost the row of threes."

    I don't see Farmville 3....
    Reply
  • Onus
    The title made sense. The rest of the article could be translated to "we need to find more and better ways to keep gamers paying."
    I call BS.

    Patches to fix problems are certainly acceptable, and a game that is extensible might attract a whole community of modders (e.g. Unreal), but I want to buy a boxed game; it's mine, and it is a complete, finished product. I can play it when and where I choose (assuming my PC meets specs), and there's no "required" content that can only be unlocked with another payment.
    Reply
  • "...Look at what Call of Duty sells versus what Crysis sells, and Crysis is a good game. There's millions and millions of copies in difference, and there's very little between them in the fun value."

    Apparently the customers beg to differ, as perceived by the number of copies sold. Where is the 'the customer is always right' adagium with this supposedly know-it-al guru?
    Reply
  • Basically, he's saying RAGE sucks and that he's scared.
    Reply
  • toxin440
    Nothing to see here really -- the entire movie industry has been like this for the past 10 years or so. Toy Story 3, Terminator 5, Cars 3?

    The masses these days don't like change and are more than happy to pay money over and over for the same thing that's only slightly different and maginally amusing.

    The only way it's going to change is if people stop buying the crap. As long as a company can sell 25 million copies of the next call of duty game, nobody cares how good it is, or what actual content it has in it.

    Just like the housing market, the student loan market, and soon the medical industry... I think we will see a "gaming bubble". The idea of a company making billions of the same damn game re-hashed a few times is not sustainable. people are stupid yes, but everyone has their limit.
    Reply
  • southernshark
    Look at a League of Legends, a basic sleeper which is doing great. Ok its not doing like Call of Duty or something like that, but people are going home with more money in their pocket at the end of the day.
    Reply
  • stingstang
    ElectroDonker"...Look at what Call of Duty sells versus what Crysis sells, and Crysis is a good game. There's millions and millions of copies in difference, and there's very little between them in the fun value."Apparently the customers beg to differ, as perceived by the number of copies sold. Where is the 'the customer is always right' adagium with this supposedly know-it-al guru?It's because Crysis is late to the fps party. If everyone's friend is playing Modern Warefare 2, and you can either buy that, or crysis, you're going to buy MW2. Doesn't matter if the game is WAY better. It's hard to convince 'your friends' to swap a game that they are having fun with.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    stingstangIt's because Crysis is late to the fps party. If everyone's friend is playing Modern Warefare 2, and you can either buy that, or crysis, you're going to buy MW2. Doesn't matter if the game is WAY better. It's hard to convince 'your friends' to swap a game that they are having fun with.
    It's just about "insta-satisfaction" nowadays. The game that gets more fun in a short amount of time wins. Crysis was hard (sort of) to get used to the suit mechanic and find it's pace, but the MW series became what it is now thanks to the storyline and fast paced game style. Both are FPS'es, but if you ask me, MW has a lot more "satisfaction driven" gimmicks, at least in MP. Single player MW > Crysis all the way: story telling is pretty good, even if Crysis has more options to choose from.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • warezme
    vaughn2k"...we had Modern Warfare 3 next to Diablo 3, we had RAGE, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Batman 2. It was almost the row of threes."I don't see Farmville 3....Why the downgrade? It was funny.
    Reply