Games have a technical barrier as well, something that you don't see with most art. Is that a curse, or a blessing?
RG: It's both. It's definitely a combination. In many ways actually, I personally find it a bit of a curse, only because I happen to be one of the people who try to pursue the art side of it more than a lot of developers. The problem is that, as the technology moves forward so quickly...
I'm a big believer that every time there's a substantial leap in technology -- and I would describe those as things like when CD-ROMs first became available. Or when 3D graphics hardware first became available. Or what happened when the internet first really became available.
What happens is the artistic
side of the gameplay pretty much goes away. Instead what happens is
people rush to take great advantage of that technological advancement,
and gameplay usually becomes very simplified, again. Everything becomes
"run around in a maze and kill each other". But it looks so
much better than it did before that it sells well.
But then, to compete with that,
you have to make a game that's a little deeper and more interesting.
A little deeper and a little more interesting. And then, in my mind,
it gets interesting as games get deeper, up until the next technological
shift, in which case it resets again to the lowest common denominator.
So I go through "cycles of happiness," you might say, with games. I usually enjoy it more when people are adding depth versus [going] back to that simple gameplay again.
John Riccitiello recently
told Reuters that the next-gen transition was over.
RG: What EA is concerned about, and I think it's echoed by most game developers, is that the technologies are now so complex that just to put an object up on the screen requires a code-base that's enormous.
So every time there's a new platform that
comes out, it takes a year or more, just to develop the software tools
to crate the same gameplay experience that you had on the previous machine,
but just taking advantage of slightly better graphics or sound or input
controllers or whatever the advancements might be.
That's a real concern for our
industry. The time and dollars that it takes to bring anything to the
table is now going up at a pace that which is growing probably faster
than the market size. And so that's a real problem.
You've been able to side-step
the console issue, for at least the past ten years.
RG: I have. But what's fun
is... even when I was doing work back on the Apple II, there were already
the Atari 8-bits, and the Nintendo cartridge machines and things, too.
Even back in those days, people were talking about "the death of
the PC," and "the rise of the console." And today, people
are still talking about the death of the PC and the rise of the console.
But I must say, though, that the line between the two continues to blur, especially now that a lot of consoles are online and now a lot of consoles have pretty sophisticated input devices.
RG: Called keyboards, exactly. Or, close enough. To where the opportunity to do PC-like experiences -- which is what I like to do -- but do them on the console, is actually becoming practical.
And so while I'm not sure I personally will be developing on a console, I think you're going to see my company, NCsoft... we've already announced we have a deal for the console [on PlayStation 3], and we're starting to move some products to the console.