Have you looked at some of the independents that, you know, can kind of write their own ticket now, like Epic? Do you think that there's a way to get to that level, you know, for other independent studios?
TA: Yeah, yeah. Also, those guys make a lot of their money off their tool side, the engine that they sell, and that's given them a huge advantage. They can make their games the way they want to do it, and they can do it on their own terms, which ultimately, I think, is how it's going to be.
I think we're still going through that shift. I would love for us to be in that position, too. We're going off the back of our experiences, and people respect us for that, but if you don't have those hit titles behind you, it's really, yes, it's a wonder to me how there are even so many developers out there that survived.
Well, it's difficult because typically people have been operating from milestone to milestone, and you need to sign something before the prior project ends, or your payments are going to dry out and you can't make payroll. That's not a stable model to operate under.
TA: No. No, it's not. And I would like for us to be like Pixar -- they take their time and they work on maybe two or two and a half projects on the go at once, and they craft each one, and they plan it very well. I would like for us to be in that kind of situation, so we are rolling off one team into another one.
And each one is an A-team. The B-team, I think, is so destructive to an organization, so you've got to avoid that.
The extension of this generation, as everyone speaks about. This will be The Xbox 360's fourth year, which would typically be getting on in years, but it seems like it's still quite vibrant and active, and things will persist for a while.
TA: Yeah, it seems that way. I mean, look at Red Dead Redemption. Games are still going through big evolutions. I think it's good for everyone that consoles stick around. I think there's a feeling that when the next console comes, it better be something really special because we don't want to be playing the same kinds of games over and over again. I wonder what that will be.
It also seems hard to believe that just pumping graphics power will benefit because the production costs are already so tremendously high, and art asset generation is one of the highest proportions of cost.
TA: Yeah. Perhaps I'm a little bit naive, but when we create our assets, we create them at very high res and downgrade them. So, I don't think that that's going to be the lead jump in cost. But I think the value proposition of games is getting tougher and tougher to justify.
So, games now have to have a single player, and then they have to have large components like multiplayer, co-op, DLC... There's more and more parts to a game, and games, I think, are getting bigger and bigger and more and more expensive because of that.
Do you think that, you know, all games need to have all those parts? Is it just to satisfy tick boxes? Or is it actually essential for competition in the market?
TA: I think people do expect more value for their games, but I don't think it's necessary. If you focus on crafting an amazing game... That should be every developer's primary focus because if you don't do that, you're done.
In our case, there are lots of good multiplayer games out there. People will buy our game because of its single-player experience and its story, so let's give them a full single-player experience and story. And we all have DLC, but again, it will be story-based.
I don't know the stats. I don't know if that's going to negatively impact us, but I do know that when I play Call of Duty, I actually play it for the single-player. That's just my preference. I'm paying for both. I kind of feel like I shouldn't have to. I should be able to buy the single-player, maybe pay extra for the multiplayer. Maybe our whole industry retail model is just far too rigid, and it's reaching a breaking point.
When you look at how games are getting judged, I think that we're just getting to a point in this generation where critics are also recognizing that you can't compare every game to the most expensive triple-A game.
You actually have to judge them on their own merits. Some people are getting that, and some people aren't. It's interesting to see the audience coming along, recognizing certain games for being interesting.
But when you look on the shelf and it's one box, one logo, one price -- everything in America is 60 bucks -- it's hard to make these justifications.
TA: I agree, and when microtransactions, free-to-play, and all these other kind of models that are coming out, in my opinion, the faster we go for the digital route online, the better. I think everybody making games would rather be online. Then you can have your 20 bucks for a five-hour epic adventure. You can then add extra levels and multiplayer. It's just so much more flexible. I think we are too constrained.