Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Consoles Aren't Going Anywhere But Big Budget Games Are Dying

With hundreds of millions of console gamers across the globe, the console approach still has a valid market. Yet with news that Alien: Isolation’s 2.11 million sales were deemed “weak” by their publisher, it’s clear that the era of big budget games has had its day.




Alien: Isolation (shown above) is by no means the first of the big budget casualties either, as games like BioShock Infinite, the Tomb Raider reboot and a slew of others have all had budgets that far exceeded the capacity of their final sales.

Even with multi-million unit sales, very few of these big budget games have managed to break-even in recent years.


I’ve already talked a bit about this situation but it seems that publishers still have a myopic focus on graphics. What’s more it’s clear on the newer and more powerful consoles that this focus is no longer sustainable.

So when companies like Nintendo announce another dedicated games console in the form of the NX their line of reasoning is still valid. While we don’t know much in the way of specifics, bar the fact it likely won’t be region locked, Nintendo realize that there is still a sizable market to be had.

The problem is that big budget games create an environment where functional standardization is rife. This then erodes consumer interest over time as well, which is where we are now. As gamers are buying millions of consoles but not supporting the bigger budget games that publishers seem to stubbornly focus on.

Companies like Nintendo clearly understand the mid-range budget approach is hugely important; where the focus is on new functionality and not necessarily graphics.
While indie games afford a great variety of new and interesting game mechanics, they are limited in terms of scope on account of their smaller budgets. This means that leveraging a new functional approach is not really feasible in the indie space.

In the PS2 era we saw lots of mid-range games often experimenting with new mechanics and making a nice little profit too. The shift in thinking towards bigger budgets and supposed bigger profits destroyed this market and was ultimately a rather stupid line of reasoning as well.

After all the success of consoles like the PS2 wasn’t down to its large roster of AAA games, as it didn’t really have that many at all, but that it made a huge variety of mid-range games.
There’s no such thing as a game for everyone, only a game for each and everyone.

Nintendo seem ideally positioned to make the most of this situation, as the bigger budget games lose traction within Western publishers they could really clean up. Considering that Nintendo saw a boost in profits this year, on account of the 3DS and Wii U gaining ground, it appears this change in the industry could already be happening.

TCT
VB Kid

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