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The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-i-don't-want-to-buy-a-stupid-hat-for-my-character dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has a story about the imminent release of Battlefield 4 on 29 October, as it's one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the year. The most interesting part of the article is where it highlights what a mammoth undertaking such 'AAA' games have become. There are hundreds upon hundreds of people working full time on it, and hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in its development. These number have been rising and rising over the years; how big do they get before it becomes completely unfeasible to top your last game? The article also points out that the PC platform is beginning to wane in popularity. Nobody's quite sure yet whether it'll level out or go into serious decline, but you can bet development studios are watching closely. With bigger and bigger stakes, how long before they decide it's not worth the risk? Even consoles aren't safe: 'Electronic Arts is nevertheless trying to extend franchises like Battlefield to devices, because it must. But at the same time, it has to grapple with the threats undermining traditional gaming. Though the classic consoles are getting reboots this fall, there is no guarantee that new models will permanently revive the format's fortunes.' And of course, the question must be asked: do we even want the 'AAA' games to stick around?"
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The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul

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  • by nicolastheadept (930317) <nick.redfern@org@uk> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:25AM (#45179927)
    Since 1898
    • Also, here is the only bit about it: "PC sales are dropping as users migrate to tablets"
      • by bogaboga (793279)

        PC sales are dropping as users migrate to tablets...

        While I am in agreement that PC sales are dropping, I am not too sure users are migrating to tablets "to play games."

        Reason: Battery life is a PITA on these gadgets. The CPU intensive graphics these games have doesn't help either. Users in my own [small] circle are migrating to tablets to "cunsume other media."

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:06PM (#45184675) Journal

        Sigh...correlation does NOT equal causation folks. PC sales are NOT down because of tablets, its because PCs have become insanely overpowered and therefor you don't need to replace every couple of years like during the bubble that was the MHz war.

        Take myself as an example, LOVE hardcore PC shooters, practically the games that built the PC gaming business. I used to build a new PC every 2 years like clockwork and gave it a major upgrade at the 1 year mark, now? My AMD Hexacore is pushing the 5 year mark with nothing more than a GPU upgrade. I mean why should i buy a new one, when the one I got plays every game I want to play at over 30 FPS without fail? Its got 8GB of RAM, 3TB of space, I might add a caching SSD for my BDay but other than that there really isn't much more I can do that will really affect gameplay.

        And THAT is why PC sales are down, its because even the low end gamers have insane amounts of cycles to spare. Hell my youngest has an AMD triple we unlocked to a quad and an HD7750 and he plays every game he wants to play at over 30FPS and his system cost less than $400! Even the low end systems are just so insanely overpowered its not even funny and with the XBone and PS4 going with a netbook chip? Really doubt we are gonna be needing octocore PCs to game any time soon.

        As for TFA...how about making games that don't suck? How about that? Make smaller games that target a market instead of some crazy costing AAA title that you have to make as generic as possible to have "broad appeal" which is pretty much a codeword for "boring generic crap". Look at Payday the Heist, they listened to those that bought the first one, gave them what they asked for, they made a profit before the game even came out just on preorders. Make something special? Folks WILL buy. Make generic "Call Of Honor: Halo of Killzone Edition" and watch the numbers suck. It really IS as simple as that.

        • As for TFA...how about making games that don't suck? How about that? Make smaller games that target a market instead of some crazy costing AAA title that you have to make as generic as possible to have "broad appeal" which is pretty much a codeword for "boring generic crap"

          I had the opportunity recently to discuss game pitching protocols with a publisher reprasentative, he said "if you can't explain the idea in 5 minutes it is no good". I responded that this is only true for storyline/setting pitches, and suggested that a technical idea about how to implement new gameplay could not necessarily be explained in 5 minutes. He agreed. Does this publisher have a protocol for pitching innovative new gameplay? No. Do they even employ anyone who could understand a technical descripti

        • by Xest (935314)

          I agree with most of your post but:

          "Make generic "Call Of Honor: Halo of Killzone Edition" and watch the numbers suck."

          This seems a bit of a silly thing to say given that all the games you bundled into that fantasy title are some of the best selling games going all earning multiple platinums without fail each time they release.

          The reason generic shooters like that are so common and released every year almost without fail is precisely because they do pay.

          In contrast, Payday: The Heist other than showing up f

          • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Monday October 21, 2013 @11:27AM (#45189049)

            Fundamentally the problem is that games that suck seem to be where the money is, or at least, perhaps, the majority of people don't actually think those games suck.

            Or maybe you're a snob.

            There's room in the market for AAA games and the other side - the indies.

            Complaining about how AAA games suck is like complaining about how blockbuster movies suck. Yes, you're not looking at high art here, but damn, sometimes you just want a fanciful escape for a few hours. Whether it was superheroes of Iron Man 3, or giant robots and monsters of Pacific Rim, people do want mindless entertainment.

            Then there are plenty of indie games (alas, the vast majority do suck) which are free to do anything. Some attempt to be high art, others the beginnings of a AAA game, and all that.

            Denying either really doesn't help anyone - sometimes you want mindless but pretty entertainment, and other times you just want something different.

      • by LurkerXXX (667952)

        Duh, PC sales are dropping. This does not mean there are less PCs in the world. In the 80's very few people had PCs. Now just about everyone does. It means the market is saturating. Still lots of PCs in homes. But now that everyone has one, you only get upgrade sales, very little sales to new buyers. Still a huge market for games.

        Lots of people use tablets more, true. But it's not so easy to edit those home movies on a tablet. Most folks who have a PC did not replace it with a tablet. They added a

  • Film Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:29AM (#45179939) Homepage

    " There are hundreds upon hundreds of people working full time on it, and hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in its development. "

    How many people do you think it took to make The Avengers? How many millions?

    The video game industry is starting to mirror the film industry, with studio houses having one or two giant blockbusters every month, and using profits from those to fund the smaller "filler" films. And then, you have the even smaller, independant type films, such as what ends up at Sundance or TIFF.

    • Re:Film Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jnmontario (865369) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:53AM (#45180039)
      My major beef with your ?defense?commentary? of the game industry is that I hear it constantly and it becomes a self-serving bias for execs. The more we accept "Hollywood-model" games and buy the next "$380B in development Rock'emSock'em XVII", or whatever, the more industry types that didn't come from a game-dev background feel like they should not innovate and make new games, but rather pour good money after bad with blockbuster prequel/sequel games. I guess what I'm trying to say is that MBA's sniffing after money appear to have transitioned from the film business to the game business and I think that's REALLY bad for the future of gaming.
      • Re:Film Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:01AM (#45180075) Homepage

        Well and now you point to the big difference between the industries. See, in the film industry, a RDJ or a Wheadon can make $30 million in 6 months on a blockbuster, and then spend the next 6 months working on smaller pictures, and even an indie or two, because they have money to do it with. Look at films like "Much Ado About Nothing" - an Amazing film, filled with A-list talent, received rave reviews at TIFF - yet, that movie is not going to make any money at all and I expect most of the actors were paid very little for their time. Which is fine, because no one who worked on it expected a giant payday. They did it because of the love of the craft.

          The game industry does not work like this because "the talent" does not get a big enough share of the profit - when was the last time you heard of a head creative or a head developer making 20 million on a game - it doesn't happen. If it did, then they would probably be financing more side projects, again for the love of the craft, and because it keeps them "fresh" as actors and directors.

        This is what really needs to be solved. It is not about changing the industry, it is about changing the compensation model. When people work 60+ hour weeks for a month or two to get BattleField 4 out on time, they should be getting a bigger piece of the pie than just their salary. There should be profit sharing involved. And key people - like the lead developers and lead creatives - should get a big enough share of that profit to motivate them and entice them to use it on other projects to keep them fresh.

        • by wbr1 (2538558) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:50AM (#45180229)
          Posting to remove incorrect mod. Effing touchscreen.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The example you point out - Whedon's Much Ado about Nothing - highlights the problem with your argument: it's self-defeating.

          One guy gets paid 30 million dollars to make the Avengers, and then goes and funds his own little side project of love. Great, so that'd be some game studio exec or manager type - "I got 30 million bitcoins for building Halo 7! Now I can fund a little labor of love of my own, something I feel passionately about, but which isn't commercially viable."

          Awesome, sounds like fun.

          The prob

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            In the case of a game... who are the low-/un-paid actors? Riiiiiight... the engineers, graphic designers, voice talent, etc. etc. that actually MAKE the game under the direction of the "well-heeled exec" who's got a boatload of money.

            Except for an actor in a 2 hour film, it requires a couple days of their time to show up, learn their lines, and shoot their scenes. For an "intensive" project, maybe a couple weeks. This sort of thing schedules nicely for actors - and let's be honest, much of Whedon's go-to cr

        • by drkim (1559875)

          The game industry does not work like this because "the talent" does not get a big enough share of the profit - when was the last time you heard of a head creative or a head developer making 20 million on a game

          The reason it happens in film is not because the film industry wants to be 'kind' to it's actors or directors - it's because if you can put "Starring Brad Pitt" or "Directed by Quentin Tarantino" in the ads, you can put more asses in the seats.

          Think about it, most people wouldn't know Shigeru Miyamoto or Cliff Bleszinski if they bit them on the leg.

          Bonus fact: If Shigeru Miyamoto bit you on the leg, it would be way cooler 'cause he'd be a zombie!

          (Note to self: start Kickstarter for "Zombie Kong" game. Don't

        • Re:Film Industry (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3 @ g mail.com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:22PM (#45182697) Journal

          A better comparison is not with the Hollywood model of today, but with the model that existed in the early days of cinema--studios "owned" actors, directors, etc. under contract so that they could only make pictures for that studio. This made a lot of money for the studios but everyone else got peanuts and had their creativity stifled, a natural oligopoly arose, and mediocrity ruled the day. The system eventually was broken up by the Supreme Court under antitrust law and the studios felt extreme competitive pressure from television, leading to the freelance system we have now where studios compete to get the best stars by sharing profit, granting creative ownership, and so forth. We wouldn't necessarily need another Supreme Court ruling or another entertainment medium to fix the video-game industry, but doing so would probably still require some sort of collective action (e.g. a general strike by top game designers and writers).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_system [wikipedia.org]

          Rob

      • Re:Film Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dinfinity (2300094) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:27AM (#45180411)

        The more we accept "Hollywood-model" games ...

        Sorry, but that is about the same as saying 'The more we accept McDonalds-type food ...'

        We need to accept - on all terrains - that as a collective, we are a bunch of naked monkeys. Our biological makeup (or evolutionary history, if you will) makes us vulnerable to having our primitive behavior elicited by marketing techniques and other forms of manipulation. For an individual that may not be a problem, but for a collective, it is. Especially when the collective is a source of resources for for-profit organizations. Yes, I am talking about the free market.

        The problem in your reasoning, imho, is that the current state of the (Hollywood-)system is somehow mainly due to the evilness of MBA's and 'industry types', where in reality the nature of the free market is thus that it eventually finds the most profitable way to make a profit. That includes (ab)using our (most) common vulnerabilities and treating us all like naked apes. Every sufficiently mature free market does this, simply because it is profitable, not because it is run by a bunch of malicious bastards.

        See also, Cow Clicker, for a remarkable example of (ab)using vulnerabilities:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_Clicker [wikipedia.org]
        http://www.bogost.com/blog/cow_clicker_1.shtml [bogost.com]

    • The video game industry is starting to mirror the film industry,

      Yes, it is. This is not a good thing. The film industry lost their soul long ago.

  • PC is now the second (or third) class citizen behind consoles and mobile.

    When a game comes out months and months after console releases (I'm looking at you GTA5) where is the incentive to wait? If you really want to play a game, you have to buy the console, but only because the game studios think that they know better.

    Release on all platforms at the same time!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      PC Games are doing just fine. PCs themselves are going down in popularity due to white collar workers switching from cumbersome laptops to tablets. But games have nothing to do with this. Steam is running strong and with Valve soon releasing a dedicated gaming OS for PCs (yes, Steambox is a PC too) things are only going to get better. What's quickly becoming a third class citizen is the publishing industry, putting their faith in the gaming toys (consoles and mobiles) instead of a one, true, open, stable ga

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        Plus, PC gaming is being described as "dying" each and every console cycle. It never has. It may not have the size and scope of consoles, but unlike them, it endures beyond any overlord's whims.

        Try playing your PS2 games on your PS4, or your NES games on your Wii U. If you're lucky, you'll be allowed generously to pay for them again so that you can play them on your new machine... and pay again come the next console since the games never carry over. Isn't it amazing? Meanwhile, I'm playing games from 20 y
        • by lgw (121541)

          If you're lucky, you'll be allowed generously to pay for them again so that you can play them on your new machine

          Well, to be fair there are many games I've bought on CD, then bought again on Steam or GOG (or first on Steam and then later on GOG, because Steam is starting to piss me off).

          Where I see the real distinction is that the PC has fully embraced digital distribution, and consoles haven't even started (the Xbone's attempt to take a step in that direction was shouted down by gamers, sadly). I do expect stuff I buy on GOG to be around forever.

          • Where I see the real distinction is that the PC has fully embraced digital distribution, and consoles haven't even started (the Xbone's attempt to take a step in that direction was shouted down by gamers, sadly).

            I thought PlayStation Store already offered paid downloads of full-size games. And as the hard drive gradually became a standard feature on Xbox 360 consoles, Xbox Live Arcade has gradually increased its size limit to where XBLA games such as Red Johnson's Chronicles take up more than half a DVD layer. I guess the remaining problem is that XBLA games have to be vetted by disc game publishers.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Plus, PC gaming is being described as "dying" each and every console cycle. It never has. It may not have the size and scope of consoles, but unlike them, it endures beyond any overlord's whims.

          Exactly. Tech reporters (who continuously fawn of the latest and greatest gizmos) notice that "sales of new PCs are falling rapidly", while "phone and tablet sales are growing each year", and thus conclude that PCs are "dying" and that smartphones are going to replace them. Smartphones will likely replace a PC for the type of user who just wants to check the occasional e-mail and browse the web a bit while waiting for the bus. In other words, they're great for people who will only *consume* light content

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ...funny I was just playing a game that's not available on consoles.

      just wait for 6 months. back in 1990 do you know how long it took for most games to come from console? well most games didn't get ports at all.

      but that didn't matter because the console ports of the good pc games were shit back then. they pretty much are now too.

      death spiral, second class citizen blabla yet there's moar money in the business and moar games every year... and AAA titles tend to get released at least eventually on all platform

      • just wait for 6 months. back in 1990 do you know how long it took for most games to come from console? well most games didn't get ports at all.

        Back in 1990, I don't think most people cared. Computer games were a different genre. If a game wa ported from he PC to the console, it was laughably simplified Of course, we on the Mac side often pined for decent PC ports, but that's different.

        "Four save slots? Was this written for a machine with no operating system? How hard is it to display a standard "Save As" dialog?

    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      The reason to wait is price discounts. You can find significant sales all the time for PC games, which isn't really the case with console games.

      • I see new console games for $10-$20 in the bargain bin of Walmart. I also see used console games around that price or less in used game stores once the demand for a particular title dies down or the successor console comes out. That's not even counting chains like Disc Replay that specialize in third through sixth generation consoles.
        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          That's true. What I was trying to say was that PC games tend to drop in price faster than console games, sometimes dramatically so.

    • by fisted (2295862)
      huh, what's wrong with waiting a couple months? are you 12?
  • Soul? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:40AM (#45179971)

    The Game Industry doesn't have a soul. After all the failed DRM, the way they treat their developers and abandoning older game servers that many still use, it's clear they don't have a conscience or a soul.

    Let them their respective deities sort them out.

    • and even DRM is merely an obstacle to be overcome to get to the Game . That . You . Must . Play . Now .

      The problem is that the games suck. Right now in the 'AAA' space we have an orientation something like:

      85% production values
      5% compelling and entertaining story and writing
      10% gameplay
      0% replay value

      Show me a game like this, and I'll spend rather a lot, and even suffer DRM for it:

      10% production values
      20% compelling and entertaining story and writing
      50% gameplay
      20% replay value

      When the technology didn't all

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:40AM (#45179973) Homepage Journal

    And of course, the question must be asked: do we even want the 'AAA' games to stick around?"

    I've been thinking a lot about this in the wake of the release of Grand Theft Auto V. I've been an aficionado of the series all along, and have played all of the titles but Chinatown Wars. And clearly, Rockstar's ability matched their goals best with GTA: San Andreas. This game, on the other hand, has been fairly pathetic by comparison. It's far, far buggier. Once you beat the single player campaign there's nothing to do in single player any more, so you are forced to play online in order to continue to do heists and so on. The online component is horribly buggy; some days I'll have to re-join an online session after every attempt to join one. And since there's no function for "start this job for your crew only", and most players are too stupid to change who a job is open to, you often get to join a job and then get kicked to make room for crew members. Still no iFruit app for Android, which is still being advertised within the game, because Android app development is apparently too hard for Rockstar. Probably they hired a good iOS developer and a crap Android developer.

    Thing is, I still like sandbox games. And there's no third-party engine.

    However, it's clearly possible to displace the competition. I haven't bought a flightsim or racing sim in ages. Maybe someone will crank out a Sandbox engine.

    • They spent $800M for a 20 hour game, minus the driving, and I subtract retrying missions when the expectations were not clear to me, but would have to the character.

      Point bring, they made a sandbox for online play, which I'll have none of. And even with an online connection, I got into Bawsaq exactly twice, and could not benefit from the stock tips.

      I feel cheated, and while I have money to burn, no AAA title will get it other than on the used 6 month old market. I have bought 2 full price new games, and I'm

  • And they're all shit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:41AM (#45179979)

    The creativity which went into Monkey Island, The Longest Journey or Grim Fandango, or even Curses and Zork Zero, leave me bored when I confront what is merely a technical exercise. I haven't enjoyed an FPS since Thief.

    I remember watching Titanic when it first came out. It was a watershed: after this, films would not be defined by art, but by geekery. And everyone can apply an engineering technique, really.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:21AM (#45180121)

      They're NOT all shit. But the ones that aren't shit, are almost totally from small indie studios. Sometimes 1, 2, maybe 5 people working on their game.

      AAA gaming is shit, yes. Big-budget games. But the scene is in indie gaming now, and that's where most of the people who value actual gameplay over shiny graphics are. As a bonus, they are almost entirely DRM free, and the authors are truly appreciative for your 20 or 40 bucks that you send their way.

      PC indie games is where the fun is.

    • Try out Don't Starve. Nice Indie Game. Steam or Chrome App. Like a crossover between Legend of Zelda and Minecraft.

    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      If you want creative stuff, check out The Stanley Parable.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Honestly, the games are only shit if you don't bother looking. There's plenty of good games, and not just in the indie scene as some would let you believe. You just gotta go a little further than the games Gamestop pushes and TV ads.
  • Battlefield 3 was no fun to play. It was a real system hog, had unacceptably long map load times, had an external HTML-based server browser that sucked, and the gameplay pretty much consisted of you entering the game, and being mowed down by a higher ranking player with more unlocked gadgets in the first 20 seconds. Battlefield 2 was a lot of fun. Battlefield 2142 was also great (Scifi-themed) fun. Battlefield 3 sucked bad in terms of simple things like "overall enjoyment" and "fun gameplay". As for Battlef
  • Paradigm Shift (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3&gmail,com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:46AM (#45180017)
    I booted up a few of my fairly recent FPS purchases last night for PC just to get a sense of where the community is at. CS:S, BF2, BF3, BFBC2, TF2, Q3A, CoD (x), L4D(1-2), etc all still strong. The thing about it is, there are so many decade old shooters that just wont die. I can still play CS 1.6 and will prefer it to any new Call of Duty. But why? Is it a comfort thing? Nostalgia for a past era? Simplicity? Muscle memory? Surely some of that.

    The new games are still fun, but they feel 'tinny' [youtube.com], or less substantive than I'd come to expect for millions of ducats dumped in to a piece of software. With many modern shooters, I feel like they are evolving into a caricature of what a decent shooter would be.

    Also, I think as the PC gaming generation gets older fewer newbies (In all due respect of course!) back-fill our ranks. I hope I'm wrong. Anybody got stats on our rate of attrition? LMGTFY yada yada ..
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The new games are still fun, but they feel 'tinny' [youtube.com], or less substantive than I'd come to expect for millions of ducats dumped in to a piece of software. With many modern shooters, I feel like they are evolving into a caricature of what a decent shooter would be.

      I'd have to agree with this.

      The major change seems to be the death of creative-vision. Older games from 1990-2000 were basically cool ideas hammered into the shape of a game, there were quite a few crappy and derivative games but even some of the bad games at least had a glint of something new and interesting whether it was the setting, story or mechanics.

      Modern games seem to be frustratingly "safe" for want of a better description. It's as though every games needs to consciously make an effort to capture a

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:48AM (#45180019)

    There are various reasons why gamers start to turn away from those so precious "triple-A" titles.

    1. Boring old game in a new cloth
    I think I'm not the only one who is fed up with buying the same game over and over. Battlefield is no exception to that. Lemme guess, new weapons and a few new scenarios with a few new graphics and some shiny... else, same shit as last year. Still the same game modes, still the same problems with cheaters, still the same interface, still the same options; It is simply still the same game. Yes, people will buy it because it's the new one, it's the shiny one, and some of the killer bugs that bothered you the most in the previous games are finally fixed, which only begs the question why they existed in the first place and whether it would not have been much more feasible to simply fix them instead of ... oh silly me, how could you SELL the same game again?

    2. DLC
    Riiight, that way you can. The new magic of the gaming industry: DLC. Or, as I prefer to call it, "buying the last few chapters of the book extra". Because that's what DLC more and more turns into. You pay full price for a game only to find out that not only its addon, sorry, DLC was already planned, but it is actually an important part of the story which is not concluded before you bought at least 2 addons, turning a 50 bucks game into one that costed closer to 100, just to see the friggin' story of it, we're not talking about some additional storyline or actual addon content in the traditional sense, where a game is sold and if it's a success a "mission disc" gets released. These "addons", or rather, second part of the game, are already planned and developed before the game hits the stores. Your only hope is that the game bombs enough that you don't care about the end of the story.

    And don't even hope that you could play multiplayer anywhere without the DLC, even if it's not part of the multiplayer game. Which leads us to

    3. Planned obsolescence
    With multiplayer servers being held firmly in the grasp of the game developers, and you having no chance to even play a local game, they dictate when and for how long you may play it, at least its multiplayer part, which happens to be the interesting part of those games. Rest assured, the moment the next version of the game comes out they'll turn off the old servers to force you to buy the next one (which is essentially the old one, but you can actually play multiplayer again...).

    So if you wonder why people turn away from AAA titles, here is your reason. Indie games are cheaper, they offer more variety (because indies can actually dare producing anything but "tried" concepts), they usually offer complete games and they're by no means inferior to those AAA titles. They may lack a bit in graphics, but screw that, I take gameplay over shiny anytime!

  • Actually i think, gaming is what currently keeps the PC industry alive (in the sense of innovation happening). From the enterprise perspective, the development mostly happens in the software. The would still use the PC from 2008 if they had more RAM. In fact, i know several companies where the average age of the PC infrastructure is 4+ years old and they are not unhappy with it.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Keyboards are keeping the PC industry alive. Nobody has yet combined the keyboard with the television in a way that really compels people to want that combination in their house in any significant numbers. Of course, if someone came up with the right HTPC interface, then that might be a factor which could help the PC industry. Oddly, this might be a valid use for the Windows 8 interface. The problem is, it only really works if I can use gesture and voice control, and I don't trust a Microsoft solution with

      • Nobody has yet combined the keyboard with the television in a way that really compels people to want that combination in their house

        Hairyfeet has [slashdot.org]. He shows the HTPC concept to customers in his shop and sells a Bluetooth thumb keyboard + trackball that's about the size of a smartphone's slide-out keyboard. The problem has become one of marketing the solution to people who happen to live outside Hairyfeet's sales area.

  • Hey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) * on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:53AM (#45180049)

    The people telling you the PC is obsolete and on the way out are trying to sell you its "replacement."

    The only problem is tablets and phones can't replace the PC for the same reason motorcycles and skateboards can't replace your car.

    Nobody wants to do real work on a mobile device. Stop pretending they do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Bigbutt (65939)

      Can't speak to Skateboards, but I could probably replace my car (truck) with my motorcycle. I ride it 95% of the time and only take the truck when there's ice on the road (I could work from home when there's ice) or when I have to get something a bit bigger, which doesn't happen all that often (for $20 I can rent Home Depot's truck for an hour if necessary).

      I have a truck because it's more convenient than dealing with renting a Home Depot truck, more convenient than making a couple of trips on the bike when

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      The only problem is tablets and phones can't replace the PC for the same reason motorcycles and skateboards can't replace your car.

      People keep saying stuff like this, but there is no car analogy to be made here because the phones of today have more cargo area-equivalent than the PCs of not so many yesterdays ago. It's truly not that long since my desktop PC was less powerful than the phone I'm carrying around now. It doesn't have video out, so it's not suitable as a desktop replacement by any stretch, but many modern phones do.

      Mobiles are fast-approaching the speeds of the prevalent game consoles and people's existing desktop PCs, and

      • there is no car analogy to be made here because the phones of today have more cargo area-equivalent than the PCs of not so many yesterdays ago. It's truly not that long since my desktop PC was less powerful than the phone I'm carrying around now. It doesn't have video out, so it's not suitable as a desktop replacement by any stretch, but many modern phones do.

        To be useful for "PC" tasks, a smartphone would need a large monitor (which you mentioned), a Bluetooth keyboard, and an operating system with a multi-window window manager. (The phone itself would sit next to the keyboard and become a trackpad.) It's as if someone made a motorcycle that could pull a trailer, but you end up using the trailer most of the time because you have to carry the tools to do your job to each job site. At that point, you could just buy a car (an Ultrabook laptop) or a truck (a deskto

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Nobody wants a device to be bigger than it has to be. Stop pretending they do.

        Really? Can you tell us how to cram a 4Ghz+cpu, as well as a GPU crammed with 1.9-3.6m transistors and keeping it cool, while at the same time being able to multitask without losing focus on the original object into a small device.

  • Gaming as a whole... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:56AM (#45180057)

    ... is sucking because the industry is obsessed with creating movies, not games.

    • ... is sucking because the industry is obsessed with creating movies, not games.

      This is a real issue, for sure (at least on Playstation and XBox). The Uncharted games, which are often hailed as being amongst the better titles for the PS3, only really work because the story is somewhat interesting and and they have a charm about them. The actual gameplay is nothing special and isn't challenging: in the third game it regularly tells you what buttons to press; the puzzles are painfully obvious even before the NPCs drop hints as to what to do (you can't turn off the hints and they're drop

  • Apparently not! The masses are moving to casual gaming on tablets (p.e. Angry birds as best known casual game) and indeed consoles. But consoles have to do it for a longer period of time with the same hardware and are not reaily well suited for the next AAA game to be released in 3 or 4 years from now.
  • by hooiberg (1789158) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:04AM (#45180079)
    To be honest, that what is marketed as 'AAA'-games is all like Wolfenstein. Walk through a maze and shoot bad guys. The humble bundle games feature original gameplay. This is so much more fun than 'the same game, requiring an even tougher graphics card' I am having a lot more fun with Cookie Clicker than I have with all the battlefield AAA-nonsense together.
    • You've hit the nail on the head.

      The gameplay element of what the press tout as AAA titles hasn't really advanced any since Wolfenstein 3d was released in 1992.

      Think about that, no original gameplay in 21 years !

      Certainly the graphics are shinier and the weapons are different but the essential gameplay of run around a maze, pick up power ups and ammo, shoot enemies, rinse and repeat hasn't changed....
      • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:52AM (#45180895) Journal

        The gameplay element of what the press tout as AAA titles hasn't really advanced any since Wolfenstein 3d was released in 1992.

        Yeah, no real advances beyond multiplayer, team-based multiplayer, destructible scenery, dynamic maps (as in L4D2), new weapons mechanics (such as Unreal Tournament's bio rifle), emphasis on stealth (such as Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex), dynamic AI that sends swarms based on player progress and performance (the L4D Director), modding support that allows anything from minor skinning to complete remakes, RPG elements blending in to the FPS, and the aqueducts. Aside from those things, what have the Romans done for us?

        And what about dungeon crawlers? They haven't advanced since Nethack. Diablo was better graphics and nothing more.

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:40PM (#45182087)

          I think you made the GP's point.

          Whoopee-doo. I get to splatter the bad guys with goo rather than shoot them with a mini-gun. That's incredibly innovative.

          When they're not making you sit through tedious, unskippable cut-scenes and canned dialogue, games are still mostly just following the only corridor available and shooting things, except these days you don't even have to worry about collecting health packs because your health magically regenerates after ten seconds. Even the 'open world' games are still mostly just running around a few streets in a world that's dead when you're not around.

        • Yeah, no real advances beyond multiplayer, team-based multiplayer, destructible scenery

          MIDI Maze (known as Faceball 2000 on Nintendo consoles) is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter that preceded even Wolfenstein. Walls could be shot out or switched with floor buttons. The concept of destructible scenery itself dates back to Ice Climber and Super Mario Bros., and combining it with a first-person view was obvious to anyone skilled in the art once 3D GPUs advanced.

          emphasis on stealth

          Metal Gear, MSX2/NES. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came close; I was able to stealth my way through the first

          • MIDI Maze looks pretty interesting for its time - shame I missed that one back in the day.

            Yeah, elements existed in other genres. The risk is in claiming that having radios in cars isn't innovative because people had radios in their homes years before that. I haven't played any Zelda games (another gap in my gaming). Was stealth an intended mechanic of the game, or is something more akin to speedrunning a game that was never balanced for that kind of play?

            I know modding is pretty limited in the land of cons

      • Parappa the Rapper ushered in the music game genre in the late 1990s. But I see your point about new genres being rare over the past couple console generations. Even modern idle games such as Cookie Clicker are streamlined versions of the basic concept behind tycoon games, as can be seen especially with Clicking Bad (that is, Meth Tycoon).
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      To be honest, that what is marketed as 'AAA'-games is all like Wolfenstein. Walk through a maze and shoot bad guys.

      Oh, but if only it was... then the games might actually be fun.

      It's more like: watch two minute cut-scene where all the cool stuff happens. Walk through a door and see the bad guys. Press space a few times to win. Watch another two minute cut-scene where all the cool stuff happens. Sit through five minutes of boring dialogue with some random NPC where you get to select a few meaningless options. Repeat until bored.

  • ...they're just "more".

    Like Hollywood, the top tier of the gaming industry has - when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake - become rather naturally tremendously conservative. Look at the "AAA titles" out there - Cod 13, GTA 5, Madden 25....it's much like Hollywood in that they rarely risk anything on new ideas, new creations, new stories...they just re-iterate, add more polys to the models, and re-arrange the deck chairs. Even outside of these mind-numbingly similar games, other fields like MMOs

  • by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:46AM (#45180213)
    I remember the first time I found I was able to shoot glass out of a window - Counter-Strike. I spent ages doing just that, because of the novelty value - here was a substance in game that reacted the way it would in real life. I recognised it as a limitation of the medium, way back in the day, but it always used to annoy me when I couldn't shoot out a window in Half-Life. Or any game where a locked door impeded progress because I didn't have the key, although I was toting 6 lbs of explosives at the time.

    Try shooting the farmer at the start of Halo Reach. Your gun goes bang, and there's a damage splatter appears on the other side of his head, but he won't stop talking. If you keep shooting him, after 10 shots, you die, not because your squadmates have realised that you're shooting civilians and gun you down, but a vengeful god just smites you down.

    It'll be interesting to see how far the new engines go in terms of world design. Obviously there won't be civilians, or women, or children, but it'd be nice to be able to shoot out the legs of a water tower and have it collapse, because that's what the objects would do under real-world-conditions, and not just because it's a pre-programmed set-piece and the only way to complete the level. It's be nice to see enemies who weren't Terminators - combat robots who have to be completely destroyed to kill them, that can take all but 1 HP of damage and still be at 100% combat effectiveness. Maybe sometimes some of them could realise that you've just killed everyone else in their squad, and simply decide to run away.

    It's also interesting to see how narrow their definitions of 'realism' are - they'll model stubble, sweat, and the texture of equipment webbing, but nobody ever bleeds, or screams, or goes mad. They'll model the correct serial number on an 21st century assault rifle, yet it'll deliver a target grouping that would shame a musket.

    And I think Just Cause 2 was the last game I played where you really seemed to have a huge amount of freedom over the order you did the missions in, and there was a whole lot to do if you didn't want to do a mission. I hate purely linear games, where you have to do one thing, and until you do that to the game's satisfaction, you're not getting to do anything else. As soon as you reach a situation where you *have* to do something, rather than *want* to do something, that's work, not play; and if I'm working, I expect to be getting paid, not paying for the privilege.
    • I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      +1.

    • by tepples (727027)

      I remember the first time I found I was able to shoot glass out of a window - Counter-Strike.

      I seem to remember Paperboy and Goldeneye letting players break a window first.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:55AM (#45180251)

    And of course, the question must be asked: do we even want the 'AAA' games to stick around?"

    No, we don't have to ask that question. We already have the answer. GTA V sold over eleven million copies in the first day of sales. It's grossed over a billion dollars. Only a complete fucking idiot would doubt that there's a market for good, high-quality AAA games.

    And of course Slashdot seems determined to put those complete fucking idiots' thoughts on the front page.

    • No, we don't have to ask that question. We already have the answer. GTA V sold over eleven million copies in the first day of sales. It's grossed over a billion dollars. Only a complete fucking idiot would doubt that there's a market for good, high-quality AAA games.

      Yes, the article is badly thought-through. It's also silly to flag the dropping sales of current gen consoles as a concern, given that they're nearing the end of their life cycle and most people who want one have bought one. However, it is fair to ask which way the industry is going to go next given that phones and tablets are sucking up a lot of game time. e.g. will smaller indie games on consoles and PCs take a hit? So we'll be left with only the AAA. That would be a pity.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I bought GTA V. I have bought every GTA game so far (DOS games, even) except Chinatown Wars. Based on my experience with GTA V so far, I will not be buying another GTA game.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        Good for you! Most people seem to be enjoying GTA V a lot.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Good for you! Most people seem to be enjoying GTA V a lot.

          This is the buggiest and slowest-loading title so far. The online experience is the opposite of polished. The single player is cool, but when it's done there's less to do than with the prior title, unless you really want to go submarining very slowly. If you go very fast through populated areas you still wind up with texture load failures, and big ones that actually affect being able to see where you're going, not just stuff like "no road texture in the tunnel entrance." It's a shame, because the game is po

    • by westlake (615356)

      No, we don't have to ask that question. We already have the answer. GTA V sold over eleven million copies in the first day of sales. It's grossed over a billion dollars. Only a complete fucking idiot would doubt that there's a market for good, high-quality AAA games.

      The Humble Origin Bundle raised $10.5 million for charity. 2.1 million in sales.

      As a big a story in PC gaming as we have seen this year, and not a word, not a whisper of it, made the front pages of Slashdot. You couldn't have asked for a much better sampling of what the AAA title has to offer.

  • Star Citizen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:03AM (#45180287)

    Cloud Imperium's opus-in-progress broke $23 million in crowdfunding this week: AAA independent production and PC-focused development. Works like this are injecting a renaissance of fresh air into the stale industry dominated by bug-dollar myopic publishers.

    Games in the nineties were innovative because the creative developers were calling the shots; garage operations flourished. Crowdfunding is making that model viable again with modern production values and PC gamers are in for a hell of a ride over the next decade.

    Long live disintermediation!

  • Just don't take use our credit card to unlock stuff in games and Eran discounts / other store credits based on spend on any credit card purchase*.

    * high apr and other hidden fees may apply

  • Traditional video games will not disappear tomorrow. It is a multibillion-dollar business, with shooters like Battlefield its most enduring category.

    The funny thing is that the "AAA" games they refer to as traditional video games are much less traditional than the mobile games they think are usurping. Games from the Atari 2600 era to the SNES era resemble mobile games much more than they do "AAA" games.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:55AM (#45180579)

    Publishers are killing gaming on the PC through ever escalating levels of DRM. The PC has pretty well always been the better platform for gaming from a technical sense for hardware capability. You had the ability to upgrade your system, patch it and customize it at levels that a console could never match. A console is only updated every so many years, patching is a logistical pain if is even possible and the only customizations you can do are typically to the outside of the case.

    The problem is that publishers have been cranking up the DRM to higher and higher levels of entitlement. What originally started as nothing more than deprivation of the product quickly became deprivation of your computer. Games would do things like replace hardware drivers and interfere with your ability to burn CD's or DVD's. The DRM measures were typically not disclosed and worse not uninstalled upon removing the game.

    Gamers could spend hours upon hours trying to figure out why their computer wasn't working correctly only to discover that SecureROM or another product had done something like replacing drivers for their hardware. Nobody appreciates having a product sabotage their computer and the DRM companies refused to cooperate with disclosing anything about what they were doing to peoples computers. The result often required hours of troubleshooting at best to a complete rebuild to restore a computer. You also had the loss of the original software that caused the problem to begin with and were typically out at least $50.

    Add in stunts like mandatory activation, registration and serial numbers and you end up with something that cannot be used anonymously and forced the disclosure of marketing information. Even when activation worked many companies would then self destruct the ability to use software if you made certain undisclosed changes. Things escalated to the point where simply changing a piece of hardware in your computer would be enough to ruin your game as it then refused to play.

    Self entitlement furthered to the point where you had to be online to check in your serial number just to start a game. Publishers were oblivious to the fact that that most of the world does not live in Silicon Valley and for many people this was not reasonable. Once publishers started requiring players to be online in order to play at all they really burned the last of the bridges.

    For a regular user, even one who has purchased the software it has become a situation that simply isn't worth it anymore. Countless millions of people have purchased a piece of software only to turn around and then download the pirated version just to get something that worked and didn't break their computer.

    Are computers technically superior in just about every way? Absolutely, but the computer gaming industry is imploding from self entitlement and the publishers will have a future of paying higher and higher royalties to Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft.

  • by hibiki_r (649814) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:35AM (#45180791)

    It's not that PC game sales are dropping: Heck, no we can find Japanese companies releasing their games on PC, which is something that would have never happened 10 years ago. Valve is not having any trouble selling games, and neither do indies.

    Now, It'd not surprise me if EA sales on PC were dropping. They decided to build their own ecosystem, one that is not just separate from anything else you can buy on PC, bun one that is drastically overpriced. EA sales can't compete with the sales you can get on anything else. Their console-oriented shooters can't compete with PC-centric ones. Sim City was an unmitigated disaster. They are failing on PC because they've been working very hard at it, and all that work is finally bearing fruit.

  • 'nuff said

    ok maybe not.

    Star Citizen: 23 million in funding and going up roughly ~100k/ day.

    Crowd funding looks to be working these days. Who cares if the AAA titles and studios die when we have made it easy for creative people with good ideas to get funded!

  • Article says nothing about PC as a platform is waning. It simply says PC sales are dropping.

  • I left PC gaming over a decade ago about the time Ubisoft bought Red Storm Entertainment and ruined the Rainbow 6 and Ghost Recon series turning them from tactical shooters into just an another arcade shoot 'em up. That's also when the space & combat flight sim genres died as well.

    Well I'm actually looking at getting a gaming PC now because of Star Citizen. They've met their $23M goal to make a AAA title and I'm stoked. It's the game I've wanted to play ever since Wing Commander Privateer.

    On the cons

  • How about worrying about the future of some innovative games people actually care about?

  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:03PM (#45183817) Homepage Journal

    What AAA really means is that a lot more money has been spent on details of graphics and sound, not that so much extra effort has been put into the gameplay. As a result, a lot of so-called AAA titles are no more fun to play than the games from the $20 bin.

    Like movies, the advertising and hype budget for a AAA title makes it different from the "average" game. And like the movie industry, that big advertising budget brings in the buyers. Unfortunately, much like an overhyped movie, it also results in a lot of disappointed potential fans who expected more from the game after all the buildup.

    Do we need AAA titles? Of course not. But as long as there is the lure of winning the "big gamble" by producing a half billion dollar sales hit title, there will be those who'd rather invest in that gamble than focusing on a handful of lesser titles which would cost the same amount.

    However, one should never make the mistake of thinking that these trivial little games on cell phones are going to decimate the hard core gaming market. Just because "Angry Birds" has millions of dollars in total sales doesn't mean it's competitive with something like "Half Life." They're totally different styles of games, and satisfy different audiences.

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