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Is modern gaming sustainable? Where is the industry headed?


Andy_Bogomil
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A pretty general question but something I've been thinking of a little bit as we watch gaming evolve over the years. I think it's pretty obvious that video games are more popular than ever but how will gaming continue to push forward as computing power continues to increase and games generally become larger and take more resources to complete? I guess I am mainly referring to major 'triple A' titles as we're starting to see a major spread between franchise releases and a lot of games tend to have 'seasons' or build off a foundation rather than an entirely new game. Game like WoW, Minecraft, GTA V, Dota, etc. are or are gonna be 10 year old games (WoW is closer to 20) and are still currently the most popular games on the market. Story driven single player games I think are gonna really take a hit here moving forward into the next generation. I believe The Last of Us or even BoTW could be a dying breed as the resources to make these games will begin to outweigh the financial gain with this coming generation or they'll be made in a similar formula to GTA where the main story is really a very small fraction of the overall experience. 

Overall I guess my thoughts are that game releases will follow the money and e-sports/streaming friendly games will continue to build momentum and ultimately begin to limit the number of big releases. I think a few games will dominate particular genres limiting the number or games and the gap between releases will continue to increase.

 

Edited by Andy_Bogomil
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I think the current model will be difficult to sustain.  I really love games like Elder Scrolls, BOTW, and Red Dead Redemption 2 but not every game needs to be that big.  Tomb Raider has struck a nice balance with a shorter story and linear levels.  I would like to see a return to this going forward.  Give me an interesting narrative and setting to progress through.  Most AAA became these sprawling worlds and its really just dull at this point.  There are a number of publishers (Ubisoft, EA) that I can automatically skip anymore because I know it will be the same old open world. 

I'm a bit of a graphics snob and would rather take a good looking 10 hour game then a lesser 40 hour open world.  Things like Kena Bridge of Spirits have a great art style that I hope would be maintained throughout the whole game.  Making it too big would likely take away from that.

Recently I saw an article where the former head of Sony said the current model cannot continue.  Either games need to go up in price or they need to drop to 20 or so hours.  I agree.  Developer crunch, expectations, and costs just don't seem to line up. 

 

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Honestly? The one thing people often overlook is that the publisher makes more money off the licenses and merchandise tied to said game than the game itself. It's one of those well kept secrets that only Disney talks about when it comes to their properties. As well as something you will often see a lot of when visiting places like Tokyo, or even conventions (among other examples). In the end a physical copy of any game could end up selling less than expected volumes. But as long as there is money in the licenses and/or merchandise, a sequel to said game could still be talked about.

Then again... We also have the same owners of these IPs looking for additional ways to generate interest in their franchises. Franchises like The Legend of Zelda have expended into the manga market long ago. While others have gone into the comic and/or manga markets as well, atop of having animated adaptations being made. Which are examples on how one should maintain interest between games. Where as esports for fighting games and FPS (as an example) are more of a "for the money" event than a means to keep any franchise alive. And for many, it is seen as being no different than doing a "pay to win" game that often plague even those who do not make that an intentional front.

So in the end, money to make a AAA game currently relies on more than just game sales. Meaning that as long as somebody buys a t-shirt, a soundtrack, or even published material tied to the franchise... There is money to be put into its sequels. 👍

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12 minutes ago, ChickenTendas said:

What I'm more worried about is how sustainable the "crunch" business model is. Naughty Dog keeps going through employees so fast I don't think it's sustainable. Sony Santa Monica does the same thing. How was Nintendo able to put out BoTW with no crunch time, yet ND relies on the strategy for pretty much everything they put out?

Nintendo seems to be good about telling you about a game when it's far along. The new Paper Mario is a good example. We know BOTW2 is happening but they have set no expectations for release.  I wonder if other companies either waited to announce a game or didn't bother setting release windows would it help.

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Too wide of a net on that question.  Modern gaming also grabs all those big games small teams releases like No Man's Sky, to then the small team smaller budget stuff from the like of crowd funded Bloodstained, to the even smaller mega hits that did well enough Nicalis and others popped for physical releases.  But if we're limiting it to the older guard, big game, big budget, big awareness releases -- no, they're not.

When you see ingrate comments like when Square-Enix got snotty blaming consumers for losing money on Tomb Raider because it 'only' sold 4M copies at the time of the comment, that was disgusting.  You have to question what kind of budgeting blunders, ineptness, and stupidity went to laying down the finances on that a game even that did have optional DLC still failed to meet needed earnings so so many copies moved?  Perhaps more big companies need to stop running bloated budgets like they're doing a summer hollywood blockbuster?  Now instead of trying to be more lean, we're seeing sick stories of increasing base prices up to $70 now AND also having more microtransactions.  Seriously?  That's the solution, pricing out more people, or forcing even more to wait for price drops, clearance, and second hand sales they thankfully still haven't been able to childishly ban.

I think modern gaming needs it's own form of a 1983 style of localized crash, not one that lands when HD rolled around with mergers, but outright deaths that forces true change.  When you can see these dopey paid only mobile games in the $5-20 range raking it in hand over fist, or those big sights grew with time packages like No Man's Sky doing very well too, that's encouraging.  When you see stuff that starts digital but does so well it grows beyond that in physicality and platforms like Everspace did and they don't look like low budget 8/16bit retro throwbacks either.  There are many avenues to take to make an incredible game whether it looks basic or amazing into a good pile of profit as there are ways to screw it up too.

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I have no idea how projects like GTA5 and TLOU2 come together personally, when diffusion of responsibility sets in on a project of 4 people at my job. I don't know how sustainable making these Hollywood blockbuster $100m games is, but I know when I stand out and look out over an overpass in TLOU2 a small part of my brain thinks "Jesus, how many people were whipped during 16 hour days so I could look at this for 3 seconds".

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I do believe single player, story driven games (SPSDG) will be set aside by Triple A developers. I think they will focus more on "Games as a Service" type games. However, I believe indy developers will fill the gaps for SPSDG. Then at some point, the Triple A devs and publishers will see they are losing money, and come back to SPSDG. The industry is very cyclical.

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11 hours ago, FenrirZero said:

Honestly? The one thing people often overlook is that the publisher makes more money off the licenses and merchandise tied to said game than the game itself. It's one of those well kept secrets that only Disney talks about when it comes to their properties. As well as something you will often see a lot of when visiting places like Tokyo, or even conventions (among other examples). In the end a physical copy of any game could end up selling less than expected volumes. But as long as there is money in the licenses and/or merchandise, a sequel to said game could still be talked about.
 

Yeah, good point there for sure. This is why we are seeing places like Gamestop selling more and more merch, especially as games become digital.

Still though, we are seeing games last longer and longer. GTA V will most definitely be released on PS5 in my opinion which is insane to think about. If you look back from 1990-2000 you go from NES to PS2 where now we have a single game spanning three console generations. The gap will likely continue to widen between major releases of games.

I think indy games are really going to continue to shine moving forward. I'm sure it's an extremely competitive market which would result in the creation of some very original and polished games. Even if a lot are clones or inspired by previous franchises I think we're in a good place as gamers here.

 

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17 minutes ago, Andy_Bogomil said:

Yeah, good point there for sure. This is why we are seeing places like Gamestop selling more and more merch, especially as games become digital.

Still though, we are seeing games last longer and longer. GTA V will most definitely be released on PS5 in my opinion which is insane to think about. If you look back from 1990-2000 you go from NES to PS2 where now we have a single game spanning three console generations. The gap will likely continue to widen between major releases of games.

I think indy games are really going to continue to shine moving forward. I'm sure it's an extremely competitive market which would result in the creation of some very original and polished games. Even if a lot are clones or inspired by previous franchises I think we're in a good place as gamers here.

 

I think you are right about the indie space continuing to grow.  GTA will be three generations and probably Skyrim too at this rate.  GTA 3 and Vice City were a year apart. Now it will be 10+ for a sequel. Same for Elder Scrolls.  If Red Dead Redemption 2 can stop an entire company from working on a second title at the same time something might be wrong with how games are being built. 

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5 minutes ago, zeppelin03 said:

I think you are right about the indie space continuing to grow.  GTA will be three generations and probably Skyrim too at this rate.  GTA 3 and Vice City were a year apart. Now it will be 10+ for a sequel. Same for Elder Scrolls.  If Red Dead Redemption 2 can stop an entire company from working on a second title at the same time something might be wrong with how games are being built. 

Even with games on the same engine/foundation are going to start taking more time. I think BoTW 2 will be very similar in style to the first but will be 4 or 5 years since the first one (which was also delayed for a while for the Switch).

I'll be interested to see what happens to games like Cyber Punk.... A new IP with tons of hype that keeps getting pushed back.

 

 

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But is it a must that cost of production will rise with technological advancement? If you have better tools to program it doesn't have to mean it will also take more manhours to do it it can mean that a game will just look better during the same timeframe. Also it's not like they're going minus just because they earn less i know companies tend to look at things where if you're not earning more then you're stagnating but that is an unreasonable viewpoint. 

I don't know all the factors and intricacies to these things but i reckon there's still loads of money to go around. I think the games will go on basically forever.

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I would agree with you except for the fact that Ubisoft released two 100 hour Assassin's Creed games in back to back years (2017, 2018) and have another one coming later this year. That's in addition to their other AAA stuff.

I do think we've hit a max for AAA games per year and the number will remain steady or decrease. There is no way the number of releases will go from here up since development costs have far outpaced inflation.

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I think modern gaming is doing exceptionally well. Instead of pumping out new games, the modern family model is to release a game early in the console life cycle and plan for 3-6 years of support. 

That model benefits everyone. People who love the games can play daily and grind for in game currency to unlock new content while casuals are forced to pay up for play with old stuff, but still get to play with everyone else. 

Personally, I think it is a superior gaming model to the previous generations when it comes to big name games.

Look at Pokemon for example where the modern model is completely lost. The dlc didn't fix the current world but only added a couple hours of fetch quests. 

The devs have a chance to go take an entire generation to please fans and rework the original design if it missed the mark. Sea of Thieves did a great job of that. Even R6S kept gaining steam as it continued to polish and balance gameplay.

Devs who don't follow this model will be exposed and will need to adapt for face the consequences. 

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41 minutes ago, RegularGuyGamer said:

I think modern gaming is doing exceptionally well. Instead of pumping out new games, the modern family model is to release a game early in the console life cycle and plan for 3-6 years of support. 

That model benefits everyone. People who love the games can play daily and grind for in game currency to unlock new content while casuals are forced to pay up for play with old stuff, but still get to play with everyone else. 

Personally, I think it is a superior gaming model to the previous generations when it comes to big name games.

Look at Pokemon for example where the modern model is completely lost. The dlc didn't fix the current world but only added a couple hours of fetch quests. 

The devs have a chance to go take an entire generation to please fans and rework the original design if it missed the mark. Sea of Thieves did a great job of that. Even R6S kept gaining steam as it continued to polish and balance gameplay.

Devs who don't follow this model will be exposed and will need to adapt for face the consequences. 

I would have loved for them to rework the base game of Sword/Shield.  The wilds seemed like a tacked on afterthought.  I went in hoping for a Xenoblade feel to roaming the region and got a safari zone.  Apparently the way the DLC handles it is better but I have yet to play it.

I hope Nintendo starts doing this but I have a feeling they are too proud to ever go back and alter a game like that after release.

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Member · Posted

I think gaming will continue to adapt and probably stay towards what modern games are doing. Esports will be huge in the next 20 years. Colleges are already starting to offer scholarships for esports. It's just in its infancy but people love watching other people play video games. Once it's marketed well and on a bunch of platforms for people to view, it'll explode. The prize money is also climbing steadily which will entice more people to get into that business. 

I also agree with what others have said, I just don't have the same free time I once had for a 40+ hr long game. Unless it's something incredible like BOTW, I find myself not completing the whole game. 

A game doesn't need to have a good story either imo. All it needs is good gameplay. I'm totally content playing games like Tetris 99 which have no story because the gameplay is great. Meanwhile, I've found myself not finishing newer games in series that I like because the gameplay just feels like a chore after a while. Pokemon sun and moon, and fire emblem three houses are great examples of this. They tried to do too much. Often times simplicity is best. 

One thing I really hope doesn't happen is companies giving us incomplete games where you have to pay for new content down the road. Pokemon sword and shield botched this. But games like shovel knight and Fortnite have done a perfect job of implementing tons of new content for free. Either give us a complete game off the bat or provide the updates for free. $30 for new Pokemon dlc is complete crap. Half the price of a new game for dlc? Um no. And if they start putting ads every 30 seconds in games, I'm out.

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Kind of too general a question.  The game industry as a whole is making record profits, so there seems to be room for all types of games imo.

1) Games as a Service are prob here to say.  It is more simple to plug in a couple new fighters or areas to keep games fresh rather than making an entire new title every year or two with minor improvements.  Just wish they didn't try to milk customers with unwanted micro-transactions and gambling mechanics, but with lawmakers cracking down and consumer backlash, we might see that change.

2) Single player driven games are here to stay.  Some of the best selling titles are these (Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Last of Us, Zelda, Mario.)  This goes double for Nintendo and Sony, as these titles are "system sellers" so they are most focused on putting out a stellar game to entice you onto the console and not just a a platform to sell you hats down the line.

3) Indie games are here to stay and we might see more middle tier titles.  Indie games are easier to make using middle ware and pre-made engines than ever.  With kickstarter and alternative funding options available, they are free to make all kinds of titles.  But I feel there is still a hunger for creative titles and genres not covered by "AAA" publishers.  Some smaller teams are going to grow beyond niche' indie titles and put out some great "A" and "AA" titles to be sold to consumers at a budget price point (expect more $30/$40 releases.)

4) Developers need to unionize.  If they are too scared or stupid to look out for each other, then enjoy getting crushed under the boot of overpaid CEOs and their shareholders.

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Yeah the topic is quite broad and 'sustainable' might not be the best word to use. I guess it's more of how quickly things are gonna change from previous generations. Gaming obviously isn't going anywhere and is more popular now than ever and that will only continue to grow. I agree that resources also improve with technology advancing but I think that the manpower to create these vast games just isn't keeping up or practical financially - at least to create from scratch to move on to the next project. We hear tons of horror stories about super long hours trying to meet deadlines on game production and it seems to be reflected with sparse releases, games being broken or buggy on release, or games like I mentioned that simply continue to add to a foundation rather than coming out with new games (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the last point) . I think the next gen we'll see more and more of these decade long entries into series that they just add content to as it comes along much like we saw with GTA or Street Fighter V.

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8 hours ago, DoctorEncore said:

I would agree with you except for the fact that Ubisoft released two 100 hour Assassin's Creed games in back to back years (2017, 2018) and have another one coming later this year. That's in addition to their other AAA stuff.

I do think we've hit a max for AAA games per year and the number will remain steady or decrease. There is no way the number of releases will go from here up since development costs have far outpaced inflation.

Yeah that's crazy about AC. I had to look up how many entries there are and couldn't believe it. These games must be copy and paste to some extent though, no? But this is exactly what I am talking about... I don't see that lasting into the next gen and being successful. I'm also bias as I just don't understand buying these games new when they're 1/2 the retail price within weeks of release. Marketing and advertising would be a big part of that too I guess.

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Maybe it's my age and all but seeing how modern gaming is going, there ends up being less and less games I'm excited about trying out.  So many games are just retellings of other games already done dozens of times.  As an example, how many different zombie games can I play and feel they are all unique and different?  In the end you still have to run for your life and find items and survive.  The market is just flooded and there are too many choices out there, so I end up being generally not caring about any of the choices.  I'm not a fan of buying a new version every year.  I'd rather stick to NFL 2003 or even just one for the current gen than needing to buy the most up to date sports/FPS/new entry in whatever series every year.  I'd probably be happier if they released games from other consoles on current consoles that haven't been re-released before.  It's a definite money maker for the studios due to newer gamers seeing it for the first time, and you don't have to feel like you need to buy them all, just buy the rereleases you liked.  Just an idea.

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Member · Posted
On 7/11/2020 at 6:24 PM, Bearcat-Doug said:

40 hour games don't do anything for me. In my old age, I would feel like I got my money's worth out of 15-20 high quality hours. I'm not a kid coming home from school and sitting in front of the TV for 3+ hours a night anymore.

This is how I feel.  I also tend to go after games that I can enjoy playing over and over.  That said, my backlog is also huge, and extends back to the PS2.  I'll probably skip the next generation entirely except for Nintendo.  My PS4 is a glorified DVD player at this point.

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2 hours ago, ChickenTendas said:

And fans. I bought TLOU2 on release in an attempt to avoid spoilers and still got a certain plot point spoiled by a f#$%ing headline 😞

True that... Sucks about the spoilers. I bought RE2 remake at launch just for that reason. Even if I'm a big fan of the series I still find it hard to pull the trigger at retail price when they drop so drastically - especially the overly produced PS4 titles. 

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2 hours ago, Andy_Bogomil said:

Yeah the topic is quite broad and 'sustainable' might not be the best word to use. I guess it's more of how quickly things are gonna change from previous generations. Gaming obviously isn't going anywhere and is more popular now than ever and that will only continue to grow. I agree that resources also improve with technology advancing but I think that the manpower to create these vast games just isn't keeping up or practical financially - at least to create from scratch to move on to the next project. We hear tons of horror stories about super long hours trying to meet deadlines on game production and it seems to be reflected with sparse releases, games being broken or buggy on release, or games like I mentioned that simply continue to add to a foundation rather than coming out with new games (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the last point) . I think the next gen we'll see more and more of these decade long entries into series that they just add content to as it comes along much like we saw with GTA or Street Fighter V.

More like "are current publishing models sustainable?, and their effects."  Or at least that is what I gathered from your post. Don't worry, think I'm on the same page here.  Interesting topic, anytime you put "modern gaming" in the header though seems like people here don't even read your post and just post why they personally don't like modern gaming (why post in a tread about something you don't follow?) 🤷‍♀️

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14 hours ago, ChickenTendas said:

Completely forgot about remasters and ports. Sony and Nintendo have already started porting over older games to newer platforms in order to fill gaps in their release schedules. I think we'll see more of that. Just look at Gamecube games, clearly enough people are willing to pay $60 for Super Mario Sunshine. If Nintendo remade or even ported some Gamecube games for Switch people would lose their minds

They did lose their minds, a couple years back for two reasons.  One, because of what you said Switch got Gamecube remasters.  And TWO, it's on that damned Shield iQUE device territorial locked into CHINA.  A few enterprising types decided to throw a middle finger at both Nintendo and Nvidia, hacked the games, pulled the APK file and stuffed them up on the internet if you can find them so for those with a hacked Switch or the original Nvidia Shield tablet and console, you can play the stuff.  I've never attempted to track it down, but seen proof in action so it's a thing.

 

AND CMR: Same here.  I used the PS4 for a year, found nothing great that only was on it that didn't feel like a let down vs PS3 for 1st party goodies, used it for a blu ray for a long while, then sold it last year as I got fed up using that asinine controller for a movie remote.  Eventually I found a PS3 super slim for $20 at a goodwill, been using that for blu rays again since. 🙂  If it's not on Switch or some older device I use and want (or the occasional modern one on my PC) I don't need or want it anymore as the time isn't there.

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I think that once the franchises are established, they start getting franchised out.. I think Nintendo will start doing less game development and instead just start managing license agreements with developers. The developers will make the games, with limited directional guidance from Nintendo and Nintendo will collect royalties for the use of their intellectual properties.

Nintendo has already realized that their real value is in their diverse set of franchises/characters, not necessarily the video games themselves. They are expanding their business to include Super Nintendo World and movies (Pokémon, Super Mario).

We’ve already got a ton of games using Nintendo characters that were not developed by Nintendo.. What I’m hoping for is them opening up to Indie developers using their ip’s (we already have Cadence of Hyrule).. then we can probably finally get some legitimacy and polish on all these Nintendo fan games that people have been making, like AM2R and Pokémon Uranium

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