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The steady corruption of the AAA gaming industry

173 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, jrdemr said:

I recently saw this video on how much games really cost to make these days and found it super enlightening:

 

 

There's a LOT of presumptions and spin on the graphs(which are very fuzzy). I'm not very familiar with his channel, where did he work in the industry? 

 

He got one thing right though, it's very complicated. 

 

Try Colin Moriarty, he worked at ign and got a lot of internal information from studios years ago before co-creating Kinda Funny and then CLS. And he's pretty honest if he doesn't know. 

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3 hours ago, jrdemr said:

I recently saw this video on how much games really cost to make these days and found it super enlightening:

 

 

It is an okay video, unfortunately has a spin on it. Because he is of the opinion that microtransactions and such are unneeded in gaming, he has either intentionally or unintentionally spun certain information to favor his argument.

 

He completely ignores the fact that development teams have increased dramatically as the years go by and tries to brush it off by saying research and development has stayed the same but then later says the big companies make less and less games as the years go by.

 

This actually means the companies have downsized game development to keep costs within a reliable range at the cost of making less games. This kind of proves that games have gotten more expensive to make as years go by because if they hadn't they wouldn't have had to lower the number of games they make to stay within the reliable range.

 

Also since he only focuses on three of the big companies he can conveniently ignore all the smaller companies that have gone out of business due to the cost of making a game and having it fail.

 

His argument it's also based around very popular games that have microtransactions but says nothing of some of the smaller less popular games.

 

Also he didn't link where he got the information for his Excel graph. While he does link the graph itself, he doesn't link wherr he got the information from as far as I could tell. In the video he says he got it from their financial reports, but since he doesn't link those reports it calls into question whether he accurately read the reports or not.

 

Like I said it's a okay video, unlike people like Jim Sterling he actually took the time to look at data before making the video but he still spun it to fit his argument.

Edited by soultaker655
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On 12/27/2017 at 7:36 AM, soultaker655 said:

It is an okay video, unfortunately has a spin on it. Because he is of the opinion that microtransactions and such are unneeded in gaming, he has either intentionally or unintentionally spun certain information to favor his argument.

 

He completely ignores the fact that development teams have increased dramatically as the years go by and tries to brush it off by saying research and development has stayed the same but then later says the big companies make less and less games as the years go by.

 

This actually means the companies have downsized game development to keep costs within a reliable range at the cost of making less games. This kind of proves that games have gotten more expensive to make as years go by because if they hadn't they wouldn't have had to lower the number of games they make to stay within the reliable range.

 

Also since he only focuses on three of the big companies he can conveniently ignore all the smaller companies that have gone out of business due to the cost of making a game and having it fail.

 

His argument it's also based around very popular games that have microtransactions but says nothing of some of the smaller less popular games.

 

Also he didn't link where he got the information for his Excel graph. While he does link the graph itself, he doesn't link wherr he got the information from as far as I could tell. In the video he says he got it from their financial reports, but since he doesn't link those reports it calls into question whether he accurately read the reports or not.

 

Like I said it's a okay video, unlike people like Jim Sterling he actually took the time to look at data before making the video but he still spun it to fit his argument.

 

I automatically lose trust in people on Youtube when they cannot back their sources. So many people out there just throw information on the table without telling or hinting where they got their sources.

 

What a lot of people need to understand is a lot of these giant companies who finance millions of dollars into their projects usually have a set standard. I've noticed in the past 5 years or so a lot of games have usually gone along the lines of first person shooters, open world, third person, multiplayer experiences. As much as people praise Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, I didn't find either of them to have an ounce of creativity.

 

Sony along with other companies like Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Activision seem to push forward the graphics capability. I was utterly amazed when I saw Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and God of War III for the first time back in 2009 - 2010. This generation the difference isn't as drastic. It's much easier for these giant companies to follow a set path and go with the proven method of developing their games rather than take big risks that may pay out big in the end. Back in the day when you had five - ten developers renting out a garage to develop a game, there was a lot more leeway in creativity, innovation and design. Today you have Blizzard Entertainment, Activision, EA, Sony and Microsoft all housing thousands of employees, and most of them aren't involved with the games at all. EA is more about satisfying their shareholders, because EA is big business and big business couldn't care less about a game that two people worked on in the span of a one year development cycle.

 

Nintendo is one of the few companies left that have stayed true to their roots, going back to their huge success and pulling the video game industry out of the crash in the 1980s. Their hardware isn't the best, and unfortunately they're mostly keeping afloat with their flagship franchises and living off of their exclusives. They are still #1 in handhelds, so I'll give them credit and respect for that.

 

In recent years I've taken more of an interest in smaller indie titles and older games I played back in the 1990s and early 2000s. I'm starting to find this generation to more of a rehash of the previous generation (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii) because I've already played AAA games that made me think I've already played them before.

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On 19/12/2017 at 6:48 PM, StrickenBiged said:

 

It's on my interest list but, like you, big backlog. I've been keeping an eye out for a boxed copy as I prefer physical when I can. Or a decent PSN sale. 

 

Was looking here for that article on Hellblade you posted (it's on a sale now) but found this post as well.

 

You got your wish: The Talos Principle is on sale now for €8 (full price €40). I bought it and have played through it by now, and I loved it. Sale only lasts until today though.

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On 1/19/2018 at 6:41 AM, Simple Rick said:

Sale only lasts until today though.

 

D'oh! I missed it!

 

Having said that, one of my new year's resolutions is to make more of an effort to only buy a game when I'm ready to play it - I reckon I will save more money overall this way. It will be on sale again, and in the meantime I might be able to attack my backlog some more!

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19 minutes ago, StrickenBiged said:

 

D'oh! I missed it!

 

Having said that, one of my new year's resolutions is to make more of an effort to only buy a game when I'm ready to play it - I reckon I will save more money overall this way. It will be on sale again, and in the meantime I might be able to attack my backlog some more!

 

Yeah, I buy like that these days too, with adding two more rules:

1) Do I NEED to play it? As in, is the game's anticipation so important to me that I'd prefer playing it over the backlog games I still have?

2) Is it some bloated AAA thing I've played countless times before? Yes, Dragon Age Origins complete edition for under €10 sounds cool but it's the umptieth big RPG sandbox fantasy game. A more original game like Völgarr, The Talos Principle, Statik or Hellblade would be more deserving of my time and money. Heck, as much as I loved playing Assassin's Creed Origins, I still haven't bothered with completing it. I also have difficulty putting time in Telltale's Batman, which I didn't even bother with buying but wanted to try now it is on PS+. Just a few years ago, I'd prioritise stuff like Assassin's Creed, Telltale and Rockstar over anything else.

 

Looking at it like that, I'm constantly trying to buy less and play more of my backlog, PS+ backlog included.

Edited by Simple Rick
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1 minute ago, Simple Rick said:

1) Do I NEED to play it? As in, is the game's anticipation so important to me that I'd prefer playing it over the backlog games I still have?

2) Is it some bloated AAA thing I've played countless times before?

 

Yeah, thinking about it, these two rules have sort of come into play for me too, without really thinking about it. 

 

Like, I want to try AC: Origins at some point because it apparently tries to do something new with the franchise, but I have no desire to play Syndicate, no matter how cheap it goes. That's sort of the application of your rule 2, but I didn't really think about applying it. 

 

And yeah, the indie scene is really good at the moment. I started Sexy Bruatle with a friend over the weekend (it's really good for pass-the-controller-co-op: we took it in turns to play each of the game's "days" and puzzle things out) and it's a really refreshing puzzle game with how it uses time mechanics and stealth.

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2 hours ago, Simple Rick said:

 

Looking at it like that, I'm constantly trying to buy less and play more of my backlog, PS+ backlog included.

I must have taken it a step further and I don't even get the free games. There's a very high chance that even if it was a 10/10 game, it would result in it being forgotten in the backlog. Imo, if people must plan ahead, then 1 game is the realistic limit. Also I'm a believer that games should be played when feeling the hype, that's the only right time. If they're cheap, then that's a lucky coincedence, but I'm not waiting or searching copies for years when I don't even care anymore. Game sales, free games etc. these are not some gift to gamers, they are a marketing strategy similar to things like after season clothing sales that gives a sense of shopping satisfaction more than actual utility. Not to say I haven't been a victim myself, I once bought a 50+ Star Wars game pack from steam...

 

In short: more playing, less buying and "planning"

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Simple math.  40k wages for all your employees at a studio, that adds up.  Plus building spaces/rentals/fees/power/electricity/servers/water/computers/equipment/actors/voiceactors.

Games are not cheap to make anymore. 

Edited by DARKB1KE
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3 minutes ago, DARKB1KE said:

Simple math.  40k wages for all your employees at a studio, that adds up.  Plus building spaces/rentals/fees/power/electricity/servers/water/computers/equipment/actors/voiceactors.

Games are not cheap to make anymore

 

All of these things were always in place before. 

 

It is simple math, but you've picked the wrong variables. The real reason that gaming development costs have skyrocketed is due to the large amount of administrative suits trying to take a slice of the pie.

 

This phenomenon is not unique to games, either; it has poisoned health care and university as well.

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2 minutes ago, starcrunch061 said:

 

All of these things were always in place before. 

 

It is simple math, but you've picked the wrong variables. The real reason that gaming development costs have skyrocketed is due to the large amount of administrative suits trying to take a slice of the pie.

 

This phenomenon is not unique to games, either; it has poisoned health care and university as well.

I was comparing it to like... 5 guys making an 8-bit platformer game in their basement.  A lot cheaper to make with less employees.

Nowadays we have full 3D games with 4K definition with so many more complex designs.

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Just now, DARKB1KE said:

I was comparing it to like... 5 guys making an 8-bit platformer game in their basement.  A lot cheaper to make with less employees.

Nowadays we have full 3D games with 4K definition with so many more complex designs.

 

I can see now where you're coming from. I read a few other previous posts in the thread that seem to compare the cost of making, say, The Chronicles of Teddy with making, say, Final Fantasy XV. 

 

But I don't want to let these AAA jerks off the hook. Everybody focuses on the EAs of the world, but honestly, a company like Square Enix has a bunch of lazy managers playing golf and visiting hostess clubs off of every title they release. They're literally parasites feeding off their own company, and then they whine to the public that they aren't making enough money off their releases. Konami is another like that.

 

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3 hours ago, StrickenBiged said:

 

Yeah, thinking about it, these two rules have sort of come into play for me too, without really thinking about it. 

 

Like, I want to try AC: Origins at some point because it apparently tries to do something new with the franchise, but I have no desire to play Syndicate, no matter how cheap it goes. That's sort of the application of your rule 2, but I didn't really think about applying it. 

 

And yeah, the indie scene is really good at the moment. I started Sexy Bruatle with a friend over the weekend (it's really good for pass-the-controller-co-op: we took it in turns to play each of the game's "days" and puzzle things out) and it's a really refreshing puzzle game with how it uses time mechanics and stealth.

 

Assassin's Creed Origins is definitely a new type of AC game. As far as big third party publishers go, I have faith in this new direction Ubisoft is taking. Watch_Dogs 2 was more fun than the first game. AC Origins was the best AC game since Black Flag. Mario+Rabbids was weird, new and lots of fun. Starlink: Battle For Atlas looks very promising.

 

I played through Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and I Expect You To Die over the weekend, as well as playing some Yooka-Laylee and Pic-a-Pix on the Switch. Lots of independent goodness.

 

1 hour ago, mecharobot said:

I must have taken it a step further and I don't even get the free games. There's a very high chance that even if it was a 10/10 game, it would result in it being forgotten in the backlog. Imo, if people must plan ahead, then 1 game is the realistic limit. Also I'm a believer that games should be played when feeling the hype, that's the only right time. If they're cheap, then that's a lucky coincedence, but I'm not waiting or searching copies for years when I don't even care anymore. Game sales, free games etc. these are not some gift to gamers, they are a marketing strategy similar to things like after season clothing sales that gives a sense of shopping satisfaction more than actual utility. Not to say I haven't been a victim myself, I once bought a 50+ Star Wars game pack from steam...

 

In short: more playing, less buying and "planning"

 

Well, you have PS+ anyway so why not give the games a try? Unless you're a completionist who wants to 100% everything...

 

PS+ is filled with small games I wouldn't have heard about otherwise. I try a lot of them and more often than not I see them through to the end.

 

37 minutes ago, starcrunch061 said:

 

I can see now where you're coming from. I read a few other previous posts in the thread that seem to compare the cost of making, say, The Chronicles of Teddy with making, say, Final Fantasy XV. 

 

But I don't want to let these AAA jerks off the hook. Everybody focuses on the EAs of the world, but honestly, a company like Square Enix has a bunch of lazy managers playing golf and visiting hostess clubs off of every title they release. They're literally parasites feeding off their own company, and then they whine to the public that they aren't making enough money off their releases. Konami is another like that.

 

 

To top it all off, those business people are the ones demanding big budget RPGs or multiplayers which need to sell millions of units to be called a success, because those are games that the masses will buy.

 

As I said a few posts earlier, with my spending I'm going to focus more on the small and mid-budget independent games with which the developers are prepared to take a few risks.

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1 hour ago, starcrunch061 said:

 

But I don't want to let these AAA jerks off the hook. Everybody focuses on the EAs of the world, but honestly, a company like Square Enix has a bunch of lazy managers playing golf and visiting hostess clubs off of every title they release. They're literally parasites feeding off their own company, and then they whine to the public that they aren't making enough money off their releases. Konami is another like that.

 

 

I hear you there.  Must be nice living that golf life. 

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2 hours ago, starcrunch061 said:

But I don't want to let these AAA jerks off the hook. Everybody focuses on the EAs of the world, but honestly, a company like Square Enix has a bunch of lazy managers playing golf and visiting hostess clubs off of every title they release. They're literally parasites feeding off their own company, and then they whine to the public that they aren't making enough money off their releases. Konami is another like that.

 

1 hour ago, DARKB1KE said:

I hear you there.  Must be nice living that golf life. 

 

Oh come on, like you wouldn't be doing that kinda thing if you could get away with it! xD 

 

I'd find something more interesting to do than play golf though...

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1 hour ago, DARKB1KE said:

 

I hear you there.  Must be nice living that golf life. 

 

You'll find it's not called "golf life", but rather "executive time".

 

HA! And people say my jokes aren't relevant to the current day and age...

 

12 minutes ago, StrickenBiged said:

 

 

Oh come on, like you wouldn't be doing that kinda thing if you could get away with it! xD 

 

I'd find something more interesting to do than play golf though...

 

I was going to say; if my choices were between working all day or having to play golf, I'd rather work. Golf is sooooo boooring!

 

I don't "get" golf. It's like someone wanted to create a sport as bad to the environment as Motocross but with zero of the adrenaline. Guess I'm not white and/or privileged enough.

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Somehow I can understand them. Just imagine you are the new EA director of sales (lato sensu - the guy that is in charge of getting money through sales of a game: full game, DLC, microtransactions etc). It's your job to sell more. You get paid to sell more and you get bonuses for selling more. Wouldn't you want to do a good job? You would, so would they. So they invent shit like DLCs and microtransactions. Nevertheless, the fact that I empathize with them doesn't mean I approve them. It's stupid and we, their clients, should revolt against it like people did with SW BF2.

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1 hour ago, AtotheMtotheZ said:

Somehow I can understand them. Just imagine you are the new EA director of sales (lato sensu - the guy that is in charge of getting money through sales of a game: full game, DLC, microtransactions etc). It's your job to sell more. You get paid to sell more and you get bonuses for selling more. Wouldn't you want to do a good job? You would, so would they. So they invent shit like DLCs and microtransactions. Nevertheless, the fact that I empathize with them doesn't mean I approve them. It's stupid and we, their clients, should revolt against it like people did with SW BF2.

 

That's because you understand that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Ethics should always come before profit in any situation.

 

Not to mention, this kind of thing erodes confidence in your brand. When people no longer trust you, never mind the microransactions, who's going to buy your base game?

Edited by jrdemr
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3 hours ago, jrdemr said:

 

That's because you understand that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Ethics should always come before profit in any situation.

 

Not to mention, this kind of thing erodes confidence in your brand. When people no longer trust you, never mind the microransactions, who's going to buy your base game?

Be careful using the word ethics so loosely. There is nothing ethically wrong with DLC, microtransactions, or Loot boxes. This is mainly because gaming is a luxury industry and people are not forced to/do not have to buy them. Just because some people dislike them does not mean they or the business theory behind them are unethical. 

 

Also confidence/trust is a resource that builds up really fast compared to a lot of things, people rarely distrust companies for longer than a few years.

Edited by soultaker655
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16 minutes ago, soultaker655 said:

Be careful using the word ethics so loosely. There is nothing ethically wrong with DLC, microtransactions, or Loot boxes. This is mainly because gaming is a luxury industry and people are not forced to/do not have to buy them. Just because some people dislike them does not mean they or the business theory behind them are unethical. 

 

And what about the so-called "whales" these microtransactions are exploiting to the point where they are spending thousands of dollars on in-game items? These people clearly have some sort of problem that these companies are taking full advantage of. It's an addiction. Sounds pretty unethical to me...

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23 minutes ago, Undead Wolf said:

 

And what about the so-called "whales" these microtransactions are exploiting to the point where they are spending thousands of dollars on in-game items? These people clearly have some sort of problem that these companies are taking full advantage of. It's an addiction. Sounds pretty unethical to me...

That is the "whales" problem because they choose to spend their money on microtransactions. Once again they are not forced to buy them. People can do whatever they want with their money even if other people dislike it. So it's not unethical.

Now if the companies forced the "whales" to buy them or if you forced the "whales" to stop buying them it would be unethical.

Addiction is a personal problems and it's up to the individual person who is suffering from it to deal with it. It is not the job or responsibility of a company that produces a good/item to help with their personal problems.

 

Edit: Also just to make this clear, it is ethical because gaming is a luxury. You do not need it to live and not having it will not kill you.

This is total different from non-luxury industries like healthcare.

Edited by soultaker655
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5 minutes ago, jrdemr said:

 

I believe you're confusing "unethical" with "illegal".

 

If I post on the internet instructions on how to make a bomb and expressly tell people not to kill anyone, and then someone goes and does just that, am I entirely free of guilt? No, I am not. Because if I hadn't taught the person how to make a bomb, he couldn't possible have made one and killed a lot of people with it.

 

Is teaching someone how to make a bomb illegal? Technically, no. You can do a lot of stuff with a bomb that doesn't involve hurting anyone. But those things can be dangerous. Hence why you shouldn't just put them in the hands of anyone unless they have a valid reason to do so (for example, stonemasons and demolition crew members).

 

It's also not illegal in the USA to sell guns to people with mental disabilities. But is it unethical? Literally the rest of the entire world (and the people in America with a shred of common sense) would all tell you it is.

 

Some things are inherently dangerous, hence why you have to put limitations on its use. That's why alcohol can't be drunk until you're a certain age (here in Portugal it's 18). That's why gambling is also illegal until you're 18.

 

Are loot boxes illegal or even unethical? Technically no. But as I've said in the main post, loot boxes rely on the same psychological ticks and can be just as addictive as gambling, hence they should be regulated as such. Therefore, what is unethical (and most likely actually illegal) is making gambling mechanisms available to minors.

No i'm not.

But you may be.

Teaching people how to make bombs is illegal in the US.

https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/criminal-law-basics/bomb-making-is-illegal.html

Selling guns to people with mental disabilities is also illegal in the US.
http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/possession-of-a-firearm-by-the-mentally-ill.aspx

The reason you can't drink or gamble until you are a certain age is for a lot of reasons that are kind of fascinating if you look into it, but it's mostly because that age is the arbitrary chosen age to say a person is responsible enough to handle both themselves and their money. Whether this is true or not varies from  person to person.

 

The issues of "psychological tricks and unethicalness" is not something so simple that you can just use the way you are using it right now. You are basically saying people are stupid and because they are stupid they should not be allowed to have X item. (X can be anything). In a way that is unethical because you are not respecting or acknowledging a person right to make their own choices.

As for the issues of minors, as with most things related to minors it's the responsibility of their parent or guardian. Since gaming is a luxury and most minors don't have the money to buy games or microtransactions, it is the parent or guardian job to make sure the game they have don't have "psychological tricks" that could harm them.

 

Don't use other variable that are only tangentially related to an issue to try and say something is unethical. It is really hard to prove that luxury items are unethical, because you don't have to buy them. Drinking alcohol and gambling are not unethical because you don't have to buy them/ spend your money on them. Are they good for you? No, not really, but it's your choice to do them. 

Gaming as a whole is ethical because you don't have to buy game, even if you are addictive to games (Which you could argue that most of the people on this site are), you are NOT forced to buy games.

It's the same with lootboxes, because you do NOT have to buy them.

 

P.S Also research stuff before you try to make a point that uses comparison.

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