Big budget console model 'unsustainable'

Big budget console model 'unsustainable'
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 3rd 2012 at 3:18PM

'It takes billions of dollars to create a system and takes years to get your money back', says Red 5 Studios CEO

The big budget home console model is broken and unsustainable, claims Red 5 Studios CEO.

Speaking to Eurogamer, the former World of Warcraft lead Mark Kern said it costs manufacturers billions of dollars to create a console and market it for an extended period of time.

He also claimed that developers were forced into investing more in a market where only triple-A and indie titles can survive, with studios becoming more risk averse and in danger of boring customers with a lack of innovation.

"It takes billions of dollars of investment to create a console and then you have to milk it for five-to-seven years in order to get your money back," said Kern.

"I think the model is broken. You keep making these bigger and bigger bets and what that forces you to do is play it safer and safer. And if you play it safer and safer with your gameplay, people will get tired of the crap you're serving.

“When that happens, they get bored and they will leave. And you haven't fostered any of the middle ground innovation and new ideas that you need to tap into next. So something has to change."

Kern also lamented what he highlighted as a “troubling symptom” of layoffs, when studios hired large teams and invested hundred of millions of dollars in development and then often cut their headcount after a title’s release.

"People say 'Oh, that's normal, Hollywood does it all the time.' Well, it's not normal. It's a symptom of your business being broken,” he said.

"In Hollywood they work on contract - it's very different. They expect only to work from A to B. In games, these big publishers are hiring swathes of people expecting to have jobs long-term but then lay them off at the end of a project because it doesn't quite deliver. This is unsustainable."