The lights are on
Over the past few years, we've seen an unprecedented number of studio closures and industry layoffs. According to a report by Screen Digest in 2005, development budgets ranged from $3 million to $6 million. Study author Marc de Gentile-Williams predicted that in extreme cases, budgets on the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 would pass $20 million. He was a little low.
In 2010, M2 Research stated that average costs ranged between $18 million and $28 million, with major titles like God of War III, the Call of Duty franchise, and Grand Theft Auto titles busting through the high end of that range. As we saw with Square Enix's recent titles, even sales exceeding previous franchise entries weren't enough to keep Tomb Raider from being deemed underperforming.
The focus is turning away from increasing sales and toward reining in excessive budgets. One way developers and publishers can do this while managing staffing needs is to engage outside organizations. This is the focus of the External Development Summit 2013 (XDS) to be held in Vancouver from September 3 - 5, 2013.
Speakers from Electronic Arts, GREE, Blizzard, BioWare, and more will complement networking opportunities. While the focus isn't the end consumer, the topics discussed have an impact on how games are made. If you are a developer and interested in attending, or simply want to find out more, visit the XDS website.
Our TakeOverblown budgets continue to plague development, and economical use of existing assets is crucial to ensuring that sales can recover costs. We've seen a number of good-but-not-great titles considered to be underperforming with dire impact. Layoffs and studio closures are all too common. If there's any way to return to a time when there was a place for "good" games (as opposed to the "hits" and "bombs" that define the industry now), it should be explored.