Video Games Are Not Too Expensive to Make [ VIDEO ]

There are some valid arguments as to why video games do not need microtransactions, in the video, and why video game publishers want them to be present. Definitely worth the watch.

While not completely related to this video, I remember being pissed after I bought Beautiful Katamari and discovering that I had to pay to unlock content that was already included on the disc. I can understand being impatient and willing to pay to unlock the content, rather than unlock it over time, but to keep part of the game behind a paywall is a rather jerkish move to make. That was very bad, Bandai Namco Entertainment. I’d expect something like that from EA, but not you.

source: YouTube


  • Nevermind

    There are some interesting things in this video. But as an actual game developer I want to say – the prodution costs absolutely ARE increasing. Like, I can literally see it with my own eyes. I don’t know a single game developer who would disagree – and I have quite a lot of aquiatances in the field, naturally. So, right from the outset, either this guy didn’t actually ever speak to any developers, or he’s being kinda dishonest. Probably the former (-8

    • Farant

      So you’re saying that Micro-transactions are necessary because game development isn’t profitable otherwise? Or just that “game development is getting more expensive, but still profitable”?
      The first one I call bullshit on, the second one falls in line with the final statement of the video, namely “it’s not that they’re ‘not profitable’ but ‘not as profitable’.”

      • Nevermind

        I’d say these are both extreme oversimplifications. Game development is not only expensive (super-expensive when talking about AAA games), it’s also complex (again super-complex with AAA games). It’s not like, say, Bobby Kotick is sitting in his office looking at a button with “Add microtransactions: +$100M” written on it. In reality, there are all sorts of analyses and projections and budgeting decisions, often vague and contradictory. And yeah, maybe IN HINDSIGHT we can see that microtransactions were not exactly necessary for a particular game – that does not mean they were added out of pure evil greed.
        In fact, many decisions about every given game turn out bad in hindsight – gameplay decisions, tech decisions, marketing and business decisions. And some that had looked bad before turn out good – that’s the way it is with all complex tasks.

        • Farant

          I would not put gameplay flaws into the same category as bad business decisions. It’s not really about complexity, but about maximizing profit by exploiting the playerbase at the cost of the game and for an unnecessary reason.
          For example: American McGee, awesome guy all around, said that Alice: Madness Returns had great luck with its EA contract, for EA had no say in their development of the game, as long as they delivered. At the end of the development cycle, he and his team noticed that the games narrative would benefit if the game was shorter (it would have). Because of their contract, they had to deliver though, and didn’t have the chance to cut the game.
          That’s a bummer, sure, but the “bad decision” was “Making more game” – the reason it was made was with the best intention to create an expansive and fun game and there are surely players who are very happy with the “extra” content they got.

          Adding Lootboxes, Exp. Boosts and other game affecting gimmicks doesn’t add anything to the game. It doesn’t make it more fun, it doesn’t “help” the game, aiming only to take out or shorten tedious grinds.

          The guy from the video, Tarmack, has a bunch of videos on the topic, spent a lot of time on the issue of gambling with real money and – he is right in that it shouldn’t be in games.

          If it’s about getting “more” money, there are other ways. Kickstarter is the best example for it: people are willing to pay a lot of money on games that haven’t even begun development.
          The Witcher is an excellent example of a triple S game, that didn’t try to screw it’s players for money and still made a lot of cash.
          Hell, Shadow of Mordor could sell hats for your Orc army as a 3$ DLC and people would buy it.
          But Lootboxes? That’s not just casino style gambling, it’s modern day way-laying. No way a game that is build from scratch with the idea of selling them is gonna miss out on building the game around making them just attractive enough to not break the game, but strongly encouraging you to buy them.

          • Nevermind

            No, you see, the point is that you CAN’T delineate “gameplay” decisions from “business”. They are always intertwined. Any major decision in development process (and most minor ones too!) has to take into account everything: is this a fun thing to do? is this thematically appropriate? does this generate hype? does this cost a lot? and so on and so forth… and generally, these are damn hard questions!
            To take your example: the decision to “make more game” probably wasn’t made solely because it’s “more fun”. It actually involved balancing content costs (a business thing) and perceived value (a marketing thing) and game pacing (a gameplay thing) and demands of the story (a narrative thing) and probably a bunch of other stuff I can’t think of right now.

            To be clear, though, I’m very much NOT saying that adding lootboxes is somehow a good – or even inevitable – thing. I personally firmly believe that lootboxes are evil. I’m just saying that framing this as simple greed and desire to screw the players is a gross oversimplication and most probably wrong. The cost problem is very real, and game development studios HAVE to find ways to fund the ever-more-expensive production – or go out of business (incidentally, this is why EA has reputation for “killing developers”.) Yeah, some of the ways these people find money are bad, and absolutely should be criticized – but criticized intelligently and without losing nuance.

          • Farant

            “To take your example: the decision to “make more game” probably wasn’t
            made solely because it’s “more fun”. It actually involved balancing
            content costs (a business thing) and perceived value (a marketing thing)
            and game pacing (a gameplay thing) and demands of the story (a
            narrative thing) and probably a bunch of other stuff I can’t think of
            right now.”
            It wasn’t though, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. McGee and his team had not exactly a deadline, but a somewhat set timeframe within which the game had to be ready to be shipped. They had been making the game free of ANY influence of EA as part of their contract, so all their decisions were “what is the game we want to make” – and it was their decision to cut the game. Alas, the game had to be finished before, and when asking EA for an extension, EA told them the same thing McGee told them: “We have a contract, and that wasn’t part of the deal.”
            It wasn’t about anything you said, because it was the own teams decision near the end of the development process, but time didn’t allow it. He was very clear about how the contract they had was awesome for that kind of freedom, but still had that little hook attached to it.

            Going out of business is also a great point because Sqaure Enix has just recently filed for a “divorce” from IO Interactive because of their disastrous losses. Losses, which were due to the failure of the latest Hitman which was released as an “episodic experience”, despite being originally intended as a full game. SE wanted it to be cut into pieces and shipped over month, because the episodic model has a bunch of upsides for the publisher and developer – if it works. They gambled and now they are “cutting losses” by getting rid of the studio they forced that decision on.
            Many, MANY of EA’s mercy killings are for studios they butchered in the first place. Before most of the studios they close stands some event where either EA and the developers had some sort of fallout (Origin, PlayFish, etc) or some wacky experiment gone awry / a plagued development (Visceral, Maxis, Mythic, etc). Many of the studios closed / teams leaving EA went on to form new ones and continued to make and support games.

            There are huge game making studios without relying on screwing over customers the way EA, Ubisoft and Activision are so fond of. As I said, there is nothing wrong with wanting more profit, but those three milking the cow till its dying breath, knowing full well that every studio is replaceable. They have shown that and that’s why they have no problem doing it.

            Regardless, I notice I am again spending to much time debating on the internet, when I know full well that there can be no victor. So, have a nice day and good luck with your future projects!

    • Reyos Blackwood

      No he didn’t talk to developers, what he did to was go over the financial statements for the development companies. These public records definitely do show the costs and profits from games for these companies, that is what they are for, with the raw data being unbiased, the kind of bias you would get from talking to a person on the front line vs looking at the bottom line. You are a developer so you think he should have talked to developers, I have a degree in accounting, so I know what it means to look at the bottom line on a balance sheet.