Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Have video games become too big for their own good?

It's often said (and it might be true) that currently the video game industry is larger (in term of budgets) than the film industry. In other words, a typical large AAA video game production will have a larger budget than a typical blockbuster movie production.

In other words, the biggest games have budgets that are over 100 million dollars. Sometimes a lot more.

This is great from a gamer's point of view. This means that we are getting some really epic games of absolutely vast size (both in content and in quality). These games really push the limit of what can be done with video games.

But the thing is, it may turn out that the video game industry is becoming too large for its own good. Why? Because a game will only sell so many copies.

20 years ago, heck, even 10 years ago, a video game selling 2 million copies was an absolutely humongous success of epic proportions. Nowadays, however, we have reached a point where a video game selling 2 million copies is a disappointment (to the producers and investors). We have reached a point were 2 million copies means that the game sold poorly, and is considered more or less a failure.

The reason for this is that nowadays game budgets are so much bigger than they were 20 or even just 10 years ago, yet games are not selling more in equivalent proportion. Game budgets may have increased something like ten-fold, but not sales figures.

And this may end up being the bane of the AAA video game industry. The investor money would be there, but it's not a profitable investment if the product doesn't sell enough. And in many cases, it just doesn't, no matter how much production values are put into it.

What this may well result in is a reduction in budgets, cheapening of video game production, and lowering of production values. Which means that we might not be getting video games of such epic magnitude as one could expect for the contemporary hardware, assuming no budget limits. The magnitude of the games will be limited by smaller budgets. Which will be a big shame, really.

I hope that this will not happen, but I'm afraid that it very well might.

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