Grumpy Gurevitz: Overload!

Think of the bus as Modern Warfare 2 and the wee cars as the other games waiting for it to pass.

2009 according to many, was a light year when it came to ‘big’ and quality releases. This perception is mainly due to the latter half of the year being dominated by Modern Warfare 2. However the rest of the year was alive with interesting, high quality and fun titles for all the platforms.

The PS3 had Uncharted 2, amongst other games; the Wii had everything from New Super Mario Bros, to Madworld; the Xbox 360 had Halo ODST (perhaps not 10/10 material but still good) and Left 4 Dead 2. Additionally there were multiplatform titles such as The Beatles Rock Band, DJ Hero, Batman Arkham Asylum and Assassins Creed 2 to keep the faithful happy. Heck; even the PSP got in on the action with some quality AAA titles such as Resistance Retribution, Little Big Planet PSP, Another Star Wars Battlefront game, and at the start of 2010 an amazing SOCOM title.

2009 was a good year, and ironically the Modern Warfare 2 tank of a marketing machine helped the release schedule become manageable for the average player. So many games were pulled from the winter period of 2009, and instead marked for release in 2010, it allowed us gamers a much clearer picture of where to spend our money.

From the point of view of many game reviewers, 2010 is the year. We are expecting a ton of AAA content, some of which has already been released, such as Mass Effect 2. Look out though, as we also have Battlefield Bad Company 2, Red Steel 2, Red Dead Revolver Redemption, Final Fantasy XIII, Metro 2033, Just Cause 2, Metroid M, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Sega All Star Racing, SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 (just out) and of course Halo Reach, plus way more!

The problem is, will all these games hit their estimated sale figures? We are in effect still in a recession or at least (if you want to be optimistic) not in a boom. Who can afford all these games, and will there be some people who don’t buy any due to inertia caused by not being able to handle such a level of choice?

The thing is, the list above only covers the new games. Meanwhile there will be more DLC for Assassins Creed 2, a huge DLC pack for Modern Warfare 2, DLC for Borderlands and more besides!

You have not heard the last of this bad boy. It might end up owning 2010 too!

It seems to me that we might be in over our heads as an industry and as a fan base. Just as the car industry found that the industry had too many cars being produced, might the videogame industry find we have too many AAA titles being produced? In many ways this particular Grump feels like a follow up to my ‘How long have you got?’ article a few weeks back. However you look at it, 2010 seems awfully congested. Is the industry growing that fast in a time of a poor economic outlook to sustain this level of output and production?

If a lot of this content could be sold into new emerging, ‘non-western’ markets then it would make sense. However console gaming as we know it is still small fry in China and India, where there is the triple attack of poverty, piracy and a different culture of interactive entertainment in the form of the free to play MMO.

Talking of MMOs this one is due an update soon. I think it'll eat into a lot of people's time.

I’m not suggesting that the industry is a bubble which will burst, 1980s style. However, come 2011 there might be quite a few layoffs and companies like EA, which have already spent one and half years getting very lean, will become smaller still in terms of staff numbers.

So where does that leave all the developers, artists, composers and coders who earn a living from this great industry? Well, companies like EA still want to produce product, but less and less of it will be AAA focused, or even AA focused. More and more talented designers will be producing apps, online experiences, and smaller projects. Additionally, those AAA games that are still going to be made, will become even larger productions, with larger teams.

The music industry has reacted to the ‘long tail’ of having millions of competing independent artists, by concentrating their production and marketing scale into a smaller collective of ‘top line’ acts, a model mirrored by the large Holywood studios. Consequently, so too we will see the videogame industry adopting a similar take on their business models.

Nintendo had a low key 2009 for the hardcore. 2010 on the other hand seems to be a hardcore frenzy. New Galaxy, Sin and Punishment 2, Metroid M, Zelda and more! What third party would want to release their product into that mix in 2010?

So, there will be less AAA, boxed games. But where we have AAA games, the quality will be exemplary. Alongside the outstanding and costly AAA releases, there will be far more downloadable, web community and app based products to compliment their blockbuster bretheren. There will be a plethora of income models, some being traditional ‘cash over the counter’ whilst others being indirect, back end consumer transactions.

2010 is exciting, as the release schedule congestion is going to result in a very different looking industry in 2011. One that will offer more choice than ever to the consumer.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

3 comments

  1. KrazyFace /

    The way I see it, there’s no such thing as too many AAA titles in one year. I’ve still not played KZ2 yet, but it only cost me £12 two weeks ago. Arkham Asylum is another I’ve to get my teeth into still (though was a krimbo prezzie) others include No More Heros, Mad World (to be finished) and NSMB. All of these (except Arkham) I picked up on the cheap because I’m running about nine months behind the release shedule. I’ve no problem with getting great games much later if they cost less than half the asking price. The point I’m trying to make is that just because the games are released near eachother, dosen’t mean you have to buy them as they come out, but I see what you’re saying.

    Praise due to you Mr.Grumpy, another enjoyable, engageing article.

  2. steven g /

    thank you kindly.

    From a players perspective you are right. I too enjoy the bargain bin which is now often made up of AAA titles. However how is this good for the developers/publishers? Also now that companies are putting in launch DLC, linked to a voucher, they are actively trying to undermine the value of the second hand market thereby encouraging us to buy new.

    Itll be interesting to see how this voucher idea affects second hand sales in the long term.

    • KrazyFace /

      True, as a gamer AAA titles are great regardless as to when you pick them up but regarding DLC, that’s where the panic buying becomes an issue. Example: I bought inFamous waaaaay after it’s release and picked up the special edition for the extra giga-watts power-up, however, I didn’t realise there were only so many codes that allowed access to this DLC. The end result was that I paid more for something I couldn’t get because of people selling these exclusive codes online to whoever came allong first. So when Assassin’s Creed 2 came out with exclusive content I paid full price for it, in fear of repeating the same situation for myself. This technique that publishers use to get our money works well, as I just said.

      Having said all that though, the giga-watts power-up did eventually become availible on the PSN about three weeks ago as free DLC. Whether this is because of complaints or Sucker Punch just being nice I can only guess at.

      I think DLC is a way of working around the second-hand market problem for publishers, that and it allows them to drip feed us content that should have been in the final code for a little extra dosh.

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