AAA Is Not Working – Dennis Dyack
Nevermind that his name sounds like the word dick pronounced with a thick Cape coloured accent, Dennis Dyack has some serious thoughts regarding where gaming is headed in terms of development models and structures.
Dyack is the former president of Silicon Knights and he believes that the business of AAA game development is not going to last in its current form.
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“AAA is not fine,” Dyack said. “I think our industry now is in a position exactly where Hollywood was in the early 20s; the golden era of films. Making movies like Cleopatraor Ben Hur where everyone was employed and they had thousands of staff. And they made fantastic movies; those were great movies; I still watch them today; they’re amazing. But studios looked at it and said ‘We’re not making money. This is not working.'”
Of course, behemoths such as EA and Activision aren’t about to shrivel up and die but rather they will adapt and become more “focused.”
“And then those [film] studios didn’t disappear; and it’s not to say that it’s going to be over for EA or any of the studios. They’re still going to be around,” Dyack said. “I don’t think anyone should kid themselves about that.”
“But what did happen is they changed the way they worked and it went more towards the model that we have,” he added. “Which I would call…a micro-studio or a very focused studio that grows and expands but are not employees of this one group, where it’s basically not internal development. It’s much more efficient that way. I think that’s where AAA may go, or at least game development can go.”
I’m not sure if this pertains to the mammoths like Activision and EA but smaller publishers may have to adopt a model such as that of Square Enix where there are still dedicated teams working on big AAA titles but most of the company has its eyes on smaller games and mobile titles which are cheaper and quicker to develop but can be very profitable.
At present publishers such as Ubisoft approach their flagship franchises with a multinational web of development teams. This is what is does to turn out a new Assassin’s Creed year after year. It’s effective but the minute you’re in a pinch that model becomes unusable.
Dyack’s words may then hold some merit. Keep development localised and contained in order to lower costs. Then again major publishers want their games out in something faster than record time thus development teams get bigger. As he states, more focused teams will breed efficiency.
This is entirely out of context but with the big publishers such as EA, let each studio have its niche. Keep the target audience scaled rather than trying to expand aggressively and appeal to everyone at once.
This keeps each studio focused and smaller in size because you don’t need a supplementary team working on a ton of extra mass-appeal features or bolt-on multiplayer.
Those are just my depraved musings. Care to share your thoughts on AAA game development?