EA Says Triple-A Studios Have Fallen Like Flies This Console Generation
It’s no secret that the games industry is a cruel one, the amount of studios which have closed in recent years is testament to that. Publishers don’t necessarily fare any better with THQ having fallen and Square Enix needing to tread a fine line lest it fall victim of the same fate.
EA’s chief creative officer, Richard Hilleman, claims that the number of triple-A console studios has fallen from 125 to 25 in just 8 years. Which is to say that over the course of this console generation we have lost around 80% of the world’s triple-A console studios. Curiously enough, Hilleman estimates that the growing size of studios and development teams means there is roughly the same number of people working on the biggest releases today as there was back then.
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“What is true today is that there are fewer AAA games being built than at the same point in the previous generation,” he wrote.
“I’ve done some calculations that say there were about 125 teams in the industry worldwide working on what I’d call a AAA game on a console, and that was 7 or 8 years ago. That number today is well south of 30; probably in the 25 range.
“What’s interesting is that, if you look at the composition of those teams, the numbers are exactly the same: those 125 teams became 25; the size of the teams increased by a factor of four.”
Hilleman claimed the shift to fewer, larger developers “has everything to do with the standard definition to HD change”.
He added: “If you look at the math, that change is about content – richly about content – and as we evolved, our costs went substantially up. And the number of people on teams with that kind of vision went up by necessity.”
The industry veteran expects the impending generation of consoles to stabilize development: “I don’t see that kind of content-oriented change coming in this next generation of platforms,” he said.
We’re still seeing developers fall and while it’s sad it does show that developers need to produce quality titles however it can also be said that this cutthroat industry makes developers uneasy about taking risks and causes them to make safe, generic titles.
It’s a quandary from the developer’s point of view but many have proven that if you spend your money wisely during development and aim the game at a feasible audience then you can enjoy success.
What do you make of it? More importantly, what will happen over the course of this coming console generation?