This article is based on the following quotes from THQ President Brian Farrell. Speaking at an investor conference he said the following in regards to development of Move and Kinect games.
“There are more mass market type games, so the costs of games for Kinect and Move are a fraction of the games we showed you on the screen,” Farrell told investors.
“They’re just simpler forms of game, based on your movement and the input device and not on fantastic art and complex animations and backgrounds, that’s the other reason we like those two products, because the development costs are much lower than they are for the other core products.”
“Depending on the type of game we’re looking at, the budgets are lower,”
“When we’re talking to developers it’s really about them installing in us the belief and passion that they have to make something that’s creative and innovative. The budgetary exercise comes second to that, we have to look at it and believe it’s a sensible proposition. But first and foremost it’s about us being sold a vision of a creative, innovative game that can be delivered to a high quality.”
As you can see he is trying to sugar coat the fact that Move and Kinect based games are what makes more sense to developers now, which is all fine and dandy. Playstation Move and Kinect are two great additions to already amazing console experiences. However we have to think about what it means if developers follow Brain Farrell’s words of wisdom and invest in mostly Move and Kinect development.
The gaming industry is a business, and if making more money by spending less is an option then creativity and even originality is put on the line. That’s assuming developers decide to go for Kinect and Move based production in favor of the smaller budgets.
The question I want to ask the gamers is this. Is it a fair trade off to have a more interactive experience with motion in exchange for the high quality gaming experiences we have come to love? Sure there will still be games such as Killzone 3, Mass Effect 3, Crysis 2, Call of Duty, and Dead Space 2. It’s not like these games considered ‘hardcore’ will just disappear. However if developers begin to see huge profit margins from casual motion based games then eventually more studios will follow the trend.
A reasonable rebuttal to this argument would be that Move and Kinect will still be able to pull off ‘hardcore’ gaming experiences. The fact is that with lower budgets even the more ‘hardcore’ experiences on both motion platforms will not be able to hold a candle to the ones built from the ground up without Move or Kinect in mind. Heavy Rain, Resident Evil 5, Killzone 3 and Socom 4 will all be able to pull off Move support, and games like this might just prove me wrong somewhat.
However you have to remember that these are already established hardcore experiences that are adopting the motion support for more of a wow factor. These games generally have higher budgets based on the success of the franchises; therefore more work can be done to ensure that these are high quality productions even with the Move support.
The point is that if developers begin to enjoy the luxury of getting lower budgets with higher pay offs, then gaming quality overall could suffer. The higher the budget, the more likely the game is going to be something incredible. Established IP’s are exempt from this whole philosophy as they will require high budgets regardless. What about new IP’s? Will they all have lower budgets and be built from the ground up with Move or Kinect support? If the majority of studios follow Brian Farrell’s words then the final couple of years in this generation’s life cycle may be very different to what we have experienced up to this point.
This is just my take on the whole thing however and I never claim to be a know it all. By all means I would like you all to share your thoughts in the comments below.