Just like any other creative industry, games development seems to heavily promote people who would be deemed ‘crazy’ in normal society. There’s a wide range of these people from Sony Executives like Ken Kutaragi, who are seen as a little over enthusiastic, to Peter Molyneux, whose appearances seem to remind me of an over excited child who’s been given too many sweets and then asked to describe their perfect tree-house. He may be completely brilliant as a designer, but it may be best if Microsoft don’t let him out in public so much. At the very least they could employ someone to whisper in his ear when he goes that little bit too far.
Then we have Dennis Dyack. I’ve always found Dyack pretty hard to call, he’s either a creative visionary seeing the future with a clarity which is sorely missing from the rest of the industry who has complete faith in the success of his products, or he’s a ranting madman who might be best placed if he was kept in a guarded office and only allowed to speak after his comments are approved by several PR companies.
That’s right Dyack’s been at it again. This time he’s back on the “one console” kick, and to give him credit his comments do make a lot of sense. Speaking on Thursday at Brighton’s Develop Conference the founder of Silicon Knights talked about how he feels that video games need to move more towards the kind of cycle that movies have settled on, and a universal player to boot.
“Because we have the three consoles we’re in this really weird state,” said Dyack. “The cycle right now for movies has become pretty well established. For video games it’s become hyperbolic almost. There were 300 or so games released last November. We’re in a state of performance over supply. We’re making more games than consumers can possibly consume. Marketing is having a disproportionate effect over the success of games because there’s so many out there people are ignoring us. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if your game’s good or not; if you don’t have that marketing support it won’t happen.”
He really is making a very solid point here, November is a hugely oversubscribed time to release a game. Looking at 2008; Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, Valkyria Chronicles, Tom Clancy’s EndWar, James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 were all released in the November 3rd week. Another five games launched for the current generation of consoles, and when we include last gen and handheld titles there were thirty-eight releases in all.
Can you remember a week where six major films all launched in cinemas? Film studios know that the public really doesn’t have the appetite to spend the £5-£10 it costs to see a movie for two hours or so more than once, maybe twice, in a week. A new game generally costs anywhere above £30 and will likely see you invest six or seven hours at the very least. Do video games publishers honestly think that the same rules that apply to movies don’t apply to games? They might be a little different, but not to that level of significance. Oh and if my dates aren’t accurate for Europe I apologise. I used The Weekly Release, which lists dates for America. Does it make the point any less valid though?
So what would be Dyack’s solution to this problem? Spread out releases? Not quite.
“If you look at the film industry there’s only one projector. It’s a pretty universal form of, how am I going to show this film? We don’t have that in the video game industry right now. We have to move in that direction. I would like to see it personally, but we’ll see. Console manufacturers would be somewhat unhappy.
“We’re being slowed down a lot by the multiple consoles.”
Questioned if a single platform future could ever become a reality, Dyack said it is “inevitable”.
Right then Dennis. One console you say? That would solve all of the problems? Even though the majority of releases this generation are multi-platform and therefore are pretty much the same as being released on one console? Okay Dennis, sure, sure. And it’s “inevitable”? Really? Man Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are sure going to be annoyed about that Dennis. I wouldn’t tell them if I were you.
I wonder how much that guarded office would cost?