Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles for Console Game Market Decline

July 10, 2012 -

Square Enix’s worldwide technology director Julien Merceron says that Microsoft’s and Sony's insistence on extending the lifecycle of their respective consoles has ultimately hurt the industry. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry International he called this protracted life cycle the "biggest mistake ever made" and claimed that this move has ultimately damaged the overall console market. Those are fighting words.

"We have Sony and Microsoft talking about this generation lasting seven, eight, nine or even ten years and it's the biggest mistake they've ever made," he told Games Industry. "This generation has been way too long, and I say this because you have a lot of developers that work on a new platform, and perhaps will not succeed, so they will wait for the next generation, and will jump on that platform. You could not do that with this generation though."

He went on to say that this move drove some developers away to find greener pastures to develop and sell their games such as iOS, the web, Facebook, Android, etc.

"So you could look at it that thanks to Microsoft and Sony and the length of this generation, it helped the emergence of other platforms and helped them get strong before the next hardware comes out," he added.

Of course Merceron fails to mention the most obvious reason why many develops have flocked to these platforms: cost versus profits. It is cheaper to make a game on many of these platforms and the reward from outright sales or micro-transactions can be monumental if successful...

Source: GamesIndustry International by way of MCV


Comments

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

All here make some very good points, but perhaps it is simply a symptom of an overall weak economy.  Yes, games have been more resilient but it was bound to catch up with the industry sooner or later.  Less money in people's pockets eventually leads to fewer luxury purchases.  A new console might entice a few people to let go of some of the cash they have been holding onto but it would be little compared to people getting back to work and making money again.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Actually I think this guy, and the dude over at EA making a similar claim are looking in almost exactly the wrong direction. The problem that is killing the AAA games industry is production costs. Rapidly escalating budgets to the point where there is no reasonable way to make it back in returns. Yeah a new Console or two give a short term game sales boost as consumers flesh out their libraries. But the effects what a 9 month period after initial console release?

No actually new state of the art consoles will make the problem worse. Much worse. Every time you increase the consoles power, and start making games to match, you are vastly increasing the cost of the games. More content needed per game, be it increasingly higher res art assets that take exponentially more man hours to produce, to increasing needs for music, to more expansive coding of game systems and AI to network code,a nd ongoing support for network play. Each of these at a minimum doubles with each console generation. And so we are at the point where the costs of making the games are bumping up against the ceiling of gamers and their budgets.

There was a great article in GameInformer awhile back that showed off alot of the back end logging and tracking and data analysis that the Call of Duty developers do. It is kind of awe inspiring in how deep and complex it all is. I don't think NASA used anything quite so complex to launch space shuttles. And that all has a cost.

The reason that things like Android and IOS games are taking off is because they can be developed profitably with a much smaller team. Developing for iOS today is like developing for a console several generations ago. There is no shelf life. There is little overhead. And the limitations of the platform itself act to limit the development costs. The more unlimited capabilities of newer generation consoles lead to unlimited development costs. (and not just limited to Consoles. Case in point SWTOR, the most dreadfully expensive PC game ever made).

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

I don't think NASA used anything quite so complex to launch space shuttles.

Just had to point this out. The equipment that NASA was using right up to the shutdown wasn't much of an upgrade from the equipment in 1969. In fact, some of the equipment is only super expensive because it's borderline impossible to find. Today's graphic calculators have more processing power.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

I think the main reason MS and Sony made this generation last so long is because it would not have been profitable for them to move as quickly as they normally would. Just look at the PS3 and 360; both of those consoles were more advanced that the previous generation but they were also A LOT more expensive to make, both companies sold their consoles at a heavy loss. If they tried to move to quickly to the next generation they would find that, in order to make the consoles more advanced enough to please customers, they would wind up with even MORE expensive consoles. Basically they are trying to get the best technology they can out there BEFORE its inexpensive enough for them to profit... And that's why they wait; they are waiting for the technology that they need for the next generation to get cheaper so that they can sell an affordable consoles without a heavy loss on their side.

Nintendo managed to avoid this because with the wii, they did not push the graphics to the edge like the others did and instead relied on an innovative control system to be its main attention and selling point; they held back on the power... This way, they had room to move up without working themselves toward the edge to gaming tech; they can make the Wii-U boasting about how its more powerful than the Wii, even though its still not much better compared to what Sony and MS have made.

 

Basically, if MS and Sony had pushed ahead with the next generation as this guy wanted them too, it would have likely resulted in consoles that were so expensive that no one would be willing to buy them. And that would have been even WORSE for the industry.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Snort crack much? Innovation is done by not playing it safe and putting quality into a product. Also the more consoles you have to buy the less games you will buy because you taking time and money and putting into something other than game purchases.... oy what a flaming idiot....


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

This guy is one sure fire idiot. Long console cycles are actually better for the games industry as more developers have become familiar with the technology and can begin to make games faster and cheaper. What is really killing the games industry and causing people to move toward mobile and social games is the AAA game mentality where games need to be bigger and flashier with every iteration. Bring back a focus on AA and A and even B games with prices that reflect those levels and you will have a healthier market.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Bigger? Less content=smaller in my book.


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Operative term is "bloated" Bigger in terms of style, smaller in terms of substance.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

I disagree with this article. The reason the game market is declining is because companies are shelling out the same stuff over and over and over and over again. Look at all the mainstream games we are getting these days: Marvel vs capcom 3, Call of Duty MW3, Mass Effect 3, Lost Planet 2, FEAR 3, Dead Space 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Uncharted 3, and so on. People are just sick of getting $60 rehashed games shoved down their mouths. That's another thing, the economy is so bad, barely anyone can afford to buy games at $60 a piece anymore, let alone buy DLC attached to it


I also disagree with saying that the long-lasting current generation consoles is the reason the game market is declining. In fact, I think it's a good idea because of the bad economy. If you look at what people are saying on the net, a majority are still happy with their systems and they don't see why they need to drop $300-400 on a new system anytime soon. You can still innovate and make great games on the current generation of consoles, you don't have to have games run at 1080p resolution with 60fps all the time to make the usual consumer happy. If companies want to innovate more and consoles don't let them, there is always the choice of developing for PC/MAC/LINUX, where the possibilities are almost limitless. 

 

And don't even say that all PC gamers are pirates and nothing sells on PC, because that's not true. Go look up Dear Esther and Alan Wake, both games made more then they needed to compensate for development costs in under week, plus made plenty more. If you decently price the game and give all the additions that PC gamers love (such as Raw mouse input, changing key bindings, advanced graphics settings) then you have no reason to think your game won't sell.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Plenty of truth in this.

A lot of the 'innovation' in the games industry the past few years has been in gimmicky hardware  - basically, new ways to play the same old games. When I want innovation in actual game design and a really fresh gaming experience off the back of it, I increasingly look to the indie market now. I can pay between $5-10 for 5-10 hours of really fresh, interesting gameplay developed by people who wanted and dared to do something different, and that is exciting. It's also incredibly frustrating that I can't lovingly add those games to my physical games collection most of the time.

The trouble is that AAA games aren't really priced on gameplay/experience value. The industry has set its $60 benchmark and regardless of game length, game quality, surrounding releases and target audience, it sticks to it like glue, and then whines when people wait a month for the price to drop, or even a day to buy it used and save themselves a little cash. Games with the production values of modern console games have become too expensive to make to be able to keep up that pricing model.

I'm a console gamer. Always have been, always will be for as long as I can be, but the games industry can't expect the $60 pricing scheme for every new game to keep on working when there are much more cost-effective gaming options out there now. The whole system needs a revamp. Why not more smaller commercial project teams working on smaller scale games with more limited scope and less emphasis on super realistic graphics and high end production values for consoles? We have more interactive movies and fewer games than ever right now, massive holes in the market for pretty much anything besides a cinematic adventure game or a first person shooter. I enjoy both genres, but we're oversaturated.

Ultimately nothing's going to change until the games industry either throws its console toys out of the pram, or someone takes a risk. A good example is ArenaNet with Guild Wars 2, who have adopted a very effective iterative development strategy, challenged some of the stagnant tenets of their chosen genre, and are trying out a very ambitious monetisation strategy with buy-to-play and a microtransaction model they are determined to keep ethical.

TLDR; we need more innovation in actual game design and a serious look at development priorities, not gimmicky hardware that gets used once for a couple of games and then stowed away in a drawer until the end of time.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

A couple of issues:

- Those companies aren't extending the life cycle of their hardware due to the bad economy.  They're doing so because they weren't profiting enough in a GOOD economy.  The PS3 is the biggest offender - it's unlikely to ever be profitable over the whole life of the console, even though it's sold on a (very, very slight) per-unit profit for a while now.  The Xbox division hasn't been a whole lot better, either.

- Games don't sell on PC's as well as on consoles, since it's a widely held belief that you need to spend thousands of dollars for a PC that games, which is utterly false.

I think the guy is a bit over the top, but he does have a bit of a point - as long as mainstream gaming is done with consoles, and the crap that is the 360 and PS3 stays at the forefront of development, the worse the industry will get.  That's why I'm thankful that the WiiU is coming out this year.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: Square Enix Exec Blames Extended Life Cycle of Consoles ...

Or, you know, the OUYA in March 2013 ^^

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician