Risk and reward has gotten higher in the AAA game industry, with single releases often determining the fate of large studios. Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford, however, is not worried about the risks of high-level game development moving forward.
"I don't think about the future with fear. I tend to think about it with excitement and anticipation and on one level, I love the idea of fewer, bigger bets because I'd love to see what's possible when it makes sense to put more resources than we've ever put into something before,” said Pitchford. “As a creator, the idea that our studio can build something with a budget that's two or three times as large as past efforts - oh my god, can you imagine what we can do then? So it excites me.”
"You can look and say - retail, console game business, year-over-year total sales this year is less than last year. Down by 20-25 percent. But then you look at per title sales and it's up by 20-25 percent. Each game that did appear sold more than it did before; there are just fewer games,” he added. “So it's like fewer, bigger bets really means something and there's an actual affect on the market," he continued. "Is that bad or good? I don't know. I'd rather have fewer things that are awesomer because I can't play all this stuff anyway. You know what I mean? There's just so much that I can't keep up and I'm f***ing hard core. I play games all the time! And I can't keep up so I actually like the idea of fewer, bigger bets. I'm excited by that. And meanwhile, there's so much vibrancy in the indie world and there are so many more tiny bets. There's so much more diversity there. It's really awesome."
When it comes to violence in games, Pitchford doesn't believe in “thought crimes” and asserts that the ESRB does a necessary and good job for the industry.
"Think about the world's relationship and the game industry's relationship with the ESRB. The ESRB is our self-regulated ratings body; the industry created this body to put labels on games. Most publishers, we pay for the ESRB, but we also have this high tension relationship,” Pitchford asserted. “They're really good at their jobs - they hold the industry accountable to fitting within the guidelines of whatever the label is and they will label appropriately. If you cross a line they will put you in a different spot, whether you want to be in that spot or not. And compared to the movie rating system, they have the best awareness and understanding of what their rating system is, and they have the best enforcement. Retail participates. That's awesome.”
"Imagine if the NRA was actually advocating for gun laws; imagine if the NRA had the same relationship with the gun industry that the ESRB has with the game industry," he continued. "Instead of the NRA saying don't make any laws, now it would be like, 'F**k, the NRA's making me do all this so my guns are safer, and I get why they're doing it but it's kind of a pain in my ass.' That's how the game industry's relationship is with the ESRB. We love that it's there but we've got to deal with shit; we have to go through a process to get the rating. If we don't the retailers won't stock us, and when some of the content pushes the line a little bit they're going to call us on it and we have to deal with that. Imagine if the NRA had that same relationship with its industry, the rest of the country would be like 'Go NRA!' They could be good guys."
Read more about the ESRB's mobile rating system in this [a]list interview with ESRB president Patricia Vance.
Source: GamesIndustry International