Epic’s Tim Sweeney: “We’re heading towards a future where triple-A is the minority” | PCGamesN

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Epic’s Tim Sweeney: “We’re heading towards a future where triple-A is the minority”

epic unreal engine tim sweeney

Epic’s founder Tim Sweeney sees a future of far fewer big budget games: “The industry’s changing – this generation it seems like there are about a third of the number of triple-A titles in development across the industry as there was last time around – and each one seems to have about three times the budget of the previous generation,” he told Edge. “I think we’re heading towards a future where triple-A is the minority.”

That’s why the company switched its licensing to cheap monthly subscription and royalty deal.

“It’s meant to be as accessible to indies as a subscription to an MMO,”Sweeney said. “As these triple-A games are seeing fewer releases then the empty spaces in between are being filled by indie projects of all scales.

“They’re really being developed in a completely new way – rather than being built over a very long period of time and then released with a massive marketing campaign, you’re seeing a Kickstarter and then preview versions becoming available that are incrementally improved over time.”

That said, he also told Edge there are a lot of games on the way that use Unreal Engine 4, “a large number of them haven’t been announced. You’ll see lots of triple-A stuff coming out over time.”

Just think what games will be like in a year’s time when the engine has features like this:

You should read the rest of Edge’s interview, it goes into why they’ve been quiet on the development front for so long.

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Deadka7's picture
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The typical problem with AAA games:

Ultra high budget where 50% of said funds goes towards marketing rather than the creation of the game, and is generally put out in a rushed state with loads of cut content released in the form of DLC, and by the end of it is a fairly broken product, generally ported from consoles.

The typical problem with Indie games:

A very low scope, usually 'retro lol' styled graphics and a sort of 'flavor of the week' type of game thathas ultra high ambitions or promises that almost never get completed, all thrown together in an 'Early Access' (aka broken and unfinished pos) purchase, of which the game is never truly finished and is always a fairly broken product with no hopes from the dev as it was just a quick cash grab as the dev moves onto the next kickstarter.

Both are pretty bad. Frankly, I'd prefer the 1st as at least then you'd get a mostly finished product. Don't get me wrong- there is Some good AAA and Some good Indie games, but usually it's a wasteland of trash... though- not as much of a wasteland as phone games.

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Hideous Mutant Freek's picture
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The problem with AAA these days is they spend what seems like ridiculous amounts of money on a game and then it comes out and is clearly not even close to being finished and loaded with problems. Then we have indie games some of which are very well put together and some are even comparable to AAA titles.

For example lets look at GTA V they spent what something like $150 million on it and then it came out with no online and then online finally did come out and there are no heists or any of the other things that were supposed to exist.

These kinds of AAA releases are the norm and it is just disgusting. When games have these kinds of budgets they should not be releasing with game breaking bugs and other issues. I just don't see why software releases at roughly 70% completion. Not just games either but software in general even the stuff that costs upwards of $500. All of it launches full of major issues. and to me a lot of these issues seem like stuff that should be found out in QA.

Like BF4 for example to me that is a product that didn't even go through QA and just got launched regardless of anything. AAA put itself in this position by releasing garbage.

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Belimawr's picture
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see I wouldn't call GTAV for coming out without multiplayer, GTA games have never been known for multiplayer, so really it would be like complaining if Bethesda released a patch to allow multiplayer in Skyrim, it's an extra and not something you would normally expect from a GTA game, since the main game is normally an offline campaign.

as for finding issues in QA, it's not realistic to expect issues to all be found in QA unless the QA bought every bit of hardware in use and tried it in every combination, this is why a lot of firms do open betas but they fail as most people bitch and moan how broken the game is on third party forums instead of actually reporting the problem in a constructive manner so it can be dealt with, so really a lot of the problems fall back on your fellow gamers, as it would cost more than the budget of most games to test a game to the point where it could never fail.

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Dog Pants's picture
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Open betas aren't about QA though are they? Stress testing maybe, but someone here coined the very eloquent term 'publicity beta.' If they were serious about QA in beta then they'd offer better reporting and feedback facilities rather than a forum which they never read.

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Belimawr's picture
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but the point is the reporting options are there, just people choose not to use them as they would rather bitch and moan how bad an unreleased game is.

the fact is the only way to do a true QA test is to have everyone who will ever play the game in it, open betas are the next best thing as it gives a much much larger range of hardware and play styles and this is the only way they can ever test a game fully as it just isn't viable for a company to have that many setups and people to get that one in a million combination that doesn't work, this is part of why release copies see bugs as they are caused by that setup that wasn't tested.

it's also why in most betas you actually have more chance of getting a beta invite with an uncommon PC spec and not a common high end spec despite what a lot of people think, because they need the broader range of testers.

the problem is people see the open beta as a demo or as you say a publicity beta so instead of reporting the problems they just take it as a given the game will go live with those bugs and that is where the entire system is being let down by the players.

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Dog Pants's picture
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It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing - did players turn betas into demos by not giving feedback, or did publishers do it as a cynical way of generating publicity? As with all things, the truth is probably somewhere between the two.

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Belimawr's picture
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with the internet I think it is more most developers saw they could invite boat loads of players to test a game, but due to the level of polish on a lot of games when they go open beta most people just assumed the game was done and it was a demo or marketing and due to all the bollocks over early access and buy in alphas people are starting to even see these as something they should bitch and moan about instead of reporting problems.

so while some of the problem is how developers are handling it, the majority of it does come down to players who just assume when they get in a beta/alpha nothing they say will matter.

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Hideous Mutant Freek's picture
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This whole EA/public beta thing is kinda like communism. In theory it is possibly the best form of government but in practice it will never work.

These things like you said fail because those participating do not know they have a job to report bugs and things.

The other issue is that the devs will see all these people playing their game with lots of bugs but they will release it anyway without fixing anything so that they can remove the early access tag and get more sales.

IT's a huge mess and everyone has a hand in it but the devs have the biggest hand in. Sure players just complaining about an unfinished game prior to release doesn't help devs launching unfinished products ala BF4 should never ever happen.

Oh and regarding GTA V sure other GTA games never had aa MP portion but GTA V had GTA Online being advertised prior to release and it was touted as having all sorts of features that have yet to appear.

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Belimawr's picture
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but if Indie is the future the same will happen as happened in the 80's/90's and the indies will get bigger and become triple A, so really even if Indie does start to outweigh triple A it will just mean games have came full circle and the pattern will just start again, this is assuming the indies don't get bought out, as there is a lot of big fish out there who will buy anything they think is worth money.

you just need to look at Sony to see that, before Playstation they had next to nothing, now they have a massive number first and second party developers that they have acquired over the years, so chances are a lot of these new Indies will end up going the same way for the security of the larger firm.

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Dog Pants's picture
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I don't think huge budget blockbuster games are going to be seen as the sole route to profit from big publishers though. Call of Duty and GTA may well ship millions of copies, but they need to in order to cover their huge development costs. Didn't the Tomb Raider reboot take a long time just to break even? That's a lot of risk, especially when everyone can see low-budget games like Minecraft, DayZ and Spelunky selling huge volumes too. Some publishers are already breaking out little indie-style studios on smaller projects, and if these pioneers prove to be successful I think the business model might shift.

On the other hand, they're not indie are they? They're still AAA publishers producing indie-budget games. The term has become pretty meaningless now anyway - Vlambeer are touted as indie when they're published by Devolver, while Blizzard and Valve publish their own in-house games and aren't considered indie.

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Belimawr's picture
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on the tomb raider point, the fact it took months to become profitable is actually my point about indies wanting protection, if you make an indie game (more so your first) you have no income to make the game so you generally have to work a job to keep it going slowing development, sure when you release you ahve less into it as you technically have no billable hours, but basically you are living off savings and having to to do a full time job to develop.

this is why so many crap game are on early access or beta/alpha for stupidly long times as they sell the game then start developing it properly on the money they have made or they go to kickstarter and basically beg for money.

so the larger companies that can offer money to produce games actually gives these people more security as they get a pay packet + bonuses, while an indie only gets what they pay.

but as said the majority of "Indies" aren't Independent, they are often using publishers and that defeats the point of being independent to start with as they are no longer independent.

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Danger Zone's picture
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At the beginning of the PS3/XB360 generation we heard from developers that there would be fewer games because the power of the new hardware will make development times longer and more expensive. It didn't happen like that.

However, now we have this (godawful) "indie revolution," and Steam and even the console manufacturers are discovering this easy stream of revenue from cheaply developed flavors-of-the-day.

Very few of these indie games have what most gamers are looking for in a typical AAA title: an adequate single player experience AND multiplayer. From the indie titles I have played, they are either a *barely* adequate single player experience (at best) OR only multiplayer. DayZ was a rare example of an indie dev capturing lighting in a bottle. But many of the other indie darlings like Gone Home and Octodad are the kind of games that have very short life spans, which usually translates into a limited revenue stream.

It will be interesting to see what the old school industry guys like Cliffy B and Ken Levine can do with the indie model, but I suspect their products are going to look a lot more like "big studio" AAA offerings than what they are claiming. Once you've had a bite of the apple, it's difficult to go small-time without looking disingenuous.

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Belimawr's picture
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but Dayz wasn't an Indie dev, it was a total conversion mod that they tried to monetize, just like Valve has already done with counter strike, team fortress and DOTA.

these are all things that were designed to be nothing more than a total conversion mod, but when they saw they had enough following they knew people would be stupid enough to shell out for something they were basically playing for free in the form of a mod.

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Danger Zone's picture
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Dean Hall started DayZ as an indie project for a specific purpose. It was ARMA's publisher that discovered how popular it was and then tried to monetize it.

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Jeul's picture
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You call the indie revolution "godawful" and say that most gamers are looking for both Singleplayer AND Multiplayer from each game?

I don't think you could be further from the pulse of 'most gamers'. Most gamers I know love the indie titles and hate it when games force SP and MP together when there is no purpose.

In short - I think you're just plain wrong on almost everything you said.

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Danger Zone's picture
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I guess you haven't been paying attention.

Why do you think games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin's Creed and almost any other big franchise you can name shoehorns in both play modes?

Because that's what the people want. And when I say "people," I mean mainstream gamers. The masses. The ones who keep games like CoD and AC afloat every year no matter how similar each game is to the previous year's incarnation.

Just because you fancy yourself a gaming connoisseur doesn't mean you understand how the business of gaming works. Games are created to make money. Indie games have limited margins and limited longevity, unless they are that one out of a thousand that garners overnight critical acclaim.

Big AAA franchises aren't going anywhere. They make too much money because too many people just buy them every year. Whether they buy them out of habit or genuine enjoyment, they are bought.

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Belimawr's picture
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on the two modes, BF and CoD may as well not have a single player, then if you look at the two most successful next gen console games, Infamous is totally single player, while Titanfall is entirely multiplayer.

if anything the firms shoehorning multiplayer in are the problem as they take a good single player and neglect the story and gameplay just so they can claim multiplayer, it's the same as since AC started having multiplayer it has got worse and worse as a game.

multiplayer kills story driven games and more devs need to realise this.

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Danger Zone's picture
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I agree that shoehorning MP usually sacrifices some of the quality of the SP mode. As for Infamous and Titanfall, I believe the single-mode-only philosophy of those games comes down to time limitations. Both of the next gen systems are still new and both manufacturers are anxious to get content on them immediately to outpace the other in systems sales. I believe the sequels to both of those games will be dual-mode. I spend a lot of time on console boards, and console-only players tend to see games with both modes as a better value, even though they may only play one or the other mode. It's a really strange phenomenon. Most console gamers either never finish the SP mode or never touch the MP mode, yet a great deal of them demand both. This is why the big publishers continue to cram both modes into their big AAA games.

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Belimawr's picture
498

while Titanfall may try to implement a single player in a future game, it is unlikely for Infamous, Sucker Punch like Naughty Dog are very story orientated, they may do multiplayer at some point but I see it more being a secondary to the main game due to them wanting to push story.

but the problem is with the people who want everything to have multiplayer is that development time is normally wasted on the multiplayer leading to the single player becoming a pointless experience then you end up with games like CoD that may as well just be a multiplayer only game.


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