Too Expensive to Develop?

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John Lanchester argues in this essay that the production of games has become so expensive, the democratic effect is vanishing – quite in contrast to the rest of media, where the internet made it simpler and cheaper to produce for.

One of the problems is that the new consoles are difficult and expensive to create games for: no one can create a game for the PS3 or Xbox 360 without access to significant amounts of capital. The next generation of consoles is a long way away, and this will likely be even more the case by the time they’ve grown up. As the tools of filmmaking have got cheaper, those for game making have got more expensive; this might mean that the game industry never gets to move on from the need to create blockbuster equivalents. Already the industry suffers from an excessive proliferation of sequels – always a sign that the moneymen are in charge. Games do a good job of competing with blockbusters, but it would be a pity if that was the summit of their artistic development.

I don’t think I agree with this. There have been many initiatives to get young, designers to work for those consoles. Also, I think there is a certain backlash: the more big studios are out there, the more independent developers have a reason to produce a counter-culture. The current economic crisis that is also affecting the game industry is definitely helping in this cause: since game designers are laid off, they might form their own small development studios.

After all, games just don’t have the pedigree yet, compared to other media. It is still something in search of its own form.