The success and critical acclaim of Braid has got me wondering where the gaming industry is going. With this generation of consoles, and the current global economic situation, the cost to design, develop, and distribute a video game seems to be ever rising. Thanks to High Definition graphics, Blu-Ray disc space, and the general need of the hardcore gamer, games are becoming bigger, faster, and more amazing than ever before.
Take a look at some figures for a moment. Grand Theft Auto IV cost a whopping $100 million to make. That’s a lot of cash, making it the most expensive video game to develop… ever. Even Halo 3 cost $30 million, and Gears of War $10 million. This isn’t pocket change, we’re talking the economic budget of a small country. These kinds of costs, which are there because of the reasons I gave above, are pushing a lot of developers out of the game. There may come a point, if the trend continues, where only the Fat Cat monopolies will be making our games. This isn’t good for the industry.
Enter Braid. Now in terms of development cost, comparatively, Braid was cheap to make. The figures I’m guessing still amounted to fair sum, but when compared to GTA IV, what Rockstar spent on breakfast for it’s employees is likely to be the same as the cost to develop Braid. Currently, according to metacritic, Braid is the 8th best Xbox 360 game of all time, above triple A titles such as Mass Effect and Forza Motorsport 2. This is a strange thing because developers spend all of this money on trying to make the next best game, and along comes a low-budget indie game that pulls down it’s pants, and takes a dump on the wealthy man’s cheque book. Braid and Portal to name a couple.
This brings me to the XNA development software. Budding game developers trying to make their way in the big wide Electronic Arts controlled world now have a channel to get there genius and spark noticed. At a cost of course. I’ve looked into the XNA myself, and it isn’t an easy thing to use, but for game developers it’s like painting by numbers. This is where the future is going. Not XNA specifically, but indie games as a whole. Think of the cost, time, and man power that went into GTA IV.
Yes we still need our big budget 30+ hour games, but now we know this isn’t the only place to get our jollies off. I’m not saying we won’t see any more Madden or Final Fantasy, I’m saying we’ll see less retail shit, and more indie beauty. I think we’ll see a lot more home brew games in the future that in terms of enjoyment, fun, and everything a video game stands for, offer more than some of the retail garbage that’ll be gathering dust on game shop shelves.