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Avalanche: "Publishers Need To Be More Unique In The Marketplace"

Matt Gardner
Avalanche Studios, Christofer Sundberg, Next-gen, Stefan Ljungqvist, Triple-A

Avalanche: "Publishers Need To Be More Unique In The  Marketplace"

These are dark times for the industry, perhaps, when a publisher can shift 3.5 million copies of a game, giving it the biggest launch in franchise history, and complain  about woefully underperforming. Games are becoming more and more expensive to make, and the returns just aren't matching up.

Avalanche Studios' CEO Stefan Ljungqvist has suggested that whilst he doesn't think that big-budget games are going away any time soon, the future is likely to see fewer such titles, and that publishers are going to need to take more risks to provide unique products for market.

"I don't think big-budget games are going away," he told Gamasutra. "There's going to be less of them. But that's a good thing, because maybe we don't need forty first-person shooters. I don't want to play them all [laughs], but maybe we need one, two or three.

"What I like now is that there are more opportunities to be creative. Maybe over the course of the past five years, developers have pitched creative or more artistic games, but publishers had been more careful of betting a lot on those games, because they're associated with some risk. But maybe now they can [take more risks] because they need to be more unique in the marketplace."

Being a studio that's managed to branch out and diversify (Avalanche have created four games across multiple platforms in Just Cause 1 and 2, the free-to-play The Hunter, and PSN/XBLA/PC download title Renegade Ops) studio co-founder Christofer Sundberg suggested that triple-A doesn't necessarily need to equate to bank-busting budgets.

"It seems that everyone has a different definition of what triple-A is," says studio co-founder Christofer Sundberg. "I think if you're a big publisher, triple-A is associated with big budgets and huge risks. But I see triple-A as a stamp of quality.

"We don't have to develop, bigger more expensive games. We don't have to hire more people or have bigger teams. We just want to make better games. We try to combine [different genres and business models]. One of our studios, Expansive Worlds, that's doing The Hunter, a free-to-play hunting game.

"They've been working on the free-to-play model for four years now. And even though they are a very small studio, they are profitable. They don't have numbers like Supercell, but it's self-funded and doing quite well in a genre where we're almost alone."

Sundberg also had words f praise for Sony's approach to next-gen with the PS4.

"It's definitely easier to develop for," he said. "I think their approach for letting smaller developers in is fantastic. And all of the [control] inputs creates an opportunity. They've created a platform for us to make better games."

Sundberg admitted, however, that the market doesn't necessarily look too favourable for dedicated consoles, and Ljungqvist speaks of preparing for a convergence of mediums that's already underway.

"You ask, 'What's the future of consoles,' but maybe there's no console anymore," mused Ljungqvist. "This is convergence -- Smart TV, Netflix is on PS3. It's already happening. I don't think we should disregard that 'consoles,' or whatever we call them, as they will be important to living room entertainment. But there is risk. Will the hardware install base grow as fast as the last generation?

"For us, I think a mix is good. We have to think about how to be smart on all platforms."

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