Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades has suggested that the triple-A retail model is stifling innovation and consumer choice, saying that high price points don't give the consumer the freedom of experimentation in this industry that a film enthusiast might enjoy. Furthermore, Antoniades stated that he felt this wouldn't change until the industry can 'break the publisher-retail stranglehold'.
'If you’re paying 60 bucks for a game, you want it to give you everything under the sun,' said Antoniades, speaking to Gamasutra. 'It seems like Hollywood’s got much more diversity than the games industry has. And I don’t know exactly why this is, but I suspect it’s the publishing, retail model of 40 pounds, 50, 60 bucks a game doesn’t allow players to take chances with their money. It doesn’t allow publishers or developers to take risks. And the only way you can be sure to sell to someone is to sell them something familiar.'
Antoniades theorised that it is perhaps the business models that have created this situation - encouraging conservatism on the high streets and in game development, particularly at the high end of the scale.
'I think that ultimately innovation does sell, and messaging is needed, but somehow there’s not enough diversity, I think, in our business models to create interesting, alternative games. At least on the triple-A side of things, the top end market. You’re not seeing very high end innovation happening.'
He went on to compare the industry to Hollywood, musing that independent studios are not supported as well in our industry as they are in film.
'Again, I compare it to film. You can do a $200 million production -- like Prince of Persia, maybe -- and it just falls flat. And then you can do a $10, $20 million -- Black Swan or The King's Speech -- and it makes more money than all of those.
'But there doesn't seem to be an equivalent in games. You can do those small downloadable games and things, but they don't break out like the big hits. You can't compete on the same level playing field -- whereas in film, you can.
'I think if we go online with the big triple-A stuff, I think that will all change. Like properly embrace it -- break the publisher-retail stranglehold. I think it's strange that games that are released digitally -- purely digitally, triple-A games digitally online -- cost more than you can buy them in the shops. Why is that? Who decides that that makes any sense? So there's definitely something there holding it back.'
He won't find any complaints from us on that one! The high price of digital downloads has long been a talking point, and the Ninja Theory man also denounced the 'self-destructive protectionism' that he felt governs the digital marketplace, leading to a whole load of artificial constraints that seemingly serve to benefit no-one, least of all the consumer.
Antoniades follows in the wake of David Cage's outburst a week or so back, and we took a look at industry conservatism in a comment piece recently too.