What Matters Most To AAA Game Publishers?

Posted on March 25, 2014 by James Conway

In an interview that was published today on VG247, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning had some choice words for not only EA and DICE about the launch of Battlefield 4, but all of the AAA video game market.

“Fuck that business. I don’t want to play with that business, because it was a losing business,” said Lanning. “I just don’t want to go back and play the old [publisher] game. I’d rather not make games than go fucking be a slave for public companies who care more about their shareholders than they do about their customers."

“Why did Battlefield 4 ship? You know that team was crying. You know that team knew that game wasn’t ready to go. You know that team fucking spent a lot of sleepless nights building that shit out to look as good and play as good, when it was able to be experienced, being played as they were intending it to be played. Someone made a decision that the shareholders are more important than the customer. And we see a lot of that. How do you blow that? How do you take that fucking jewel and ship it with dirt all over it?”

I'm a big fan of the Battlefield series. I'm a big fan of Battlefield 4. I'm not however a big fan of EA. If the video game industry was a track and field meet, then EA wouldn't even be allowed to watch from the stands with their recent track record.

It was obvious that EA wanted to launch Battlefield 4 around the same time as Call of Duty: Ghosts, right in time for the holidays, done or not. An extra month or two in development would have certainly helped, but a deadline had to be reached and units had to be shipped. The result was a buggy mess that had consumers pretty pissed off, me included. But units had to be shipped and money had to be made. The same could said about the Xbox One, being shipped with features missing, only to implement them later with updates.

The video game industry is exactly what it sounds like, an industry. It is an entertainment industry at its heart, one that is fueled by talented artists, designers, and storytellers. It of course is ran by corporations, most of which have shareholders and most of which determine success by dollar signs. The Battlefield 4 launch is an example of when a developer (DICE) and a publisher (EA) didn't agree on the definition of "complete."

Lanning was most certainly speaking from the heart during that interview. Everything that was said about EA and the AAA market is coming from an artist who never wants to be shackled to a corporation again. Bottom lines and deadlines don't mix well with video game development. Developers need their space and time to create the games they want to make. 

With this same premise in mind that AAA publishers only care about money, we can figure out which games are developed around this idea. Call of Duty comes to mind almost immediately. A game series that has been mired in repetition since 2009. Every year like clockwork a new addition to the family is pumped out, ready to be gobbled up by the masses. Innovation in the series is nonexistent and consumers are basically buying the same game every year, but the games are still being bought. Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? The only reason this cycle repeats itself is because money is being made, hand over fist. Activision has no reason to stop making Call of Duty games and has no reason to alter them, as long as people continue to buy them.

Games like Assassin's Creed, Battlefield, Gears of War, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Madden are like the changing of the seasons. Every year Spring will follow Winter and AAA games will be released around the holidays, finished or not. People like what is familiar and AAA publishers have built a monopoly around that. Releasing games that they know people will buy, regardless of the quality of the finished product. We are more or less just buying a name.

Eventually were are going to reach a breaking point with these kind of games. Only so many Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty games can made until people just stop buying them. It is going to happen eventually. I've sworn off Call of Duty, World of Warcraft (Or any MMO), Madden and Gears of War games entirely, I refuse to even review them. Battlefield is nearly at this point as well, but it's not there yet. I'm not spending $60 on multiple titles that I'm sure will be the same as the one that was released before it. Give me something new and innovative. Give me something different.

I am just one person though. Me not buying a AAA title will do nothing in the way of hurting the coffers of big name publishers. They don't care that they are releasing the same shit year in and year out. As long as the shareholders are happy, everything is going fine.

#Battlefield 4, #EA, #AAA Publishers

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