As we mentioned earlier this week, three former members of Retro Studios (Metroid Prime) have struck out on their own and created Armature Studio. Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Jack Mathews, three key development figures behind the Metroid franchise, chatted with Gamasutra about their reasons for creating a new studio, as well as the problems they see with the current game industry development model:
Pacini worries that the current model of game development is becoming far too unwieldy, and believes that a more distributed, less centralized system — similar in some ways to that of the film industry — could become the norm.
"The model in which games are made — with a staff of people upwards of 100 people a lot of the time — is kind of outdated now," he says.
"It costs so much money to maintain that staff. What do you do with that staff when the game is done? You get these mass layoffs. You don't hear that when a movie's over. Everybody who was on the movie is gone — but there was no mass layoff, it's just that everybody was a contractor just for that project.
"I think in the future, a lot of game development will move towards that," Pacini continues. "Contractors now are being used more efficiently than they've ever been on game projects, and it's become a more valid way to staff up your project. Rather than being looked down upon as a company that doesn't want to hire somebody, it's more fiscally responsible of the company to hire contractors, not to staff up and have a mass layoff at the end."
They point out that development costs are going up, up, up, and the business model the industry is founded on isn't helping matters; will we start seeing a shift in the way games are developed? Armature has already staked their claim on a "lean, rapid prototype development that doesn't get bogged down in the ways traditional development often does" and reliance on a 'distributed' development team.
Armature Founders On 'Unsustainable' Biz, Plans [Gamasutra]