Next Gen Production Costs Could Double, Claims Epic's CTO

As building and creating assets for video games becomes increasingly time consuming, the production costs of video games have spiraled upwards, and that's a real concern for developers and publishers. Now Epic's CTO Tim Sweeney is claiming he expects the production costs of games to double for the next generation of consoles -- and that's only after streamlining Epic's own Unreal technology.

Before that, Sweeney was worried the cost of production could be five times what it is today.

"[We] were worried that the cost would go up by a factor of three or four or even five in the next generation," he said, speaking to GamesIndustry International. "And of course, we felt that was not acceptable."

According to Tim Sweeney, the amount of time and production put into Epic's Samaritan clip, which was intended to show off the company's new technology, convinced everyone that the team had to spend more time making its toolset more efficient.

Interestingly enough Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed, earlier this month, that he expected the production costs of video games to decrease over the next generation, as a result of new technology making the act of making video games a little less time consuming.

Epic expects next-gen dev costs to double [GamesIndustry International]


    Do we know if they are making The Samaritan into a game?


    But I'm quite sick of developers kicking up a fuss about production costs. With consumers they need to understand that we will always want something new/better then that last and that if the consumers at some point don't get it. We as consumers won't pay their premium and they will need to charge less... a lot less.

    Otherwise we would all just play the games we already have.

      You'd fuss too if the fact that higher costs have now put your company in the position where if you game doesn't sell like Call of Duty, you're fired.

      Charging less is not likely to be sustainable. Games globally went up by about $10 - $20 RRP when this generation came about in 2006, do you really think they can afford to lower the price with development costs doubling.

        "do you really think they can afford to lower the price with development costs doubling."

        I never stipulated this. I implied that they keep production cost the same and lower the price or rise the production cost and keep their premium price intact. Otherwise consumers won't but their games because they are not offering them anything new (after a while).

        If I was a company that couldn't figure out how to make AAA games (who need the cutting edge graphics to sell a game... This it's very nature) Then I would be trying out a different approach to making games. The compliant they make is as true for any independent company since technology started to evolve rapidly and just because they can't keep up, doesn't mean they should try and hold other companies down.

          "I implied that they keep production cost the same and lower the price or rise the production cost and keep their premium price intact"

          The very point I was making was that is not sustainable. The problems with games costing too much and getting fired for not making mega-millions is happening now, way before this projected doubling in costs. To be able to lower the price is incredibly difficult, let alone keep it steady if costs inflate.

          The companies that can't do AAA are taking a different approach: they're moving into marketplaces like mobile. But I'm sure we don't want all of them to move there as it's already feared since AAA has pretty much become nothing but a handful of established licenses. What Epic are trying to do here is minimise costs by making development easier so that at the worst it's a double in costs and developers can keep the price points we're talking about.

          Nobody's trying to keep anybody else down. they're just trying to keep everybody afloat. The costs of this technological advancement has outstripped what the consumer is willing to pay for.

          "If I was a games company"
          If I was a games company I'd be Activision because I want to eat all the other companies rawr!

        consumers won't buy their game** I really need to make an account. -_-

    So... Take Two guy reckons dev costs next gen will actually reduce. Take Two use their own, in-house engines, don't they?

    Meanwhile, Epic guy says the sky is falling and production costs will increase 5 times oh but look if you buy this engine that we just happen to be selling, your costs will only double instead. It pays for itself!


    Game development at THIS stage of THIS generation would be far lower than it was at the start. So doubling CURRENT developement costs isn't as bad as it sounds.

    If the neXtBox and PS4 keep similar architecture, or even more PC friendly architecture, then dev costs will drop, not rise.

      How so? Development costs have done nothing but rise!

        No production values have risen, not dev costs, in case you don't know what that means it is big companies like Activision and EA throwing as much cash into a project to ensure a AAA sale, dev costs rose at first in this gen console. but it stabilized pretty quickly once people got a handle on the machines. As for indie games, they are almost always on PC/mobile which run on license engines like Unreal/unity/source so nothing going to hurt indies, only big IPs like COD and Battlefield which create their own engines to crank out max possible graphics. If anything its a good thing, the big three will most likely cut down on AAA titles giving more room for indie titles, or maybe they will realise that game design takes priority over graphics.

          I hope you realise that by costs I mean all of the costs: licenses, COG, overheads, salaries. It took me nothing but a google search to show that development continues to rise in cost, it hasn't plateaued at all. Production values and dev costs are the same thing, a publisher needs to know how much something will cost before they can throw money at it and if publishers want big shiny AAA then they will need to pay for more facilities, more workers, more licenses, and more marketing.

          Indie games are another beast and technically don't count due to the fact that with the exception of games like Minecraft, they have not reached the level of success mainstream development strives for. Not only that but their cost are not just financial as there are many articles on here to attest to their developers practically killing themselves for release.

          We can all argue that game design should trump graphics but unfortunately better game design doesn't necessarily mean more jobs or more money.

    Epic just lost Cliffy B they don't what they're doing anymore. You'd think after this generation every publisher would be eager to contain costs.

    The polygon counts and animations on current gen titles are already spectacular. Really the only worthwhile improvements would be to storage media, RAM and AI

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