Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney knows a thing or two about diminishing returns. The first Gears of War made about $100 million, and the game was produced on a $12 million budget. Compare that to Gears of War: Judgement, a game that took almost five times the amount of money to make, but only brought in $100 million. As budgets continue to bloat, studios are finding it harder make ends meet. That's one reason why micro-transactions and multiple season passes are so common.
Sweeney thinks this is all bad news for the console games market, and for console gaming in general. In the East, in countries like Japan, console gaming has already been completely dethroned, and mobile gaming is the new king. Games that can be played in short spurts on a smartphone while commuting are much more popular, and are making more money, than the flashy AAA console efforts. Sweeney indicates in an interview with Glixel (via WCCF Tech) that he believes the West is following suit.
"All of the retail console sales data this holiday season indicated that the console market is going through a really significant downturn. I don't think it's seasonal. I think what we're really facing is that young new gamers aren't going into consoles. And so there's this audience of increasingly aged gamers like a lot of us at Epic, who are sticking with it – but some are dropping out. Ultimately, the games that you can get and watch continually improve over the course of many years are far more engaging and reliable than this model of releasing a new game every Christmas and trying to convince everybody to buy it again.
It's going to be a real task for the colossal industry giants, who are currently retail console developers and publishers, to make the transition. I'm very thankful at Epic we recognized this coming about four years ago and now have Paragon operating and Fortnite coming soon and other projects in the works. It will be very hard for a company with a team of 1,000 people releasing new editions of a game every year to transition out of that and into a new model completely."
So what do you think? Are we seeing the last generation of iterative Call of Duty releases? Will we ever see another series like Uncharted or the Batman Arkham games make waves again? Can you envision a future where mobile gaming replaces the big black or white box in front of your big-screen TV? Let us know what you think on Facebook, and we'll talk it out.