The games industry is undoubtedly in flux, with Nintendo putting in motion plans to boost the sales performance of the Wii U, while Sony and Microsoft prepare for the challenge of releasing their own systems. When you consider the rise of alternative gaming platforms, such as the phenomenally successful iOS and Android offerings on various devices, games development has arguably never been in such a period of transition.
Jeremy Pope is a man with a rounded perspective, having worked as a producer on major Rockstar titles in the past, while now he heads up a mobile gaming start-up. One area he addressed when speaking to gamesindustry.biz was a perceived lack of forward-progression in games from an artistic perspective. Examples are around of games trying innovative ideas, of course, but Pope feels that on a wider scale there needs to be a rethink of development priorities.
I do agree that we need to be pushing ourselves [as an industry]. With any storytelling medium or any medium at all, you want to have conflict because that's how you can generate interest, and oftentimes the simplest or most base way to do that is through violence that isn't necessarily tied into a deeper, more meaningful story. I think it's often easier to do violence than it is to generate meaningful, interesting conflict through nonviolent ways. I would agree in that sense that we need to push ourselves and get away from sequels and rehashing, and taking what technology affords us and using that as a primary means to justify another rehash; in other words, we're just souping up what's already been done.
Pope also addressed the renewed pressure on violent games from outside of the industry, but defended those such as his former employer, which is so well known for the GTA series. He argued that the games industry lacks a single voice or "great ambassador" to defend itself against such criticism.
In terms of home consoles, meanwhile, Pope outlined a believe that the coming generation will prove a significant challenge for the major players, and that they might not all make it to another system.
I think it's a challenging time to be a console maker, or at least one of the big three. When I think about why they have arrived at the position they have, so much of it has to do with the developer ecosystem. This is why Apple has been successful, because they have an army of developers making apps for them, because they've made it easy to do that. You have so many people who have left console development because it's become so expensive, so time-consuming and only the major players can partake, which means you get projects that aren't as creative and projects where you aren't as involved because you're a smaller cog in the machine. I think that's going to be really hard for them to get those people back.
...I do think there will be a contraction in the mobile industry because there have been so many people jumping into it, but I think a lot of those people are sort of gone for good; they are going to put some of their time and energy into other things like Ouya or Steam Box... It's going to be very challenging for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. I wouldn't be surprised if we see by the next generation some consolidation of some sort - it seems hard to fathom that we're going to have these three big players again and again with the way everything is shaking out.
This does seem to be a common refrain for some analysts, that the market won't support all three major players in future years. The sales success — or otherwise — of the Wii U and its contemporaries in the next few years will undoubtedly shape company's fates.
What do you think of these comments on the industry's various challenges? Let us know in the comments below.