Epic expects next-gen dev costs to double

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Tim Sweeney says escalating costs could have been worse, free-to-play “more and more inevitable”

Games for the next-generation consoles and PCs will come with suitably next-generation price tags. In a keynote address at the Montreal International Game Summit today, attended by GamesIndustry International, Epic Games chief technology officer Tim Sweeney said he expects Epic to be able to build next-gen titles for “only about double the cost” of games from the start of the current generation.

While the bump in budget is significant, Sweeney said it could have been worse. He talked about Epic's first next-gen tech demo, a 2011 clip called Samaritan that showed off Direct X 11 technology in a modified version of Unreal Engine 3. While Sweeney said Epic was enthusiastic about the results, the company was “greatly worried” about the cost. Although the clip was just under three minutes in length, it took four months and a team of 30 people to create.

“If we extrapolate that into creating an entire game, we were worried that the cost would go up by a factor of three or four or even five in the next generation,” Sweeney said. “And of course, we felt that was not acceptable.”

The demo convinced the company to double down on its content and production tools. The company was able to partially offset the increase in next-gen costs with improved production efficiency, which Sweeney said brought the projected cost of development down.

Another trend Sweeney underscored in his talk was the idea of the game industry “defragmenting.” Games are crossing borders more easily than ever before (he noted the global popularity of League of Legends), and he added that crossing platforms is going to become more common as the console, PC, mobile, and browser-based markets converge on a common feature set marked by high-resolution displays, Direct X 11 graphics, and multicore CPUs.

Sweeney addressed more disruptive trends in the industry, such as the arrival of free-to-play gaming.

“Free to play gaming is becoming more and more inevitable,” Sweeney said. “If a user has world-class, AAA free-to-play games to choose from side-by-side with $60 games that are available only on a disc in a retail store, free-to-play games are very likely to win. So we need to really be mindful of this trend and start building games that have monetization and are designed to be piracy-proof.”

Epic is preparing its own foray into the world of free-to-play games with the upcoming PC game Fortnite.


As a hardcore gamer, I demand moar power.

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So the Wii U has already won?

Kidding, but hugely rising dev costs aren't good for anyone - not even consumers. It stifles creativity in games.

I second the notion for more power. Sony and Microsoft have held back gaming with their baby consoles for a such a long time now, only because they wanted to recoup the massive losses they took at the start of the generation. And now we are supposedly getting games that are only twice as expensive to develop than current generation games? This is a step of the magnitude Nintendo would take, so I spit on Epic for their heretic behavior.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

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That can only end well...Right?

Hey Epic.


You could just, y'know, make less expensive games. You're not obligated to drain every last ounce of production value possible out of your finances. Really. You can make games on a smaller budget -- just ask Warren Spector.

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Isn't this why Iwata said that smaller games with lower budgets would become the future of games a few years ago?

One more thing to complete my year = senran kagura localization =D

Who are epic? What games do they make?

Anyway, I've always wondered whether the graphical jump next gen would cost devs exponentially more. Hopefully consumers won't have to pay double for games ;P

All this means is that games will be more and more multi-platform. Unless its just impossible to do, I'd expect AAA games to on EVERY platform.

Video crash of 2016 here we come!

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Furthermore, I think VGChartz should add a "Like"-button.

the_dengle said:
Hey Epic.


You could just, y'know, make less expensive games. You're not obligated to drain every last ounce of production value possible out of your finances. Really. You can make games on a smaller budget -- just ask Warren Spector.

This is Epic. They're obsessed with power. Personally, I'm certain there should be some common ground between their current costs to make a game and doubling the costs to make a game. But that's just me.