Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun and game designer extraordinaire has published a deep dive on the cost of games over time. With a lot of data (although Raph is the first to admit that his data is patchy and he would welcome additional data and analysis), he argues that games continue to get more expensive to make. Not just on a direct base, but once you adjust for inflation and once you look at it in terms of cost per megabyte, an approximation for production values, complexity and consumer expectations.
His conclusion is that the only way for most studios to thrive is to defocus on content that is mainly “bytes” and instead put effort into other forms of long-term content such as community and systemic content. Oh, and raising prices.
Raph is an MMO guy, and many of his conclusions can parse as “Make more MMOs”. But he has provided an analytical underpinning for the rise of service and F2P games over the past decade. It is hard to disagree with him. If you have counter-arguments, please let me know.
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