BioWare co-founder says PS4 and 720 stuck in a 'sick market for old-school gaming'
"Everyone's kind of holding out hope for the new consoles," says Dr. Greg Zeschuk, "but I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal."
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Dr. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of Mass Effect developer BioWare, has spoken about the upcoming next generation of video game consoles, saying that he doesn't "think they're going to be that big a deal."
"We are in a kind of sick market for old-school gaming," opened Zeschuk in an interview with GamesIndustry International.
"Everyone's kind of holding out hope for the new consoles, but I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal. I worry a lot that unless Microsoft or Sony pull something magically out of a hat, it's pretty much the same old, same old repackaged and I don't think they're going to change the dynamic of the retail market."
"I don't see how they can," added Zeschuk. "The market is what it is."
Sony announced the PlayStation 4 in February ahead of a launch later in 2013. Microsoft has yet to unveil the successor to the Xbox 360, although the latest rumours suggest the company is leaning toward a May unveiling.
Despite his gloomy forecast, Zeschuk said that successes were possible in the industry, pointing to Activision Blizzard as an example of a large publisher currently succeeding in AAA development. "Activision and Blizzard have been doing really well, and they've been very disciplined and focused," he said.
"But how long can they continue?" said Zeschuk. "They've been relying on a smaller number of titles, but no title works forever, and obviously they will be working hard to replace the games they're working on. So they're probably one of the shining examples of a company that's done well by really doubling down on a very narrow amount of things, and trying some different stuff - I'm actually really impressed with Skylanders."
Speaking earlier in the interview, Zeschuk also dismissed the idea that BioWare had to conform to the whims of EA. "The best analogy I use, in a positive way, is EA gives you enough rope to hang yourself. It was really interesting because we really made all the choices we wanted to make ourselves; these are all things we wanted to try. And that's something to remember - while we were independent we didn't have quite the resources we had as part of EA, and then we got to EA and it was like, 'Wow, we can do all this stuff.' We had to be really thoughtful about what we wanted to focus on."
Zeschuk, and fellow BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka, retired from the studio and the games industry in September 2012. When asked if he would ever return to the games industry, Zeschuk said that he doesn't see himself creating a new development studio.
"I think part of it, too, is that I'm not spending as much time playing games as I used to. I used to play them all time. I used to have my finger on the pulse, and absolutely I'm less on the pulse than I was. I still play some big releases, and I'm going to grab BioShock Infinite, but I don't play the way I used to play."
Zeschuk's comments were made as part of a larger discussion about whether Star Wars: The Old Republic had a part to play in the recent resignation of former EA CEO John Riccitiello. "I can't really speak to why John's not there anymore," said Zeschuk, "but [The Old Republic] was one of many [EA] games released, and we're in a context where just a few days later it was Yoichi Wada who was booted out from Square Enix."
Greg Zeschuk is currently working on passion project The Beer Diaries, a site dedicated to craft beers.