Call of Duty: Ghosts producer on "scary" cost of AAA development

Infinity Ward's Mark Rubin says "it is kind of a bummer that games are getting so hard and difficult to make."

The rise in cost of AAA game development is "kind of a bummer," Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin told Game Informer in a new interview. He explained that while Activision is a big enough publisher to endure amidst ballooning budgets, not all are so fortunate.

"It's a scary thing, and I'll take my Call of Duty hat off for a second here, but games are becoming harder to make and more expensive to make. And I feel like smaller studios are having trouble. I can't speak for them, but I would think they are having trouble making big games that hit the big AAA market because they're harder to do."

"It is kind of a bummer that games are getting so hard and difficult to make," he added. "People want better and better graphics, they want more realistic looking art assets, and that comes at a cost and that's a hard thing to have to deal with."

"It makes it more difficult for us, so I know it's more difficult for other people as well. The big companies can manage that; we can cover our costs if the costs go up; other studios may not be able to. "

Not all would agree with Rubin's assertion. Capybara Games president Nathan Vella told GameSpot this month that for smaller independent developers, "the opportunities are wider than they've ever been to be financially successful."

Rubin acknowledged that other companies see the success of Call of Duty and want to match it, but said this can be a troublesome pursuit for creators.

"Companies, big publishers, want to enjoy that kind of Call of Duty success. From a purely artistic standpoint that bothers me a little bit because I want games to just do what they want to do," Rubin said. "Developers should be able to do what they want to do and do what they feel that they do well. "

"Yes, we're successful at it. And yes, our game makes a lot of money," he added. "But we still just love making games."

Discussing the crossgenerational Call of Duty: Ghosts specifically, Rubin said Infinity Ward underestimated what it was getting into at the onset of development.

"Everything that we're doing in this game took way longer than we expected. This is the hardest game I've ever worked on," Rubin said. "It's good for us. And it's also tough because we really underestimated what we were getting into."

Though Infinity Ward is leading development on Call of Duty: Ghosts, the studio is receiving assistance from Neversoft and Raven. These studios are "heavily involved" in the development process and are not merely outsource facilities, Rubin said.

"We didn't want to just have these studios be like outsource houses," Rubin said. "We didn't want to say, 'here's the work you need to do, here's when you need to deliver it, get back to us when you're done.' Raven and Neversoft basically are empowered to be a part of the whole process."

Call of Duty: Ghosts releases November 5 for current-generation consoles and PC, before arriving later in the month for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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478 comments
produkt-nz
produkt-nz

While I fully understand the points made and the dev's perspective on things as they are-  there, however, is NO EXCUSE for this level of laziness. Reusing MOcap and environmental assets from a previous game in such a blatant way.. What, you thought we wouldn't notice?

Check out this video while it's still up.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E82ZkHTiVU&feature=youtu.be

BogusBarry
BogusBarry

Stop blowing money on adverts. If GTA V spent all their money on actual developers and not adverts they could have had 2000 developers working for 3 years on GTA V.

Gankstar_VX84
Gankstar_VX84

Yes AAA games are expensive. Very fucking expensive, I mean how much do Activision pay you to click copy paste. I gurantee it's more then most indi dev teams have in total. Yet.. they make games gamers want because they like taking risks. copying and pasting isn't artistic or difficult, hence how u cunts churn out the same shit each year.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

The wants of 'tech head' gamers will never be satisfied with any AAA games. Specially in regards to graphics! Development takes time, and as it closes.. Better engines are made, with even crisper graphics and stable frame-rate. Not to mention the costs are ever growing for these expensive lookers.

Most gamers I know are actually happy with a solid/ fun game, regardless of high quality that (in my opinion) very few care about. Look at the indie games that have done so well this generation.

Let's not forget what games are about now hmm.

RainIvan
RainIvan

I like how all people is now a game developer..
You don't know how hard (or easy?) it is to make Call of duty.. 
Think about it,  They are stuck in what the game looks and plays like... 
They can't change anything when 90% of people doesn't want it to change..
I'm one of the really weird people, who thinks every game since MW2 have been shit, and i may be right.. But i'm still buying COD every year on release date.. Because you can't rage on something you haven't played.. 

frigginjoe
frigginjoe

It gets more expensive when the developers'/publishers' instinct is to keep doing the same things on a bigger scale.

There's no inherent reason for games to cost more to develop for.

Higher polygon counts, higher res textures, if anything would probably be less work than trying to adjust it all to run in a few hundred megs like they're doing.  It's free visual improvement and most of the data of a game is assets.

Hiring Hollywood talent and licensing more and more crap is not free.

crazyintheface
crazyintheface

Gotta love when rich people bitch about money problems.

Nightmare338
Nightmare338

What games you like is your problem. If EA or DICE is so good in the beginning, they would losing to Activistion in the first place. You gave Activision the chance to capture majority share of the FPS genre, and now you wanna whine about getting it. Can't you do it on your first shot? Lol. "If I studied harder, I would be in MIT now." Too bad you didn't focus too much in the beginning. Try harder. Once you win Activision, then I say you are good. If not, you are just a whiner. A lot of games are good games, but battlefield? Without using steam, you are just committing suicide, because your Origin software is the worst interface any company can produce. If you don't know how to create an platform, ask Steam. Don't be shy.

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

I think this whole "race to the top" graphics arms race is a fools errand..... we've hit a point of severely diminishing returns in terms of graphics quality.  Bioshock doesn't have photo-realistic graphics yet is both a masterpiece AND highly immersive..... if every game had the graphical quality of Bioshock I hardly think I'd stop playing games.  Fine-tuning graphics from the "Bioshock" level to a "Call of Duty: Black Ops" level does add something to a game; I'll not deny this, however what it adds is trivial compared to what you have to give up due to the time/money commitment required to add this small-to-mild graphical improvement.  I pull out Bioshock frequently to play through the amazing city of Rapture with my suite of upgradable character improvements and modifiable weapons DESPITE the graphical flaws...... I rarely play Black Ops and when I do I'm not thinking "Gee, lets look at the pretty graphics!"

A perfect example: I recently picked up Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on Xbox Live Arcade because I've heard so much praise about it and it was on sale for like $3.  The graphics are face-lifted PS1 pixels.... and the game is AMAZING (once you put an hour or two into it at least).  After "beating" the game (and discovering that I'd really only played through a very small fraction of the game) I did some research and discovered that there are a bunch more Castlevania games very similar to Symphony of the Night.... mostly on the Nintendo DS.  I'm not waiting in drooling anticipation for the newest Graphical Fidelity FPS Wondergame.... I'm going to pick up a used DS and play me some fun, deep games that are probably graphically on the level of a PS1..... and I can hardly wait.  

Let this be a lesson: make an amazing game and it doesn't matter what the graphics look like.  (And if you are a talented team you can make a crazy great game like Metro Last Light and not spend the GDP of a small country.)

Chai_Tea
Chai_Tea

Well if I could make the same game year after year, with a little twist here and there and label it as brand new, I would too.  Especially with so many Lemmings buying it no matter what.

Twu-Ki-Padi
Twu-Ki-Padi

Ea, recycling it's difficult, I know it; but we have to make our best, Mark. Producing more garbage it's not the solution.

GhostofWar75
GhostofWar75

Call of duty hard to remake? Its recycled crap over and over again.


vinnyd123
vinnyd123

The decline of a ruthless empire.

BillyBoomstick
BillyBoomstick

From a company that releases the same game every 2 years hahahahaha

chris91090
chris91090

As long as the graphics are acceptable I focus more on the gameplay. We're playing games, not movies here.

Skyrim25
Skyrim25

Call of Duty a Triple A game????? HAHAHAHAHAH

Skyrim is a Triple A game because a hell of alot MORE development goes into a game like that. All Call of Duty has to do is worry about graphics for the most part while games like Skyrim have to be made for the ground up unlike 99% of FPS's that use an ALREADY made physics engine and cheap easy shooting animations.


Call of Duty games should only have to spend few bucks to make a new one. THEY should not be the ones mad about game development costs! 

slavagen
slavagen

If you'll remember difference between movie and game, it could do you a service. 

SoA_AjB
SoA_AjB

Wow,really? Gonna bitch about the difficulty of copy and pasting a game every year? This company has no talent, no vision, no innovation, they are only surviving on the sales to parents that buy it for their 12yr old kids. IW is mad bc Rockstar(a better developer) is finally having the huge sales they deserve for their hard work. IW and Activision is the cancerous lump this gaming industry needs to cut off quickly.

JangoF-76
JangoF-76

Hard AND difficult? Gosh...

That must be annoying AND irritating.

19James89
19James89

Activision should make a Singularity 2, the first one was one of those epically, unearthed gems that most people won't know about or will have ignored due to a distinct lack of marketing finesse by Activision.

kamikazeespleen
kamikazeespleen

This just sounds like a half arsed sob story. With all the money they've made and they are complaining its more expensive now. Maybe they need to re-organise their resources if this is the case because the CoD series hasn't done much new since 4 so god knows what they are spending all their money on.

Deingerous
Deingerous

I think this comment is silly as the budget for anything over 40-50 million isn't realistic. Sure its a dream achieved, but only say 4-5% of any game will get over that kinda budget. It's not fair to compare the expectations of COD/Halo/GTA/Grand Tourismo etc... to well, pretty much any other game as the budgets those games operate under is pretty unrealistic. I think game developers just need to be realistic with their aims and they will be successful, Obviously aim high with your dreams i mean who wouldn't want to create something that makes a Billion Dollars in 3 days?!?! but thats crazy numbers that took GTA Several generations to meet, COD too, Well... GT and Halo are a different story as they we're unrealistically successful pretty much right out the gate but still is not a number that a new developer should be demanded to hit. Thats not fair for them and not good for the Gaming Eco-System on a whole.

Starrac
Starrac

Only stupid people will buy this story!

Pure BS!

And of course we can expect this BS only from CoD devs and similar! POS developers!

Hector_01
Hector_01

Hmmmm so the fact that Metro Last Light is easily one of THE best looking games out there and apparently cost significantly less than some of these other AAA titles makes me wonder if this is just another typical baseless comment about the games industry today.  Seriously, the COD games are good but when it comes to technology it has simply been a recycle of the same old bloody engine for how many years.  Anyway rant over lol

eriktkire
eriktkire

UDK, CryEngine, Unity... all free to learn and publish (on an indie level at least)... all monumentally more advanced in terms of default graphics power, physics potential, stock netcode... etc.

Games are easier to make for cheaper now, more than ever.... not the other way around.

johnritter4141
johnritter4141

There will be price rise amongst games very soon, or at least more payed multiplayer content..glad im not really into gaming anymore..i just like keeping informed

bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

CD Projekt Red seem to be doing alright on a much smaller budget

Yatsukiii
Yatsukiii

Says the company that recycles the same game every year to not actually have to spend anything.  LOL

wongph
wongph

metro last light

ZeroFallout1
ZeroFallout1

CoD cost millions to make, GTFO Rubin. Your the most laziest team of developers out there. I don't know where the so called high budget is going but it's not going into CoD..

jonmar
jonmar

I find it funny this guy is complaining about triple A budgets being so high when CoD is like 75% of the reason the cost of making games went up in the first place. You made your bed man now you can lie in it.

hystavito
hystavito

I don't believe that graphics are the reason for the supposedly scary rising costs of AAA games.  Marketing maybe, those massive events, media blitz, games making entire documentaries to push exposure.

Some things are probably development related, but that doesn't mean they are required.  I think often the big titles do things simply because they have tonnes of money and it makes for good press.  Hey we sent a huge team of people and technology around the world to get a sense of the locations in this game, for authenticity, that will be lost on 99% of the audience who have never visited them.  We spent millions getting the sounds of the guns authentic, since the majority of our players have never heard those sounds in real life.  Hollywood voice work, whatever.

conspirethis
conspirethis

So effing scary for a producer of a game that makes 1 billion effin dollars each time, while using an engine from nineteen effin ninety eight.

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

Bollocks..they're just doing it wrong. I've played plenty of games that blew away many triple A titles (including CoD) and had the budget of a ham sandwich and a team of 3 tops. AND they cost much less.

Games like Dust, FTL, Cry of Fear. If people can make games like those on a minimalist budget, then why are multi million dollar companies having so much trouble?

the only thing missing in low budget games for the most part was visuals, which matter least in a game. so it can go from like $1,000 to over 20 million just to add good graphics? i'll take fun and longevity

danter72
danter72

I think the costs of making a game will settle down as simpler engines with same graphic power start to emerge

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@RSM-HQ This is the truth, right here.  We've already reached the point graphically that 90% of gamers are satisfied with graphics as they are.  The AAA industry, which should be looking to cast the broadest net possible, is instead becoming more and more limited in audience by bowing down to the wishes of the unpleasable tech heads.

Nightmare338
Nightmare338

Hahaha....good games doesn't need good graphics, bad games do. (Bf3/bf4) cough*....

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

@19James89  

Agreed.  Picked that game up for like $8 after seeing it on a Game-Informer Top 50 Games of the Year list and it was $8 very well spent.  I might actually give that game a spin again now that I've been reminded of it.  

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

@eriktkire 

You right, except the part that CryEngine need expensive licensing fee... and still not available for indie development.

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

@johnritter4141  

I don't think there will be..... or at least if there is: it won't be warranted.  Hell, I'm still pissed they raised prices to $60 for new console games (mad on principal, I always buy used).  There are lots of amazing games that don't break the bank..... and this guy in particular really isn't in a position to complain; it's not like the guy helped make Skyrim; he just keeps making altered iterations of COD every year.

kamikazeespleen
kamikazeespleen

@19James89 @kamikazeespleen Definitely lol. The early CoD games had a small number of cutscenes and you were in the action for most of the time. The recent ones just feel full of boring linear levels that take you from one scripted 'splosion to the next.

eriktkire
eriktkire

@Ladiesman17 hmmm, I thought they had changed that to be a little more in line with the UDK.  It's only a matter of time anyways.