Denis Dyack: "AAA is not fine"

Former Silicon Knights president says industry in a similar position to Hollywood in the early '20s, believes major studios like EA and Activision are not going away.

The business of AAA game development is "not fine," according to former Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack, who told GameSpot in a new interview that the AAA space is undergoing a similar transition to the one that the film business went through in the early '20s.

"AAA is not fine," Dyack said. "I think our industry now is in a position exactly where Hollywood was in the early '20s--the golden era of films. Making movies like Cleopatra or Ben Hur where everyone was employed and they had thousands of staff. And they made fantastic movies; those were great movies; I still watch them today; they're amazing. But studios looked at it and said, 'We're not making money. This is not working.'"

Dyack is not predicting the demise of major AAA publishers like Activision or Electronic Arts, but rather suggesting that companies of their size will adapt their business practices and become more "focused."

"And then those [film] studios didn't disappear; and it's not to say that it's going to be over for EA or any of the studios. They're still going to be around," Dyack said. "I don't think anyone should kid themselves about that."

"But what did happen is they changed the way they worked and it went more towards the model that we have," he added. "Which I would call…a micro-studio or a very focused studio that grows and expands but are not employees of this one group, where it's basically not internal development. It's much more efficient that way. I think that's where AAA may go, or at least game development can go."

Dyack is now chief creative officer at Precursor Games, the studio behind Wii U and PC game Shadow of the Eternals, a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. The game's Kickstarter campaign was relaunched last week and has attracted $167,000 of its $750,000 pledge target at press time.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

221 comments
eyeball2452
eyeball2452

Seems like common sense.  The problem isn't the games though, it's the distribution models.   

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

The day they'll stop greasing bosses with multi-millions dollars paycheck these companies will be in much better health.

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

AAA is such a stupid term. at the end of the day a game is either good or bad don't matter if it is so called aaa or not. i have played many xbox live arcade games that are better than and more fun than some of the so called AAA titles

Wyckid
Wyckid

Wow...  A lot of jealous fucktards here are hating on Dennis Dyack for no good reason.  They fail at reading comprehension and have a bone to pick with a guy that said something that they didn't understand.  I suppose it's hard to concentrate on hard things like reading after a 12 hour shift flipping burgers, though.

FrankFoxYaeger
FrankFoxYaeger

This article is stupid and this guys comments are common sense. This was pointless GS stop posting shit articles. thx

kade1001
kade1001

Who gives two shits what Denis Dyack is saying? Why is his opinion so "important"? I mean really, why is there always a gamespot report about this asshat and his various epiphanies?

So he was a significant part of the team that created a hit gamecube game 11 years ago, that and a dollar might get you a McD Apple Pie. (Mind you the dollar would most likely come from Kickstarter)

The best thing is that from the various statements he has made about the industry on this website and others, he seems to have his fingers so far from the pulse of what's going on that those fingers may indeed reside up his own ass.

JustArtificial
JustArtificial

We've already hit that moment a while back. Online passes, DRM, on disc-locked-content, Day 1 DLC, Season Passes, yearly released titles, re-released discs with expansions, etc...

Some of these practises have come to pass, whilst most of them are still being used. We're coming out of this rut slowly, with the next gen. Online passes are gone, DRM is virtually non-existant for the PS4, and Capcom are the main dealer in these practises.

Denis talked about his studio doing what NEEDS to be done. He does particle effects, not because he's good at it, but because he HAS to because he can't bring in a talented designer. That is wrong, because it's a hindrance to the game's potential, AND voids a designer of that placement should companies head that way.

AAA is far from in danger. General development costs, are what is the main cause here. Tomb Raider and Hitman looked fantastic and sold a good amount, however no where near the expected amount to make a profit. Games are expected to look at that quality AND better from now on, but if the studio is always making a loss then they will adapt Capcom's methods.

namdar
namdar

KEEP CALM ON STEAM ON

granola_goodnes
granola_goodnes

I like what this dude is saying, esspecially  when he is talking about using the community mods and feedback to improve your art and about how triple A gaming is getting too expensive or at least being done too much.  

But damn, Ben Hur and Cleopatra were made in the 60's, not the 20's.

BludshedX
BludshedX

Spot on and such a shame. Gamers can expect more of the same, and fewer creative and unique works coming from "AAA" studios. A go where the money is approach (good for business but a complete waste of genuine creative talent).


But, the beautiful thing about this situation is that gamers have the ultimate power of what gets made as we are the ones with the money that they seek. Give your money to the devs you think deserve it the most.

GOGOHeadray
GOGOHeadray

Lets hope game budgets are better and development team shrink in size; Im still sadden by the apparent death of the JRPG on home consoles.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

He makes an interesting point. But if analysts tell publishers that gamers want bigger and more then it;s unlikely. We're still a growing industry, we need large titles to pull people into our medium or it becomes a niche. We're not like the movie industry in this aspect. But then again this might change with a new generation of gamers who are attracted to AA games then maybe publishers will reduce the budget for games.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

i hope not. this industry needs stability somewhere. i think what developers need are ways to cut cost so game budgets aren't that high. im hearing the new unreal engine will make it more efficient and takes less time to do things, and that ps4 pre planning (im not sure if it was really this) was dramatically cut according to cerny from 6 months to like a month.

jurk182
jurk182

Dennis Dyack wouldn't know a triple A game if someone showed him one. 

zintarr
zintarr

Too Human

End of discussion.

JDWolfie
JDWolfie

The Golden Age of Hollywood was from 1929-1945. But that's besides the point. And Ben Hur and Cleopatra came out much later (I'm assuming he's talking about the later ones). He's just pissed of that he lost a lawsuit against Epic Games.

Vodoo
Vodoo

From what I read from previous Silicon Knights employees, that church trailer took them 2 years to come up with and he's been showing it off for the past year, trying to secure a publishing deal. But publishers all told him to get lost. He's become a con man looking for easy money by talking up the Eternal Darkness glory days like he has the next best thing all set to go. When in fact, he's full of shit.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Anyone that gives Dennis Dyack money is just asking to be robbed of it. The man doesn't have the slightest idea how to run a business, which is why he's resorting to Kickstarter. No publisher will go within a mile of him.

G24S
G24S

Denis Dyack can't be happening!

Adavanter
Adavanter

Stopped reading at Denis Dyack...  Ok Ok. Not true I did skim the article just in case something profound was hidden inside.

I got what I expected and wished I had stopped reading :P

gplayer5
gplayer5

#1 This is NOT the golden era of gaming. This is the golden era of greed.

#2 Companies like EA and Activision are around for right now, but it doesn't mean they will always be around. Read the articles about the recent layoffs at both companies.

Online DRM, unfinished and rushed games, pricey DLC, and ridiculously priced games are bringing down both companies. 

Proof? Just look at EA. They won the golden poo award for the worst company in America 2 years in a row. It's no secret that company is going downhill. 

DragonessAthena
DragonessAthena

Then explain Legacy of Kain. It was pure gold, one of the best video game series ever made, with an incredible story. He started the series, and then he blew it and gave it to Crystal Dynamics, who took what he started and made it into that gold I mentioned. That was 10 years ago. He just wishes he could come up with something great, and frankly Eternal Darkness was a lousy game that people only like for nostalgic reasons.

And Dyack is still a thief who stole from the Ontario government and Activision, which is why you should NEVER fund his Kickstarter.

edpeterson
edpeterson

Did this guy never hear of all the layoffs that have been going on for a bit? 

Also does he really think this is the golden age of videogames? LOL It would be a shame if this really was the golden age of videogames, so many cut an paste AAA games, not really a whole lot of creativity. How is this a golden age?

eriktkire
eriktkire

HAHAHAHA.

Fuck me, this is the dumbest bit of developer ignorance I've seen yet.

Cleopatra and Ben Hur.. golden age?  Seriously?  This was in the fuckin 1920's?

Somebody break out a calendar for these morons and a link to IMDB. Learn some basic history about the actual topic you're speaking of before vomiting out all this shit. It's not that hard in this day and age.  Everything this dude said in his film analogy is absolute bullshit. NONE of that is true.  Not the numbers, not the magical $$$ conclusion he's come to about studios and their attitude towards those "golden era" epics.

The games industry is NOTHING like the film industry. This is yet further proof... no class, not intelligence, no consistent work ethic.

Pump out more than one FULL game in a single year, maybe then you'll start the foundations of being comparable to filmmakers.

And to think I was actually considering backing their kickstarter.  I for one won't fund 'stoopid' in this world.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

@jtthegame316 AAA has really become an ambiguous term.  It's any game with a large budget.  AC hasn't been very good recently, but Ubisoft would probably still qualify that franchise as AAA.  I'd say it's mediocre.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

@Wyckid Great discussion point ... would you like to add more to this line of thinking?

Gabriel5000
Gabriel5000

@FrankFoxYaeger  At least they didn't blatantly copy paste news article of other actual gaming news site like they usually do T_T...  

JustArtificial
JustArtificial

@kade1001 I'd take his opinion with more than a grain, had he done something of substance since that 1 hit wonder. You can't come into the frame, crap on everyone/everything and think you're right.

robchiang1990
robchiang1990

@granola_goodnes Well, there was a Ben Hur silent film back in 20s, but I doubt it's what Dyack means. However, I do think the problems that game facing now is like a mixture of what film industry faced in 20s and 60s. The industry sort ot lost its way like silent films back in 20s and facing challege from new media like film vs. TV face-off of the 60s.  

ravenkiller
ravenkiller

@GOGOHeadray actually it's the opposite jrpg's are seeing a resurgence as of late and shooters are one the decline. actually shooters are looking more like the sports game scene.

SpookyHoobster
SpookyHoobster

@Lord_Python1049 I don't know. Angry birds is hardly a huge title or needs a large budget but is probably the most popular video game title and bringing more new people into the industry than any AAA title on consoles. I think it's mainly accessibility, hardware is a major roadblock as a casual gamer isn't going to shell out the cash for a console or a gaming PC and if production costs stay the way they are casual gamers aren't going to buy the games we want to be mainstream. We also need a broader range of games so we can appeal to more people.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@jsmoke03 The problem here imo is that game budgets are high, yes, but half the cost( even more) is for marketing and so. Nothing to do with the game itself.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@jurk182 Yeah, was just wondering whether he knew what a AAA game actually entailed?

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Vodoo Yeah, Kickstarter is Dyack's dream - a no-obligation donation from fans directly to his wallet. He can sit on it for 2 years and tell everyone "Sorry, we tried, no game to be released" and nobody can say anything.

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

@DragonessAthena "Legacy of Kain was pure gold". "Eternal Darkness was a lousy game that people like for stupid reasons"

I see something here.

megam
megam

@DragonessAthena I was always under the impression that Silicon Knights could do amazing work if the publisher baby-sat them and offered nigh-unlimited help, like Crystal Dynamics and Nintendo did for Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness, respectively. It was when SK was left to their own devices that budgets ballooned, deadlines flew by, and all manner of other problems occurred.

Vodoo
Vodoo

@DragonessAthena Eternal Darkness was one of the best horror games ever made! Makes me think you never touched it if you say it was horrible.

Acekidder
Acekidder

@JustArtificial @kade1001 I still remember this guys hyperbolds back when he was doing the Too Human.....trilogy cough single game failure cough.

Now he has a kickstarter that i think started once and was restarted?? not sure but it far from reaching its goal, because he cant make a big budget game work doesn't mean others cant. I find no merit in his ramblings lets just see where the industry goes.

kade1001
kade1001

@JustArtificial @kade1001 
I guess what I don't understand is what this guys accolades are to justify at least 3 articles/reports on the game industry?

As president of Silicon Knights he has released 9 games in over 21 years. Only 3 games total in the last decade (Gamespot scores listed):
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (8.2)
Too Human (5.5)
X-Men Destiny (4.0)

With scores like that why would anyone want to throw this guy a bone and let him go on and on about the game industry, one he apparently doesn't do well in anymore. Maybe he should have stuck with his original career aspirations as a Phys Ed Teacher?

digits52
digits52

@GameBeaten @DragonessAthena not only was Eternal Darkness cool, but i thought Legacy of Kain : Blood Omen was pretty badass , not saying i didn't enjoy soul reaver cause i did..

SpookyHoobster
SpookyHoobster

@kade1001 @JustArtificial I don't know why your questioning him as a developer, it's not important. What is important is what he's saying and whether it's right or not using logical arguments. Socrates was uneducated but formed the basis of philosophy. Knowing how something works doesn't mean you can make it and vise versa, so he can make shitty ass games but he might know exactly what makes the industry tick in general.