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.