'It's anarchy out there,' says former EA manager

Ben Cousins remarks on current state of industry, saying "big companies are finding it difficult to steer their supertankers."

Former Electronic Arts manager and Battlefield producer Ben Cousins believes the industry is in a state of chaos. Speaking to Bloomberg, the industry veteran, now a manager at DeNA, said the biggest publishers are having difficulty retaining staff amid the boom of mobile platforms.

"It’s anarchy out there, and these big companies are finding it difficult to steer their supertankers,” Cousins remarked.

A recent Game Developers Conference survey of 2,500 North American developers found that 58 percent of game creators said they plan to ship their next game for smartphones and tablets. Just 11 percent of surveyed developers said they are making their next game for the PlayStation 4, the same percentage for the rumored Xbox 720.

Cousins is not the first industry veteran to speak of chaos in the industry. In February, former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski said the game industry is in a "massive state of turmoil" unmatched since the crash of the 1980s.

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Discussion

167 comments
Darkeus
Darkeus

The mistake involves few things.  Developer greed and turning games into generic copy-cat games.  Now this makes game companies panic when they see this new tablet and Smartphone market.  Problem is, it is a fad.  People are not EVER going to take Smartphone gaming seriously and Tablet gaming will fill the same niche that Handhelds do today. 

Originality has died and you have companies like Microsoft literally handing Sony the Next Generation by requiring "Always Online" gaming.  Maybe we need another crash to wake these fools up.

Apastron
Apastron

EA seem keen on steering their 'supertanker' into a warehouse full of red barrels.

kohle36
kohle36

I can see how the mobile gaming market could seem so appealing an idea - it's a bit like the lottery: Put in minimal effort and potentially win big enough that you can effectively retire. But with the sheer number of devs hedging their bets on the same market (which is, at this point, fad driven and by no means stable), their odds are about as good as hitting a lottery jackpot as well. 

It's nice to revel in the stories of the lucky ones (everyone can imagine they'll be the one to make the next angry birds), but these platforms are already grossly over-saturated, and it's only going to get worse as more and more devs flock to the iOS swan song. They're just spitting into the ocean at this point

farcorners
farcorners

Q: Does anyone want to buy the shares of the games for tablets companies?

TheLeftHandDoom
TheLeftHandDoom

are you happy developing generic crap that people play on the subway to pass the time between point A and point B?  Isn't that like an artist painting houses to pay the bills?

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Here's a question for ya. Has anyone noticed how the phone and tablet platform has already gotten so frigging stale with way too many clones and sequels that they've already exhausted any potential for something original? I have and as a result havn't bought nor installed a new game in 8 months or more!

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

This guy and others like him that describe the industry as such are drama queens! Every business, industry, and profession goes through evolutionary changes every 10 or so years with the advent of new technologies, new philosophies, and the like. And then, you always have the old-timers or senior employees/people who cry out how this or that is going to ruin said profession, industry, or company. At my profession, they're called dinosaurs, knuckle-draggers etc., and they're always full of doom and gloom about the sky falling because of change. Stop already. It's called progress and it never stops whether we like it or not!

Yunask
Yunask

All these recent stories articles aren't even stories. Just Makuch requoting bits and bits of larger segments.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Lemmings marching towards a cliff, squeeking "mobile, mobile, mobile." 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

It's chaos for shit AAA publishers, perhaps.

nurnberg
nurnberg

It's funny how those who brag about the "future of gaming" on smartphones are almost all sore losers coming from companies who are losing money.  The only people who think that smartphone gaming is the future is themselves, and no, you are not going to suddenly becoming profitable with that garbage.

nurnberg
nurnberg

The "boom" of mobile platform will end up being the graveyard of gaming developers.  The vast majority of those jumping on that bandwagon hoping to make a quick buck will be severely disappointed when they find out they are not making any money with it.  That's what happen when you have 400 000 low-quality games released at the same time on a cell phone.

mattcake
mattcake

And still I bet you could pluck a random 10 people from a gaming website, regardless of age, consult them on a game and end up with a winner. Even my gf knows a decent game when she sees it, and she only plays RE and PvZ.

Whiskey3romeo
Whiskey3romeo

Why are publishers and game designers such drama queens?  You know what we want...we keep telling you over and over...give it to us and you'll make money.  Try to force feed us crap...unfinished titles, always online single player, etc etc...and you wont.

It's not rocket science.

CommodoreRaslin
CommodoreRaslin

Perhaps the problem is that the publishers are unable to deliver what the market wants because the market isn't a single consumer but billions of individual consumers who all have their own tastes, preferences and desires.

Thus an individual consumer might have a preference that is only shared by maybe 1.3 million other consumers and this preference is such that unless it is met then the consumer can't be satisfied. So the only way to satisfy this consumer is to meet this particular taste but in so doing the product will only appeal to 1.3 million people. Perhaps this taste is such that it requires a AAA game but the game can't be produced if it is only going to be sell 1.3 million copies. Hence the company can never make a product that will satisfy those 1.3 million consumers. If we suppose the entire market is fragmented in that same way with small niches of specialized nonshared preferences then you can see where the problem is.

Studios need to accept that selling several million units of every game they produce might not be possible and attempting to try to find ways to sell every game to every individual could be untenable in the long run when the compromises that are made when attempting to do so causes a large loss of customer loyalty.

CommodoreRaslin
CommodoreRaslin

I was hoping that the article would actually go more into depth to explain what '"It’s anarchy out there, and these big companies are finding it difficult to steer their supertankers,' Cousins remarked." meant.

Is it harder to get funding? Harder to direct staff because the studios have become so much bigger/have to coordinate so much outsourced production? Harder to sell games? Harder to find the right talent? Harder to retain the right talent? Harder to market? Some of these? All? None?

Ledah
Ledah

Milking franchises to death has its downside.

blitzinD
blitzinD

They're steering their tankers fine, they're just guiding them toward icebergs (DRM, always online, remake after remake, no used games, etc...).

Let's stop the excuses, they're making their beds and they're lying in them.

ragnar320
ragnar320

uhh thats a stupid comparrison of 58% are publishing mobile/tablet games but only 11% on doing next gen. uhhh no duhh. that is so stupid because people will read that and think its relevant. this is the problem with mass media they dont inform the news they manipluate the news

mtnjak
mtnjak

Technology is always changing, therefore the high tech fields like video gaming is always changing.  However, I think that even though smart phones and tablets have become popular in recent years I don't believe in the long term that portable devices such as these will draw away the loyal console gamers that have been around since Bill Gates worked out of his garage.  

Bamul
Bamul

Anarchy, is it? Anarchy means that there is no state, no government, no nations, no borders, no private property, no money, no social classes, no bourgeois and no proletariat. Frankly, the gaming industry is the exact opposite of that and using the word anarchy in this context makes very little sense. Anyone who knows something about political ideologies would know that using "anarchy" as a synonym of "chaos" is misleading and incorrect. Imagine if someone used the word "capitalism" as a synonym for "organization"... so, organized is capitalized? Stop using words you don't understand, Mr Cousins. Go read a few books and you might learn something instead.

brunorr
brunorr

Adapt or die. Not everyone wants to play a casual game on a 4 inch screen, so there is still market for console/PC. The problem is big companies would rather invest in graphics, voice-overs and other fluffs, along with copying established franchises and holding-hand gameplay than investing in something creative.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

No, the chaos ensues because certain big houses don't give a shit about anything other than making profit. All that they want to do Is milk franchises to death or either acquire good franchises then sully them with bullshit business tactics. 

ZombieJesus007
ZombieJesus007

Got to follow the money trail.. and casual gamers who will microstransaction themselves to death with every add-on for the next Angry Bird-wannabe game.

Mayleene
Mayleene

Nintendo doesn't develop mobile games.  If these other companies are developing for mobile games, they must need money more than Nintendo.

Who are Sony/Microsoft's developers?  I'm sure Microsoft has developers for mobile games in place with that Windows 8 phone they've put out..  Not to mention all those Ericsson/Xperia phones Sony has put out.

Seems Nintendo is the only true gaming company in the business since all they do is consoles/games with a select few 3rd party developers.

Makes ya think!

Bregzeinkul
Bregzeinkul

Well, everyone wants to create another Angry Birds. Less risk, more profit, why the heck not?

And guess what, EA is the one leading the bandwagon.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Well I hope EA dies during the next crash. The videogame industry will face another crash. As long as EA dies out all will be well.

blackothh
blackothh

Thats what happens when you ruin everything you gobble up.

Smackpwn
Smackpwn

"Its Chaotic out their" Yeah, and that chaos is caused by EA ruining the only good game franchises left, and forcing people to go mobile for good games

dogfather76
dogfather76

Big games will always be around so I'm not worried..  If EA can't seem to figure out what customers want, they will eventually fail. They are just making every mistake possible.  The cream will always rise to the top. 

axelx666
axelx666

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!

Big video game companies like EA and ACTIVISON are the ones that are giving the video game industry the CANCER that is killing it!!

i mean the only good game i've seen (a game that did well in sales and reception) this year was Bioshock infinite. 

every other game either didn't live up to expectations or just plain fell flat on it's face.

i've known the video game industry was dying since they ANNOUNCED the ps4.

the signs are all there,

the pricing, (both of video games and system)

the games being released now an days filled with bugs/carelessness..

it's about time somebody finally goddamn acknowledged it!

mobile gaming is gonna be the future, and it's gonna KILL the video game industry completely, i guarantee it.

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

@kohle36 It's also the fact that in a small company with low development costs people feel they have much more creative freedom. Its very clear that a lot of the big publishers force serious creative constraints upon their developers. this also explains the explosion of indie developers, but for those who don't want the full on stress of indie development mobile development provides a good balance between creative freedom and job security. Big publishers have unfortunately done a lot to drive really creative people out of triple A game development.

jorge69696
jorge69696

@charlieholmes Yes but the industry went backwards. Most games are dumbed down sugarcoated shit for the mindless masses.

New gamers don't realize this because they got into gaming when it was shit already. You have to be at least 20 to see how bad it is now.

jorge69696
jorge69696

@Whiskey3romeo Publishers want money, game designers to make good games. 

Publishers tell game designers to follow a pre-established formula that works and developers have to comply or get fired.

Publishers don't care if the game is good or not, they only care about the money.

jorge69696
jorge69696

@CommodoreRaslin That's why the current target is the lowest common denominator. That's why games are dumbed down to hell. 

Do you remember when nintendo went after a wider audience with the wii? a lot of people bashed them for it. It was a console for "kids".

Now the same is happening with the ps360 but people don't notice. They don't want to admit their precious console is going downhill.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

@CommodoreRaslin Agreed! This article leaves you wondering what the hell it's actually trying to say and then what the meaning behind that is!

axelx666
axelx666

@CommodoreRaslin  it's all of the above, but the main thing i think is the more people hired, the more money spent and the less time used to check/test a game out before it is released. resulting in poor sales, that's my assumption however.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

@ragnar320 Here's my big question. If more developers are jumping to

mobile platforms, why the hell Havn't I seen a game worth buying on my IPhone within the last 6-8 months of my last purchase. I'm buying 4-6 console games a month yet I havn't but an App in 8 months! I must be completely blind when I thumb through the new Apps every Thursday when they come out yet can't find anything worth installing whether free or paid!!!!!

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

@mtnjak Amen! I can't get into any small screen game whether phone or tablet when I'm away from the house and I'm sure as hell not picking either device to play when I'm home and can play my console.

Atomic_Gumshoe
Atomic_Gumshoe

@Sanguis_Malus The chaos ensues because games (AAA) are so costly to produce and often don't return the investment. These big studios are trying to make safe investments by producing what has been previously successful although now what gamers want most is something different. Meanwhile indie and smaller studios can make a low cost low risk game for tablet of phone, and as a result are able to make riskier commitments. And the big studios are just turning circles trying to figure out what they are doing wrong.


Hurvl
Hurvl

@dogfather76 And the buttered toast will always land buttered side down...unless you're extremely skilled in rotating/flipping the buttered toast so that it lands buttered side up. What I'm trying to say is that it's hard to succeed, it requires great skill.

tuzem2
tuzem2

@axelx666 mobile gaming may be the future, but the cost of that will be catastrophic in regards to art, design, storytelling, user experience, and graphics... in my opinion at least.

I personally haven't seen an AAA game on either the iOS or Android platforms.

The only reasons the mobile games business is successful is because of micro transactions and the fact it costs less to develop (since there is almost no or minimum story, the game doesn't last long and relies on A LOT on reuse).

axelx666
axelx666

@Mayleene @axelx666 not really, video games and the video game industry are 1 thing,

the mobile games and mobile game industry are another.

video games are only avaliable on a console or handheld device and must be purchased in a store, while mobile games are download onto your phone.

the point im getting at is, if this trend continues, console games won't be needed anymore, and everybody will play games on their phone. (which isn't a part of the video game industry!!)

i hope you get the picture now.

Mayleene
Mayleene

@axelx666  So what part of the article's quote here  "58 percent of game creators said they plan to ship their next game for smartphones and tablets" makes these games not part of the video game industry?