Lack of focus and decisiveness "eating the industry alive" says Just Cause dev

"We need more innovation and focus on creating entertainment rather than funky business models," says Christofer Sundberg.

Avalanche Studios founder and chief creative officer Christofer Sundberg believes the industry needs to focus on what he thinks is really important: creating compelling entertainment.

Asked by Edge in a new feature to describe what disappoints him about the industry today, Sundberg said, "Lack of focus and decisiveness. It's eating the industry alive."

As for what area of the industry needs greater investment, Sundberg said developers should worry about making great games and not get caught up in business models.

"We need more innovation and focus on creating entertainment rather than funky business models," he said. "The cash will come with the success of great games, and not the other way around."

Also in the feature, Sundberg gave a critique of Naughty Dog's PlayStation 3 game The Last of Us, praising it highly.

"The most recent game I played was The Last of Us and I haven't finished it yet, but hell yes, I enjoy it. It's like God crawled into a console," he said. "Pure art."

Sundberg and the rest of Avalanche Studios are currently working on next-generation car combat game Mad Max, as well as another unannounced open-world game and a mobile/tablet title, which also has not been announced.

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

102 comments
tightwad34
tightwad34

The industry is just fine. If anything, the talk should be about the movie industry running thin. Look at how many comic book movies are coming out and how many video games they want to turn into movies. Sorry, but I have yet to see anything that tells me video games are in any sort of trouble. And isn't GTAV the best or at least fastest selling entertainment property of all time?

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

On this topic, I have to agree. It seems like there are too many disjointed and dysfunctional games out there that could be fun if not for the F2P model, or IAP requirements. Gaming is going in too many crazy directions while we wait for the few dedicated developers to put out games that we just plop in the tray and play. IOS is the worst platform in the world for these crappy models. We don't want it on our consoles that's for damn sure!

Vodoo
Vodoo

Blah blah blah. No shit the money will come with the creation of great games. But these lazy business models are trying to secure the cash with LESS then great games. They want to put in the least amount of effort and still get the maximum reward. They prey on consumer ignorance.

hystavito
hystavito

Everyone talks about innovation but you rarely see them take a risk on something.

hadlee73
hadlee73

I had a good retort to this article but I'm just having trouble remembering what it was.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

More game, less DLC, less season passes, less free to play garbage.

This guy knows what's up.

cirugo
cirugo

He's right!  stop trying to shovel your "business models" disguised as games at everyone and get out of the way of the creative talent.

Cronyk
Cronyk

You know... the only real reason I want a PS4 is for Infamous... i think instead once i get my X1 ill sell my 360 and get a PS3 and enjoy all its best games I never got my hands on... Cant wait for a price drop :P

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

The reasons stated in the article are pretty much why indie games and Kickstarter are one of the few shining hopes left in the industry. 

Developers want to make great games, but *publishers* want to make money.  Historically you had to go through the major publishers to get your game out there, but now with more indie dev support (even on next-gen consoles) and crowd funding, developers will be able to do more self-publishing and get out the games they want to make.

Less F2P/DLC nonsense! Though certainly some indies will examine those business models as well.

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

He is right games now are so drab and generic and DLC and season passes and pay to play and zzzzzzzzzzzz

Stiler
Stiler

I just wish the new Mad Max focused more on realism in terms of car physics and damage rather then (From the video) the usual "Hp bar gets to 0 car blows up" damage model. 


Something lmore like say , Flatout or Destruction Derby style of vehicle damage (that can affect the cars handling, speed, etc) would be 1000x better. 


Also would be nice if Max looked like....Max (young Mel Gibson would have been nice) or even Tom Hardy (who's playing the new Max), instead of this generic looking guy that looks like neither. Just kind of takes you out of the shoes of a Mad Max game and why on earth couldn't they  make him look like either?

Diegoctba
Diegoctba

"Just cause dev..."

He is not important, at all, why his opinion is relevant???

brxricano
brxricano

If he really believed that he would've cancelled his interview and got back to work.

AwkwardTurtle42
AwkwardTurtle42

Would be great if more companies listened to what he's saying. I don't have to look far to see games that copy ideas from other games in the hope that it'll be a quick way to get high sales. Just wish developers would stick to doing their own thing with games and not worry about what other companies are doing.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

Focus on creating decent games instead of new schemes to leech more money from the sheep.

Kayweg
Kayweg

Whatever one wants to make of the guy or the games he was involved in. For me he nailed the key issue:

"The cash will come with the success of great games, and not the other way around."

More and more often it seems that the business model/monetization has become the priority, around which a game then is build....and it shows when you play 'em.

komuchen
komuchen

"creating compelling entertainment"

Deerr, isn't that a point of a game? To be entertaining?

CoD, BF, Madden, or other high rated games are entertaining to some degree, but that's not the problem of industry, problem is in annual rehashes and new IP, which is an excuse for another rehash with different name. Looking at people wallets and not entertaiment value of games created, shoehorning action games where they are not needed and lack of innovation will cause another crash

Swaghard
Swaghard

To industry executives: "well duhhh"

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

That is probably why I spend more time on games like Fallout/Elder Scrolls games from Bugthesda...oh *#@ it crashed again!!

drekula2
drekula2

does he not realize that Just Cause 2 totally lacks focus

Manatassix
Manatassix

I'm not sure a lack of focus is really the issue more the focus is in the wrong direction. I think thats more his point, Which I would have to agree with... Publishers seem to be running on the mindset that the Medium should produce 'products' that can be sold like cans of dog food. 

Thats what happens when you put people who are used to selling  Toilet Paper or Cars in charge of companies focused on creating Artistic projects... sure you might make a lot of money for a while and if you start with a great game lets say Modern Warfare you can create a running market... but you are essentially riding the creative success downward. 

The teams developing the games should be given the freedom to create the most interesting thing they can then the Publisher should be publishing those titles the way we have forced the current market into annual cycles of slightly updated 'Products' is stagnating the industry. If the larger studios were allowed to experiment more and take more risks you create a healthier market. Sure theres nothing wrong with the sports games and COD's of the world but funnel the profits of those games into more experimental projects that are higher risk and you will find your next big COD title. 

Look at the way Rockstar experimented and put out Red Dead Redemption between GTA 4 and 5... the impact just that diversion and the success it had are what you get if you try something different. It doesn't have to be some radical new project but Mirrors Edge for instance wasn't a huge hit but look at the impact it had across the industry on the way 1st person games think about environment and movement.

Worrying that the industry will fail because of the focus on the money side of things and building games around micro transactions instead of the core gameplay isn't really an issue. As the larger titles become incrementally less successful over time leaving only a few big Madden COD type games people will stop trying to compete in a dying market and move to innovating to find that next big thing that grabs our attention. The begining of a new console generation is a good time for companies to do this and I think we are seeing that happen now after the gradual decline of the last couple of years caused by the overly long hardware refresh and repeated low risk behaviours of mainly Activision and EA.

On the other hand companies like Sony have really been pushing some fascinating and innovative games on their platform from the last of us to all the Indie love they have been handing out they have understood what it takes to keep the market fresh and bring new ideas to the bigger titles. 

smokeless_0225
smokeless_0225

Avalanche Studios telling devs how games need to be made would be like the Cleveland Browns telling NFL teams how to win a Superbowl.

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

He is wrong about the "Lack of focus and decisiveness"  look at EA, Activation, and Ubi for example. Their soul focus is money  and decided not to take any risks. That's what's eating the industry alive. I'm not really against the industry eating its self alive and then dieing. this will make the fucks only in it for the money to move on to some other thing to exploit for cash and let the Indie scene rise from the ashes.

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

The lack of... COD is great for ADHD kids

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

While I agree with the lack of focus, I would also say that Just Cause is among the most generic sand boxes there is, so...

MAGIC-KINECT
MAGIC-KINECT

Did he say something about lack of focus? I wasn't really paying attention.

Ghostdog201
Ghostdog201

Huh, I was hoping for something more in depth.  I don't have a problem with what he said in regards to "business model", but it would have been a better, more satisfying article had there been examples, and then discussions on each.  He like "The Last of Us".  Cool.  Why?  What other games are examples of good work?  Games or studios that are examples of bad work? 


Bleh.

drodriguesaar
drodriguesaar

Yeah, innovation...

"Sundberg and the rest of Avalanche Studios are currently working on next-generation car combat game Mad Max".....

komuchen
komuchen

@tightwad34 then by your thinking, movie industry died at least twice

tightwad34
tightwad34

@hadlee73 I hate it when that happens. Also when you have a golden idea and you wake up the next day and totally forgot what it was. Man, I need to start writing things down.

Vodoo
Vodoo

@Cronyk Did you ever play Infamous 1 & 2? They're all awesome games. If you haven't played any Uncharted games, I would just play 2. That was the pinnacle of the series. And then there's a bunch of Ratchet & Clank games.  

I use my PS3 only for exclusives as well. The only one I haven't played yet is Last of Us.. I'm getting the X1 on launch day but won't get rid of my 360 because there's still a few awesome games yet to come out. My most anticipated game that comes out early next year for current gen only is "Murdered: Soul Suspect."

komuchen
komuchen

@Kayweg you know, it makes it little easier for creators. Or do I need to remind you of that Double Fine fiasco?

It is helpful to have bussines model, because you know what you can actually do, and what is needed or better left for the sequel or DLC. It can be done right, problem is, nowadays you can feel when the game is rushed

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@smokeless_0225 More like the Braves - they make the playoffs every year, they just never win it all.

Just Cause 2 is a wonderful game that doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@Death_Masta187 they don't take risks because games cost far too much to develop now and one bad move can be the end of a studio. large studios need to streamline their franchises and develop on three different tiers, each with varying budgets. make a few big AAA games, make a few AA games and make a few small, indie-like games. a lot needs to change with how the dev teams are managed and new, smaller teams need to be assembled for this to work. in this way, with the smaller budget games, they can afford to take more risks and be innovate.  

Manatassix
Manatassix

@b74kd3th Yeah and Peggle is great for Downs Syndrome kids. 

ohh wait was that hugely offensive to stereotype people who deal with a disability?

*eyeroll*

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

@sgt_hunter Corporate owned america.


Money can come from a good game as well as a scheme to milk the low IQs.

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

@Xristophoros @Death_Masta187  

maybe if they didn't spend  2/3rd of their budget on marketing.  This is why i would not be sad for another video game crash. bring these people back down to reality and only leave the ones who make games because they love doing it here. I'm not inherently this cynical about the gaming industry they just made me this way over the last 6-7 years.

El_Giucu
El_Giucu

Only played just cause 2 and i remember it as a beautiful looking game and very fun to play..

have you even played it?

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

@Death_Masta187 @Xristophoros Yes, somewhere there is a post with an actual marketing budget of an EA game, it was more than the budget of every cnc game before Generals combined.

Hey! If they made a good game, they could put that money into some great development or servers!