Call of Duty devs optimistic about AAA gaming, but say B-game market could struggle

Sledgehammer Games' Glen Schofield says he's "pretty optimistic" about AAA gaming in 2014, while Michael Condrey says the B-game market might get cut out.

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Is the AAA gaming market healthy in 2014? If you ask Just Cause studio Avalanche Studios founder Christofer Sundberg, he'd say no. But it's a different story for Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer Games.

As part of a Q&A session following a presentation the duo gave today at the Game Developers Conference, I asked cofounders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey for their assessment of the health of AAA gaming in 2014.

These are their responses:

Schofield: "Well, [GTA V] sold what, 30 million units? [In fact, it shipped 32.5 million copies] I don't know about the health of it. I mean, I'm pretty optimistic. I think there's always gotta be high-end video games. We see the demand. People are still buying them; people are still playing them."

"I just think there's a place for that big blockbuster video game and you sit there with your 60-inch TV and you've got your speakers. You just gotta make sure it's really high quality."

Condrey gave a more nuanced answer.

"We're in a really dynamic time now," he said, noting that the indie movement is allowing for incredible instances of innovation and experimentation. "That's fantastic," he added.

Though he enjoys smaller, independently made entertainment experiences, Condrey said he also appreciates big-budget blockbuster movies because he "wants both experiences." And the same is true for his gaming appetite, he said.

Condrey's assessment of the industry in 2014 wasn't entirely rosy, however. He said the gaming space that is having a tough time right now is the B-game market.

"I fear that the middle ground is where it gets really tough," he explained.

So far in 2014, the AAA industry has faced numerous instances of challenging news. God of War developer Sony Santa Monica cut jobs and even canceled a new IP in February, Thief developer Eidos Montreal laid off 27 people a week after release, BioShock creator Irrational Games announced it is "winding down," and Metal Gear Solid creator said young people are losing interest in AAA games in favor of mobile experiences.

Also during the presentation today, Schofield boasted that this year's Call of Duty game is "most ambitious, most creative game we've ever made."

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