Oddworld Creator Says Capitalism Is Killing Games

Lorne Lanning laments current state of gaming industry.

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In an interview with Games Industry International, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning is wary of how capitalism encourages constant, exponential growth and massive game budgets. Instead, developers should cater to niche audiences, making games for smaller, dedicated communities.

"As craftsmen, " Lanning said,"our opportunity lies in finding the niches where we know our audience, we focus on it, we listen to it, we respect it, we treat it with some grace."

Publishers, Lanning says, have become much more risk averse because of the sheer size of the investments they are dumping into new games. As games get more expensive, developers need more money from publishers, and that puts developers in a position of weakness when negotiating business deals.

"So the budget's going up, and now [publishers are] saying, 'Now we're spending $20 million on a title and not $5 million, and at $20 million, we need better terms. You're going to do 10 times the work, but you're going to get a fifth of the backside because we're risking all this money.' Depending on how savvy they would be with the deals, usually they never made money... They were able to stay in the business. But the way the deals were structured, they were basically dead."

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Refocusing development on smaller games for smaller audiences will help keep studios sustainable, and avoid the kinds of massive layoffs and closings that have wracked the industry over the past few years. Lanning also thinks that this will give developers more creative opportunity and gamers more interesting games to play.

"So the indie possibility is they can actually find their audience. The cheaper they can make their product, the more creative opportunity they have. So you can take more risks the cheaper you are."

Lanning's games have always been critical of capitalism, and recently he's been focused on remaking them for new platforms. Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty , a remake of the first game in the Oddworld series--Abe's Oddysee--launched for Playstation 4 last year, PC in February, and the Xbox One on March 27. The game has been well received by critics.

Playstation Vita and Wii U versions should see a release by the end of the year.

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