Silicon Knights: "used games are cannibalising the industry"

Devs won't be able to afford $300m next-gen budgets.

If second-hand/pre-owned/used game sales continue unabated, our industry will "cannibalise" itself, Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack believes.

It used to be that game makers could rely on sales "tails". That is, a game would sell in decent quantities weeks, months past launch.

"Now there is no tail," Dyack told GamesIndustry International.

"Literally, you will get most of your sales within three months of launch, which has created this really unhealthy extreme where you have to sell it really fast and then you have to do anything else to get money," he added, referencing DLC.

Dyack said he'd "argue that used games actually increase the cost of games" as a result.

He'd also argue "that used games are cannibalising the industry".

cannibal

"In the pot, Miss Games Industry!"

"If developers and publishers don't see revenue from that, it's not a matter of, 'Hey, we're trying to increase the price of games to consumers, and we want more.' We're just trying to survive as an industry," he said.

"Looking towards next generation, people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times what they were last generation ... I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets."

Denis Dyack, founder, Silicon Knights

"If used games continue the way that they are, it's going to cannibalise - there's not going to be an industry."

The upshot of all this will be, as many predict, the removal of a middle-tier of games. Consider that blockbuster game development budgets will rise again next generation. Then consider who will be able to bet that kind of cash.

"On the top side of the triple-A, highly-funded titles, you have $100 million games," Dyack continued. "Looking towards next generation, people once again are saying we're going to have development costs that are two or three times of what they were last generation. I cannot see how that economy is going to continue.

"I don't think as an industry we can afford $300 million budgets. Some games can, don't get me wrong - for a game like Call of Duty, if they had a $100 million budget, or whatever their budget is, they can afford it. That's not the industry, that's sort of a one-off.

"But what is everyone else going do?"

Silicon Knights is best known for superb GameCube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (2002 - 9/10 Eurogamer).

It's been down hill since then. The studio's next solo effort, the ambitious, expensive and long in development Too Human, flopped (2008 - 6/10 Eurogamer). What was to be an Xbox 360 trilogy slipped into obscurity. Whether we'll ever see another Too Human game remains to be seen.

Dyack said we should keep an eye on the 14th May court case with Epic Games, which concerns the alleged lack of Unreal Engine 3 support Silicon Knights received while Epic made Gears of War.

The last game to come from Silicon Knights was the dreary X-Men: Destiny (2011 - 5/10 Eurogamer).

Weeks later, more than half the studio's workforce was laid off, leaving a compact, full-time team of 40 people.

Eurogamer talks to Denis Dyack about Too Human.

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