GC: Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack • Page 3

On a unified gaming format and why it will happen.

Eurogamer: One of the other things you said was that predicting four or five years down the line was like trying to predict the weather, but at the same time you did say that you felt this unified console could happen as soon as the next generation.

Denis Dyack: I think it could happen next console generation. If this ends up being a true three-way split, and everyone has one third of the pie of this current generation, everyone's going to be bleeding. That would mean that the first parties didn't do as well as they'd hoped because they all hoped to win, and the third parties are likely to not have guessed properly, so they didn't make as much money as they thought they could.

I'll say it right now - I'm going to be pretty confident that all the first parties have already started their R&D for the next generation, and - I guess from the perspective of someone who's looked at technology over time - what they're going to try to do now is create technology that's going to differentiate them from their competitors, and it's getting more and more difficult all the time. They're going to have to spend more money to do so.

In the end you really have to sit back and say with Sony, was all that money they spent on R&D for the PlayStation 3 worth it? Are they are a content company or a hardware company? Microsoft is traditionally a software company, and should they be working on software or hardware? Look at Nintendo - how many times have you heard 'shouldn't Nintendo stop making hardware and just make games?' I'm not saying I'm a proponent of any of that - but these are legitimate questions that they all have to be asking each other, and I think just to be really clear that it's really hard for them too. I think this marketplace has been becoming increasingly difficult for the hardware manufacturers, and we've already seen a few go and die and never come back. Now you're left only with players that have billions of dollars.

It's gone from the really homegrown environment where anyone could make anything happen to these really huge conglomerates - and even they are now feeling the pain, and I think it makes it really tenuous. The argument for commoditisation makes a lot more sense every time we talk about it.

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Eurogamer: We've seen shades of this in the past - there was MSX, where somebody tried to put forward a unified format, and there was Saturn, where SEGA let other companies like JVC make one. Did that fail because it was the wrong time? Because the competition was still relatively strong compared to those products? Because development was cheap?

Denis Dyack: I think it's because you had billion-dollar players coming into the marketplace - compared to SEGA who really didn't have that much of a war chest. And you've got these really big players coming in who think they can dominate this market. It takes a lot of capital to do that, and these are the things that forced out the smaller players, so I would say it was a bit too early, and I think moving forward the forces of commoditisation are going to overcome the forces of these billion-dollar companies.

In the early Nintendo days, if you weren't a first-party exclusive to Nintendo, you might as well not even be in the videogame industry. You had to fight and claw your way to become an official Nintendo publisher, just to give them a percentage. Now you hear how much companies are paying for exclusives that are not even really exclusive, they're timed exclusive - it's millions and millions, and it's insane. You've got to sit back and wonder: is this R&D really paying off, long-term? Where are we really making the money?

I said what I think - I think it's coming, and we'll see. The one thing I stand behind and say 100 percent is that all technologies become commoditised. There's nothing stopping that. It will not stop. It has to happen. It's gonna happen. Whether it results in a single unified console is one thing, but I think it will. It usually does.

Eurogamer: It's interesting you mentioned companies receiving a lot of money to become exclusive, because you're exclusive to 360. The fact that Too Human is a trilogy - conceivably could you end up making your second and third games for a commoditised unified gaming format?

Denis Dyack: Yep. Yep. I think so. Well, Too Human is exclusive to 360, and it's ironic because obviously in some ways in this marketplace right now you're forced to pick and choose and our hope - and I think we will - is to get Too Human out before the 360's life cycle's gone.

Eurogamer: You mean all three games?

Denis Dyack: Yeah, all three games. And so - from a perspective beyond that though, it's really going to be a Wild West out there for a while. You talk to certain publishers now and ask what console they're backing, and you get one answer, and you ask about five years from now and you get another answer.

Eurogamer: At one point in your discussion there was a bit of knowing laughter when the conversation swung to engines and that's obviously because of the very public spat that you've had with Epic about Unreal Engine. Is there anything you can say about that?

Denis Dyack: I will say that we strongly believe in the complaint that we've served them with, and we're really concentrating on making good games, and we're going to concentrate on doing that. We have a law team that's really fantastic and they're going to get the case out there and I am hopeful and confident that justice will be done. Besides that I really can't comment.

Eurogamer: Is it likely to impact the release of Too Human?

Denis Dyack: No, it absolutely will not affect Too Human. In no way.

Eurogamer: I am struggling to work the Internet in Germany due to user errors, but I caught wind of something yesterday about a release date - Q1, was it?

Denis Dyack: Yep, Too Human is coming out in first quarter. We're going to invite the press down in October, so if you'd like to come we'd love to have you down. You'll get a chance to play it. So yeah, Too Human is going extremely well. I can't wait.

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