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(03-20-2012, 11:10 PM)
Opiate's Avatar

Originally Posted by AHA-Lambda

Woah, I had no idea O_O

Can I ask then if this is the case then why does EA in particular seem to keep backing these AAA bombas like shadows of the damned, alice madness returns and syndicate? I'm assuming it somehow works out with all those being EA partners games =/

Or even others like 2K with the darkness 2 and spec ops the line?

As you make note, the "backing" given these games is quite weak in several cases. Syndicate was clearly sent to die, for example, once it became clear that it was not going to be a hit as it approached release. Most were EA Partner games which require dramatically lower investment, and EA now seems to be cutting back on this program and focusing more on internal development.

But generally, the answer is that no system is perfect and no publisher can reasonably expect every project they greenlight to be a big hit. That's simply an obvious truth in what is fundamentally a creative medium. You can expect every musical artist to produce a blockbuster record every single time (almost all eventually fade away, in fact), you can't expect every movie made by Spielberg or Lucas to be a gigantic blockbuster, and so forth. Creativity is fundamentally disorderly and not easy to control through traditional business mechanisms. You can't pre-package creative output like you can, lets say, a PC component, which has quantifiable value and yield.

And this is the fundamental problem not only that EA faces, but that all major publishers face in any creative medium; in theory, a truly competitive market for games or movies or music would see "publishers" rise and fall in rapid succession, as you cannot expect any specific publisher to be able to sign every great new artist or new developer or new director with an eye for profitable film making. It just isn't possible, because "talent" is far more subjective in these fields than it is in, say, CPU manufacturing. Major publishers/studios/etc handle this problem by raising the barriers to entry -- that is, they make it extremely difficult to break in to the market. If you're an outsider looking to make a hit movie, for example, then step 1 in the process is "have three hundred million dollars ready to produce the movie." If there are 10,000 people out there with good ideas for a movie that could possibly compete with Avatar, then perhaps only 1 of those people has the sort of money needed to actually create that movie. Or perhaps 0 of them do. This is how the same 5 or so movie studios (Paramount, Fox, Universal, etc) the same 3 music labels (Sony BMG, EMI Universal, and UMG) and the same 4 major game publishers (Ubisoft, Take 2, EA, Activision) control something like 90% of the market place: they make it so expensive to be successful that no one else can reasonably compete.

Another way to think of this concept: EA does not necessarily have the most talent (they can be good, of course), but they absolutely do have the most money, by definition. As such, it is in their best interest to redefine the marketplace so that the market is primarily defined by production values, rather than necessarily about having great, creative game ideas. If it's simply a competition of talent, then EA has to not only compete with Activision/Ubisoft/Take 2, but also with every little guy who has a great game idea.

If the competition is instead one largely or primarily based on production values, then the only real competition EA has is those other 3 companies, and the thousands of little guys with good ideas but little money become mostly meaningless. Again, this strategy is not unique to game development, can be readily observed in other creative media, and is known in economics as "raising the barriers to entry," which simply means, "making it harder for little guys to break in." I hope this isn't too long or boring: I'm just trying to express the idea as clearly as I can.