PlayStation Universe

Sony, Microsoft failing to embrace industry changes says Firefall dev

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on 31 July 2012

Ex-World of Warcraft lead developer Mark Kern believes that platform holders Sony and Microsoft are failing to embrace the changes that are currently occurring within the games industry.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Kern, who currently heads Red 5 Studios, the company responsible for the upcoming MMO Firefall, commented:

“In order to stand out from the crowd you have to spend as much on marketing as you did developing it."

"This is not a sustainable model. Teams have gotten to have to be larger and larger and larger to justify the $60 up-front model.

"It's killing innovation because no one can take those risks anymore or try something new with those kinds of numbers. I think that's bad for gamers and I think that's cripplingly bad for developers. And to be honest, I don't see Sony or Microsoft embracing the openness of the changes that are happening in the gaming industry right now."

Kern offered that Sony and Microsoft’s business models are outdated and restricting, and as a result is killing the concept of innovation within the console space.

"Sony's not had a great track record with open models. They tried to compete with iTunes back in the day and they're heavy on DRM, which I think is a big, huge negative for our industry, and I don't think that DLC models of sort of unlocking content as you go is a way that gamers want to play.

"The reason we have no innovation left on consoles is because you have to spend so much money to make your game appeal to widest possible audience on that platform which is a closed platform, so that's a limited number of users, right? Versus a PC with a free or open distribution model you can build a community around your game."

Kern believes hardware manufacturers are shutting themselves off from developers who are looking to provide ground-breaking new projects like Minecraft – the concept of which Kern feels would have been scoffed at by the likes of Sony.

"Can you imagine pitching that to Sony?," Kern continued. "'It's going to look all 8-bit. And it's going to have these cubes.... you bang on these cubes and you get something out of it and you combine it and you can make another cube.' They'll say you're insane. That thing would have never been greenlighted on a Sony or Microsoft platform."

Looking to the future, Kern said he has no plans to bring Firefall to next-generation platforms, and didn't seem particularly optimistic about their success.