Bigger budgets, fewer games

I’m surprised at the amount of attention “Destiny” is already receiving.

The upcoming multiplayer shooter won’t be released until Sept. 9, but you wouldn’t know it. Companies are already advertising the game and accepting preorders almost five months in advance of its release. It’s common for companies to tease big releases before a huge release comes out, but this seems a bit more desperate than usual.

I’ve written a lot lately about how the video game industry is dealing with growing pains. Digital piracy is rampant, production costs are in flux as more game copies are digitally sold and overall revenues for large, mainstream games are down as development costs increase.

Case in point: Developer Bungie is spending $500 million to make and market this game. Once finished, “Destiny” will be the most expensive video game ever created.

In light of that fact, it’s easy to see why Bungie and publisher Activision are already promoting “Destiny.” With Bungie’s track record as the minds behind the original “Halo” series, Activision executives are likely hoping “Destiny” will bring in more than $1 billion in sales a la “Call of Duty,” a series that had lower than expected profits in its last iteration, “Call of Duty: Ghosts.”

“Destiny” looks like a great game, but I would rather see more attention on many games than a lot of attention on just one title. The industry continues to emphasize a strategy of placing many resources and expectations on fewer, bigger titles. That’s a decent business response to the market but it constrains the industry’s overall creativity. Gaming is an art form, and it’s one that isn’t going away any time soon. Even so, I’d love to see more of that art than less.

There continue to be less titles released on console and PC each year as the business side of things constricts how many ideas get put into production. This is unfortunate, as more people are playing games and the average age of gamers continues to climb. Mobile development continues, but analysts aren’t clamoring over the rise of cell games like they used to.

Something has to give in the industry, most likely in terms of production. Either the technology reaches a point where development schedules can get easier or this decrease in games will continue. That’s a shame when so many interesting titles come out each year to little marketing and less public awareness. I hope “Destiny” succeeds, but I wish more games would get better attention.

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