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How did games become so expensive to make and why does it take longer to develop?

Stuff like Unreal 5 substitutes the expenses of developing an in-house engine, but that shit isn't free at all. EPIC isn't some sugar daddy giving out that engine out of their own good will. Studios/publishers still have to pay royalties and license fees to EPIC for utilizing their engine during development in the first place.
This is not accurate. Epic does not charge devs to use UE5 until after the game has cleared 1 million dollars in sales. Until that point, it is free to develop with. After that point, they want 5% of the royalties.
 

kyussman

Member
It's a shame everything in the AAA space had to become so big......I guess it was inevitable once the technology arrived to do it.....but there is nothing stopping devs going back to smaller games other than the idea that people have got used to having a certain amount of game for their money and will now feel short-changed by anything less.I was about to say if you make a great game people will play it regardless of some idea of how big it should be.....but then I remembered games like Dishonored 2 and Prey which were fantastic smaller games without huge open worlds.....that people didn't generally care for at all......so I guess that sums it all up really.
 

Akt

Banned
I think a lot of people nowadays still don't realize how, realistically, most games made nowadays are far ahead of our childhood, you can even play it at dildo, masterpieces.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
Everyone is trying to become another Hideo Kojima.

Blame:

A) GTA

B) The shift in work life, where employees in gaming complain about OT and run to media outlets to tattle during crunches

For real though, I have said this in here before - but when I was in the industry, I had a business trip / conference where we had to sit in classes and study what was happening in gaming (for marketing) and other yada yada stuff for 3 days. This was literally right around PS4/ XBO launch.

One of the days, there was a graph charting the average development cost from ps2/XB -> ps3/ 360 days. Which happened to show GTA4 development cost.

It was ~100 million. Most other games at the time were only average around 10-15 million IIRC. Staggeringly big difference.

That next hour was discussing how much modern GTA games were changing the development of other games moving forward.

And here we are.
Yup.
I’ve been saying this for more than a decade by now: MGS2 (for presentation and character design*) and GTA3 (for the 3D open world template) almost single-handedly steered the whole industry towards what it is today, especially on the western front. Kojima somehow made the “do thing, get a cutscene in reward” loop look cool even if it means filling games with literal hours of expensive tripe, and GTA somehow made huge environments filled with useless baubles the coolest setting for a AAA game.

*a few years after MGS2 every AAA western protagonist was a Solid Snake copycat, hence the memes about every game featuring a gruff white man with some degree of military background.
 

Fafalada

Fafracer forever
Before, a game would take about 2-3 years to finish and when it released , the whole game was there.
Define 'before'. A game would take about 2-3 months to finish in the 80ies - the escalation of costs and time-frames has been happening for the last 40 years, it didn't start in last 5-10, or even this century.

Also, aren’t game engines like Unreal supposed to make development easier and cheaper?
Easier yes. Cheaper - no.

How much does covid have to do with this?
Not a lot (see my first comment).

I feel like this is happening to AAA a lot more and not every game is like this.
No, it's pretty much universal. An 'Indie*' game today can easily cost as much as an 'AAA' cost on PS2, and substantially more than most games cost on PS1.
 

yurinka

Member
There's a number of reasons that could be pointed out, however when you consider stuff like Death Stranding apparently got made in 3 years with a team of 80 devs, i start to think the reason behind a lot of these high development times is down to poor direction and mismanagement.
Death Stranding has around 1500 people on its game credits. In AAA games the lead game development studio is only a small portion of the people involved in a game. Even only inside development itself: there is always a ton of work outsourced to outsourcing companies and support teams.
 

Guilty_AI

Member
Death Stranding has around 1500 people on its game credits. In AAA games the lead game development studio is only a small portion of the people involved in a game. Even only inside development itself: there is always a ton of work outsourced to outsourcing companies and support teams.
The amount of people on credits mean little when everyone's mothers and their dogs could be there, or minor roles.

Not to mention if we go by proportion, other teams like TLOU2 or Cyberpunk 2077 have 2000-3000 people on their credits, so KP team is still averaged sized by AAA standards, if not a bit smaller.
 
One problem that I see is how it became sort of expected for every AAA single player game to be a massive open world, this is really not the way I wanted things to go as I only have it in me to play a few of those games.

I feel like games used to be a lot more focused in the past and these days I'll look up how long it takes to beat a game before starting it, if it takes too long and it's something I'm not really into I'm not even starting.
 
But that tech was state of the art back then too.
It was equally impressive to games today.
And the tools are better now

I'd argue the tools are more accessible, but not necessarily better or more optimized. Custom in-house engines can bring out some really distinct interpretations and features in a given game which reflect/express the engineers' personality and vision. Like some of the stuff that can be seen in the demoscene culture.

This is not accurate. Epic does not charge devs to use UE5 until after the game has cleared 1 million dollars in sales. Until that point, it is free to develop with. After that point, they want 5% of the royalties.

Looks like you got a point. I stand corrected.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the big guys hit that 1 mil. milestone within the first few days of launch.
 
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yurinka

Member
The amount of people on credits mean little when everyone's mothers and their dogs could be there, or minor roles.

Not to mention if we go by proportion, other teams like TLOU2 or Cyberpunk 2077 have 2000-3000 people on their credits, so KP team is still averaged sized by AAA standards, if not a bit smaller.
Bullshit. The "thanks" are a small part of the game credits in a AAA.

Death Stranding has 1492 people (1461 developers, 31 thanks) on its credits:
https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-4/death-stranding/credits

If you go and watch it you'll see that addition to the typical publishing/QA/localization/marketing/execs/thanks etc of every game, there are a ton of outsourcing companies. Almost always the people of the lead studio are typically around 10% or less of the devs who work on a AAA games.

Regarding Death Stranding team size, as reference:
TLOU2 had 2335 people (2168 developers, 167 thanks)
Cyberpunk 2077 had 3532 people (3156 developers, 376 thanks)

But these 2 were way bigger projects, Death Stranding was more similar in team size to other AAA games like:
Days Gone: 1679 people (1533 developers, 146 thanks)
Returnal: 1344 people (1155 developers, 189 thanks)
Sackboy: 1532 people (1496 developers, 36 thanks)
Ghost of Tsushima: 1796 people (1697 developers, 99 thanks)
God of War 2018: 1758 people (1698 developers, 60 thanks)

Yes, Kojipro is smaller than ND or CD Project but they only were working on a single game, and even if considering that they were still smaller they could simply outsourced more work to compensate it. Obviously DS had a smaller ambition than TLOU2 or CP2077, but was still and average AAA of its gen in terms of team size.
 
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Guilty_AI

Member
Bullshit. The "thanks" are a small part of the game credits in a AAA.

Death Stranding has 1492 people (1461 developers, 31 thanks) on its credits:
https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-4/death-stranding/credits

If you go and watch it you'll see that addition to the typical publishing/QA/localization/marketing/execs/thanks etc of every game, there are a ton of outsourcing companies. Almost always the people of the lead studio are typically around 10% or less of the devs who work on a AAA games.

Regarding Death Stranding team size, as reference:
TLOU2 had 2335 people (2168 developers, 167 thanks)
Cyberpunk 2077 had 3532 people (3156 developers, 376 thanks)

But these 2 were way bigger projects, Death Stranding was more similar in team size to other AAA games like:
Days Gone: 1679 people (1533 developers, 146 thanks)
Returnal: 1344 people (1155 developers, 189 thanks)
Ghost of Tsushima: 1796 people (1697 developers, 99 thanks)
God of War 2018: 1758 people (1698 developers, 60 thanks)

Yes, Kojipro is smaller than ND or CD Project but they only were working on a single game, and even if considering that they were still smaller they could simply outsourced more work to compensate it.
I didn't mean the "thanks" part tho.... either way i don't think any of this disproves my point regardless considering most of these other similar sized teams took double the amount of time DS took to make.
 
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yurinka

Member
I didn't mean the "thanks" part tho.... either way i don't think any of this disproves my point regardless considering most of these other similar sized teams took double the amount of time DS took to make.
You said "The amount of people on credits mean little when everyone's mothers and their dogs could be there, or minor roles."

The "mothers and dogs", plus devs who only worked for a very short period of time are included in the "thanks" part and I shown the "special thanks" typically is a small portion of AAA game credits. I did split them as "devs" and "thanks" because it's how Moby Games splits them, I didn't count them manually. And didn't meant the "thanks" portion is only for family and friends.

And "minor" roles are also needed to make a game: from cast who puts their voices to stunts for mocap, tech team of the mocap, engine programmers, musicians, audio designers for sound effects, testers, writers, localizators, environment artists who only made rocks or plants, etc. Everyone is important, and they are in DS as they are in the other games.
 
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Guilty_AI

Member
You said "The amount of people on credits mean little when everyone's mothers and their dogs could be there, or minor roles."

The "mothers and dogs", plus devs who only worked for a very short period of time are included in the "thanks" part and I shown the "special thanks" typically is a small portion of AAA game credits. I did split them as "devs" and "thanks" because it's how Moby Games splits them, I didn't count them manually.

And "minor" roles are also needed to make a game: from cast who puts their voices to stunts for mocap, tech team of the mocap, engine programmers, musicians, audio designers for sound effects, testers, writers, localizators, etc. Everyone is important, and they are in DS as they are in the other games.
What are you even trying to argue mate? Even if everything you said is correct, it doesn't change the fact that Death Stranding took half the time all these other games with similar sized credits took, so my original point stands regardless of who we're calling "devs" here.
 
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yurinka

Member
What are you even trying to argue mate? Even if everything you said is correct, it doesn't change the fact that Death Stranding took half the time all these other games with similar sized credits took, so my original point stands regardless of who we're calling "devs" here.
I'm showing the facts that prove that Death Stranding had the average team size of a AAA of its generation, and that it wasn't made by 80 people. And that the average size of a AAA game is the one from Death Stranding, not the one of TLOU2 or Cyberpunk 2077, which like GTAV and a few ones they had very large team compared to the typical AAA team.
 

Guilty_AI

Member
I'm showing the facts that prove that Death Stranding had the average team size of a AAA of its generation, and that it wasn't made by 80 people. And that the average size of a AAA game is the one from Death Stranding, not the one of TLOU2 or Cyberpunk 2077, which like GTAV and a few ones they had very large team compared to the typical AAA team.
So...? Did i ever say Death Stranding's team's wasn't average sized for an AAA game? Most i said is that it could be a bit smaller, and all our disagreements are born from our own interpretations on what we can call the de facto dev team, something that really doesn't matter for the topic at hand since proportions remain the same regardless.
 
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EverydayBeast

thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Games come from computer labs not caves it’s decided on budgets by CEOs bad ideas are denounced.
 

RPSleon

Member
Imagine spending 6 years of your life working on a game and everyone hates it.
I feel so bad for people who do this and its bad because the publisher pushes stupid ideas.
 

TheKratos

Member
There's a number of reasons that could be pointed out, however when you consider stuff like Death Stranding apparently got made in 3 years with a team of 80 devs, i start to think the reason behind a lot of these high development times is down to poor direction and mismanagement.
Death Stranding world is empty and shallow though. Really don't see DS as a benchmark for AAA games.
 

Guilty_AI

Member
Death Stranding world is empty and shallow though. Really don't see DS as a benchmark for AAA games.
Not like throwing in a bunch of animal npcs walking around makes development much harder. DS's open world still follows similar design philosophies to other open world games in terms of content, it even has to pay extra attention to surfaces and the overall enviroment since player-world interaction is much more complex than your typical open world game (meaning more bug-testing is required). Overall i don't think this is a good argument to make.
 
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yugoluke

Member
First of all, I have zero knowledge of game development.
Before, a game would take about 2-3 years to finish and when it released , the whole game was there.
These days it takes about 4,5, or even 6 years to develop and when it comes out, half the content is missing and they just release more content over the years.
Also, aren’t game engines like Unreal supposed to make development easier and cheaper?
How much does covid have to do with this?
I feel like this is happening to AAA a lot more and not every game is like this.

I think the game engines have not been making the task of developing games easier for the people who make them. This is why many people are so excited for UE5.

It seems UE5 is an actual revolution in the ability to trim a lot of time to the typical game development workflow. Speeding up the work of artists to create compelling environments in substantially less time. Real time lighting, which should reduce the need for baked in lighting. Nanite, which drastically increases object density at less performance cost. Nanite also allows artists to just create a single asset once, and the engine will take care of dynamically scaling detail levels with different LODS depending on distance. This was a task that used to require artists to create multiple detail versions of every asset they create in order reduce performance costs. Lots of repetitive work that no longer needs to happen.

So basically, I think more work need to take place in integrating the tool workflows that are currently in use by game studios and developing new engines that speed up the game development takes.

I think any tool that can multiply the productivity of game developers will allow for much faster, and efficient game development.
 

Jaybe

Member
Mass Effect 1 - Nov 2007
Mass Effect 2 - Jan 2010
Mass Effect 3 - March 2012

I played through these and their DLC recently in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition and they just are such excellent games, and the the whole package together is outstanding. When finished, I thought, fuck why don’t make games this good any more. It’s so few and far between.

I don’t know what it is nowadays. Maybe the teams are too big, and the average talent gets in. Maybe it’s too corporate, finance and HR driving too much versus creatives and skilled talent. Maybe too much mocap and wanting to be Hollywood. Maybe too many studios and the talent is spread too thin around the industry. Maybe it’s burned out the best and brightest. I also feel these places just invest poorly in the product versus what gamers actually value.
 
What are you even trying to argue mate? Even if everything you said is correct, it doesn't change the fact that Death Stranding took half the time all these other games with similar sized credits took, so my original point stands regardless of who we're calling "devs" here.
And Death Stranding had a huge, very empty map, no quest variation at all, a bare bones combat system, and an engine that was handed to them on a silver platter.
 

rofif

Member
And Death Stranding had a huge, very empty map, no quest variation at all, a bare bones combat system, and an engine that was handed to them on a silver platter.
Sure, empty. But there is a lot of stuff in that game.
And the world is not just empty. It is full of routes, obstructions and everything is thought over.
It's not as cookie cutter as it sounds.
But sure - it's not ac busy
 
All i take from this comment is that you didn't really play the game.
I get so tired of this exact lame accusation every time someone doesn't like a game. Yes, I played and beat the game. I also think it is an overrated piece of garbage that made me never want to touch another Kojima game again. Sorry that I don't like a thing that you like. I still played it
 

Guilty_AI

Member
I get so tired of this exact lame accusation every time someone doesn't like a game. Yes, I played and beat the game. I also think it is an overrated piece of garbage that made me never want to touch another Kojima game again. Sorry that I don't like a thing that you like. I still played it
You're free to not like the game 🤷‍♂️, but that doesn't mean you're free to lie about it.
 
You're free to not like the game 🤷‍♂️, but that doesn't mean you're free to lie about it.
Ah see, but you lied about me, but good thing I didn't lie about the game.
The open world is one of the most empty I've ever seen. Tell me where all the big POI are, I'll go check them out. Because all I saw for 70 hours was the same 3 buildings copy pasted around, with holograms to talk to.
Tell me where I lied about the quests. Literally EVERY quest is the exact same, and they're all just fetch quests. Every mission is "deliver this package" OR "go get this package and bring it back". Tell me what other quests I missed.
Tell me about how you loved the combat, since you can easily destroy the human AI. Was it the forced crouch walking that you enjoyed? Or the fact that all you have to do is literally run away from the supernatural lion enemies, and they won't even touch you? Or the bullet sponge boss fights? Yeah, I def was not lying about the combat.
Hmmmm, it's almost like I was not lying about the game at all, and you simply like something that i don't. How about that.
Now, please, quit assuming and lying about everyone who disagrees with your taste in games. I never run around accusing people of not playing a game, just because they didn't like something that I liked. You even pulled this nonsense on me in another thread a few weeks ago, for ANOTHER game that I did play, so it seems like that your default position if someone disagrees with you. "You didn't play the game". Sorry, but I did, and I have the PS trophies on my account that prove it. Get over it.
 
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A game I would argue that should been out already is BOTW 2. It's using the same engine, 1080P assets (possibly), barely any actors, and the list goes on. It's been 5 years.
 

Guilty_AI

Member
Ah see, but you lied about me, but good thing I didn't lie about the game.
The open world is one of the most empty I've ever seen. Tell me where all the big POI are, I'll go check them out. Because all I saw for 70 hours was the same 3 buildings copy pasted around, with holograms to talk to.
Tell me where I lied about the quests. Literally EVERY quest is the exact same, and they're all just fetch quests. Every mission is "deliver this package" OR "go get this package and bring it back". Tell me what other quests I missed.
Tell me about how you loved the combat, since you can easily destroy the human AI. Was it the forced crouch walking that you enjoyed? Or the fact that all you have to do is literally run away from the supernatural lion enemies, and they won't even touch you? Or the bullet sponge boss fights? Yeah, I def was not lying about the combat.
Hmmmm, it's almost like I was not lying about the game at all, and you simply like something that i don't. How about that.
Now, please, quit assuming and lying about everyone who disagrees with your taste in games. I never run around accusing people of not playing a game, just because they didn't like something that I liked. You even pulled this nonsense on me in another thread a few weeks ago, for ANOTHER game that I did play, so it seems like that your default position if someone disagrees with you. "You didn't play the game". Sorry, but I did, and I have the PS trophies on my account that prove it. Get over it.
All you're really doing is disingenuously reducing the inherent aspects of the game.

You're ignoring a lot of characteristics, nuance and mechanics of the game to create a negative image because you didn't like it and wants to put it in a bad light, thats called lying.

Heres a list of everything you're being completely disingenuous about:

"Death Stranding has a huge, empty map": there are player constructions about everywhere (all sorts of them like roads, bridges, cache points, vehicles, etc, all of which affect gameplay), there are deliveries and resources scatered around, there are MULE camps (with different variations, difficulty and rewards), there are BT dominated areas (also with different variations, difficulties and rewards), not to mention the enviroment itself also plays a huge part on how the game is played (having a river or a slope or a rocky terrain already changes how you must play).
I can reduce about any open world game to "empty" because nothing happen in them between interest points.

"No quest variation at all": again disingenuously reducing. There are many quest variations that can completely change what and how you do things, like timed quests, premium deliveries, fragile cargo, heavy cargo, not to mention how the amount you carry and the location you're in and have to go to can completely change how certain deliveries play out.
Saying there is no quest variations is like saying RPGs have no quest variations because all you do are fetch quests and kill quests.

"a bare bones combat system": There are shittons of approach to combat, many weapons that do different things, and your enemies evolve as you advance through the game not to mention MULEs and BTs require different equipment. Not to mention the biggest challenge of the combat wasn't surviving but keeping the cargo from being destroyed.
I could also reduce any FPS game to "bare bones" because "all you do is point and shoot".

"an engine that was handed to them on a silver platter": They had to make changes to the engine to fit the game, not to mention wording it that way does a disservice to any developer using third party engines like Unreal.

I assumed you didn't play the game because i was giving you the benefit of the doubt. But if you truly played it and are still saying things about it that are objectively wrong, what could you be doing other than lying?
 
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- Coming up with the cash to send a bunch of people overseas to do research in various locations for design inspiration for their games and providing them with thousands of dollars worth of equipment is not cheap.
- Then there's the MO-cap stuff which undoubtedly is a costly exercise.
- You then have to hire the actors for the roles. And they don't work for free.

I'm sure this is just the tip fo a very expensive ice berg.
 
All you're really doing is disingenuously reducing the inherent aspects of the game.

You're ignoring a lot of characteristics, nuance and mechanics of the game to create a negative image because you didn't like it and wants to put it in a bad light, thats called lying.

Heres a list of everything you're being completely disingenuous about:

"Death Stranding has a huge, empty map": there are player constructions about everywhere (all sorts of them like roads, bridges, cache points, vehicles, etc, all of which affect gameplay), there are deliveries and resources scatered around, there are MULE camps (with different variations, difficulty and rewards), there are BT dominated areas (also with different variations, difficulties and rewards), not to mention the enviroment itself also plays a huge part on how the game is played (having a river or a slope or a rocky terrain already changes how you must play).
I can reduce about any open world game to "empty" because nothing happen in them between interest points.

"No quest variation at all": again disingenuously reducing. There are many quest variations that can completely change what and how you do things, like timed quests, premium deliveries, fragile cargo, heavy cargo, not to mention how the amount you carry and the location you're in and have to go to can completely change how certain deliveries play out.
Saying there is no quest variations is like saying RPGs have no quest variations because all you do are fetch quests and kill quests.

"a bare bones combat system": There are shittons of approach to combat, many weapons that do different things, and your enemies evolve as you advance through the game not to mention MULEs and BTs require different equipment. Not to mention the biggest challenge of the combat wasn't surviving but keeping the cargo from being destroyed.
I could also reduce any FPS game to "bare bones" because "all you do is point and shoot".

"an engine that was handed to them on a silver platter": They had to make changes to the engine to fit the game, not to mention wording it that way does a disservice to any developer using third party engines like Unreal.

I assumed you didn't play the game because i was giving you the benefit of the doubt. But if you truly played it and are still saying things about it that are objectively wrong, what could you be doing other than lying?
Sorry, but I'm allowed to boil my opinion to a few sentences without it being "lying". You just sound like you're upset that someone dislikes a game for which you clearly have a hard-on.
Sorry that Death Stranding has the most empty open world I've ever played, but that isn't a lie.
There's no "nuance" in the fact that literally every mission is a fetch quest. That isn't a lie, it's a fact, and try to prove otherwise.

The fact is that no one can defend the game without trying to discredit the other person. You can babble all day about "nuance", but that was the most childish storyline I've seen in a long time. Wow, what a "nuanced" morality tale that reinforces the very novel concept that we need to work together as people in order to survive! Wow! Mind blown! Lol.

This is just one game where you're going to have to accept that some people hate it. I played the whole stupid game, and the more I played, the more I hated Kojima. Sorry that everyone on the planet does not conform to your viewpoint, but I'm not lying. I'm stating what I found in the game, and you can't tell me I'm wrong about it, because I'm not. You just happened to like the things that I hate. Boohoo, get over it, dude.
 

John Wick

Member
First of all, I have zero knowledge of game development.
Before, a game would take about 2-3 years to finish and when it released , the whole game was there.
These days it takes about 4,5, or even 6 years to develop and when it comes out, half the content is missing and they just release more content over the years.
Also, aren’t game engines like Unreal supposed to make development easier and cheaper?
How much does covid have to do with this?
I feel like this is happening to AAA a lot more and not every game is like this.
It's a question I ask myself often. As games get bigger and more complex. With much better visuals and details. Better sound and AI etc. Surely the time and cost must get smaller?
In the same way a more bigger and more complex house in a better area should be cheaper than a much smaller, cheaper house in a less affluent area?
 
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