Insomniac has been devastated by a hack this week, with essentially the contents of the entire company leaking online. This has big implications for its specific games, which have had story leaks, and its employees, whose personal information has been published, but the higher level, non-personal, non-spoiler information from some of the documents paints a wider picture of Sony’s plans and struggles, and more general unsustainability in the AAA games space.
The most eye-popping reveal here is that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 cost $300 million to make, an astonishing amount of money, and triple the game’s first budget. Those figures, combined with sales that have been reported, mean that even as Sony’s stated fastest-selling exclusive ever, it still has not broken even after a flood of initial sales. Not that it won’t in time, as a game like this will have a longer tail (Spider-Man 1 was the PS4’s best-selling exclusive), but it raises serious questions about how much longer this can go on.
One point being made is that while Spider-Man 2 is 3x the cost of the first game are players even…recognizing that extra investment? While Spider-Man 2 is bigger than the first game and perhaps a bit more expansive in terms of its set piece missions and dual heroes, it is…many elements being pulled from the first game and spin-off, like a lot of Peter and Miles’ gameplay. Large portions of the city have also been carried over. And yet it’s 3x the cost? How and why? It allowed Insomniac to reach its first 90 metascore, and was well received by fans, but there is a certain point that budgets can get so high, none of that matters. And what if this was not great and was not a big-selling game up front? It’s easy to see how a game at this price can eventually “miss” and be a huge, company-cratering disaster.
While this is not exclusive to Sony, it is clearly a big problem for Sony specifically, and why there is some sense of panic to be found in these documents. Sony is known for making high-profile, well-received single player games. But awards don’t necessarily print money, and A) Sony’s distribution being limited to PlayStation consoles at launch, B) these games lacking ongoing revenue after they’re purchased once and C) the ballooning costs of these games appears to be leading toward somewhere very precarious.
As you can see, it does at least make some logical sense why Sony has done this recent push toward live service games. And yet by all accounts they’re not doing very well in regards to that plan. Six of twelve planned games have been delayed indefinitely. Its highest profile planned live game, The Last of Us Factions, has been cancelled entirely. Its purchased live service studio, Bungie, has seen its Destiny playercount drop sharply and has widely missed revenue goals since Sony picked it up for $3.6 billion.
Outside of the industry, this is a larger problem as Sony is far from the only studio making massive AAA games. And while some places can get away with this, like no matter how much GTA 6 costs, it will probably make a billion dollars on day one and print billions more from GTA 6 Online after that, that is not the case with most other high profile productions. And while I’m picking on Sony, this also raises significant questions about Microsoft, who is also now making extremely large single player games, albeit without nearly as many box copy sales, relying mainly on those games driving Game Pass subscriptions. Microsoft claims Game Pass is profitable, but what happens when those AAA budgets double and triple like what we’re seeing with Spider-Man?
It’s unclear what exactly can or will change, but it has to involve some scaling down of both the size and cost of these projects and also player expectations, who are always demanding more, more, more, and anything less, from visual fidelity to playtime to map size, is viewed as an inexcusable downgrade, especially for something like a sequel, which is most of what the industry produces now. Something has to give, and after a lot of bending, we are on the verge of this whole thing breaking.
make an article about A $300 Million ‘Spider-Man 2’ Budget, Sony’s Future And AAA Unsustainability
#Million #SpiderMan #Budget #Sonys #Future #AAA #Unsustainability