Game development costs rise for next-gen consoles

By Jeff Mattas, Apr 04, 2012 3:00pm PDT

While it's not necessarily newsworthy to note that cost of making games for next-generation consoles will be higher than that of current-generation hardware, it's interesting to note that some game makers are forecasting that the process could be up to twice as expensive. Things like cross-platform functionality and baked-in social networking features add to the cost of making such a game, as do higher polygon counts and better textures.

"I'm having to double my budget for models," one unnamed developer told GamesIndustry. The game he or she is making for Durango (the working title for the next Xbox) is apparently a sequel to a game that came out for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. "If we want to take advantage of Durango's capabilities, it takes a lot more time for each model," the developer said. If true, studios might find themselves working more hours to finish a title, or feel the need to hire more artists.

Development costs for Sony's eventual PlayStation 4--code-named, "Orbis"--are expected to be about the same as Microsoft's new hardware, but Nintendo's Wii-U is in a slightly different situation. As reported, some developers working on the Wii U claim the system isn't even as powerful as Microsoft or Sony's current-generation hardware. However, the Wii U's new tablet-like controller (see above) will likely cost developers a bit more on the front-end. The price of designing functionality specific to the Wii U tablet controller would carry with it additional costs, and it's still not clear how much multi-platform developers will be interested in expending resources to create extra unique content to take advantage of it.

The upshot is that making games for next-gen hardware will be more expensive across the board. Better, higher-fidelity experiences will undoubtedly be appreciated by gamers, but it's not unreasonable to posit that game publishers will explore ways to transfer some of this new cost burden to the consumer by way of things like online passes and DLC.

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