Former IGDA chairman frustrated at direction of games today

In our upcoming feature on Where are They Now, developer and former IGDA chairman Graeme Devine said he is frustrated with the "metrics and monetization strategies" that companies are using in games today, and that developers have lost sight of the fun factor.


In an upcoming interview later today, developer and former IGDA chairman Graeme Devine said he is frustrated with the "metrics and monetization strategies" that companies are using in games today. He also hinted at a new adventure game to break that mold.

Devine, who is head of GRL Games and has worked on such classics as 7th Guest, Quake III Arena and Halo Wars, told Shacknews that developers are making games that only worry about how they are going to get the next microtransaction from a player. "Games are about being generous with fun, and too many designers are now focused on not being generous with the fun," he said. "Games are not black boxes you AB test into profit. They are wild imaginative gambles. That's how we got the genres we have today, by making those gambles, and not enough people are being inventive enough these days."

Devine also said he is working on a new adventure game, something that tries to et away from the existing RTS, RPG and FPS genres. "I want to make an adventure game that crosses media … that lives in books, comics, albums, as well as a 'classic' game," he said, "and I want to make it seem real, so the player is the hero. Adventure games now make some character you play to be the hero, yet the old text adventure games it was all about you. I want to make it all about you again."

Be sure to check out the full interview with Devine.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 27, 2012 6:15 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Former IGDA chairman frustrated at direction of games today.

    In our upcoming feature on Where are They Now, developer and former IGDA chairman Graeme Devine said he is frustrated with the "metrics and monetization strategies" that companies are using in games today, and that developers have lost sight of the fun factor.

    • reply
      August 27, 2012 6:30 AM

      Oh awesome, I had no idea he was working on another adventure. I actually kind of liked The 7th Guest

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        August 27, 2012 8:49 AM

        The 7th Guest is alright - but Stauf was fantastic.

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      August 27, 2012 6:33 AM

      Well it started out well until he got to the part about crossing different media types. How's that for microtransactions?

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        August 27, 2012 7:05 AM

        I don't see why not. I like the Batman movies and games, but never touched the comic books, I don't feel like I'm missing out or am somehow worse off.

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      August 27, 2012 8:09 AM

      Without reading the article, I just want to express that the business of creating games is a business. Unfortunately, not enough companies are making a significant enough return on their investments and efforts to even pay the light bills. New avenues have to be explored.

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        August 27, 2012 9:09 AM

        There are still some developers who can make an amazing game on a low budget. My favorite games of the past 2 years fall under that, either by being developed by an indie developer, or an independent developer who wasn't under a merciless bullet-pointed publishing contract. Machinarium, Bayonetta, Catherine, Hard Reset, Serious Sam 3 BFE, Persona 4 Arena. All of these were passionate titles that didn't get themselves tied up in microtransaction-farming, or by-the-book formulaic pacing (Rage was an example of this).

        Not every developer has the opportunity to focus on an excellent gameplay narrative or excellent story writing. Sadly, it seems like the majority of developers are getting squeezed out of being able to refine without rushing. Zynga's runaway success headlines sadly made more developers farm gamers by creating Skinner Box games and game mechanics. Now that Zynga seems to be crashing back to earth, and gamers as a whole are getting sick of grind and pay-to-win, I hope that fad fades away.

        I do feel Graeme's pain, as I've watched the PC FPS genre fade away from what I hoped it could have explored. Instead of a rich storyline with FPS combat, I still have to pick and choose from the subgenres of old-school run-and-gun, open-world quasi-RPG, or Baysplosion-machismofest. I guess these are the doldrums while waiting for the 4-year-dev-cycle FPS games like Bioshock Infinite and Dishonored to show their colors.

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      August 27, 2012 11:53 AM

      It feels like a lot of these games are no longer directed by people who are gamers at heart. Its just cold psychological analysis of extracting cash out of cattle.

      When gamers create games they usually take risks, deliver a ton of fun (DayZ?), and do it at very reasonable price.

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        August 27, 2012 12:02 PM

        Agreed; market research and psychologically tuning games for addiction are huge negative forces. Shareholders don't want risk all over the place; previously, they would ne okay with an annual franchise or a blockbuster offsetting risky projects, but now it seems like everything has to be a million-unit-seller to even get greenlit. That's much of the theory behind "the death of the AA game".

        I think it's time for publishers to show a bit more humility, to back down from everything being a million-unit-selling SKU. Watering down any art is dangerous for creative diversity, and we're already seeing strain on entire genres that have run on the same formula since 2007.

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          August 27, 2012 8:54 PM

          I just find it so weird that publishers persist with massive budget, 'low risk' titles. If any of those titles sinks, the publisher is out a whole lot of cash, and since these megaprojects take up so many resources they generally don't have another title to quickly follow it up. If the mobile/social revolution has proven anything, it's that people will put up with less than groundbreaking art and tech if the game is fun, accessible and original.

          As an industry we need to reinstate 'A' class games, as opposed to having this gigantic rift between AAA and social. Games that are more complex that a match 3 but are cheaper and riskier than the current slate of AAA titles. Sure the quality would probably go down a bit, but it'd mean that creative freedom would return and people like us who don't want safe or simplistic games will finally have a market we can enjoy again.

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          August 27, 2012 9:06 PM

          That's kind of why I'm ok with seeing companies like EA and Activision having troubles and possibly going away even though I know that's immature and it would cost people their jobs. I just feel like all of the big publishers like them keep pushing really shitty trends in gaming and offer nothing interesting creatively.

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