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Speaking briskly and honestly at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, Assassin's Creed 3 creative director Alex Hutchinson said something that is sort of a "no, duh" moment for most gamers, expressing that AAA games have sort of become cancerous to the gaming industry.
Gamespot locks the quotes in place from Hutchinson as he expresses (from the odd position of working on an annual AAA franchise) that...
"We think about [this push] as kind of cancerous growth," .... "I think that will leave the AAA blockbusters as nothing more than the last of the dinosaurs."... "In my mind, video games need to have the goal of educating people, entertaining people, or at least being artistic," ... "If you're not pushing any of these things...then I think we're in for a rough patch."
Hutchinson also points out two possible futures for the AAA titles within the game industry: In one future he predicts games will be designed analytically with a lot of focus group testing, so that they are produced for the sole purpose of maximizing profits, pretty much like Call of Duty or Battlefield. The second route is where AAA titles are constantly just pushing for higher and higher graphics fidelity at the cost of gameplay, depth or entertainment values, a little like id Software's RAGE.
While it might be easy to chuck stones at Alex since he's preaching to the choir about the harm of AAA titles on an industry where he's part of one of the largest AAA franchises out there right now, I do completely and entirely agree with what he's saying.
On that note, I will also admit that Assassin's Creed games are a few of the rare AAA titles that live up to being worth every single cent of that $60 purchase. They're well crafted, look fantastic and offer tons of replay value despite being easier to beat than a loud mouth, 90-pound nerd in a game of punchies.
But the other problem in the industry isn't AAA behemoths designed to cash-in on a trend, we're really facing a huge problem from brand-name franchises and this whole DLC virus that seems to be spreading worse than syphilis at an AVN after-party. The problem isn't just games with bloated production values, insane marketing budgets and a lot of Hollywood actors taking up precious dollars that could have been spent making a better product, we also have to deal with day-one DLC, on-disc DLC and basically incomplete games that are getting shorter and shorter thanks to the rest of the game being accessible only via DLC. This was never an issue during the PlayStation 2 era.
I'm also betting that Alex will probably be departing from the AAA pretty soon to pursue something more creative in the indie scene. You can check out the rest of the article over at GameSpot.