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When an indie dev says that “development is made easier” you have to stop, stand up and take notice. That's exactly what happened with Slightly Mad Studios when they had a recent interview and shared their thoughts on the process of getting Project CARS up and running on the Xbox One and PS4.
The Examiner culled quotes from the original Gaming Bolt interview where creative director Andy Tudor talked about architectures and development processes, mentioning...
"Firstly the power of the next-gen consoles allows the game to be showcased as it was ‘meant it to be seen’, the pipeline and architecture of the new machines makes the development process easier, we see the sharing features on both consoles as being extremely engaging for players, the ability to self-publish is appealing, retail space for last-gen games will slowly dwindle over the next year, and also given our timeline for launch there’ll be a better balance of the number of people out there in the mindset for next-gen gaming compared to those still playing their existing consoles.
It's such a far cry from the typical spiel put out by the bigger publishers. It was just a year ago that Activision Blizzard head honcho Bobby Kotick stated that development costs were likely to rise since it's a new generation. Someone should tell that guy the console manufacturers downgraded from proprietary form factor to traditional PC architecture.
Two years before that another developer lamented having to “double the budget” for an Xbox One game.
Only Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick seemed to be an executive in the know, as far as development and asset treatment goes. Zelnick mentioned that monitoring costs and utilizing proper resource management would actually bring down the costs of development.
Slightly Mad Studios seems to have a proper way of things, realizing that it would be cheaper and better to scrap Project CARS on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and focus the technology on the newer consoles that utilize x86 architecture. In simple terms, the PS4 and Xbox One have easier-to-develop-for hardware, which in turn requires less development costs. The new consoles also allow for better visual effects, better graphics, and in the case of the PS4, higher resolutions.
Of course, though, this definitely sets a standard to which many other studios will be measured. If Project CARS is one of the best looking games of the eighth generation and is designed for just over $5 million, it certainly makes you question what's going on with other studios where the graphics aren't as good, the budget is sky-high and they're struggling to get the games done.
I imagine there's going to be a gulf between what the big publishers put out (and what they claim it cost them) compared to what the smaller studios pump out (and what they claim it cost them). I'm also curious if this sort of situation will bring back the rise in mid-tier publishing? Right now we have a few publishers focusing on localization and whatnot, but seeing more publishers like Midnight City could help restore some of the balance of pushing quality games at fair prices.