NEWS - Friday, August 27, 2004

Jeff Brown Says Game Prices Could Go Up

Uh-oh, prepare to dig deep if an Xbox 2 or PS3 lurks high on your shopping list - EA’s vice president Jeff Brown has warned that developing games for the new consoles could cost up to 200 percent more than current titles, something that is bound to be reflected in the retail price for individual games. Speaking to BBC News Online, he explained: "The transition [to new consoles] is a very painful process for every game developer." He then added in very poetic terms: "We look at the transition like a forest fire. It makes the healthy trees stronger, but burns away the weeds." Shakespeare eat your heart out. Although the subject of pricing is still some way from discussion - hell, we don’t even know when the consoles will be ready - Brown’s early words will hardly install optimism amongst gamers already loathe at forking out 40 quid for a game. Another concern from the rising development costs is the inevitable adverse effect on the types of games made, with companies eschewing originality in favour of lower risk franchises and licenses. A quick glance at the All-Formats Top 20 already shows that movie spin-offs and franchise sequels command the vast majority of sales, with EA undisputed kings of the crop. Brown confessed: "The franchise strategy is good for the company, investors and consumers as this is a hit-driven business." However, he did explain that the high costs makes it imperative that developers make good games, so as to reduce the risk of failure. "It is good for the consumer," he said, "as video games cost a lot of money to make and have a high price at retail. If you buy three or four games a year, you don’t want to make a mistake." Finally, the interview finished on the subject of Brit publisher/developer Eidos’ ’for sale’ status, a company that has been strongly linked with EA. "I’m not going to tell you that we are not in the hunt for talent, but I would not make any assumptions," he said, leaving us none the wiser just to what the situation is between the two publishers currently.


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