Next-gen development costs to double, says Epic Games CTO

Making AAA games isn't cheap. And according to Epic Games, we can expect developing for the next generation of consoles to cost about twice as much as it did at the beginning of this cycle.

GamesIndustry International reports Epic Games chief technology officer and co-founder Tim Sweeney said his studio derived that figure from the four months and 30-person team required to create its next-gen "Samaritan" tech demo last year.

“If we extrapolate that into creating an entire game, we were worried that the cost would go up by a factor of three or four or even five in the next generation,” Sweeney said. “And of course, we felt that was not acceptable.”

The studio was able to streamline its development tools and otherwise improve efficiency, bringing the expected cost to just double that of big budget titles from the beginning of this generation. Oh, thank goodness.

Sweeney also said developers of all stripes have to take free-to-play seriously to remain viable in the future--as Epic is doing with the upcoming release of PC "social survival" game Fortnite.

“Free-to-play gaming is becoming more and more inevitable,” Sweeney said. “If a user has world-class, AAA free-to-play games to choose from side-by-side with $60 games that are available only on a disc in a retail store, free-to-play games are very likely to win. So we need to really be mindful of this trend and start building games that have monetization and are designed to be piracy-proof.”


  • ventanger - November 13, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    I think the people clambering to usher in the next hardware generation don't really understand the amount of work or cost that goes into making games. Either that or they just don't care.
  • ParagonT - November 13, 2012 1:28 p.m.

    Same could be said about any other console jump.
  • DrFred79 - November 14, 2012 7:10 a.m.

    But enough talk... HAVE AT YOU !!! (Sorry, this had to be done ^^)
  • BishopofHippo93 - November 13, 2012 1:28 p.m.

    As pretty as all this new tech is, developers have to figure out a way to streamline the process, so that actual game prices don't increase. On a limited budget, $65 with tax is still quite a hefty sum and I can't afford nearly as many games as I would like. If prices were to increase, the amount of games I would purchase would decrease.
  • lilbuddha - November 13, 2012 1:37 p.m.

    How about more money spent on actual development of the game and less on advertising. Just a crazy thought. Won't happen obviously.
  • Letter11 - November 13, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    Get ready guys, next generation: $69.99 MSRP Start saving now!
  • wicko - November 13, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    Maybe double costs holds true for those with deep pockets but there will be plenty of studios making AAA for less. It's pretty amazing how solid some games can be even on small budgets. Also I really don't think F2P will be as prominent as some people say. $60 games are not limited to retail stores anymore - Both Sony and MS have made an effort to sell retail games on their stores, and Valve has already been doing that for some time now. I think there will always be a place for those kinds of games, whether in physical format or not. However I would not be surprised to see subscription services become popular (possibly more popular than F2P). Sony is already doing this with PS+, albeit with older/smaller titles, but I think it's proving to be effective for them.
  • shawksta - November 13, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    Interesting thoughts It just pushes the fact closer that next gen will rely on Innovation instead of better Graphics and Tech
  • todd-blend - November 13, 2012 4:40 p.m.

    Hear me now nin,sony,ms, and soon apple( Yes apple will make a system and get greedy like all the rest in the future) after this gen is over I will be on the fence waiting to see the prices of your next gen games. If they are $65-$100(don't care if limited edition) you can kiss my ass. I will stop buying your games and save my money for something worth better then games. Because I'm sick of companies doing DLC and too much CG and less game play that spending fucking $65 and higher is not worth it any more. Hell there is rent, food, kids, gas, and other stuff we people spend money on that we are not rich to buy every thing. Going back to DLC is a ripoff and DLC is consider the same as side quest or bonus item that the player would get if you played a old rpg in the nes-ps1 days of unlocking stuff. If Resident Evil on the ps1 had DLC then picture your self not rushing to the end of the game to get a S RANK for unlocking unlimited ammo, rocket launcher, and extra clothes because you will have to buy all that stuff! Any way I think this gen will be my last because the these companies want higher graphics so that they have way of ripping us off so I'll be watching to see how this will end up. This is a reason why I've kept every game system ever made from Nintendo to only having a PS2 with PS1 collection because I know where classic are. The WiiU I will get and buy only for a fact that when a game comes out for it, it will have to be only for WiiU exclusive and priced low. If WiiU comes with too much of multi games that are on other systems I wont see myself keeping it. Better save your old past systems and don't sell it because you'll regret it when these companies try to do a remake and charge a arm and leg on their newer systems.
  • Balaska - November 13, 2012 10:48 p.m.

    Apple will get greedy like the rest i the future? You mean to say you don't think they are greedy right now? So they release 2 iPads a year for altruistic reasons then?
  • todd-blend - November 14, 2012 2:21 a.m.

    oh ya I see that they are greedy with the new i phone having to buy extra for plugs and head phones.
  • LordZarlon - November 13, 2012 5:04 p.m.

    Braid, Limbo, Defense Grid, Super Meat Boy, Bastion, To the Moon, etc. Who needs triple A titles when indie games are both good looking and cost a fraction of the big budget titles. Every time an article comes out talking about free-to-play being the future it amazes me how people aren't noticing that that means companies are expecting us to pay into the hundreds of dollars for their games. If they're complaining that $60 bucks isn't covering their expenses then they obviously are expecting us to fork out more than that through free-to-play business models. Long term monitization of games is the future. Stop insulting us by using the term "free-to-play."
  • ohms - November 13, 2012 5:11 p.m.

    F2P is suck. It only work for some kind of games, not all. And the worse part about F2P I hate the most is, designer need to take monetization into account in the game design phase instead of letting marketing team decide on how to sell the games. In other words, game designers need to take care about how to limit some gameplay experience to the players who don't pay in order to persuade them to pay when they designing the games instead of mainly focus on "how to make game fun". As for doubling development cost, I am not totally agree. It might be true for one or two years after generation shifted. But, as the working pipeline mature, the cost of developing games will be decreased. For example, instead of developing your own engine, just use third party engines that available out there, like UE, to decrease the cost of R&D process. This is why we have companies that specialize in developing game engine, AI engine, physics engine, rendering engines, etc at first place.
  • FoxdenRacing - November 15, 2012 11:09 a.m.

    F2P has a legitimate purpose, but 'silver-bullet savior of the gaming industry' isn't it. It's the next evolution of MMOs, a genre that's stagnated a bit since WoW launched 8 years ago...just like DLC was the next evolution of expansion packs. And both are, sadly, very ripe for [and are being greatly] abused.
  • Evanesco - November 13, 2012 8:14 p.m.

    Games better be 3, 4, or 5 times as better then.
  • ChandlerL - November 13, 2012 9:38 p.m.

    In a word. B.S. Games have, for quite some time, been developed with higher quality art assets that are scaled down to fit within the gaming platform. In addition, there is significant development time being spent in optimization and iteration to squeeze as much power out of the architectures as possible. Just look at Halo 3 vs. Halo 4. In Next-Gen the optimization is less important because of the leap in capability such as RAM. Finally, why is it the CEO (Strauss Zelnick) of Take Two Interactive, publishers of IPs such as GTA, Borderlands, LANoire, and Civilization, says that it won't be more expensive and will be _EASIER_. So which is it?
  • FoxdenRacing - November 15, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    I'm gonna say believe Zelnick. Take 2 is one of the few huge publishers that didn't get drunk on success and lose its head when gaming crossed the threshold from nerdly pursuit to legitimate form of entertainment in public opinion.
  • Sovtek - November 13, 2012 11:09 p.m.

    I'm sorry, I quit taking you serious at "start building games that have monetization and are designed to be piracy-proof". Pretty much tells me this guy doesn't know his ass from an Emergence Hole.
  • winner2 - November 14, 2012 6:22 a.m.

    If they bump up the price a bunch and use this is an excuse, I better be transported into the game world at will or some shit. I don't even like paying 60$ for a good game now. And the good ones stay high longest obviously.
  • Manguy17 - November 14, 2012 6:28 a.m.

    hey guys it was really cool because today right i went to college yer? and so my mummy was all like "HERE HAVE A COOKIE!" and it was awesomely superdooper becausse it was wrapped in tin foil with pcitures of flowers and hearts dwawn on it and it was so nice and luvvy wuvvy

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