The Next AAA Publisher Crash May Already be Here

AlphaAtlas

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This year, AAA developers have been in the headlines more than usual, and not in a good way. Take-Two is still receiving backlash from their microtransaction push, Zenimax is dealing with fallout from Bethesda's latest MMO, Activision-Blizzard is still suffering from the Diablo Immortal controversy, and EA is getting hit with the usual backlash that comes with a new Battlefield release. Stock prices for publicly traded AAA devs are dropping like a rock, even compared to the rest of the market, but YouTuber TheQuartering thinks this is only the beginning of things to come.

Check out his predictions for the AAA gaming industry here.

I have been thinking about the next big games crash and how it seems like it's right around the corner but then I realized it's already happening.
 

DukenukemX

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Game industry is going through a cycle and this time they believe they can make games with micro-transactions with grindy game mechanics that basically push you to buy crap for a game you paid for. It obviously doesn't work anymore and the industry doesn't want to admit it. Blizzard doesn't want to go back to making AAA single player games and wants to move into the mobile market. It needs to crash cause that's what makes the industry go back to making good games.
 

Nafensoriel

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People make the mistake of thinking gamers matter to a gaming company bottom line. Just like credit scores, this hasn't been true for years. It shifted to investor money a long time ago because there are always enough idiots to fill a budget.
Hell, you even see this in the marketing wank. If a game has poor sales its marketings fault not the quality of their product. Marketing failed in selling their garbage. They know its garbage. They only plan to sell to 6 million idiots.
 

Rahh

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He's right about the biggest key point here. Stop buying re skinned games and make these companies feel it through it not leaving your wallet!!! Most importantly stop pre-ordering! This goes for sequels more than anything but also for some new titles that have time and time again failed to deliver all of the content originally stated it would have. Stop paying for free alpha testing for them! Ugh!
 

Joust

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...because let's decentralized all.our game making talent. That'll be good for our next major release.
 

Mozgus

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It's funny how every time I see this guy's videos linked on reddit, the top comment is something like "Don't give this nazi views. He's a bigot alt-righter and he was banned from MtG for running a harassment campaign."
 

maxius

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i can see we are running into an ET like atari crash games are on a cadence and rushed out the door before they are ready and require extensive patching to make them playable... i miss the good old days when a game shipped it was complete and finished.
 

BaGGy

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People make the mistake of thinking gamers matter to a gaming company bottom line. Just like credit scores, this hasn't been true for years. It shifted to investor money a long time ago because there are always enough idiots to fill a budget.
Hell, you even see this in the marketing wank. If a game has poor sales its marketings fault not the quality of their product. Marketing failed in selling their garbage. They know its garbage. They only plan to sell to 6 million idiots.

This has to be sarcasm...
 

Aireoth

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The insane monitization aside (a product of mobile gaming) AAA gaming is running into the same problem mentality of Blockbuster movies. The development budget is so large that companies are afraid to take risks with the product and instead go for something that analysts predict will have maximum revenue, the net result is good looking but poor content games that are designed to sell well.

The other problems:
Monitization
Publicly Traded pit falls
Improper beta testing
 

EODetroit

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Meh, this guy looks like a 99% console gamer, so I discount his opinions a whole lot.

But I don't even think he's wrong, I just think there's going to be plenty that I want to do on PC in the next year. Even a rehash of an old franchise is on my shortlist: Mechwarrior 5. I've got at least another Battletech DLC, Planetside Arena (rehash), Pantheon MMO (basically an EQ1 copy with modern graphics), and Squadron 42 ( (think Wing Commander, 2019 is the year, I promise think). It seems to me that the impending industry collapse won't affect me at all, even though nothing on that list is a truly new idea for a game. If I want to single-player retro-game, I don't have to buy anything... I can go to www.myabandonware.com and get it out of my system in a few days for free. I still have friends playing PUBG regularly, I can go join them any time I want, and it'll still be great fun.

The real problem is one thing this guy hit on though... public companies with a short-term outlook. They've been shooting themselves in the foot for a long time now. Only Rock Star is still releasing good games (I haven't played any of them, but that's the reaction I see), and that's probably because they get left alone as if they were independent. If you want to find a good franchise, find a privately held gaming company, or a game that released after a successful kickstarter. And successful smaller studios need to stop selling out. Its the internet, you can sell games without being in Walmart now. Just stop thinking you need a cash infusion... you don't.
 
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Joust

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Meh, this guy looks like a 99% console gamer, so I discount his opinions a whole lot.

But I don't even think he's wrong, I just think there's going to be plenty that I want to do on PC in the next year. Even a rehash of an old franchise is on my shortlist: Mechwarrior 5. I've got at least another Battletech DLC, Planetside Arena (rehash), Pantheon MMO, and Squadron 42 (2019 is the year, I promise think). It seems to me that the impending industry collapse won't affect me at all. If I want to single-player retro-game, I don't have to buy anything... I can go to www.myabandonware.com and get it out of my system in a few days for free. I still have friends playing PUBG regularly, I can go join them any time I want, and it'll still be great fun.

The real problem is one thing this guy hit on though... public companies with a short-term outlook. They've been shooting themselves in the foot for a long time now. Only Rock Star is still releasing good games (I haven't played any of them, but that's the reaction I see), and that's probably because they get left alone as if they were independent. If you want to find a good franchise, find a privately held gaming company. And successful smaller studios need to stop selling out. Its the internet, you can sell games without being in Walmart now. Just stop thinking you need a cash infusion... you don't.

You say Rock Star, but if they fail to knock it out of the park even once, they're probably screwed. That's the danger of the mega-budget slow release process.
 

Galvin

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I noticed this happening with blizzard world of warcraft. A few years maybe longer they started doing release dates. They dropped the whole release it when its ready. And I think this is cause of activision. They can't afford to spend the extra time to get it right. And you can see it in the current expansion. How fast the AP system came out in beta. Just had a rush feel to it.

Everything is sequels now, just as bad as the movies
 

DPI

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but YouTuber TheQuartering thinks this is only the beginning of things to come.

"A youtuber thinks".

No thanks. Not clicking to give another one of those idiots the viewcount.

The real crash is the proliferation of these clowns - they've all realized that constant negativity and baity headlines that end in a question mark is the best way to views.
 

Galvin

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Sequels have a more predictable ROI than new IP, when your spending 200M+ on development and almost as much or more on marketing, getting that ROI is critical.

Going publicly traded can make you rich, but it also makes you boring.

You just proved the point of the video. Unless that was your intent
 

gamerk2

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Game industry is going through a cycle and this time they believe they can make games with micro-transactions with grindy game mechanics that basically push you to buy crap for a game you paid for. It obviously doesn't work anymore and the industry doesn't want to admit it. Blizzard doesn't want to go back to making AAA single player games and wants to move into the mobile market. It needs to crash cause that's what makes the industry go back to making good games.

The problem is that people expect large games now, and those games are becoming massive financial risks to produce. A single big ticket bomb can easily bankrupt a studio. Because of that, there is the push to get as much financial return as possible, as well as creating a mechanism to keep people playing said game.
 

ccmfreak2

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I don't buy the idea the AAA companies are crashing. This isn't a crash - it's a market correction triggered by investors waking up to the "same old formula" fact we've known in the gaming world for years. Why a "correction" and not a "crash"? Look at each of these stocks he's mentioned over a 5 year period of time. The "crash" they're experiencing - as it's currently at, with no sign of being complete just yet - has put them back to their ~early 2017 valuations. Yeah, in some cases that's "50% of their value", but most healthy and well established companies don't shoot 50% in value in one or two years!

Take Activision Blizzard: In 2015 they entered the year at ~$20/share. They peaked in Sept this year - less than 4 years later at $83/share! Over 4x more valuable? In less than 4 years?! Of COURSE they were over valued! EA entered 2015 at just under $50/share and peaked in July 2018 at just shy of $150 - a 3x growth in less than 4 years.

But T2 Interactive is one of the most extreme, entering 2017 - just under 2 years ago at $36/share and skyrocketing to $140/share by the end of Sept 2018, making a near-4x growth rate in 1.75 years! And Ubisoft is right there with them, going from $6/share at the start of 2017 to $24/share in July 2018! You can't tell me this is healthy!

Will restructuring happen? Almost certainly. But is this a "crash"? No, right now it's a correction.
 
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Aioeyu

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I've already mostly given up on AAA developers. The only way to correct the trend AAA devs are heading is to not buy their crap. I hate zenimax as a distributor, but still bought fallout games until 76 because I've played and moved every fallout since I was playing fallout 1 in middle School. Even then, it's best to wait a year or two before buying a Bethesda game because you'll get all the DLC that should have been in the game in the first place with the base game for less than half price, and modders will have turned the game from decent to amazing.
 

ZLoth

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So, uh, once again, please tell me why I should spend $60 for a game when it already gets discounted to around $30 within a month of release. Don't believe me? Look at the price of Fallout 76 at around Thanksgiving. And it was only released on November 14th. And it feels like you are a beta tester at the product release as you get the big "Day Zero patch". Blizzard getting flack for scaling back on Heroes Of The Storn as well as Diablo Immortal. And the list goes on...

It's time for a correction.
 

umeng2002

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Bueno.jpg

Yeah, other than some of Bethesda stuff, the AAA seem to be going our of their way to avoid sales. I can't remember the last time I bought from a AAA publisher, other than Bethesda, maybe Crysis3 or some older Ass Creed games. Last game I bought at full price was Kingdom Come Deliverance.
 

umeng2002

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So, uh, once again, please tell me why I should spend $60 for a game when it already gets discounted to around $30 within a month of release. Don't believe me? Look at the price of Fallout 76 at around Thanksgiving. And it was only released on November 14th. And it feels like you are a beta tester at the product release as you get the big "Day Zero patch". Blizzard getting flack for scaling back on Heroes Of The Storn as well as Diablo Immortal. And the list goes on...

It's time for a correction.

The new scheme is AAA development is to release it in Beta condition at full price and everything, and if it sells well let it sell well, but if it goes to crap like Fallout 76, transition it to a free-to-play game over the next 6 months to a year.
 

umeng2002

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Does every game need to be always online, multiplayer focused, with a battle royal mode? Perhaps an engaging single player experience may be the ticket.

AAA publishers saw the mobile market monetization and they saw that most people where playing multiplayer way longer than single player. So they want to monetize the part of the game that people play for the longest time... Therefore, they slap online/ multiplayer into everything and sell $12 skins and loot boxes.

AAA publishers felt the consumers were ripping them off when they were playing older multiplayer for free for months and years after the initial $60 purchase.
 

Domingo

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Many of the games we were happy to drop $60+ for back in the 1980's could be completed in less than an hour. Replay value consisted of doing the exact same thing again and again, yet people seem to look back on that era fondly.
Now people whine about everything and expect $30 sales and GOTY awards or they'll declared any game the worst ever on YouTube.
 
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This race to the bottom has been going on with most AAA publishers for years. It actually started with cost cutting measures with pack ins and packaging. Studios use to include everything they could from a value proposition to make their games stand out. Then they started trying to save money any way they could: lower quality packaging, no manuals, smaller cases, digital distribution, etc. Each time they shed some part of the market, so now they have to discount so deeply to sell games they have nowhere left to cut, because the value proposition, including not really owning the game in perpetuity, is so bad.

They have done this to themselves, the greed of the sales groups has sealed the mega studios fates.

I was just going through my game collection recently realizing just how great and responsible for so many games we love these studios were and just how sad their current state is.

It's not too late, but they need to change quickly. Stop tying your games to online DRM, release fully featured physical editions, cease including paid dlc and games as services, and allow your creative individuals to drive your efforts and you will see a return to the golden days of games and increased profits.
 

Reimu

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I feel that the market is oversaturated, and AAA studios no longer meet the interests of their constituent customers. The most insulting part to this mess is the blind insolence and prejudice that the AAA studios have to the hands that feed them have gotten so out of hand that the studios and publishers openly mock their customers.

$60, $80, or even $120 for some of a game.

Nah, thanks.
Worse, you get nylon instead of canvas.
So, uh, once again, please tell me why I should spend $60 for a game when it already gets discounted to around $30 within a month of release. Don't believe me? Look at the price of Fallout 76 at around Thanksgiving. And it was only released on November 14th. And it feels like you are a beta tester at the product release as you get the big "Day Zero patch". Blizzard getting flack for scaling back on Heroes Of The Storn as well as Diablo Immortal. And the list goes on...

It's time for a correction.
That's the the worst part. Why would i want to pay for a game that the creator outright said "don't like it don't buy it?"
Why would I want to play the game on a phone on top of that?
 

CaptNumbNutz

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If there is no crash, I hope at the very least EA is affected. Their upper management needs to be hit by a nuclear rocket powered freight train.
 

Joust

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of

It's not too late, but they need to change quickly. Stop tying your games to online DRM, release fully featured physical editions, cease including paid dlc and games as services, and allow your creative individuals to drive your efforts and you will see a return to the golden days of games and increased profits.

How many billion-dollar games did you see in those golden days?
 

Bigbacon

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what happened with Ubi I thought hey have been putting out some decent to excellent games this year.
 

RobCalleg

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"A youtuber thinks".

No thanks. Not clicking to give another one of those idiots the viewcount.

The real crash is the proliferation of these clowns - they've all realized that constant negativity and baity headlines that end in a question mark is the best way to views.

No thanks. I’m not giving another view to some idiot that’s posts on a forum.

See how stupid that sounds? YouTube is a video discussion and this forum is a text discussion, it’s the same thing.
 

Reimu

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I love how that DPI has sidestepped the issue at hand, being that of AAA publishers and their unbridled avarice have reached a tipping point. Sure, I too don't care to give this youtuber his view count, but this matter is the real question.
 

Dudhunter

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I watch the quartering a fair bit... it’s a nice easy way to hear about gaming stuff outside my bread and butter while I am driving...

Not sure why the knee jerk reactions to you tube content in general. It’s not like any magazines are producing quality, timely content.
 

steakman1971

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Personally, I tend to steer towards indie games anymore. I don't have a lot of time to play games and I like variety. I've already played a ton of 3d shooters - kind of bored of them. Some of the games I've played a lot of in the last few years: Stardew Valley, Darkest Dungeon, Nuclear Throne, started playing Open RA recently, and a pixel art game called Kingdoms. I played a few other games besides these, but they got the most of my gaming attention.
The last "big" game I probably bought on release was Diablo 3. I thought it was a huge letdown. I did finish the single player game and an expansion, but have had no desire to revisit it. It was just not that creative and I thought not as fun as D1 or D2.
Nowadays, I wait for games to come down in price quite a bit. Not only is it cheaper, but I typically get a few expansions and more bugs fixed.
Now that I'm down rambling, I think its normal for companies to do this. Compare it to the automobile industry, cable companies, etc. Times change. New competitors emerge. Rinse - repeat. (For EA - just don't screw up the C&C remakes - you have my interest!)
 

haste.

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Wow. Read about 5 comments and realized some people will believe anything that emotionally aligns with their current feelings. The absolute last place I would ever venture for marketplace analysis is some kid on a YouTube video. To actually believe any of the garbage spewed to try to make my own further statement without looking at the financial makeup of the organizations or knowledge of asset health is silly. I honestly laughed this was a headline on [H]. Where have we dipped to?

Edit: and I know many posters dont have business backgrounds, especially from reading the posts, but large organizations are capable of shifting strategy. They wouldn't be attempting to hold on to the current business model if it wasnt what they believe will generate the greatest outcome. It seems like you actually believe it's a bunch of slack jawed yokels in the board room. It's not. Its strategy whether you agree with it or not.
 
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