It is no secret in the gaming industry that the higher budget the game, the more of the “same” it is year after year. For instance, Call of Duty has ALWAYS had a short campaign and a rather large online community. Grand theft auto will always be about stealing cars and running from the police. People enjoy these games, thus studios keep developing them.
Unfortunately, this also means that studios are less likely to take large risks, as these games are rather expensive to develop. Titles like the most recent Tomb Raider have been criticized for being too much like the game “Uncharted”, and the horror franchise “Deadspace” has been moving away from horror into the realm of being a science fiction shooter.
Enter the middle budget game: The AA game. Not quite indie budget, but not quite AAA budget. This is where we are starting to see some interesting ideas. Ideas such as the game “Dark Souls” with an incredibly niche audience, and games such as “Spec Ops: The Line” where it explores PTSD. This is where the market is thriving today, where anything can become a flop, like the game “Never Dead”, or a cult classic, like “Crackdown”.
I believe that as graphics become more expensive to develop, AAA games will become more likely to be forced to join in the experimentation, as game enthusiasts will be unlikely to purchase the same title. The next few years are going to be fascinating in terms of video game development, and I look forward to what the future of gaming has in store!