After David Jaffe departed Eat, Sleep, Play, a studio he helped co-found in 2007, it was surprising to hear earlier this week that his next title would be a free-to-play, browser-based, third-person-shooter – one set on shaking up the traditional “pay-to-win” model of free-to-play games. The free-agent status of the God of War/Twisted Metal director’s new studio would have been eye-widening for killer-IP-hungry publishers looking to cultivate talent for the next generation, but the decision must have played better to Jaffe’s famous dissenting nature.
What’s not surprising is how quickly he managed ramp up the dialogue even further.
The outspoken director might see a stiff challenge in remedying the ills of digitally distributed games – he previously told GamesIndustry that microtransactions wrongly force players to “pay with their time or pay with their money” – but a new interview with the website has him painting a bleaker future for the sales of consoles: Jaffe thinks they’ll be dead within 10 years.
The problem apparently begins today with the Wii U. Like everyone else at E3 2012, Jaffe has seen the complete version of Nintendo’s next-gen console; he’s perused the specs, gone over the new controllers, played through several of the impending games. Yet unlike most new console unveilings, the Wii U failed to get him excited about the future of hardware:
“I don’t see the Wii U and say ‘oh my God I have to have that.’ But with new hardware that’s usually the case; the software’s going to drive it… I played some games, I enjoyed Rayman… it’s not like I’m knocking it but I would say that I wasn’t blown away by any individual piece of software that was exclusive to Wii U.
“…So while I don’t think it’s going to do as well as the Wii, I don’t think any of the consoles are going to do as well as they used to. It’s a declining market, I think. That doesn’t speak ill to any of them as pieces of hardware – it just speaks about the fact that the industry has changed, the business models have changed and the world has gotten even smaller with smartphones and tablets and the internet, and stuff like Gaikai and streaming.”
Jaffe isn’t knocking Nintendo – he actually goes on to praise them as forward thinkers and wishes them well. The Wii U, he says, simply speaks to the larger issue of how consoles are well-past their zenith:
“Look, consoles are going away. I think in 10 years – probably sooner, but 10 years is always the safe thing to say so you don’t sound like an idiot – but here’s what I’ll say: I’ll go on the record and say that the next generation of hardware will be the last consoles. And they should be.”
The entire interview is long, specked with profanity, and includes an analogy to the asteroid extinction of the dinosaurs (hint: consoles are the dinosaurs). In other words, its well worth a read. Jaffe even extends the K-T analogy to the games themselves, asserting that the high-quality productions we’ve come to enjoy from developers (including the studios of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) will live on and adapt to the digital distribution patterns encroaching on movies and TV shows.
That digital is the all-encompassing platform of the future is hardly a fringe belief; Jaffe isn’t the only one to predict the demise of consoles after the next generation, either. There’s no question, though, that Jaffe stands to benefit from such a sudden shift, assuming he plans on permanently exercising his creative talents digitally. And even if he can’t liberate free-to-play from its current demanding pretenses, he’ll still have had the talent and resources in place to develop major projects online far before most others; an early predator in a post-dinosaur world.
Ranters, do you agree with Jaffe’s assessment that consoles will be out the door in 10 years – maybe less? Would a digitally-based future have a greater focus on free-to-play titles, like Jaffe’s or Crytek’s, or does the system still need changing beyond its traditional monetizeation methods?
Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.
Source: GamesIndustry International