This console hardware generation has been going on for a while, and this has benefited certain developers. While Epic Games is one of the companies that has benefited from the delay of new hardware, founder Tim Sweeney notes that it comes with certain disadvantages.
“We have been able to ship three Gears of War games on the same generation of hardware, each one with dramatic improvements over the last and a two to three-year development cycle,” said Sweeney. “So it’s been a very good thing for a game business today. With each new title, there is a bigger and bigger Xbox 360 installed base of users, so the games can sell more.
“On the other hand, it gets harder to generate the same excitement from the same hardware. That is when the new hardware is justified. But then you reset the installed base to zero and it’s a lot harder to sell a lot of games again,” he added. “So you should only replace the hardware when you can make a dramatic leap in quality, not just 2X or 3X. It has to be huge and fundamentally new.”
Of course, Epic has its fingers in a lot of different pies right now, and while Epic is heavily invested in console games, they’re spreading out to other areas as well. “With every console transition, people ask if there will be another console transition or another successful console platform,” said Sweeney. “We are betting big that there will be. If you look at games like Call of Duty and Gears of War, it’s clear that console is the pinnacle of the gaming experience. so we are investing heavily with our engine and game development efforts for the next generation of console technology and games.”
“But at the same time, we actually see this wonderful thing happening where the mobile platform and web platforms are getting to the point where they can run a AAA game,” he added. “One consistent game engine technology can run across console, PC, mobile and web games. We’re really happy with that position. It lets game developers target lots of different platforms. We have shipped Infinity Blade of iOS. We have announced a new game Fortnite for an entirely different audience, more casual. It appeals to a wider audience than a hardcore game like Gears of War. We are branching out, but we tie it all together with AAA production values.”