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Ninja Theory: 'Self-Destructive Protectionism' Slowing Digital Revolution

Tameem Antoniades, chief creative officer of Enslaved and DmC studio Ninja Theory tells Gamasutra there are "artificial constraints on the digital cha
In a new Gamasutra feature interview, creative chief Tameem Antoniades of Enslaved and DmC studio Ninja Theory tells Gamasutra about some of the major roadblocks for triple-A video game developers. "I think that ultimately innovation does sell, and messaging is needed. But somehow there's not enough diversity, I think, in our business models to create interesting, alternative games. At least on the triple-A side of things, the top end market. Bottom end, all kinds of interesting things; a whole microcosm's breaking out. But you're not seeing very high end innovation happening, and I think that's a shame," Antoniades told Gamasutra. This was touched off by a discussion of how his studio's critically-acclaimed Enslaved failed to sell well enough to justify a sequel. "I think if we go online with the big triple-A stuff, I think that will all change. Like properly embrace it -- break the publisher, retail stranglehold," he told Gamasutra. "I think it's strange that games that are released digitally -- purely digitally, triple-A games digitally online -- cost more than you can buy them in the shops. Why is that? Who decides that that makes any sense? So there's definitely something there holding it back." "There's a lot of artificial constraints on the digital channel, I think, at least on the console side right now." "It feels like a kind of self-destructive protectionism that's ultimately doomed to fail. And I think that change can't happen soon enough really for the benefit for developers and publishers and gamers," he said. Developers and gamers -- well, that's obvious. But publishers? How? "They won't be held hostage to this model that's so restrictive. They can release more games at different price points, different sized games -- they don't have to bet the farm on the one big blockbuster or the two big blockbusters every year," said Antoniades. "They can test games before they push the marketing; like release them early, beta them, release the first episodes. Instead of deciding, 'Oh okay, we've got three games in our portfolio. We think this one's going to be a hit, so all our marketing's going to go into that one, and the other one's going to have to sink.' It's brutal." The full interview, in which he also discusses at length his enthusiasm and technique for bringing cinematic story to games, is live now on Gamasutra.

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