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We asked three PS4 developers how expensive their games are

The answers we got ranged from the frank to the philosophical, but development costs -- and studio headcount -- are clearly going to rise for those making triple-A console games this coming generation.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

February 21, 2013

2 Min Read

Having now seen demonstrations of a few of the in-development triple-A games for Sony's just-announced PlayStation 4, we're walking away with one major impression: these games look really expensive. What does this increased development cost look like? Are these studios having to grow even larger to facilitate more complex games? And if so, how large are they getting? We asked three developers of triple-A PlayStation 4 games this question, and as you'll see below, there's no standard answer.

Herman Hulst, Guerrilla Games (Killzone: Shadow Fall)

I can very simply share with you that when we did Killzone 2 and 3, we probably maxed out with a team size of 125. We have 150 now, so it's marginally bigger. This is about a two-and-a-half year development cycle, which is roughly similar. It includes a hardware transition, so that explains potentially the six months of extra time. It's actually quite comparable. But if you look at the scale of what we're doing and the detail in not just the assets but the more believable detailed animation and things like that, the effects, I think a lot of the effort has gone into tools. Making sure we can develop smart. We've also learned a thing or two in previous installments on the PlayStation 3. So it's not, in terms of the cost, it's not as scary as maybe some people have led you to believe. There's more art outsourcing, but that's not necessarily very expensive. We're outsourcing between double and triple [from previous games]. There's a lot of art.

Matt Southern, Evolution Studios (Driveclub)

"We've got about 110 on our team. It was a very small incremental increase…"

Jonathan Morin, creative director, Ubisoft Montreal (Watchdogs)

I'm not the best person to give you numbers, but what I can say is… you can measure the level of experience of a studio by looking at their tools. New machines and new criteria and new expectations will push everyone in the industry to deliver more. More can be a lot of different things: it doesn't always have to be the graphics or the art. There are other ways to do that. It could be the depth of your systems. You should always ask yourself, what are our strengths? And how can we meet expectations at a normal cost? And the answer is always relying on building tools. Like, you need to enable your team to create what they have in their heads faster. To iterate. Every time you have a creator spend minutes not creating, they're wasting time.

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