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Are triple-A games losing relevance?

As indies steal thunder at the BAFTAs, CVG examines the future for big blockbusters

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FIFA 13 was nominated for Best Sports Game...

As a journalist for CVG, BAFTA courteously invited me to be part of the jury for one of the categories. It was perhaps quite telling that most of the people I was voting with were indie developers themselves. French says such a process is a "self-fulfilling prophecy".

"If you create a lot of juries where there are indie developers on it, you will get a pro-indie result," he said.

"If you get games journalists and indie developers to vote for the awards, they're going to go for the indies."

'Fewer, bigger blockbusters'

While French takes the short term view, Nicholas Lovell, an analyst and games expert who runs the GamesBrief website, believes the industry is in the midst of long term shifts.

"I think we're heading towards a stage where there will only be a limited number of triple-A games; these games will be even bigger, they'll be what we call blockbusters. They are going to be like the big action flicks, like Avengers Assemble; a brilliant revenue generator that no one expects will win an Oscar."

Lovell said that, while the blockbusters will blanket the games industry with money, niche art-house games will continue to triumph at awards ceremonies such as the BAFTAs. In the long term, he thinks this will benefit the bigger companies who partner with indie devs.

"I think the bigger publishers will eventually take a dual-release approach, by investing in both blockbusters and art-house games," he said.

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...but lost out to the iOS game New Star Soccer

"Of course, I don't know if the major publishers know how to deal with the smaller indie studios, though Sony is the exception - a game like Journey is absolutely Sony trying to go out there and win plaudits, or at least do something different."

Mike Bithell, the man behind BAFTA winner Thomas Was Alone, said indie partnerships with big publishers will occur more often, but need to be treated carefully.

"I think what the publishers are witnessing at these award shows is what developers can achieve if they really care about their game, and not if they are pushed onto something they don't like.

"Sony is massively going after indie, and I think it's a way of getting lots and lots of content quite cheaply"

"The more established publishers can still embrace indie games, and I really think the likes of Sony have. They are massively going after indie, and I think it's their way of getting lots and lots of content quite cheaply."

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