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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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Dishonored brought home Best Game overall

Next-gen response

As any keen CVG reader will have noticed, Sony is also preoccupied with launching a new games console by the end of the year. As will Microsoft, which is expected to reveal its next console in a matter of weeks.

Two new triple-A consoles on the market will likely bring a surge of new blockbuster titles, Lovell said.

"The typical process is that in the first two years we'll see new IPs which will dominate the generation. Publishers tend to know that it's really hard to make significant money from these early-gen titles, specifically because there isn't the installed base, so these games are seen as an investment in a new franchise."

The big question is whether such console debut titles will have the same gravitas and appeal as the next wave of indie games. Will the major publishers stand by and let indies dominate the stage at award shows?

"The blockbuster guys are happy counting the money, the indies are happy counting the plaudits"

"Actually, yes," Lovell says.

"The blockbuster guys are happy counting the money, the indies are happy counting the plaudits. There's obviously the movie analogy to make here - even the biggest movie studios care deeply about the Oscars. It's because the big movie companies want both Academy Award-winning films and the blockbusters."

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Traveller's Tales picked up two awards for The Walking Dead

His conclusion offers an exciting glimpse into the future as games become more culturally relevant and - perhaps - awards events have an even bigger commercial impact.

"I don't think that the BAFTAs are yet big enough that winning them will drive sales the way an Oscar does. If winning a BAFTA would one day lead to bigger sales increases, then the whole thing becomes far, far more interesting."

Bithell, however, doesn't share the same optimism for indie titles. He believes there's a chance the industry could lurch back towards triple-A.

"I don't think the awards are proof that BAFTA wants to give the games to just indies. A really solid triple-A game still has as much of a chance as the indie titles. I think we are at a peak for indies. It's very fashionable right now - this felt like it was the year of the indie - but I think things will begin to settle down a bit.

"I wonder if, just by default, next year there will be several major new games from the new consoles that pick up all the awards."

"I think we are at a peak for indies. It's very fashionable right now"

Michael French says the real questions about the relevance of triple-A games can't be answered at the end of a console cycle. Next year, when indies compete with new blockbusters on new hardware, will be the acid test.

"The BAFTAs last night was a snapshot of what happened last year, the real question is what's going to happen next year, when all the best new triple-A games go head-to-head with a new wave of indie titles.

"Triple-A is on a bit of a hiatus, essentially it's waiting for the new systems to arrive, because let's face it they are way overdue. What happens when big blockbusters come back? That's going to answer a lot of questions."

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