No Man’s Sky is a highly anticipated space-exploration game from British-based indie studio Hello Games.
And aside from the fever it’s generating among Playstation users, it’s giving the gaming world the same lessons startups brought to tech.
The main one is simple: if you have a great idea and work efficiently, you can produce something great at a much cheaper cost.
But the real challenge Hello Games has thrown down is ignoring the accepted wisdom that an indie game is half the price of products by the established players.
When the RRP for the pre-release of No Man’s Land was announced last Friday, Sony set it at $99 for a physical PS4 copy or $79 for the digital download in Australia, the same price as the blockbuster titles.
That puts in on a par with big AAA games from the likes of EA, Ubisoft and Activision. Think: Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty, Halo, Assassins Creed.
This is a huge gamble, that assumes the market will accept the price, but it also has the potential to deliver huge pay off for investors, especially if games such as No Man’s Sky can sell even half the volume the likes of Call of Duty , but at one-tenth of the production costs.
Games on big yearly or bi-yearly cycles such as Assassins Creed have budgets in the hundreds of millions, with hundreds of staff working on each title in studios across the world. Often it’s a production with a budget bigger than a lot of Hollywood movies. 2014’s Destiny, for example, was estimated to cost around $US500 million ($AU675m) to develop and market.
In comparison, No Man’s Sky was developed by a team of just 10, and while its budget hasn’t been revealed, industry analysts believe it would definitely be under $AU10 million.
And with the hype around the game as high as for traditional AAA titles thanks to both some incredible demos over the last 18 months, and the brute force of Sony’s marketing department, No Man’s Sky looks set to rewrite the rules on indie games and pricing.
Australian consumers already spend an astonishing $3 billion annually on video games. To put back in perspective, it’s nearly three times more than we spent going to the movies and as innovations such as virtual reality enter the mainstream, you can expect that to expand further, along with the companies fighting for a share of a highly lucrative industry.