REPLY TO ALL: Download Experimentation

Starbreeze (The Riddick Games, The Darkness, Syndicate) recently announced they are developing an exclusive game for PSN. What major developer would you like to see take a crack at a smaller downloadable title, and what do you think they would try and make? Or do you think they should stick with their AAA titles?

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Every Wednesday we pose a question on Twitter and Facebook. You can answer from Wednesdays through Mondays on Twitter with the hashtag = #RE2ALL, and in our weekly thread on posted every Wednesday. Check out this week’s responses at the end of the post, and add to it in the comments!

Shadow Complex

Take a break and make this sequel awesome.

Coop (Coopopolopolis)

I fully support major developers having secondary teams or subsidiaries that are cranking out smaller XBLA type games. Shadow Complex immediately comes to mind which was absolutely fantastic. I’d like to see Gearbox put their creativity and humor towards something like a side-scrolling shooter, or a brawler even. I love everything about Borderlands and would love to see something else from them on a smaller scale to tide me over between major release dates. This might even solve the issue people are having lately with release date DLC, and the thoughts that it’s intentional for studios to make more money on their games. Instead of spending your time having a team create additional content alongside of your current AAA title you’re working on, spend those efforts on a smaller XBLA or PSN exclusives to generate your extra revenue that way.

Justin L (JDevL)

The first team that jumped to my mind would be Nintendo. They already release seemingly experimental or overstylized games at full price (Kirby’s Epic Yarn) that it seems like they are using them as a creative outlet. Also every time they release a new piece of tech they have to show other developers how to use it (Wii Sports, Pilotwings 3D). Why make these full priced or fully featured games. Trim it down and hit a $10 price point, do more of them, come up with new ideas, and then apply it to the next great AAA game.


I keep forgetting Nintendo exists. And I can’t say there’s been a Nintendo title in a while that I was itching to get my hands on. I’ll agree that they should release smaller trimmed down titles to demo their tech, but I guess I’m an old fashion gamer and am not really interested in their tech. Call me lazy, but their games just make me all sweaty. If I have to sweat during gaming sessions I’d rather be due to a panic attack from being chased by a horde of necromorphs.

On a related note, do you think Bulletstorm might have been more successful as a smaller arcade release rather than stretching a full game out of it? I personally loved the game, but I know it wasn’t received very well. Did it “fail’ primarily because it was under Epic’s blanket which forced a strong comparison to Gears?


Maybe a bite sized Storm was more of the way to go?

Justin L

Yep, I definitely think Bulletstorm’s campaign went on too long and it could have been a better title if it was arcade focused. That all just makes me want Epic to release a arcade version of Unreal Tournament.

Justin G

I don’t know that I would say Bulletstorm “failed,” and I’m with Coop that I enjoyed it quite a bit. That said, because I didn’t make the connection until after I played it that it was Epic as publisher, People Can Fly as developer, I did find it a little disappointing in my waiting-for-Gears 3 mindset. I’d love to see something out of Bungie in the AAA downloadable realm, even if it was just a one-off; they’re clearly a creative bunch and I wonder how many ideas for the Halo series got left on the cutting room floor because they were too out-there or not within the spirit of the game? That said, does Rockstar’s creation of the novella-like campaigns for GTA IV count (Ballad of Gay Tony, the motorcycle one…)? Still within the GTA IV world, but small chunks of legit games with totally new characters, not just an expansion of Nico?

JP (JPizzle151)

I liked the Lost and the Damned mini campaign. I don’t know why but it was a lot of fun. Undead Nightmare was also a great addition to the RDR franchise as well. I am in support for any and all mini campaigns that come out for various games. To be honest I am very excited for the General Ramm content coming for Gears as well. With that said, this really isn’t a topic I ever put a whole lot of thought into. The topic continues to bang the dead horse about budget titles. Maybe HD remakes should be limited to the download only world and not a full price retail copy. Does Metal Gear really deserve the ticket price that it is carrying at this point?

Justin G (GiffTor)

“Banging the dead horse”? Ew. Just…eww.

Justin L

I’m not talking about budget titles. I’m talking about the potential of low risk experimental games from great developers. Look at what Double Fine has done, their downloadable games have arguably saved the company and allowed it to expand their prowess to lots of other genres. Who else would benefit from this?


How many downloadable games does it take to make up for one huge

Ethan (Wizardtrain187)

Geez, not sure whether they would benefit from it or not but I’d like to see what Bethesda could do on a smaller canvas. They just seem so good in pumping out gigantic multi thread tales and I’m just curious what they could do with something that had a tighter focus, though I’m not sure what that game could be. On a side note, I’d love a Doom inspired tower defense from id just because I like the Doom monsters and id needs a break from trying to melt our eyeballs.

Justin G

Call them what you want, I thought that the novella-style DLC that let game developers like Rockstar depart from their main story line and perhaps even play style were cool and, while I’d be curious to see what Irrational would do with a side-scrolling platformer starring claymation characters (possibly scripted by Neil Gaiman), I’m still more interested in in-galaxy expansion like Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina, which is what Rockstar did (and I’d like to see more of from other big developers) than I am seeing some big AAA dev screw around with some dinky project rather than working on a AAA title.

Justin L

I agree with Ethan. Id needs to take a break and get back in touch with their roots of making games that are fun to play, not just impressive to see. And Gifford is onto something else curious, there are plenty of franchises out there that may benefit from smaller games or stories. I’m surprised there haven’t been more bitesized Star Wars games out there, and some of the spin off games seemed a bit too bloated (Republic Commando, Force Unleashed) and may have benefited from something smaller and more focused.

That really gets me excited about the future of Mass Effect, it could go in so many different directions. And based on early reviews of AC:Revelations it looks like the Assassin’s Creed series may have been better served from this approach as well (even if Ubisoft’s bottom line wouldn’t).

Cole (Colefacekilla)

What I would like to see happen, though probably impossible to do financially for these companies, is for the studios set for closure to take on these smaller games. Give a studio like GRIN (before it was shut down) a chance to save themselves with a smaller project. Most of the people who have been t these studios that close go on to form small companies that make these smaller games anyway. Use the talent you have under the corporate umbrella while you have it. I think it would be less costly overall and those studios wouldn’t have to be closed.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed

AAA release wasn't the way to go, download all the way.

Double Fine should be looked at as an industry leader in this area. They went from making one huge game that came out every few years to making smaller games and releasing 4 in one year. Id should follow that model. Take a step back from the huge games and sprinkle some outstanding, fun to play, games in the off years of big game development. The industry is changing and it’s not all about AAA titles anymore.


Yeah I think that’s a good idea Cole. I think if studios used their powers to enhance the project of a smaller indie studio (or one on the verge of collapse) then some pretty cool stuff could come out of it.

Justin G

To expand a little on what Cole said, I think that having some of the AAA studios try that out might keep them more in the public eye as far as “why this studio is as hot-shit as it thinks it is” without irritating its fans by turning out crappy DLC that eventually fades in importance as its big-name titles age. You know how I love Valve, and they’ve got that whole Steam thing (and yes, they have been fairly prolific as of late with both L4D games and Portal 2…and CS, but we don’t talk about that) but that’s a studio I’d love to see turn out some smaller games, whether independent-from-the-Valviverse titles or smaller “novella” sized games in between big releases rather than, you know, more hats.

Justin L

You all just made me miss Bizarre Creations and my chances at Geometry Wars 3. Activision completed misused them after their success on XBLA putting them on a tweener Bond title and setting the bar too high for their racing game Blur (which they released around the same time as another major arcade racing title). Bizarre has since closed. Which makes me wonder if any of Activision’s side projects ever work out for anyone. It seems every franchise they send out gets a mediocre game because of resources available and the studio ends up closing as Activision tries to find a new developer to work on a game no one wants (X-Men Destiny).

Geometry Wars 2

Who wants to make the 3rd one?! Anyone?

Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent, but this is the other side of the story. Bizarre wasn’t equipped to make the leap and Activision did them no favors, and now we are out a great XBLA developer.

Josh (Joshleedotcom)

On the topic of splitting off small teams for a concurrent side project, I am holding onto a small sliver of hope that Volition is secretly working on a downloadable Descent game (or even better, a Freespace game). They put that Descent-like level into the new Red Faction, and they have been very open about their love for the series and how they long to return to it. The lack of PC gamers with joysticks in recent years has been a big deterent, since analog control is preferred in those types of games. That’s not a problem with XBLA and PSN gamers, though, and on the PC you can now just plug in one of your wired 360 controllers and you’re good to go.

The downloadable realm has become the foster home for genres too niche to survive at retail, like the side scroller or SHMUP’s. I think the time is ripe for space flight and 6DOF games to make a triumphant return as well.

Gifford, Occupy Volition on Friday?

Justin G

Word. #OccupyVolition. Bring back Descent!


Precursor to Saints Row?

Community Responses

@IncreaseBlue – Definitely LucasArts. Their games are bloated messes of Jedi lore, they need to cut the fat and focus w/ small stuff.
@Pixelmixer – Square Enix would be perfect for small games. They pushed Final Fantasy as far as it can go on console. They need to refresh.


Nintendo, Square, and id, it looks like both you and your fans could be better served by a more smaller games than that next behemoth you had planned. Time to get your mojo back and there are more than a few disassembled development houses that would gladly work with you to make this happen. Who knows, the next great game could come from one of your smaller teams when you least expect it. What do you have to lose?

REPLY TO ALL – Our weekly conversation where our writing staff offers up their opinions on the gaming topic of the week.


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