More B-title games, please!

Ben Feder, CEO of Take 2 Interactive is urging games publishers to ditch B-title games and just stick with a smaller selection of A-grade games.

And that might be all well and good if it weren’t for a few simple truths, the first and foremost of which is that games publishers don’t seem to have a good handle on funding games that do not suck.

Games publishers are generally somewhat risk-averse (especially with the sorts of dollars required to produce an A-title or a AAA-title), and generally trend to drive game franchises towards mediocrity over time (this is a process that is called ‘innovation’, in the games publishing industry).

If you were forking over umpty-million dollars for something that could flop like a broken-winged eagle with avian influenza, you’d probably be a bit on the risk-averse side yourself.

The second issue that comes to mind is that A-grade titles need A-grade talent. A-grade talent is made, grown and nurtured. It doesn’t spring fully grown from one’s forehead, like Athena.


There’s only one sure way to grow A-grade games-developers, and that’s to move them up through B-grade games.

B-grade games are, ultimately, cheaper to develop, and may be quite well-received if expectations are lower because you didn’t charge as much for them as for your A-grade titles. You didn’t price them right up there with your A-grade titles did you? Oh, why do I even ask, sometimes?

“Gameplay innovates in B-titles”

B-grade titles are where what everyone else calls gameplay innovation generally occurs. Technological innovation? That’s usually A-grade money-talk, but gameplay … gameplay innovates in B-titles. There’s wiggle-room, smaller teams, lower risks.

Katamari Damacy is an excellent example of a B-grade title, Braid too. Not every B-grade title is going to turn into a hit like those, but they were even more successful than their raw sales-figures suggest because they were vastly cheaper to make.

As for Take 2 Interactive… do you think, as a result of Feder’s position on B-titles that they’re going to drop their 2K Sports line? Because if those are considered A-grade titles, then we’re right back to point one, about the whole not-sucking thing. They’re essentially apparently supposed to be A-grade titles, but ones that don’t seem to have ever made it to B-grade quality. Maybe now would be a good time to start.

More B-grade games at a reasonable price-point, please. That’s more sales for the publisher, less risk for the publisher, and more potential gameplay innovation to pick over for use in A-grade titles.

3 thoughts on “More B-title games, please!”

  1. Also on the list: Making only movies that gross over $1B worldwide, only publishing books that sell 100K every week, and only buying stocks at prices that never go lower.

    How can people ignore these simple, obvious rules?

  2. Actually, many publishers have already come close with the book thing, dropping second-string writers wholesale back in the 90s. Some of those publishers went out of business, and some learned their lesson. a very few have enough A-grade talent to hold on to the new ways, but they’re not doing nearly so well financially.

  3. what grade do you give Mirror’s Edge and what grade you believe it was considered to be be when it was in the making?

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