Developing AAA games can be risky for large, independent studios, which is why they should try to make smaller games between their infrequent big-budget releases, said representatives of Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios in an interview with Gamasutra.
"We don't have to develop, bigger more expensive games. We don't have to hire more people or have bigger teams," said Avalanche co-founder Christofer Sundberg. "We just want to make better games."
Thanks to new distribution avenues and mobile platforms, said Avalanche, independent studios can and should experiment with smaller games for which they don't need to find publishers. The studio has released two entries in the certifiably AAA Just Cause franchise, and has also put out two smaller games: The Hunter, a free-to-play title from subsidiary Expansive Worlds, and Renegade Ops, a downloadable shooter.
Avalanche creative director Stefan Ljungqvist doesn't believe big-budget games are going away, but does see a future where there are fewer of them, or at least fewer of the same kinds of games. Instead, he explained, the modern development climate supports and demands more creativity.
"Maybe over the course of the past five years, developers have pitched creative or more artistic games, but publishers had been more careful of betting a lot on those games, because they're associated with some risk," said Ljungqvist. "But maybe now they can [take more risks] because they need to be more unique in the marketplace."