Blockbuster or Bust: The New Face of Development?

IGN Australia has published a piece that pins down both Bethesda Softworks and THQ in order to get their opinion on whether it's feasible - or even a requirement - to base their entire business around triple-A blockbuster development instead of taking a more diverse approach. As you might have expected, Bethesda's Pete Hines tackles the questions:
Still, it's not as though Bethesda is focused exclusively on pushing new ideas into the marketplace. The company's only release last year was Fallout: New Vegas, which was a sequel to an established franchise. Though, as Hines says, the decision to bring Fallout back with Fallout 3 the title before New Vegas meant treating it as both an existing IP and "something very new". "Let's be honest, there was a lot of people who'd never played that game in its original incarnations," he says. "So for them, Fallout 3 was something brand new, and we had to spend a lot of time explaining the game and its universe."

He makes the important point that, regardless of whether an IP is new or existing, it doesn't change the development budget all that much. "It really has to do more with: what kind of game are you making? If you're making a sandbox game, [the budget] doesn't change how much work is involved. You've still got to write the story and come up with the characters, and whether those characters exist in a world that has been featured in a previous game doesn't really save you a whole lot of time, in terms of shortcuts. Hell, sometimes it makes some things take even longer, because you've got the war-masters who're arguing over what would or wouldn't happen in this existing universe. Versus when it's all new, it's like, 'Yeah, we're just making it all up as we go!'"

Hines who has been with Bethesda since 1999 states that triple-A level game development has "always been our desire and approach; to focus on a few key, big titles a year". "We've spent years working on building up our development capacity to get to the point to have a year like we're going to have this year. It's always been our goal and our direction, to do quality over quantity."