Irrational Games boss Ken Levine has backed up Cliff Bleszinski's hair-raising assessment that "the triple-A game might be going away", arguing that $60 titles need to be "amazing" nowadays if they're to turn a profit.
"I don't think it's an impossible scenario," he told OXM in a new interview on Bioshock Infinite, the bulk of which you'll read in issue 81, on sale now. "I think you're already seeing to some degree that the games bubbling to the surface are, for the most part, these very substantial, big triple-A experiences, in the 60 dollar range. Because I think especially in this economic environment, you ask me to give you 60 dollars, that's a lot, it's got to be something really special.
"And we're really cognisant of that. I think that, right now, if you're going out with a game for 60 dollars that isn't something amazing, you're really kidding yourself if you think people are going to open up their wallets and pay for that, especially when the economic times are what they are, and you have these options in these spaces.
Levine feels that downloadable offerings on Xbox Live Arcade and similar services are now polished enough to rival boxed releases - at a much lower price.
"I mean, there's games on Xbox Live Arcade games and things like that which are great - there's lots of games that are great out there - and so you have to deliver something very, very, very special. And I think if you look at say, this holiday season and next year in the case of Bioshock, these games that are trying to be iconic experiences, whether that's Gears of War 3 or Batman: Arkham City or Uncharted or whatever, they take this challenge really seriously.
"But I can't say whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for the industry. I suspect it's not a great thing for the industry, but it's a reality and you can close your eyes and pretend it's not happening, but I think it is happening - to some degree at the very least.
"And you have to take that seriously and listen to what your audience is saying,, and respect them and not pretend they don't have a voice about it, because they have the voice in the matter."
To read the full interview, which covers the future of console games, the status of the Bioshock movie and how Irrational plans to make Elizabeth the most effective sidekick you've ever encountered, pick up issue 81. You can buy a copy online with free delivery, download it via Apple Newsstand, or buy it on Zinio for PC and Android.