Kris Graft of Next-Gen writes: Vivendi Games/Blizzard. Harmonix. BioWare Pandemic. Big Huge Games. All of these companies have recently merged with or been bought up by their respective suitors. It would seem that the flag-wavers of independence are disappearing.
Why is independence held in such high regard? Independence allows studios to create what they want, when they want, and even to kill off a project when they want if they're fed up with it. Independence is often equated with unbridled creativity and innovation.
Industry vet Mitch Lasky refused to let consolidation take the heat for killing innovation in games, directing it instead towards other alleged innovation-killers.
"Don't blame consolidation. Blame Sony and Microsoft for jumping the budgets up to $30 million for a console game. That's not consolidation's fault," Lasky said. It's that high price of entry that will cause many of the industry's real innovators to completely avoid working on the major consoles in the packaged goods business. "At this point, the console game business and PC boxed game business is closed unless you want to dance with the devil," Lasky added.