We went over an hour talking videogames with David Jaffe, creator of Twisted Metal and God of War, and it was such a big conversation, we had to split the interview into two articles (click here for Part 1). We could have easily gone for a few more hours, cause the man clearly knows a lot and has no problem sharing that wisdom, but more then that, he also has no problem listening, debating, and changing his mind if needs be. That's what attracts him right now - the interactivity and the creativity his Youtube channel and community allows.
But if David Jaffe is what he is today, that's in large part thanks to Sony and the people he met there, even if it might not have been the same, if it all happened today.
"My career in games has been only about making the games I wanted to make, and that's to Sony's credit. Sony allowed me, and a number of their creators, to really make whatever the fuck we wanted, as long as we could pitch them and we were passionate about them. Well, it doesn't mean I could do anything I wanted, but as long as it was comercial enough that they wouldn't lose money, I could do it."
"But that was also reflective of the budgets of the time. It was a much lesser risk back then. Now, if I went back to Sony and said that I had this idea about a Greek mythology action game, and there was no God of War, I don't think it would get made as it was before. My boss back in 2002, Allan Becker, was just like 'what do you want to make?' I would pitch him three things, he would ask what the team would want to make, and from that he would tell us to build a prototype. It was that simple."
"Now you have to pitch it to a bunch of departments, they have to debate and discuss it, marketing and sales chimes in... and I get it, because you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars at this point for some of these things. That's just not fun for me, I don't want to do that. I don't think Twisted Metal and God of War would get made today, as they were back in the day, or at least not at Sony. Perhaps at a smaller publisher like Devolver Digital or 505 Games."
Right now, David Jaffe is focused on his Youtube channel, and the hot topics coming up frequently is Game Pass and how great he thinks these kind of services are.
"I love Game Pass, but in general I love that vision in general for the industry. PS Now is not bad, but it suffers in comparison to Game Pass, and I think that's the only reason it gets a lot of shit. I have them both, but I rarely use PS Now, because there's new shit coming to Game Pass almost every week. And it's not just old games, but actual new releases. Outriders came out day one, MLB The Show 21 and Second Extinction just released... PS Now is mostly games that have come out a long time ago."
"I think these services will also affect how some games are designed, even if I'm not entirely sure how, because is such a new concep, but published will want to keep you coming back every month. Even the movies and shows services, like Netflix and HBO Max, they are still trying to get around that problem, of getting people to keep paying every month. HBO Max moved the Mortal Kombat movie away from Godzilla vs. Kong, so people couldn't watch both movies with just one month subscription."
"I don't know how this will be solved in the videogame industry, but my fantasy is that it will start a new war of exclusives. There's a rumor right now that Hideo Kojima is talking with Xbox to do his next game on Game Pass. I don't know if it's true, but for the sake of this discussion, let's assume it is. It would be similar to Martin Scorsese doing The Irishman on Netflix, or Steven Spielberg doing Amazing Stories on Apple TV."
"I think you would have these companies competing for creative talent, and not just in terms of money, but also in allowing these people to do what they want to make. My hope is that we'll start seeing a big explosion of crazy ideas because these companies will want to draw attention to themselves. I think you will also start seeing smaller games, as games won't need to justify value with length alone. A lot of games have too much 'fat' on them, but services like Game Pass and PS Now can allow developers to just cut that fat."
"I think this is all very exciting, even if some people think it will be all doom and gloom with subscription services. Some people assume it will become a mobile-style game junkyard, filled with crappy games and games full of micro-transactions. Well, if they do that, if they shit the bed, you can just get out of the bed, you can just unsubscribe, but I don't think that will happen."
While services like Game Pass and xCloud can be literal game changers, their not the only ones. There's a lot of exciting stuff going on in the industry today, stuff like Epic Games Metaverse, where Sony just recently invested 200 million dollars. We've seen glimpses of it in Fortnite's social space, and even earlier versions of this in services like Second Life and PlayStation Home. These virtual spaces are clearly coming to stay, according to David Jaffe.
"Whether you call it the Metaverse, or the Oasis in Ready Player One, we're definitely going there, and I can't fucking wait. We've been taking baby steps towards it for a long time now, but it's gonna take someone to come along, that's it's not only tech-savvy, but it's really also into the user experience. You need a Steve Jobs to come in and make it easy and fun to use."
"For events they can't just show you videos, they need to let you play the demos inside the space itself. I think everyone is aiming at that, at an online virtual experience, and every time you get glimpses of what it can be, you think 'I never want to leave my house again!'. I love conventions, but I also hate so much about them. The crowds, the lines... you spend so much money to go there, but can only do a handful of things once you get there."
"Imagine a virtual Comic-Con, that the entire world could attend to if they wanted. Imagine the money they would make, as people would also have more money, as they wouldn't need to travel to San Diego, spend the night... so yeah, I'm sure it's coming, and I love it, but I think we're not there yet."
A big debate around videogames development these last few years has been around "crunch", the necessity of doing extra-hours in most studios to deliver a game on time. As a game developer himself, David Jaffe has a very clear opinion in the topic.
"I think there should be jobs and careers for people that want to balance it with life. I don't think that's a problem, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, its probably healthy to want that. What I think it's wrong is insisting that everyone wants that. If you wanna work in videogames, there are companies out there that don't crunch... no company wants to crunch... but what happens in most companies, unless it's a terrible one, is that most people do crunch because they love their work. Right now I'm doing videos and streams, and it's all-consuming, but I love that."
"What I find problematic is when people act like they should be able to do that [not crunch] and also play in the big leagues. Look... everything has a cost, and if you want to be among the best... There's this great author, Elizabeth Gilbert, that puts it very simply: "how much of the shit sandwich are you willing to eat?" Some people will finish their shit sandwich and ask for more. Right now I love making streams, and I want to be the best I can at it. It's not even just willing - I'm happy giving it my all."
"There's just people like me, Cory Barlog, Neil Druckmann... basically most people that work games at that top tier level, that want that. It's fine to not want it, but don't act like we're bad guys for wanting it, because we want to run with the best of the best, and that's what it takes. That's my take on crunch. If you come in trying to be among the best, don't expect a 9 to 5 gig. All this said, there's also terrible crunch, crunch that it's caused by shitty companies and poor leadership. That's different and if that's the case, you need to get the fuck out."
While returning to videogames is not out of the question, David Jaffe is now totally focused on this channel, but... what can you find on his Youtube channel?
"I used to do all kinds of things, but now I'm focusing the channel just in videogames. What I think it is... do you know when you listen to sports shows, and there's former athletes talking, and they use their expertise to talk about their own sport? That's kind of what my channel is like. I think I bring a unique perspective and a experienced perspective, given what I did for 25 years, in terms of making and directing games."
"It's also very interactive with the chat and with callers, and we talk about all the news going on in the world of videogames. We get to discuss it, and debate it, and fight about it, and just be passionate fans. But I guess it's with a more experienced perspective then the average guy out there talking about videogames."
"I've been the beneficiary of fans my entire career, be it Twisted Metal fans or God of War fans, and even games that were not that successful. Now I am once again at their mercy to keep them pleased, and to make them want to go back, and so far they have, and for that I'm very grateful."
That's it from our two part interview with David Jaffe, but we're sure to be circling around Jaffe's Youtube channel for some cool Gabin'Games. Cya soon!
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