American McGee's Spicy Horse studio is shrugging off the madness of console development to create free-to-play, browser- and cloud-based games such as Kongregate's Big Head Bash
. This move follows Spicy Horse's partnership with EA to launch Alice: Madness Returns
last year as a mainstream, boxed and digital title. Alice
was Spicy Horse's last foray into the physical space, McGee tells Game Informer
"Our studio wouldn't consider going back to traditional console development, but I do think we'll end up being in the right place when consoles come back to us," he says. "By that I mean we fully expect the definition of 'console' to shift radically over the next two years. Our consoles will become our mobile devices (Or if you prefer: Our mobile devices will become our consoles)."
Spicy Horse has already seen a larger return on investment from its free-to-play games than Alice
ever produced, or likely ever will. This is the future, McGee says, and static games locked to specific physical media will be unable to compete with always-updating, fluid titles in the free-to-play universe.
Within EA's mainstream marketing structure, which is concerned more with presenting numbers that look good to investors but may not be the most beneficial in practice (or common sense), Alice
did the best it could, McGee says:
"I feel EA marketing did all they could within the broken system that is wrapped around the marketing and distribution of box product games. Working with EA Partners was, on average, acceptable."
Though he anticipates an open development environment in a free-to-play paradise, McGee echoes the sentiments
of other developers concerning the Ouya and its potential to succeed as a new console. The Ouya's only benefit is its controller, since the system itself has the basic hardware of smart devices, McGee says.
"Current-gen Tegra-powered tablets can be plugged into a big-screen display/7.1 audio setup via HDMI (and connected to a 360-style bluetooth gaming controller). The difference with Ouya is what? That it doesn't have a built-in display and can't be taken on the bus? Not sure I get it, but then again I might be missing something," he says.
Spicy Horse has 50 employees working on three original titles, one of which is Akaneiro: Demon Hunters
, an action RPG telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood – had she existed in feudal Japan. It is, of course, slated to hit PCs and tablets via the web, with a beta set for this year.