We've definitely heard this before from noted designers.
This time it's former Battlefield 3 lead designer David Goldfarb, who tells GamesIndustry.biz that big-budget projects inhibit creativity:
"I think the risk/reward for the companies that can spend the marketing money and that have big successful franchises, for them it's still worth laying out that investment. But for people who don't have that kind of capital, you're not really in a practical success loop. AAA is the equivalent of the One Percent right now. It comes with all these caveats. You can't make the crazy stuff really."
Last year, Goldfarb left Overkill Software and made it plain that he was "abandoning AAA." Many other developers, including Metal Gear Solid legend Hideo Kojima have shared Goldfarb's sentiments in the past, saying it's difficult to have creative freedom when you work on such a gigantic scale. Added Goldfarb:
"I do think there's a spot between the $100-$200 million dollar AAA games and the $1 million indie games that is not being adequately explored. To me that's a really rich field to plow and you can do awesome stuff there."
If more big-budget games keep falling shy of expectations – something that has happened quite a bit early on in this new generation – you might start seeing more of those mid-buget games. And they might be a welcome sight, especially for those who pine for more innovation and originality in the industry.