Sunday, June 26, 2011

What's -Really- Wrong with the Industry?

Look at the screenshot above.  Do you know just what game that is?  I'd wager a guess that, well, yes, you do actually.  For some reason, it's hard to find a shot like the above when you really want to, which really annoys me, but that's besides the point.  Anyways, for those of us that know the game is, indeed, Bulletstorm, there's also those who would look at the above shot and wonder what version of Call of Duty it is before going about their merry way.  A lot of people will tell you that it's because the market has become so saturated with FPS games that you could take any of them and put them in a line-up and they'll look the same.

Others will tell you that sequels are what's wrong with the industry, citing even so recent as E3 as proof.  After all, the biggest games shown were:  Halo 4, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, The Elder Scrolls 5, Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword, Mass Effect 3, Saint's Row 3, Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3, to name a few.  They'll claim that we're so out of ideas that our retreads over the same familiar territories are the only things that can get out of a developer's studio with any chance to sell.  This never, of course, takes into account that, at one point, these games above were all-new, original IPs. 

Obviously, I'm in neither of the above camps.  While the above scenarios aren't wrong, neither are problems facing the industry; after all, video game sequels aren't a new thing, nor would I be willing to believe that they're any more prevalent nowadays than they used to be, when such games like Doom and constant installments of Adventure Game franchises were the things to get in on.  It's no surprise that FPS games are prevalent nowadays!  They sell.  Video game companies are in the business to make money.  Adventure Games (point-and-click mostly) had their turn, RPGs had their turn, and when the next trend comes around, they'll get on that too.  Because for every sequel that comes out, especially the ones that are only 2 or 3, that was a new IP very, very recently, and the sequel is a sign of success.

Some may take a look at the success of certain franchises and scoff; after all, they're not being bought in bulk by the real gamers, the people who are likely to look around on gamefaqs, on Penny Arcade, on numerous other message boards and websites for video games.  They're being bought by the same people who proliferate the other trends that are 'ruining' everything else:  The unwashed masses.  But we all know that's not exactly true, and just because a 22 Year Old frat guy who doesn't know Final Fantasy from Persona enjoys a good game of Black Ops multi-player, that doesn't entitle him to anyone's scorn.  Because he's there, he's got a console, a game, and he's enjoying what we all enjoy ourselves. 

Who knows?  Maybe he'll be that one who uses Black Ops as a gateway into something else.  Maybe he goes from Black Ops to Resistance.  They're both shooters, after all.  And maybe he tells his buddy he's playing Resistance and his buddy, knowing that Insomniac and Naughty Dog are both good companies, sort of close to one another, recommends Uncharted.  Just like that, he's playing something that we can all call one of our games and likely enjoying it just as much as we would.

So, what is the problem, if not something easy to admit and point out to, which has already been done?  My wager is that the above problems are merely symptoms of the real problem here.  The fact that we as 'Gamers' cry out that there's not enough innovation, enough originality, and then when it comes around, it's not rewarded as one would expect, merely because it's something new, something untested.  A rough formula.  Pictured above, obviously, is Catherine, which is Atlus' first dip into the HD side of the pool.  Likely not their last, but it's almost that easy to tell you that Catherine will not make as much money as they're used to in previous games they've put out.

You can't get anymore different than the current climate of gaming than Catherine, and yet all those people who are quick to knock the latest number game, the ones who scoff at FPS games, of those, only a small percent will go out and buy Catherine when it's released.  This, in turn, sends a message to developers, one that says 'Make what's already out there if you want to get a paycheck'.

In my opinion, that is the problem here.  Developers are afraid to make new, untested games, and rightfully so.  Though we ultimately benefit from their efforts, as we generally end up getting to experience something new and wonderful, we're not the only ones in the equation.  It's the Developers we have to worry about; those people with a dream and the ability to do something new, they're almost never given what they want or need, and things just don't work out.  The ones that don't just get cut out or fired end up elsewhere, which is good at least, but they'll likely never forget the game they made that 'could have' changed things, but didn't because nobody wanted to buy something that looked different.

I'm not really sure there's a point here, honestly.  Maybe it's just the idea that inFamous 2 and LittleBigPlanet 2, two games that are near and dear to my gaming heart, could get lumped in on a checklist of games with numbered iterations in a statement claiming the industry is devoid of creativity and originality.  Just because they're not brand-new games with brand-new concepts and ideas, in a brand-new world in the eyes of certain people because of the '2' at the end of them, they're not as 'important' as something else, something unestablished like Dragon's Dogma, Dead Island or Rage.  Which I'm sure we can all agree is bull, whether you're excited for these new games or not.

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