With juggernauts like the Call of Duty franchise set to make their annual sales record breaking splashes this fall, we don't have to look far to be reminded that video games make heaps of money. However, SuperFLI wonders if this causes more harm than good to the industry as a whole.
Have been thinking on the industry in the last few days and looking at the type of news that we have been getting for a while, and the history of the current generation of consoles, something kind of stood out for me and it made me wonder, is the industry really moving in the right direction or have they been derailed from what made gaming so successful and fun to begin with?
In the current generation of gaming two things I have found truly stand out. The first is something i can't properly compare so some help will be necessary, but isn't today's industry filled with a lot of controversy. Either its the game devs doing something that gets fans and gaming community up in arms, or the publisher doing something that pisses off gamers (activision biggest example), or more recently publishers being found to treat the publishers shoddily or outright fighting against them (again activision being biggest example). Either way its mostly one sensational, and usually negative thing or another being reported or commented on, from things like online passes, to gaming monthly subscriptions and more.
The other thing is that in today's gaming market, there are fewer genres of gaming on the major consoles than there used to be, we tend to get fewer of certain types of games and more of others in a given span of time, from a year and half to 2 years at a time. Of course we know that thanks to CoD and other FPS games. The thing that a lot of other type of games have dropped in popularity or just have had nothing major done with them in a very long time. Many publishers and game devs have titles that have been popular and fans at least would love to see new games either in that series or in that vein of gameplay, but are left waiting and wondering when and if it will happen.
Now I personally feel that the reason for this is tied to the commercial super success of gaming as a form of media since the previous generation of consoles, primarily the ps2 area of it. Games of such quality and success (though a few bombs now and again) were released in that period that it really made people all over take notice, long time gamers, new comers, and people in the industry itself. But could it be that it also opened the flood gates for all the more negative things we have been seeing now. Could the move to online gaming and more commercial mind set in game development and design have caused the quality of the games and people who play them to take a somewhat negative shift? Today's games are great so don't get me wrong on that, but I wonder if the fact that so much money is spent to make these games and even more money is expected from them could be creating a negative cycle where creativity and originality is suffering. We have so many FPS games that all use the current modern shooter trend setup that has been popularized by the Halo and CoD franchises, all trying to do their games in a way similar to how those games do theirs. We have just about every game that is not an fps and has a gun using the cover system created by Gears of War and adding some things to try to make it unique, sometimes successfully (uncharted) or not so successfulyl (quantum theory).
All this links to something i read earlier that made me think of the concept of the online pass for online gaming, and the supposed criticism and justification of it. Gamers complain that they would end up paying for a game twice and adding extra cost to their used purchase which was being made in order to get a bargain deal on a game that was pre-owned. Publishers complain that due to the large amount of pre-owned games in circulation they are losing profits as they do not see any of the revenue from such sales. The argument for both goes something like this ; Used gamers believe that if the games were of better quality then original buyers would not want to sell the game in the first place thus making buyers have to go and get those games new as there would be limited copies in circulation in the pre-owned market; the publisher believe (i think) that the loss of revenue due to used sales is cutting into the profit margin they have to meet in order to break even (or in most cases way ahead) of the development costs put into making the game.
Now I do believe that they are both valid points (to an extent of both) though the reality is, people who really want to play such games will fork over whatever amount is necessary whether it be for new or pre-owned, while the publisher argument falls a little flat as the profits that they make of the games that have so far implemented this formula is almost guranteed for such series, so it could just be them wanting to maximise their profits and not share with anyone.
Its a bit of a sad state of affairs to see this, because I think it may have a seriously negative impact on game development since a lot of companies and game devs will suffer in trying to maintain and keep up with such a commercial trend. already many many studios have had to close their doors, and in the current economic climate more may follow.
But these are just my rambling thoughts on the thing, hopefully things will start to change in the near future, and for the better of the industry, whatever direction that may be.
But that's me, what do you think?