I decided to start a series of posts that I’ll be calling ‘The Games We Play’. I’m a gamer from way, way back – I’m talking arcade Pac-Man here folks. I was about 7, when it came out, and I’ve played more games than I care to recall since that time. I’m also an ex game developer on both the art and design side. So, I suppose some of you might think my opinion is worth something. For the rest of you, at the very least, these posts will be a good place for you to heckle me. 🙂 So, on with the show!
Me Too! Me Too!
The cry of nearly every game studio out there is “Me Too!” I’m approaching 40 myself, and with a full-time job, 3 kids, a wife, and home repairs, I can barely find time to sit down, much less play games until the dawn anymore. If I did, I’d never get anything done, and my wife and kids would be total strangers. I’d rather spend what free time I have doing something productive these days, like drawing or sculpting – or, God forbid, mowing my lawn.
That being said, I think the game industry has been suffering a serious case of “Me Too” for a very long time, and this may have serious repercussions, some of which we are already starting to see rear their ugly heads. When console makers start pushing gimmicks on you to sell more consoles, you know you’ve got problems. Take Nintendo. Nintendo has definitely gone the way of the gimmick. I loved the Wii controls, but with the Wii U, I think they’re going a bit overboard. The original Wii suffered from lack of any good, serious games, thanks to the control scheme, but it sure sold alot of party games and what not to casual players. But will the Wii U really have the same effect? I think it probably will. But that’s because I am never surprised by the consumer’s desire to own the next gimmicky thing.
Back to the whole Me Too thing though… How many ways can we kill someone? How many fps machine gunning games are we going to make before we finally realize they are all the same game? Seriously, iD’s Rage is one of those same old shooters people are excited about as the next hot game. Yet, isn’t Rage really just a dumbed down, prettier Fallout 3 with cars added in? And to be completely fair to iD (much love for you guys) isn’t Fallout 3 really just Doom with conversation trees? In fact, I think the game industry can be a bit like a snake eating itself sometimes. Sure, every once in a blue moon, you get a gem like Minecraft, but more often than not, we get Call of Duty sequels, Battlefield sequels, and on and on, ad infinitum.
How many more studios will try to make the next WoW (World of Warcraft for those people living under rocks), and fail before we realize we already have WoW?
How much more money can studios really spend making a game, before the ROI is a big fat 0?
I won’t say too much about the social/Facebook game market…that’s another ball of wax all together. Certainly a great place to invest right now, and a fantastic entry point for indies looking to make a name for themselves, but do such tiny games that hearken back to the “olden days” really have a future? How long will people want to keep playing Farmville or Mafia Wars before it loses its appeal? Consumers are fickle. And the verdict is still out.
Is the industry dead? No. Is it dieing? In some ways yes. Comics died, but they still exist. I think games will be around for a very long time to come, but some things will most definitely need to change. Heck, Sony and MS can’t even sell consoles that bring in a profit! Sega jumped ship a long time ago. Some say PC Gaming is already dead. Yeah, yeah. I know – you play PC games all the time. But YOU aren’t the only person out there. If it was just YOU, then PC gaming would never die, but sadly the sales figures aren’t what they used to be – or so I’ve been told.
My opinion? As if that matters to anyone. Too many gamers making games they want to play. And they ALL seem to want to either shoot lots of people with machine guns, or hack up zombies with swords and magic missiles. And that’s why the industry is so full of “Me Too” titles. Well, that and money. But money is another post all together.