2014 Electronic Entertainment Ex..." /> Has the Games Industry run out of Ideas? – Gamebug

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Published on July 15th, 2014 | by IceCube

Has the Games Industry run out of Ideas?

With the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) dust settled, we now get a chance to reflect on this Holy Grail of video game conventions. Once again, we witnessed new video games of jaw-dropping quality, but it seems almost every reveal was a rehash of the same old video games.

Call of Duty again, Assassin’s Creed again, Battlefield again – even Doom again.

Is the video game industry running out of new ideas? Or has innovation become too risky to attempt?

This trend has become so predictable that we’re almost able to guess most of the game reveals before we walk through the doors. Even when these games reach a silly amount of sequels, publishers simply hit the virtual reset button by recycling the original game title and branding it a ‘reboot’.

It’s not hard to notice the steady, year-on-year decline of new, intellectual properties (IPs). Among the 15 biggest third-party publishers at E3 this year, 56 of 67 games were either sequels, direct spin-offs or reboots.

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That means that over 83 per cent of the show floor triggered a nasty hit of déjà vu.

So why are we seeing such neglect for creativity and risk in an industry of artists?

Perhaps the primary reason is financial security. By investing dollars into recognisable brand names, publishers are taking the safe bet for the future. Not only is it a calming pat on the head for investors, but consumers generally trust and eat up familiar brands.

There’s also the issue of resource management. In the gaming days of yesteryear, new games were shovelled out like coal to a steam train. But to be remotely competitive today, multiple, large teams are required to work on a single title around the clock. When you factor in motion capture, sound recording, and all the other bits ‘n bobs, the investment becomes larger and riskier.

We also can’t ignore the subtle deception of marketing trickery. The audience represented as the ‘core gaming market’ could probably identify which sequel is worth giving another shot, but busy mums and dads and the generally less-attuned market would more likely buy something they’ve walked past, heard of or recognise, than gamble on an unknown commodity.

Game developers know of the public demand for new IPs, but convincing a business analyst it’s a smart move is no easy task, particularly when the sequels continue to bring in revenue.

When Electronic Arts, Sony and Ubisoft recently dared to create new IPs with Titanfall, The Last of Us and Watch Dogs respectively, it led to great success and shattered company sales records. How can this be, you ask? All of these games were handled by reputable develop teams, allocated large marketing budgets, and funded by publishers with the finances to attempt the so-called risk.

Big ideas can be riskier for smaller publishers, as THQ discovered in 2011 with the uDraw game and tablet. Former company president Jason Rubin labeled it one of the “massive mistakes“ that ultimately led to the company’s bankruptcy and demise.

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Innovation wasn’t lost on the big-boy companies of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Ever since Nintendo’s surprise success with the motion-controlled Wii console in 2006, all three system developers have tried to create the next big thing.

Most recently, Sony launched the PS Move motion controller and 3D TV gaming – without success; ditching both projects.

Microsoft made a powerful push with the impressive Kinect motion camera, but it struggled to sustain ground with buggy, unresponsive software. As of this month, Microsoft sells cheaper Xbox One units without the Kinect.

Meanwhile, Nintendo’s bid to evolve the unique Wii U console is dire as well. Two months into its release in the US, it sold approximately 87 per cent less than the Wii had over the same period of time after launch.

It’s really no wonder all three companies are shying away from these scary new ideas, and company focuses have shifted primarily to simply providing games.

The decision to recycle game franchises are made by marketing teams, business analysts, the general consumer and the most intimidating people of all, investors.

The audience missing out are the large number of gamers who tire of seeing the best industry developers working on tweaked versions of the same old games. Sequels used to be occasional novelties, but now they’re gaming law.

Still, you can’t completely blame the creators. Putting yourself in their shoes, which idea would you take: the ambitious person who presents a portfolio of new concepts, or the guy who rips up the pages and yells, “let’s make another Doom!”

I’d hope the ambitious guy wins, but with an increasing amount of time and money invested into each product, we’re more likely to begrudgingly pick up the paddle and choose the dull move that keeps the business afloat.

– Gamebug, via Techly.

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