Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time to be boring

Recently Tobold made a post about how players claim to want innovation in video games and clamor for it and yet they flock to buy every yearly remake of Madden instead of looking for interesting new games.  He is entirely right that the cost of making modern games has gotten so high that there is a massive barrier to innovation - you can't get the kind of funding you need to make a new game unless you can be pretty damn sure a huge number of people will like it.  It is true that people will often complain that this game or the other is a copy of some previous game but I would dispute that producing all kinds of radically new games is actually helping anything.  In most cases even if a game designer creates something that is entirely new to *them* they will still have a final product that has been done before someplace.  It is possible to do things that are truly visionary and make games the like of which have never been seen before but it is very challenging to do so because the number of games that have been already produced is so incredibly high.  Even if I was trying to build a totally new game it is extremely likely that I would end up with a final product that is the same game as was made somewhere years before but with better graphics and that is exactly what Madden 2011 is doing.

I also don't particularly want innovation from everyone.  I loved Heroes of Might and Magic 3 and when I heard that HoMM 6 was in the pipeline I really just hoped for HoMM 3 with more stuff and better graphics.  I know for a certainty that if the same folks who made HoMM 3 made a random game I stand almost no chance of liking it as much as HoMM 3, so why would I want them to experiment and fail?  I just want more of what I already know is awesome!  One important point to keep in mind is that there are an immense number of great games out there that I have never tried, and even if you restrict that space to the number of games my friends have enthusiastically recommended I still could never find the time to play them all.  Making up a brand new game has little value to me because I know there is no end of wonderful games out there; what I really need is a brand new game that has exactly what I know I want but which is newer and prettier.

I don't think this logic holds true for other formats though.  Video games can really be remade with a nearly identical formula but newer graphics and content but board games, card games and other sorts of games often cannot be done this way.  Sometimes adding on an expansion or two can keep a game spicy but more often than not you just need to do something completely different to get people buying again.  It may seem like just doing a job for the money instead of being wonderful and creative but making the next edition of a popular video game is both the best way to make money and to make people happy.  Give em what they want, I say.

No comments:

Post a Comment