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After mulling over last year's sales numbers and creative endeavors, I have to ask, what makes a good year for gaming? Is the games industry set on always being better [fiscally] the next year? Is this a good approach?

Isaiah Taylor, Blogger

February 5, 2011

5 Min Read

Because the only thing better than a pile of money -- is two piles of money.

I’ve written about my impressions on this current era of capitalism and how it effects the games industry. Now with recent numbers showing a slight decline in almost all facets of the industry, I wanted to comment on this obsession with growth. Did you just snicker? It’s going to take a sense of humor to look at the twist and turns the industry has taken. As an artist, I see the good in wanting to grow and mature my craft, but I’ve never understood the instant negativity if an artist’s art didn’t quite click with a general audience. Hence, why I’d be terrible running a corporation that produces consumable art. So what say you? Is the games industry a small representation of how all modern-business works? Will we always have this need to be bigger and better?

As it turns out, people don’t buy games for there Wiis. Especially if that darn plumber isn’t on the cover. The combined versions of Nintendo DSs seemed to have been sold to everyone -- possibly twice over. Our current generation of consoles have struck this sect of gamers in an odd manner. Gamers are playing games too long. Feature-rich online multiplayer games are keeping gamers from buying more. A good problem to have, but a problem that seems to be growing at an accelerated rate.


EA President, Frank Gibeau made a bold claim last year saying the single-player story in games is essentially done. His vision is coming closer to fruition with games like Dead Space 2 being reconfigured as a single-player experience that also has multiplayer options.

Couple this notion with used game sales being the proponent for why single-player experiences now have some sort of online multiplayer tacked on to them (the more you play, the less likely you’ll trade it). There are more people finding out what they like in games. Genres are being bent, blended and created with every downloadable title pushed on to a smartphone or online marketplace. How can this be bad or negative?

Technology has proven to make humans smarter. Looking at the price points for new consoles and especially new games, I wouldn’t be surprised if more people are reading reviews. In harsh economic times I can see the term “disposable income” being synonymous with “small investment”.

Rife with flaws and interesting character interaction, Ninja Theory's game Enslaved sold 460,000 units. By today's standards the game is considered a partial failure, in spite of the studio taking intriguing chances. The game was well reviewed and under-promoted. What happens to studios like Ninja Theory and ideas like these in the future for games?

The industry has now grown to become more disposable. With over 2,000 games being produced via a downloadable outlet, or a brick and mortar store -- it’s no wonder consumers aren’t consuming as much. The tubes are clogged. It seems odd, because the creativity in gaming is at an all-time high. With Heavy Rain, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and indie-hit Limbo -- the success of games that aren’t first-person shooters has proven that there is a need. However, the polished first-person shooter still sells.

Games like Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops don’t seem to be showing signs of weakness with their consumer base. There should be concern as to why there is a need to always be making a sequel -- to always want the next iteration to be bigger. This concern, my concern, is drawn from an industry struggling to also provide to its consumer base, that being, film. The entertainment industry, as a whole, has pegged high-definition 3D to be what consumers need to fully experience entertainment in this era.

This need to always-be-expanding. This need to make one interface connect with another has benefited Microsoft greatly in the past year. I'm wondering if the impetus to slim down the Xbox and push out the Kinect came from creativity or business savvy. Maybe both?

An argument could be made that entertainment has consistently thrived off of novelty. Within games, there has always been a peripheral or new graphics engine that breathed new life into the industry. Gamers were temporarily satiated and developers had new tools to craft experiences. The duplicitous edge in which the industry lives. Creating new experiences while building upon trusted blueprints are how most businesses remain successful, but with the market currently contracting, I have to question if the industry is reaching for too much (as the movie industry has)? I also have to question if the market should go with the flow, not every year is going to be bigger than the last.

As a gamer, I know what makes a good year. If you are reading this, then you do too. A lot of us have been playing games (in some fashion) since the early 90’s. We’ve been raised on an industry that prided itself on rapid change and fanciful ideas. Then an obscene amount of money was made and now the change is more incremental. The ideas en masse aren’t incredibly radical. As the industry stands today, it seems without a couple Black Ops being released within a years-time we may have never received a Deadly Premonition.

Had it not been for the DS reaching a saturation point, we may not have had engineers toiling away creating a PSP2 (NGP). How far should the games industry be reaching before the wallets of consumers unanimously vote on the basic forms of entertainment? This business is based on both developers and gamers NOT being content. But where is the happy medium? Can it exist in an industry that isn’t pleased with making slightly less-than a fortune?



From Le Brog

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