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The Demise Of A Genre

The gaming community eventually tired of the Mega Mans, the Gradiuses and even the Street Fighters. In this article, I take a look at the most popular genre, First-Person & Third-Person shooters and question if this genre is next?
In a recent rant about the hype surrounding the newest Gears of War game, I received some interesting responses from the gaming community.  Though the majority of gamers who support their genre-of-choice are very accepting of sequels, remakes, and the occasional clone.

History has shown a saturation point exists for all genres. Fighting games were in a creative rut since the late 90's. Rhythm action games are now seeing that even their quality titles are missing with an audience that fervently supported them during the genre's initial boom.


"Yes, I Miss Fester's Quest Too"

I'd like to say that a multitude of sequels and creatively bankrupt concepts within a franchise will inevitably turn off any group of fanboys, then again -- the reason I started writing this article was a result of me misreading hype surrounding one of the most popular space-marine shooter sequels.

What makes the shooter genre impervious to the woes that affected the side-scrolling beat'em up or the FPS's oft confused cousin -- the shmup [side-scrolling shooters]? Obviously these genre's didn't die. As a credit to the growth of the gaming industry its improbable to think any game genre will completely die-off.

Heck, people are still making new text adventure games. But first-person and third-person shooters are arguably the least creative gaming genre. Space marine, rogue bad ass and of course war hero are the staple devices used in the vat of uninspired thin plot lines currently being churned out to the public.

I guess an argument could be made that the quality of an FPS or TPS [sorry couldn't resist] relies heavily on the superficial graphical fidelity and technological feature list which improves with the evolution of gaming tech. We are a ways away from the first Quake aren't we?

I Held Out Hope That R-Type Final Would Sell Well Enough On The PS2 That The Shmup Genre Would Re-visit Biohazard Battle. My Cries Were Not Heard.

The sad reality is there is little or no chance for a packaged retail version of an RPG like King's Quest or shmup like R-Type to hit our local game vendor's shelves. This is sad, but I believe its warranted. Struggle and competition has always been necessary for any medium's creative output.

Maybe if there were a suitable 16-bit franchise competitor those Mega Man X games wouldn't have been so repetitive. Capcom would also see their Street Fighter fan base shrink due to too many iterations, weird additions and being one of the representatives of a genre running on fumes and waning reception to the world of 3D fighting. Sounds a lot like the sport and music genres of last year [minus the 3D fighting part]. Again, I see no issue with developers going back to the drawing board. I'd just like to see it more.

Sport Games In General Consistently Bring Their Particular Brand Of Entertainment Whilst Changing Very Little To Core Gameplay.
 
I'm guilty of what I criticize. I have purchased every Hot Shots Golf -- knowing full-well that I only 'really' enjoyed two games in the series. Instead of treating our most beloved games as a BBC television series -- meaning that we enjoy these titles as insular experiences; we plow through these disposable pieces of art like the hundreds of porn movies that stock the shelves of my current place of employment. I'm not sure if there is blame to be placed. Is the gaming industry guilty of force-feeding our young impressionable wallets or does the dog wag the tail? Are game companies simply giving gamers what they want?

It's odd to think that the many formulas won't be changing any time soon. Can you see the day when a Halo or a Call of Duty struggles to break a million copies sold? Do we want to see that? As much as games are a medium of creativity and storytelling, gaming in this generation has made it crystal clear that this is very much a business. Big budget games need to perform well for studios and thus less risk is taken. We can only hope that the rising tide of dollar bills lifts most of the creativity boats. However, this current trend of low risk explains why most sequels feel more like "patch updates" or "1.5s" and less like a new adventure with your favorite hero.

I Pine For Large Scale Side-Scrolling Beat-em Ups, But Honestly, Maybe We Should Remember Streets Of Rage 2 Goodness. Memories Are Meant To Be Cherished And Seldom Revisited
 
Didn't mean to be a Captain Bring-Down. I reserve the right to be wrong at all times, but this is my current perspective. I do enjoy games [clearly], even the ones with numbers and Roman numerals tacked on to them. Since there are so many different avenues to obtain games of any genre I really can't be that upset about the current trajectory of the gaming culture [or can I?]. The games industry has always produced sequels and clones of whatever the mainstream hits were at the time. Why should this generation be any different? If Gears of War 3 is a critical and financial success, I wouldn't expect to see Epic Games to put money and resources into an experimental RPG -- I would expect them to make another Gears of War game. It just seems like there is an imbalance [in the force]. Though the quality of games have improved the variety within each genre is questionable. No one wants to see their favorite genre in a slump, but the industry and gamer's alike need to realize when a particular style of game has worn out its welcome.

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