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Blogged Out: Sequels, Capitalism, Castles

Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we look at ...
Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we look at prescriptions for sequelitus, Capitalism 2, and magic castles in the sky. Diagnosis: Boring He's turning into something we might call a 'senior blogger' of the games sphere. Damion Schubert's last few weeks have covered a large amount of gaming terrain, so lets pick up on a single thread; Schubert's discussion of the industry-wide obsession with sequels. Schubert comments: "To be honest, the games industry has always had a skewed idea of sequelitis. The conventional wisdom is that gaming is the only media genre where sequels routinely outperform their predecessors - movies, for example, pretty much assume it's all downhill from the original. A record-busting blockbuster may become Straight to Video once you reach sequel number III or IV. Games, on the other hand, have often historically sold more when the sequel ships. Ironically, piracy probably plays a pretty big reason why. $50 bucks is a big investment, especially in a hobby as hit-and-miss as video gaming, so people may rent or pirate v 1.0 of any given game. When the sequel comes out, if they liked the first, their positive experiences with the first make it more likely they'll straight out buy the second when it comes out." Additionally, perhaps, films are usually sold on a single conceit which is less attractive or imaginatively interesting the second time around. Games on the other hand are (at least potentially) able to refine their routines. This is partly thanks to technological development, and partly thanks to games not relying solely on story in the way that films do. Communism Nil Another popular name that we've not visited for a while is Jamie Fristrom, who has been playing one of my personal favourites, Capitalism 2. He notes that, like many people, he was drawn in by the vague irony of its title. It was "a game that I once bought for Mark Nau's birthday because of the title alone." Back in the dark days when I was a magazine writing slave the jokes about the Capitalism games were rife. "Who's reviewed Capitalism?" The editor would bark. "It's okay, but less ethical than free-market socialism," we quipped. Fristrom's analysis is rather more sober: "I get to try different strategies. Compete in an unestablished market - blue ocean - or try to take market share from an already succesful company - sort of like, say, Blizzard did with WarCraft and World of Warcraft. You can choose branding strategies: individual brands like Proctor & Gamble or use "range brands" and line-extend. You can compete on price or quality or brand recognition. You can be all Jack Welch and decide that you'll eliminate any products that aren't market leaders. I'm dying to play it multiplayer (and hope I can find someone to play it with.) You can't do everything - there doesn't seem to be a way to be Wal*Mart, and use your retail power to drive down supplier prices - and you can't do mail order, so you can't be Dell, either. According to the Enlight website, it's been used in some MBA classes at prestigious schools, and I can see why." Yes, because the jokes are always funny. What We Really Want Finally, we've uncovered the most incisive criticism of contemporary gaming culture from SEGA fansite turned sarcasm-smiths, UK Resistance. In a moment of pure clarity they react to the recent 'gangsta' trend in gaming, which emerged from GTA and now flounders in Crime Life and Bulletproof, with a demand for more blue skies in games: "We want to COLLECT BANANAS FROM MAGIC CASTLES not earn respect from fictional gang leaders! We want to stun enemies with BOUNCE ATTACKS, not shoot them in unrealistic and shoddy drive-bys!" And, this time at least, we suspect they might be right (and not all that work-safe.) [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

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