In the fifth and final chapter of this series,
I wanted to muse over the successes and failures of the games
industry. How is it possible to support an industry that releases over a
games a year? The closing of under-performing studios has become
in an already crowded games industry, but a recent development has
seen layoffs effect studios like Pandemic,
and even Infinity
Ward. The sales of print continue to drop
and online game journalism outfits like IGN and 1UP appear to
be enduring a fight to keep talent. The games journalism industry
shares a similar fight with game publishing companies. Both entities
have to churn out content and keep consumers consuming their product,
but when is enough, enough?
I've been playing games since the mid-to-late 80's and I am no smarter now than I was then. Toys 'R Us' game section then looks exactly how Gamestop's shelves look now. As a gamer, seeing a shelf stocked wall-to-wall with guides, game accessories and vacant game cases are both welcomed and daunting. How did it get this big? This can be seen as a good problem to have, right? I go to a neighboring Barnes & Noble, darting to their magazine section. I see a broad swath of gaming publications with glossy covers -- all with similar cover stories and varying art styles. If print is suffering you better believe Borders and Barnes are hiding that obvious fact.
I log on to my computer and venture to my Joystiq's and Kotaku gaming sites. I notice a healthy amount of hits going to boob and gun related articles. I notice a lot of boob and gun related articles. There are other articles that are well written, but have little to no hits. I see staff layoffs and I see journalists grabbing opportunities on the 'other side'. Leaving a low-paying competitive field for a high-paying and highly competitive career. I read articles on game studio closing and mass layoffs from websites that have or will suffer similar fates if they don't meet circulation...or, sorry, article hits.
I venture back to Gamestop and see the variety pushed to the bottom and to the back of the store. I see the many stories and experiences that gaming has to offer be homogenized and made broader. RPGs are now adventures with RPG-elements. Triple-A titles are kept in eye range of the average person's height. Being a gamer is a social norm that I have no problem accepting. But maybe I'm getting too old for this.
I play the games. I notice the short cuts. "Maybe the ending was rushed in order to work on the multi-player?" I read the game reviews on the sites that have that very game's ad smothering its borders. I read the gossip articles and twitters and am always surprised when a game succeeds when a studio and publisher have a fallout after the game's release. The dedicated keep writing and making quality games. I play my old games and realize, that I too was young and susceptible. Companies are just doing what has always worked. I play betas that aren't really betas -- they're just tests to see if I and others will get hooked.
I read articles about the games industry in Japan. I worry about pure Japanese games, then I realize Nintendo, Capcom and Square-Enix are products of Japan. I worry about mature rated games and if they will actually mature. I buy a couple games online through my console store. The console has a bug and as a result I can't play any of my games -- even the single player. I switch consoles and play another game only I can't play it online because they just shut down the server for that particular game. I play older, lighter games with my little sister; these games work. I'm not even sure the games I buy now, I actually own. Maybe I just own the license to the game, but when does that license expire? I appreciate the Wii's success, but I wonder what happens when that marketing well runs dry.
I have hope. I am part of the problem. I complain without presenting a solution. I don't know what the solution could be. I am not sure if there is a definable problem. I would like all games to get a fairer shake than they've been getting. I think digital distribution will determine how well or how horrible great games thrive in an already crowded market. I would like all articles to get the views they deserve. I have been a fan of video games since a small child. I am no smarter now than I was then.
***compliments of The Brog***