Posted by: the_merchant on Jun 24, 2011
So E3, the biggest gaming event of the year, has come and gone. On the hardware side we were treated to the next Nintendo console, the oddly-named Wii U, as well as Sony coming up with the name Playstation Vita for its new handheld. Strange names aside though, the reason we tend to get excited for new gaming hardware is the actual games we get to play on them. So what did E3 have to show on the software front?
It seems that the gaming industry is suffering from a bout of sequel-itis. The biggest games at the show were all sequels with very little in the way of new Intellectual Property. Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3 (which is actually the 8th iteration of the Call of Duty series), Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, Resistance 3, Gears of War 3, Halo 4, 5 and 6 were some of the biggest games shown/announced at the show; all of which have numbers on the end. There were some big games without numbers on the end in the form of reboots and remakes, such as Tomb Raider and Halo Combat Evolved.
Most of these games are established franchises though, and are popular for a reason: because they’re good. So why complain? Those of you paying attention would have noticed that most of these big sequels involve a man running around with a gun and shooting other men (human or alien) in the face. What happened to variety and creativity? What has happened to this industry who before could thrive on making games about a plumber who eats mushrooms and save a princess, or a blue hedgehog who collects rings and runs really fast? Why does everything have to be about some space marine or army guy shooting someone (or something) in the face?
Making games is a business, and businesses need to make money. An established franchise in a popular genre (where the shooting-people-in-the-face genre is currently the most popular) is a lot less risky than something completely new. The cost of making a game is very high, so most publishers would much rather make Call of Duty number 96 than risk losing money on something new. This trend of sequel-itis isn’t unique to gaming though. Hollywood has also fallen victim to it, although arguably not as badly as the gaming industry has.
As long as we keep buying the sequels, publishers will keep green-lighting them. It seems as though even consumers are risk-averse when it comes to games. Granted, games cost a lot of money, so most people would much rather buy the latest Fifa than risk their R700 on something like Vanquish. Alas, it looks like this stifling of creativity is doomed to continue as long as these trends of risk-aversion continue. One can only hope that things change in the future.