A reader worries that video games have abandoned creativity for easy sequels, and that he’s part of the problem…
How I fell in love with Uncharted – Reader’s Feature
I am a millennial. Born in ’81, I am young enough to have been present at the rise of home gaming lead by Nintendo and Sega, but old enough to have seen nearly a complete evolution of it.
We have come a long way from Sonic and Mario. Yet I still find myself returning to Sonic on my iPhone, over many modern titles. Part of this is nostalgia, I am sure, but mostly it’s because it’s fun. I have invested in many A+ franchise titles in the past year or so. Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, FIFA 17, Mafia III, WWE 2K17… the list could go on.
The initial excitement fades quickly to a world of familiarity that ultimately leads to contempt. Every year is like Groundhog Day in gaming. Software houses fire out lacklustre ‘blockbuster’ titles as guaranteed revenue generators. Assassin’s Creed is my go to example.
This is a game that revolutionised the open world game for me. You felt like you had complete freedom. I remember seeing the first walkthrough and losing my mind. Now it’s just a game that comes out every 18 months with minor upgrades. No progression, it’s just a slap in the face to every gamer who invests the £60 and 40 hours in what has now become a rather uninspiring franchise.
How has this happened? We are spoilt for graphics and availability, but have we lost the art of creativity? Gaming has become big business and lost the creative risk taking that brought it to the dance as a mainstream media. It’s much safer to release a very minor upgrade to Assassin’s Creed than to attempt to create something new. Something new may fail and that is costing someone somewhere money, look at the Wii U.
With big budgets comes an expectation to provide a profit, it’s no different to the movie industry. It’s must easier and less risky to punt out a remake or sequel than to create a completely new IP. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Rockstar are the masters of only releasing a game that is a masterpiece and can be enjoyed for a whole console generation. I am still not only playing GTA Online but on occasion the main game. Contrast that to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which I didn’t even complete and is now gathering dust along with four other PlayStation 4 releases from that franchise.
The gaming industry was worth 91 billion in 2016, so a leap back to the heady creative days of the ‘90s seems far off. I myself am part of the problem, I continue to buy the A+ games in hope of a new direction. I do this sometimes without even being able to see a review of the game, a trend that for me has very worrying implications.
ws being allowed to be published before the release of a game. This indicates that the company is releasing a game it knows will get less than stellar recommendations – for me this needs to be addressed by the industry. If consumers are not able to garner opinions from expert before spending what is a considerable amount of money, eventually there may be a backlash. First week sales may crash as consumers train themselves to wait for the reviews to filter through before purchasing, the industry will only have itself to blame.
Ultimately, I am sure the rise of the indie gaming scene will provide those creative gems that we are so sorely missing in 2017. These companies are still agile and passionate about creating games for fun. Ultimately gaming is about escapism, if a gaming franchise becomes a chore then consumers will move – no matter how much is spent on marketing or review-hiding.