Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Game to Rule Them All

Having the biggest launch in entertainment history, I think it's safe to say Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sits atop the coveted throne of video games. One might note that this seat previously belonged to the Grand Theft Auto series and perhaps Final Fantasy before that. But rather than debating the details, I have to ask the question "Is it really a good thing that one video game title (or series) becomes so popular it dominates the market? Is it really good for gaming as a whole?"

The problem (as I see it) with having the industry dominated by one massively successful game is many developers inevitably gravitate to that game's genre. Thus, at your local retail store it becomes increasingly common to find inferior clones in that genre. This is a major loss in that many of these development teams could have been pouring their time and resources into something original or new.

By keeping the industry diverse it's possible to create some real gems. Particular instances of cross pollination have produced interesting results over the last couple of years. Titles such as shooter/RPG hybrid Mass Effect or Puzzle/flight-sim hybrid Flower are excellent examples of this. But despite the relative success of these games they pale in comparison to the juggernaut which is Modern Warfare 2, and that makes me sad.

I think the end result of having the industry dominated by a handful of titles is that it stifles innovation and encourages formulaic game design. So, if your reading this blog do your fellow gamers a favor and try some games outside the genre (or genres) you normal play. And don't be afraid to play a game just because it didn't get a high review score. For the record most of my favorite games tend to land in the 7.0 to 8.5 review score range.