Friday, May 10, 2013

In the Land of the Blind

Chasing after the big bucks seems to have been the dominate strategy of this console generation.  Producers, more than anything else, really just want to make a repeat of Halo, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Gears of War or Angry Birds.  The problem is these franchises are lightning in a bottle and any game made attempting to emulate them will inevitably be a lesser imitation.  So, rather than trying to get the highly improbable to repeat itself, how about moving into less crowded territory.  Namely genres that aren't MMOs or shooters.

XCOM, Demon's Souls and The Walking Dead were all surprise hits in large part because the competition was practically non-existent in their respective genres.  Turn based strategy had, at best, a few iPhone games with the occasional PSP title released by some unambitious Japanese developer.  Demon's Souls only real challenger was the worn out Zelda franchise.  Meanwhile, The Walking Dead had literally no opposition at all when it came to adventure games aside from a few nostalgia projects or the occasional free flash game. Of course all three of these successful new IPs were innovative, but it's important to remember that they were also flawed in their own special ways. I think that appealing to an unsatisfied niche though allowed them to get a leg up on what would have otherwise been an impossibly overcrowded section of the marketplace.

So, What's the point I'm trying to make here?  The next generation of consoles is just around the corner, meaning that now is a good opportunity for developers to try out their pet projects (or simply take a shot at an under represented genre).  Gamers will be more likely that ever to branch out an try new things when they have a shiny new console that they're eager to use and a small library of titles to choose from.  This might sound risky to the conservative investor, but the reality is playing it safe will pretty much guarantee that the 8th generation (of this hobby of ours) dies a slow and painful death from stagnation, shrinking profits and ennui.

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