Ever been caught thinking of the next greatest game to hit the shelves? Heck, I was guilty of that just a matter of months ago over a few no name releases like, say, Diablo 3 or Borderlands 2… we all do it, my point is that so do developers and by extension the minds and wallets of many investors and executives.
Let me back up to give you an idea of where I am going with this before I get started. I am roughly 30, been around the block, experienced a reasonable amount, traveled and also played entirely way too many games. But we have that in common at least, no? You see, back in the day I never had time or the know how to think of things like this, I mean my parents bought me the games and all I had to do was make sure that my homework was done. Now it’s little different and I sit and look out my window on the way home or ponder nonsense while pausing under a red light and just drift. Well recently I had this thought and I wanted to share it with you all.
Gamers then and now are pretty much the same person, they just look different. Also, the people that make games are pretty much the same too. So what has changed? I’ll tell you, it’s the amount of us. When a product such as a video game is crafted by a small studio and played by a reasonable size audience, you have high quality, a trustworthy crowd from which to draw feedback, more time to develop games and for us consumers, less pressure to have to buy yet another self proclaimed blockbuster. But when both grow past the point of simple creative construction/distribution of said product, a certain scramble begins to creep up, the need to think ahead, corral consumption and lead the masses to particular products. Which leaves you and me to look around and budget how we are going to use our time and money to enjoy what used to be easy.
Let me first bring back some good memories. Remember when you came home, called your friend and you shot some baskets, had some pizza and played a couple hours of video games until the parents bugged you to go to bed? Well I pretty much wanted to do that everyday. And if you did good in school, now and then I would get a new game but my library never grew past maybe 8 games or so by the time a new console came out. Today, someone with the income to support their hobby may go through 8 games in a month whether they be new, used or borrowed, my point is is this: the pace of this industry has grown out of control and it looks as though it will not slow down until the industry as a whole is redefined.
Think about it. If developers are the arms of this business and executives are in this to make money and we are here to enjoy games, why would any of us want to slow down? It’s because there is a point, just like in nature, when the limit has been reached and money, quality and enjoyment will decrease. If this was a perfect gaming world for me I would have a Nintendo with a Mario game I actually liked, a Square Enix title that was just as good as the old days and a game or two that is punishing and extremely difficult like Dark Souls or Ninja Gaiden. But sadly, alas, it is not a perfect world, Mario is not what he used to be, Final Fantasy although good just hasn’t been able to capture the magic of late and Dark Souls content ran out… well at least I got part of it right? But that is not the case, there are way too many games being produced, which put more burden on developers to create games quickly, more burden of executives to sell and more burden on us to buy or something implodes, a studio closes or worse we don’t get to play that particular franchise we love from our childhood.
So what do I hope you take away from that collection of useful information organized in useless fashion? Take time to visit forums, express your likes and dislikes and more importantly vote with your purchases. Not only on price, but in frequency and from particular sources. We need more time in each console generation, we need more time to enjoy what is already in front of us and the gaming industry needs time to redefine gaming by introducing a true step forward, not another new piece of hardware.
In closing I want to leave you with something to think about:
Scenario: You are at a restaurant and you order some food. It takes hardly any time at all and you “feel” happy for a few seconds because your “usual fix” just arrived but you are startled to see that the portion is smaller and it doesn’t taste as good. So you motion the waiter to get the manager. He has run this place for many years and tells you that unfortunately due to costs they have to make the portion smaller and you reply, but if it costs me more shouldn’t I get more? The manager nods quietly and hands him a gift card and apologizes.
The moral of this story is to show you that this happens, managers/executives do listen and good things happen, but you have to be vocal about it. Game developers are no different but it may take alot of us, not because singularly we are unimportant but because the shear number of gamers is so vast. Do your part!
“Eckhardt…. think about the future” ~ Jack Napier: Batman!