Editorial: What If Splinter Cell: Blacklist Is a Big Success?
It seems like a silly question until you wade into the nitty gritty of what just keeps on happening in the gaming industry lately. It is a trend that has disturbed many a gamer.
That trend is, well, I'll be kind and call it “accessibility.” As you know this is the process by which a game franchise is made to be easier and more generic in hopes of grabbing the big-money mainstream audience. The effect is that the more traditional gameplay aspects associated with the series get pushed to the back burner while ease, flash, and typically action take the helm.
Do I really need to mention Final Fantasy XIII, Dead Space 3, Resident Evil 5 & 6? No, I will pass these over and address the situation at hand. Some time ago a sequel in the Splinter Cell series, as you may recall, came out for the Xbox 360. Sam Fisher was back in action, maybe a little too much action, in Splinter Cell: Conviction, and the difference between it and previous games was stark.
Fast forward to the near future and Splinter Cell: Blacklist is coming up in August. It appears to be attempting to return to its roots, which is good news for the fans. Sales in the franchise have bounced around, and with a strong ad campaign behind Conviction it sold okay being exclusive to Xbox 360 but maybe didn't satiate long time fans. Ubisoft Toronto's Jade Raymond recently hedged on how well Blacklist may do. She says, in summary, that the specialized nature of the game wherein you must plan ahead could mean meager sales no matter what. Ostensibly this is because gamers don't like to think. Hmmm.
Doesn't this sound like the kind of thinking we don't need in gaming right now? And I would argue that Ubi's biggest franchise, Assassin's Creed, takes plenty of planning ahead and a keen mind to appreciate the care that went into the world creation as well. The quality is there and it doesn't outright pander to beginners and yet it is very successful. So what will happen if Blacklist returns to true stealth form and manages to be wildly successful?
Won't Ubisoft management perk up and say “Hey, maybe fans of video games know what they are talking about!”? Won't the creators of other accessible games decide that trying for mainstream appeal isn't always the best idea? Probably not... on both accounts, but one can certainly hope.
Sometimes quality escapes notice, but brilliance rarely does. The bigger risk, I think, is that the "lite" version of a franchise could well be noted and summarily dismissed.
Related Game(s): Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Assassins Creed
5/3/2013 9:20:27 PM David Nelson