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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

Tags: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Ubisoft, Jade Raymond

5/3/2013 9:20:27 PM David Nelson

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Legacy Comment System (7 posts)

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, May 03, 2013 @ 10:59:06 PM

One can only hope. And if the Thief reboot turns out well, too...

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Friday, May 03, 2013 @ 11:07:47 PM

I think Thief will, and I really want it.

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Saturday, May 04, 2013 @ 1:33:57 AM

Here's hoping for a quality return of a once cherished franchise of mine.

Hopefully it changes the way publishers think about thinking games if it succeeds =p

Anyway, as for AC being popular and smart. While it does allow you to be smart and succeed, it also allows you to be an idiot and accomplish a lot. Spinter Cell never gave you a free pass for poor planning. It was usually lights out if you engaged open conflict. Maybe striking a balance between playing styles is best for today's market. Perhaps Blacklist might have the right idea.

Anyway, AC. Then there's the looseness of it's design. I've encountered a number of missions in AC: R where I attempted to plan something but due to some quirk or uncontrollable event, like my AI partner totally blowing our cover, it can just blow up in your face without anything that could be done to prevent it, frustrating any real planning. Half the time I think it boils down to hardware limitations, and limitations of our interface on such a complicated system of play.

I also think the combat can allow you to accomplish way too much by playing in counter-defensive mode. I do have fun using the bombs though. They're a blast... no pun. promise ;)

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Saturday, May 04, 2013 @ 7:27:35 AM

Since when did gamers quit thinking? Don't get me wrong, I like non sensical games at times, but on the other hand, I like having to activate some brain cells in order to play. Not just mindless run and gun so to speak.

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Tim Speed24
Saturday, May 04, 2013 @ 8:36:58 AM

The only thing I don't like to be complex is the control scheme. L1 and R1 for shooters, X to jump(not triangle), L2 and R2 for gas and brake on racers, Square to reload (not R2, not R3 and not shake the controller)

When I jump into a game I haven't played in awhile I should not have to consult the owners manual to play. There should be a standard for certain genres.

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Saturday, May 04, 2013 @ 10:10:48 AM

be nice if it did sell well, REALLY well, so we can prove jade and im sure every developer wrong.
so we can have many many more core stealth games!
but it wont, it simply cant!

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Sunday, May 05, 2013 @ 5:21:37 AM

Heavy Rain has already proved a great, mature experience sells. So this is already wrong. No matter what happens to Blacklist. The depth of story or anything has never been there, even if this is a return to roots.

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