Gamers Need To Take More Chances On Original Concepts
While analysts have said that innovation could be the prime casualty of the recession, what with publishers tightening belts and only investing in tried-and-true studios and concepts, I think it's time for gamers to open their minds a bit more. If it's true that we can expect more of the same ol' same ol' until we work our way through this crunch, perhaps the only way to promote ingenuity and originality is for gamers to reward developers who take risks. They took one, so why can't you?
Granted, I'm not saying that you should just run out and buy the first game you've never heard of; the purpose is to reward quality as well as freshness. But despite the glowing reviews for LittleBigPlanet, it hasn't performed at a level befitting a game of such accomplishment. Then there's Tim Schafer and Double Fine's Brutal Legend (which just found a home at EA), and while we all have high expectations, can we really have high sales expectations? Some will argue that we never see sequels to Schafer's stuff because he chooses to create unique IPs every time out, and while I'm sure there's some truth to this, we also have to accept a darker reality. Perhaps none of his titles sold well enough to warrant a bunch of sequels. Psychonauts, in my opinion, could've competed quite favorably with the platforming franchises like Jak and Ratchet and Clank, but of course, Schafer's gem didn't get any follow-up titles. But the game world is changing, and I think it's past time that we reward the risk-takers.
However, I would like to add this- I am immensely proud of the fact that gamers, for the most part, research their purchases more than any other entertainment fan out there. Or at least, it seems that way. The best sellers are often the highest rated; can we really say the same for movies? Or music? Or books? Of course not. In my experience, most gamers are savvy and informed, but unfortunately, with the massive influx of uninformed casual gamers, there's even less chance of innovation. There's less chance of risk-taking. This means we avid gamers need to pick up the slack and pay respect to those developers who work hard and take a huge risk by delivering something entirely fresh and new. Yes, we should maintain our vigilance and restrict our buying to good games (innovative or not; if it sucks, it's not worthy of a purchase), but we also need to keep a sharper eye out for stuff like LBP and Brutal Legend. Do the industry a favor, guys. Please. :)
12/12/2008 Ben Dutka