Gamers may profess to want innovation in message board posts and blog posts, but they apparently aren’t voting with their wallet. Witness the rise of Activision on the strength of annualizing their franchises, and the decline of EA when the risks they took in bringing new IPs such as Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space weren’t rewarded in the marketplace.
These lessons seemed well learned by the major publishers and platform holders, as I’ve noticed a decided emphasis in this years E3 in the hype about sequels. Of course, this has likely always been the case, and perhaps I am just more sensitive to it this year because I work on the retail side of games and spent much of last holiday season watching people pass over the aforementioned EA games in order to pick up Call of Duty 5 and Guitar Hero 4 and all manner of Wii shovelware, sadly included among the crap was the rare misstep from legendary Nintendo game designer Miyamoto, Wii Music.
I am not writing this as a castigation of the industry for focusing on sequels, because this year I am definitely part of the problem. New Metal Gear starring Raiden? Sure! Another helping of Modern Warfare? Don’t mind if I do! More Metroid and TWO new Super Mario games? The Gods love me! The happiest I got during the Microsoft press event was the official announcement of Crackdown 2, and I’m very excited to see what that turns into in the wake of games such as inFamous and Prototype, which seem to have borrowed a lot from the original Crackdown. Can they surpass their descendants? I hope so!
Heck, I’m even excited for the upcoming EA Sports Active expansion, as I am currently in the middle of the game’s 30 Day Challenge, and Wii Fit Plus looks to be a significant improvement.
Some sequels even surprised me: despite the lack of interest I have for Splinter Cell and my flat-out antipathy for Assassin’s Creed, the footage shown has me interested in trying out those games as soon as I can.
Still, no game has supplanted the upcoming Uncharted 2 on my internal hype-meter. I love (love love) the first game and the sequel seems to be shaping up nicely. As I write this, the multiplayer beta is downloading to my PS3, and despite my misgivings (the first game was fine without multiplayer) I’ll probably be logging quite a few hours into the beta while it’s available.
I am a little disappointed that so-far no new IPs have caught my eye. It seems as if the major publishers and platform holders are playing it safe, and “new” games like Dante’s Inferno and EA Sports MMA appear to similar to existing games that they might as well be sequels. It is possible I have been blinded by all the hype surrounding the sequels shown and announced, and that there was new and interesting stuff shown that I didn’t notice because of it. I’m sure you guys will point it out if that is the case.