Posted by Devise22 (202 posts) -

Over the last several months I have started to ponder about where we are at in the video game industry. I then started to consider a theory that I will share with you. The theory is simple, the video game industry is too meta. Obviously I will elaborate.

In any industry and in particular in the video game industry what defines what is the next big revolutionary thing is almost never dependant on what a developer thinks, says, or does. If that was the case Peter Molyneux and David Cage would be credited for changing the industry a long time ago. No, the industry is changed by the consumer perception. We are the ones that determine what ideas are actually meaningful.

Consider now the last several years we have seen in game development. Motion control came into the picture. It was going to "change" the way we perceive video games. PR teams were overjoyed with the perspective. They essentially were telling us, what was supposed to be the next big thing in gaming. Motion control however didn't accomplish that. I don't think it is of any fault of it's own. At the end of the day it simply isn't something that the consumers felt would replace their current experience. At it's best, something like motion control served as a good one two punch, being able to exist with our other gaming experiences. At it's worst it was something untouched that collected dust. Sadly developers and companies seemed hell event on pushing the worst aspect of it.

Which made me consider why that is. I think it is simply because we have hit a wall. Years and years ago developers and companies could always look forward to the next consoles, new batch of hardware to try out some of their ideas. They weren't focused on trying to understand the industry or where it is at. It was all about making the best quality games, the best quality services and trying to get them to as many people as possible. But once the game industry started to rise and console hardware started to get exceptionally close to the PC level those in the industry started to crave more.

Which is basically where I think everything went wrong. I won't call it impossible, but in most cases anyone who sets to try to do create something that is going to redefine the way consumers look at anything is almost doomed to not do that at all. In some cases it may fail completely for usually it ends up as a mediocre idea that may of had potential if it wasn't hyped up to be the next gift to gaming. It almost makes me wish that there was still some mystery between developers/companies and their consumers. It just feels to me that the awareness of the state of the industry has gave way for several "big picture" ideas that based on consumer perception are anything but.

So I pose the question to you the Giant Bomb faithful. Do you agree with me? Do you feel that some of these companies and developers are too aware of the industry thus overextending themselves trying to make the next big thing?

#1 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

Dude, you said it perfectly.

#2 Posted by Aetheldod (3511 posts) -

I really dont get what you are trying to say dude ... do not take offense.

#3 Posted by Funkydupe (3311 posts) -

We've hit a wall? I wasn't aware. Usually trying to be innovative in any business is a risk, but it is one that increases the knowledge and adaptability of the industry as a whole, the only downside to it though is that sometimes it needs a fail or two for the next success, and many companies don't dare take such risks with budgets and finances to balance.

I wish we'd see more large companies with access to serious cash try new things more; instead we see the smaller to medium ones sticking their heads out first to check the water and if it feels okay, the bigger ones follow. You're right that PR representatives can overdo it, they can lie even, and they're excused; because hey, they were excited about their own game (and paid to be).

#4 Posted by Chaser324 (6325 posts) -

It sounds to me like you're essentially describing "risk-aversion", and I agree that it really has become one of the primary forces in developer/publisher decision making.

However, when you look around at all of the companies shuttering their offices these days, it isn't that difficult to understand why so many would lean toward "risk-averse" decision making. In this modern era of million-dollar blockbusters, a single failure can be enough to put a publisher or developer in a financial hole too deep to ever climb out. So as a result, when someone does occasionally take a risk and discover something that works, such as Nintendo and Wii Sports for example, everyone else is going to try to do more of that same thing.

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#5 Edited by mellotronrules (1172 posts) -

i don't think it's problem with the industry being too 'meta' per se- if anything that's just a symptom of the maturity of the industry. videogames aren't the new entertainment medium anymore- the mobile/tablet/app industry has claimed that space. it's typical for an aging industry to think critically of itself, and to take stabs in the dark in attempt to revitalize itself. look at movies with 3D, or music when they were releasing super audio cds. bad ideas and flash-in-the-pans happen all the time.

to me- it's just a simple matter of the good stuff rising to the top. take the PC for example- the mouse and keyboard control paradigm has been around for decades. touch is on it's way towards supplanting that...but until there's a screen that has an interface for high speed, efficient text entry and the precision control of mouse...we'll stick with what we have.

i think the same goes for dedicated, high end gaming experiences and motion control. until motion control can offer the same fidelity of experience that two thumbsticks and a series of buttons can offer...motion will be limited to simplistic games with simplistic control schemes, thereby limiting a gamers options.

#6 Edited by BisonHero (6172 posts) -

Certain big ideas have succeeded, despite the industry's tendency towards risk aversion that you allude to. Thanks to CoD 4 (and I dunno, Borderlands, sports games, some bullshit mobile games), it's common to find RPG elements just about everywhere (by which I mean XP). But yeah, everyone but indies is generally playing it PRETTY safe.

#7 Edited by Devise22 (202 posts) -
@mellotronrules said:

i don't think it's problem with the industry being too 'meta' per se- if anything that's just a symptom of the maturity of the industry. videogames aren't the new entertainment medium anymore- the mobile/tablet/app industry has claimed that space. it's typical for an aging industry to think critically of itself, and to take stabs in the dark in attempt to revitalize itself. look at movies with 3D, or music when they were releasing super audio cds. bad ideas and flash-in-the-pans happen all the time.

to me- it's just a simple matter of the good stuff rising to the top. take the PC for example- the mouse and keyboard control paradigm has been around for decades. touch is on it's way towards supplanting that...but until there's a screen that has an interface for high speed, efficient text entry and the precision control of mouse...we'll stick with what we have.

i think the same goes for dedicated, high end gaming experiences and motion control. until motion control can offer the same fidelity of experience that two thumbsticks and a series of buttons can offer...motion will be limited to simplistic games with simplistic control schemes, thereby limiting a gamers options.

I think there are tons of valid points here.

To clarify a bit on what I was saying, I think that in previous console generations publishers and developers did not have to be as aware of the "future" of gaming. Think back to even the NES/SNES days as games were evolving and moving, everyone had a rough idea that the next step was simply better hardware. Hardware that would allow them to render games in 3D spaces, allow them to get games to run faster and better, add more things on the screen, textures etc etc. Where as now we don't know what that future is. Which is why there is an obvious focus on peripherals.

But where I disagree with you is that I don't know if we can say for certain motion control, or touch control is the future. You compared some of the things going on in the industry to other industries. Such as 3D in movies. This I do agree with. Regardless of what the industry decides to push some things just don't work for everything. That is the big difference I see from the innovations nowadays versus what we saw in the past. Making better running games in three dimensional worlds is an obvious improvement over what we had in the past. You can do more with it. But even if motion control evolved, will it work for every single gaming experience we have? Which is where I think we have gone too meta. We are trying to fix what isn't broken.

Just as some movie experiences ARE NOT ever going to enhanced with the addition of 3D I would argue some game genres that we know and love and have for decades simply will not be enhanced by motion control. Which is why I say I think we as an industry have hit a wall. We have no idea what is ahead of us, and instead of trying to "force" the future like I feel Nintendo has done in the last two of their consoles I think there are other better options. Making quality products you know already connect with audiences while doing adequate research before releasing new ideas and claiming they are the next big thing.

But I mean 3D in movies and games and motion control in games to me are a perfect example of just a swing and a miss. Years ago sites such as this and people involved in the industry were speculating about motion control and 3D being included in every game or extra features as add ons. That simply didn't happen. The consumers has zero interest for it. Again going back to my point of fixing what isn't broken.

#8 Edited by mellotronrules (1172 posts) -

@devise22:

i have better idea of what you're saying now, thanks for elaborating. and i think i agree, for the most part. although again...i don't think it has much to do with being 'meta,' or to be critical of oneself or self-referential. i think you're right, we have hit a wall in a sense. graphical fidelity was the driving force behind the industry for a very long time. and although it continues in a limited capacity...that force has plateaued quite substantially. i think that's a combination of consumer disinterest (we can't all afford circa 2007 crysis rigs) and cost to the developer- the prettier the game, the more expensive it is to make. which is why most mobile games are so cartoonish and bland...it's cheap and 'good enough' to most. we'll see where this next generation takes us. my guess is we'll see some very impressive stuff initially- but it won't be anything near the paradigm shift from 2D to 3D rendering.

i'd agree that there seems to be a desire from the major hardware manufacturers to 'fix what isn't broken.' but again- this isn't entirely new to the industry...the powerglove, the super scope 6, all of sega's various ventures (32x, VMUs, etc). this sort of bulljive has been around for awhile. i just think there's more at stake now...there's more money to be made, and consequently lost. and none of the hardware manufacturers can afford to have a miss- not when apple seems to control the majority of the public's mindshare for consumer electronics. and you're right- i don't know if motion or touch will be the future. but it's certainly the future that apple and microsoft are banking on- let's see if they're right.

edit: another thought i had that i think has large implications for the industry- people's free time. there's so much more competing for people's leisure time this-day-and-age compared to the era of the SNES. the internet ITSELF has become such an enormous timesuck- i think that (as much as anything) has changed the game. i expect this next generation of consoles to be as much internet-appliances as they are consoles (you'll get your games, but also all of your streaming services, on demand, web browsing, etc). that's a sign of the times if anything is.

#9 Posted by coakroach (2488 posts) -

No?

Games havent hit a wall, but big companies do what big companies do, make big loud mistakes when they're not making big loud successes.

#10 Posted by DaMisterChief (628 posts) -

No

#11 Edited by Gamer_152 (14051 posts) -

What the consumers think has always been essential for video games, this is a consumer-driven industry. Marketers and PR people trying to influence what we think about games is definitely nothing new, neither is developers having to accept that their games may not be economically viable, or having proper knowledge of the industry. I do think there are problems in the industry when it comes to being able to push out the boat and try new ideas, that I definitely agree with you on, but I don't think this is because consumers want "more" than the best products and services, I mean really, what is there apart from the best products and services we could want from the industry? I also don't think any problems in this area are the result of "over-hyping" beyond talking about overblown marketing budgets, it seems that telling people your game is really good a lot is actually a pretty good marketing strategy, regardless of actual quality.

As for motion control, some told us it was going to change gaming, and in a way I guess it did. Look at the millions of people who would never have played games that booted up a console and started playing, look at the whole new unconventional demographics that the console manufacturers, publishers, and developers started trying to cater for as a result. I think a lot of the reason motion controls are called a failure is that the traditional gaming community often just focuses on itself. As for David Cage and Peter Molyneux, well, as much as I love some of their ideas, I think the fact that they haven't revolutionised the industry is more to do with the fact that the things they're creating generally aren't that revolutionary.

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#12 Posted by Brodehouse (9586 posts) -

The trick to business is not 'revolutionizing' something and then handing it to customers to revolutionize them, it's figuring out a desire or need that customers aren't even aware they have yet, and then exploiting it. Look at Skylanders. Five years ago, Jeff did not want little toys that you put on a thing and they show up in game. But they figured out that people would want it, then they made it, then people wanted it. It was the same with motion control, it was unlocking an desire that people weren't even aware they had. The people buying Wiis in droves were not the ones who bought the Power Glove and the Dominator or whatever it was called. West and Zampella said, what if we make our multiplayer more like World of Warcraft? Now they have an industry leader, and everyone's multiplayer is like World of Warcraft.

#13 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@devise22 said:

I won't call it impossible, but in most cases anyone who sets to try to do create something that is going to redefine the way consumers look at anything is almost doomed to not do that at all.

This is almost copypasta worthy.