The Necessary Evil

Creative geniuses won’t strike gold each time. When you’re at the top of your game, you sometimes just mess up. Even Miyamoto recently admitted that, yet his works are still looked at with awe. Gamers don’t hold a grudge against him.

I attended the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention this past weekend and got a chance to ask the guys from Acclaim Entertainment about their past. I didn’t expect to get such a lively response, but I walked up and questioned, “Are there any games that you guys regret making?”

During their explanations, I began to understand a bit more about why publishers will license specific games. Ever wonder why so many sports games exist? Well, over half of Acclaim’s revenue came from its NFL Quarterback Club titles. Without those, we would have never seen Turok.

This just got me thinking about something like Call of Duty. In the hands of a better publisher, we would be seeing more creative titles coming from Activision instead of retreads or iterations of the same ideas. In a better industry, giants like EA and Ubisoft would be producing a more diverse range of titles.

Even so, something like Madden and Call of Duty are a necessary evil in the games industry. Without any money flowing in, how would we continue to play games? PC gaming is an exception, not a rule. For consoles, if we didn’t have cash cows to move hardware and fund publishers, we probably wouldn’t be getting anything.

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Even Nintendo is guilty of this. Mario has slowly become an annual franchise. Just last year, we were graced with two Mario titles, even if they were basically the same game. Nintendo uses the ludicrous sales from Mario to fund its other games and online services.

A Nintendo without Mario or Zelda to fall back on means a games industry without nostalgic games, platformers or local multiplayer. Ever ponder why Rayman: Origins had 4-player co-op? If Nintendo didn’t even attempt it with Mario, Ubisoft would have never thought of including it.

Gamers bemoan iterative and annual franchises, but we really should be thankful for their existence. We never have to purchase them and if there needs to be a change, we can clearly voice an opinion. Still, ridding the world of these titles would only lead to bad things.

I’d definitely like for more creativity in the industry, but we should never be so naïve as to think that Call of Duty is ruining gaming. The only thing that is hurting developers’ creativity is how bloated console game prices have become.

As MatPat from The Game Theorists put it, “Don’t buy a game if you don’t like it. Don’t like the new Call of Duty? Don’t like the new Battlefield? Don’t like the new Mario? Then don’t buy them.” Taking that advice to heart, we shouldn’t be angry about people who do.

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Everyone likes something for some reason or another. We may have grown tired of the repeated tricks and boring tropes of these games, but they serve a purpose. That purpose is to get new ideas and hardware rolling.

With the next-generation looming, I hope Call of Duty has enough steam to keep going. If Microsoft and Sony fail to keep their hardware moving, we really will be looking at another industry crash.

If that happens, we might not have anything new again.

Written by: Peter Glagowski

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  • Dakan45

    The creator of assasin creed left ubisoft, he gone to thq, which closed down, ubisoft bought it and fired him without explanation.

    Now creed has been milked to death.

    Bioshock infinite was not even a bioshock game, just a 2 weapons linear shooter with a hitpoint regeneration system that threw something similar to plasmids just to look bioshock. It is hard to say, but it was named bioshock just to get money. But that doesnt end there, it was dumbed down for more sales and it got a generic boxart to attract “fratboys”.

    Then we got dead space 3 and resident evil 6 deciding they are not even the same franchise anymore.

    Basicly every franchise is up there for milking and sacrifice in order to grab more gamers and make more money.

    When things go up in flames they still try to get money solely by the name. Eg duke nukem forever, colonial marines.

    Even max payne 3 was a collosial money waste that costed 108 million and the destruction of that franchise sold 3 million on consoles, not enough for rockstar to justify the 108 million development costs. I am just saying here, MAYBE they should have spend less money on the game and hire remdey’s writer to write an actual story?

    Apparently the industry believes that by spend x amount of money, you will get x amount of sales.

    Obviously cod has influenced fps alot. With games like medal of honor or homefront being shameless cod ripoffs.

    What is funny is that the “appeal to a larger audience” doesnt seem to work. Sleeping dogs sold 1.5 million copies. Tomb raider, dmc, hitman absolution, dead space 3, resident evil 6, none reached their required goals. Also kindgoms of amalaur and darksiders 2, which were great games on what they did, didnt manage to cover their development costs and the studios were shut down.

    On the midst of all that, you cant blame activision for cancelling true crime and laying off prototype 2 developers and deadpool/transformers developers.

    They dont seem to have any new ips, but the way this goes, they have to change the way they doing business.

    But here is the funny part, Activision has not changed their business model for a very long time. Yet by practicly doing NOTHING they are in a better state than EA and ubisoft and poor THQ for running around with crappy reboots, dlcs, online passes,drm and agressive marketing.

    So by doing nothing, they are better off. Kinda like playstation 4. The sht storm of bad decision we will see in next gen will be insane. Just wait and see.

    However i got to remind that the industry doesnt focus on hit franchises, they are REALLY out of ideas.

    Eg ea said hey lets reboot mirror’s edge, you know that game that flopped. Or wild hog making a shadow warrior reboot. or the new wolfenstein reboot.

    It feels like there is some kind of tax on new ips and they decided to just buy the rights of old games. Which begs the question, if you gonna focus on old ips that flopped, maybe there is money exchaning hands to support the industry for those actions or maybe everyone is so afraid of new ips that they want to avoid flopping like kingdoms of amalaur and saboteur.

    Meaning, your game might be great, but they have no legacy behind them to support a fanbase.

    • KingSigy

      Woah. That was a very loaded comment. Thank you for some of the information, though.

      EA taking a chance on Mirror’s Edge is either due to Battlefield raking in the money or Medal of Honor and Dead Space tanking. Regardless, without security from the Madden franchise, we wouldn’t be seeing a whole lot of different games from them.

      Ubisoft also has different avenues for their cash flow. The Rabbids are still popular, despite me and most hardcore gamers only ever playing the very first title. You also have Tom Clancy and his name being guaranteed revenue.

      Activision also makes money by the boat loads with Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. They just happen to be very money hungry, so I don’t expect much to change from them.

      • Dakan45

        Point is, at one hand a publisher say ea defend a reboot like say syndicate or a bad move like say online passes and then it flops and they apologize and admit they were wrong.

        If industry JUST listend to the fans instead of trying to appeal to EVERYONE for more sales, fails like these would have been avoided.

        But it seems they refuse to revive old franchises and they insist on not making new ideas. If they make a game its either a sequel or a modernized reboot. At the very least, they should be looking at the likes of cod and fifa and wonder MAYBE because they deliver the same, the fanbase keeps buying them, MAYBE if they did the same with other games it could work for the benefit of the IP and not continiously try to make the game to appeal to more people. Maybe if they served the franchise and the fans instead of changing the game to serve the non fans and appeal to diffirent consumers, all those fails would have been avoided. But sadly its all business, so at this point anything that comes as “innovation” in the industry is pretty much a business move like online passes, drm, season pass and other crap that suits in a desk came up with to screw us consumers. All those things being said, i cant get angry at Activision for trying to satisfy the share holderrs without taking radical moves that could both wreck the shares and the consumer…..like drm and other business “innovations”.

        • KingSigy

          I agree. Dead Space became popular and gained fans. Instead of trying to make the series explode in popularity, EA should have stuck to their guns and refined/perfected the execution of the first game. Instead, we have Gears of Space or Dead Evil, etc.

  • Luke Frazier

    I agree with your overall sentiment here, but damn if you don’t make some bold statements. How could Call of Duty be “in the hands of a better publisher” than Activision? That company has literally made it the biggest money-maker in the world. You want more “diverse titles” from Ubisoft? The same company that touched on the music, platformer, action-stealth, dance, action-adventure, turn-based RPG, hack-and-slash, racing, and shooter-RPG genres in a single one-hour press conference at E3 this year? Your standards must be INSANE.

    • KingSigy

      Haha. Maybe Ubisoft was a bad example. Regardless, we only ever really see Assassin’s Creed getting love or something relating to Tom Clancy. Rayman is promoted like crap and I don’t see a lot of their other titles getting much love.

      Still, that kind of proves my point. Without Assassin’s Creed, we wouldn’t be seeing such a diverse E3 conference. Activison, though, really is bad. Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero used to be the biggest things ever. Now they’re both dead and buried.

      Activison will reach that point with Call of Duty, I promise you.

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