As 2016 quickly approaches its conclusion, I decided to consult a list of 35 most anticipated games for the rest of the year. I couldn’t help but notice that out of those 35 titles, only 11 of them were original IPs. That’s less than half. To me this is a shocking statistic and caused me reconsider a point I had pondered at the beginning of the year: that triple-A titles just aren’t what they used to be, and it’s really starting to show. Are sequels and remasters to blame?
The biggest issue is that a growing number of developers feel the need to release a title annually, instead of focusing on developing new works which could take longer periods of time. From an economic standpoint, this makes perfect sense. Why spend more money and time producing new assets, art, and code to have a product which has the potential to be unsuccessful, despite all the expenses? Especially when you could instead simply get a smaller team to reuse elements from the last game, get a product together in a short time, and rely on an already large fan base to purchase the game?
From a consumer’s perspective, however, I scratch my head. Myself along with many others are sick of playing the same titles year after year. Originality in the gaming industry has taken a downward spiral, and it doesn’t appear that the situation is going to improve anytime soon. This is because game development within the last several years has become a business model, rather than a passion. Where there used to be love and dedication, only dollar signs remain.
Unfortunately, this practice of pumping out sequels and remasters is becoming more and more commonplace among the big guys. It’s really starting to leave something to be desired. As excited as I am for Skyrim: Special Edition, I can’t deny that I would only be walking through the same map that I have for hundreds of hours already. I crave for something new. A new place with new lore, characters, and a great new story. A game which I can take the time to fall in love with and get to know. I mean imagine if every person you ever dated was exactly the same as your ex!
That’s not to say sequels are a bad thing either. In fact, I think they are very much necessary. Just as the best books and movies tend to come in trilogies or a short series, so do many games. Mass Effect and Bioshock are excellent examples. However, the difference between these games and other franchises, is that they understood that everything good has an ending. Seeing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (13th in the franchise), Final Fantasy XV, and Civilization VI on deck for this quarter only confirms my worst fears: that developers are simply searching for easy cash-grabs. Or heck, maybe they’re just getting lazy.
But can you really blame them? Take Activision, for instance. From a business perspective, it’s kind of difficult to go against the grain when they have made billions of dollars producing copy/paste first person multiplayer war games. So am I saying this is the consumer’s fault then? Partially. Don’t be ashamed though. If the state of video games was entirely the developers fault, then there would be no solution to this problem. We would be doomed to sequels for all of eternity. Luckily though, we as consumers can do something about it.
It’s simple. If you are sick of seeing the same games year after year, here is the best advice I can give: Don’t buy them. Seriously. It really is that easy. As cold and calculated as it is, games will always follow the money. It’s just business, and it’s completely understandable for triple A companies. So if you want to see something different, the best way to achieve it is to be an active consumer, and only purchase what you feel is worth purchasing. Developers would no choice but to produce new IPs if the sales for sequels were in the toilet. The only way change will happen is if we stand together as a community instead of wishing for the problem to be solved.
Regardless of how the gaming changes, it’s going to have to if it wants to stay alive. The greatest quality of video games as a medium of entertainment is its vast expanse of unique genres and titles. And as I watch this once colorful spectrum become very grey as the months go on, I fear the legacy that triple-A developers will leave behind will be a bland one. We are blessed to be alive in a time when we can do anything in a digital realm. There are so many new ideas waiting to be turned into games, we shouldn’t have to use the same ones over and over again! Creativity and originality will be the key to the longevity of video games, so let’s take advantage of the opportunity while we have it.