Saturday, June 2, 2012

Internet Backlash

I don't know why I find myself defending Call of Duty time and again.  As much as I'm not a fan of the series, I feel that it's the target of a lot of internet hate.  Some justified, some not.

Clearly this is a series that needs saving.

So what is it about this series that garners so much hate?  

While the series has some serious saturation (16 games in 9 years, counting spin-offs and non-traditional games),  there are other series that are guilty of this as well...

Let's take our time machine back to 1985-1994.  That's right, we're looking at the Super Mario Series. 

Remember this smug bastard?

Starting in 1985 with Super Mario Bros, Mario was in 19 games up til 1994, and that's me being generous. 

If the internet was in full swing in the early 90s, Mario would be burned in effigy with people complaining about too many adventures for the platforming plumber.  My point is, the advent of the internet has given gamers a reputation for being horribly, horribly impatient.  It seems like we want something new all the time.

Let me run a hypothetical by you real quick.  Let's say that Tekken 7 comes out, and it shatters Call of Duty's day-one sales record.  What do you think will happen?  Well, for one, Capcom would pump out Street Fighter 5 in a hurry in order to cash in on the new-found popularity of fighting games.  Other fighting franchises like BlazBlue might even change their formula to better line up with Tekken.  

Making games is a risky business, one that costs millions and millions of dollars.  Why in the blue hell would a company such as Activision get rid of that guaranteed 5 million first day units sold?  Just to please other gamers?  Please.  If you think that stopping production of the most profitable genre of games to date is a good idea, you need to avoid making business decisions.  

Not as dumb as you think

Maybe you hate Call of Duty with a passion, or you just want to see the series go on a two year development period.  What can you do?  Bitch on the internet!  Yeah!  That'll show those greedy bastards how serious we are!

Or you could take the mature route and actually change something.  With each game you purchase at retail, you endorse that product.  If you by Battlefield to stifle Call of Duty, all you're doing is insuring that a new Call of Duty will be made.  On the flip side though, if enough people invest in something else, for example, MineCraft, you'll see a market shift. 

Such a thing has happened.  Millions of people bought Minecraft, and look what we've gotten.  FortressCraft, MineCraft for XBox Live and Sony Phones, and Terraria.  Even games like the upcoming, yet ridiculously titled ShootMania take these elements of building and creating.  

This is an industry where money speaks louder than words.  Complaining on the internet does NOT change the landscape.  How do you think the Final Fantasy series has been able to make 20 iterations?  Through petitions?  If that was the case, the PS3 would have an HD version of Final Fantasy VII by now, instead of getting Final Fantasy XIII-2.

For the record, if you complain about a series without having played the series you really have no right to complain.  If you dislike it on principal (requiring a bad service to run, unpatched issues, bad track record with broken games, or it just not being your genre), you have a better leg to stand on by my standards.  I don't like people who complain about things with no hands-on knowledge about the topic.

For example, I don't want to play Skyrim due to Bethesda's issue with buggy games.  

I heard you like your game.  Let me crash it for you.

On paper, the Elder Scrolls series seems like something I would enjoy, but due to previous experience with the series, the worlds have just felt empty, boring, and broken experiences.  Show me a game like Manhunt and I'll simply voice my displeasure about the tone of the game and say that it's not my thing.  

I'll reiterate one of my first points.  The internet seems to have made people very very impatient.  They want what they want immediately, other people be damned.  It seems like the vocal group only cares about what they want, but refuses to take into consideration of the 10 million people who hold an opposite view.  

I'm going back to my Tekken analogy to say this.  The video game industry is a safe industry.  You won't see a major studio take many risks due to the chance of financial ruin.  Look at what happened to 38 Studios.  They put out a game that's been praised in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, but they're facing serious financial troubles.  

This is what developers fear.  Why do you think Blizzard has been riding World of Warcraft for 8 years instead of working on other games?  It's because it's a cheap, safe way to make money.  New IP is dangerous if it doesn't sell x amount of units to break even.  So until a new direction has been established in the market, developers are going to continue to play it safe.  You're going to see a lot of First Person Shooters, Third Person Action games, and Sports games every year, because developers know those will sell.

If you want something different, avoid the AAA developers and support a AA or indie dev to get the point across.  But be warned, even if the market shifts away from the FPS, wherever it will go, people will complain.  There will always be a saturation of the popular genre because the industry is full of Follow the Leader.  

With this, I'm not saying give developers a green light to do what they please, no no no.  If a company puts out shit, let them know it.  I doubt we're going to see another Duke Nukem game after Forever bombed.  EA is allowing games back on Steam due to people not buying their PC games due to Origin.  Bethesda has caught a lot of crap for their bugs in Skyrim and their lawsuit with Mojang over the word Scrolls.  Things like this should not stand.  But bitching about a game does nothing.  

1 comment:

  1. Well put. My displeasure with CoD is that every game plays and looks the same without adding enough new features. MW3 is a good example of milking, with the Elite service. It's 50 bucks to have it, and it entitles you to new maps, something that everyone who spent 60 bucks on the game should be entitled to. You know me, I play free FPS games on the daily. Red Eclipse is one of the few that has developers who actually take input from players to introduce new features. Anyway, nice post.