If you’re reading this, chances are you hear among the gamers pretty often that we are tired of new stuff, we want the old back. All the hypocrisy among gamer nation. What’s a developer to do? Well there’s so many factors to this article I barely know where to begin. With studios getting shut down left and right though, I figure I kind of want to write about it.
News today, as I write this, is that Activision is shutting down its Guitar Hero, True Crime, and Tony Hawk franchises. Two of these stand out to me.
Tony Hawk is one. I remember back in 4th grade. I had already been gaming long before that, but this was a day that I was going to make the leap from my Nintendo 64 and get a new video game console. As I stood before the three at the time: Gamecube, Playstation 2, and Xbox. I chose the Xbox because I wanted a chance and everyone I knew already had a PS2. I chose Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 as my game, while my dad chose Halo: Combat Evolved. I went home, threw Halo to the side for awhile and dove into Tony Hawk. The soundtrack, the gameplay, the utter insanity of continuing a combo for what felt like hours was mind-boggling to me. Sooner rather than later, Underground came out. Being so young, I couldn’t afford it. Yet, I wanted it really badly. Later after that, Underground 2 released, still wanted it. Continue on, American Wasteland, then Project 8 alongside Downhill Jam. Soon after getting a 360 in 2008, I tried Proving Ground, since it was on clearance for $15. I enjoyed it, but it was the same game. Fast-forward to now-a-days, Neversoft got swapped to Guitar Hero after the separation between Harmonix and the series. Tony Hawk: Ride and Tony Hawk: Shred were the results; a peripheral skateboard to play the game. Ride got abysmal reviews. Shred went more under the radar than a roach roaming around Las Vegas. The Tony Hawk series tried something new, got trashed, and now it’s (in some gamer’s eyes) finally closing up shop.
[Bye Bye Bye!]
The second series, Guitar Hero. I remember when it first came out. It was such a novelty idea to me. I was much too busy being addicted to Halo 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee to care too much. A lot of my friends already got into the idea and purchased it. Not to be redundant of my last paragraph, needless to say, the game got annual, and it took Tool being added to World Tour to make me interested at all. So a bit over 5 years later and 8 console Guitar Heroes, even more variations in other places, and two spin-off series, the franchise is dead. Hell, as I write this, I hear that the Hero Franchise is done, so no more DJ Hero either, and the second one was wonderful.
What is followed up with the announcement of the death of these franchises? A new Call of Duty studio is up and running. Now that we’re getting heavy in the shooter market, how long can Call of Duty carry on? Can it carry on like Madden? Will we see a repeat of history in a few years? Or does Call of Duty separate itself enough to make it fresh each and every year?
[I guess it didn't keep a rollin'.]
What’s a company to do? Obviously over-saturating your games doesn’t lead to very happy consumers. But what about a new I.P.? Well I answered my own question, what about a new I.P.?
EA is a great example of that question, they went out on a limb and tried some new games, Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space. Both didn’t fare too well in sales, but were received great. No word on Mirror’s Edge, but Dead Space got its sequel, which according to the numbers of around 500,000 combined on both PS3 and 360, isn’t the best we’ve ever seen (so far at least).
Earlier this year, Bizarre Creations got shut down. The people who made Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars. They were hit up by Activision and made the new racing game, Blur. Although it had a good advertisement run, Split/Second, Modnation Racers, Alan Wake, and Red Dead Redemption were all up in its face and shut it out of a lot of sales. Even their game James Bond 007: Bloodstone couldn’t save them because of the moderate reviews.
Want another example? My good friends at Hudson had to share the awful news of the Hudson Entertainment side of Hudson is getting closed down. Oops Prank Party may not have been everyone’s taste, but Bomberman Live: Battlefest was great. Not to mention Hudson’s last effort in Lost in Shadows was received well, but didn’t have time to reflect any big numbers. While Hudson isn’t completely gone, the whole North American division is.
The question returns, what’s a company to do? Gamers complain and complain. One game isn’t as good as the other. “This game is just a clone!” “I wish this series would die!” “I want this series back!” There’s so many mixed signals that to fix the problem, we’ll just get another Call of Duty that a ton of casual gamers will eat up as if it is the last piece of food on the planet. I’m personally not a fan of it, but a shooter is a shooter. I’m a Halo fan at heart, but Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST were disappointments. I know when to say something is too similar to care. When I see Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, I know, they are in all ways around, the same game. Madden too. If you look from Call of Duty 3 to Black Ops, you’ll go “wow!” If you look from Madden 2007 to Madden 11, you’ll think the “that’s crazy!” But when these games take no time to show their change, there’s no appeal. Example? Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2 seemed like the same game. The extra year break between Rock Band 2 and Rock Band 3 made you see that everything was fixed. What was the result though? A superb game but a tank in sales. Medal of Honor snuck its way in. Battlefield is doing well, but Call of Duty still kicks them aside. Am I open to playing Call of Duty? Hell yeah. Not in the way it’s progressing though. I know Call of Duty does what it does well, but the game just isn’t being cared for like Bungie did for Halo: Reach. Bungie said, “Hey, you know, this game has has been the same, let’s change it.” And the hell they did, it plays totally different but has that Halo feel, and I love the series all over again. I would love for a game-changer to hit Call of Duty to make me a fan. But with the success only making Activision want to have more Call of Duty out in the market, I can only guess that the same fate will hit that franchise as its other three. When the original creators of the game are mostly gone, you know something may happen. I can be completely wrong though, which will probably be the case, but only time will tell.
To wrap this up now, would be like the conclusion to Sopranos. But frankly, there’s no real way to wrap this up. The industry will go on. Being the biggest entertainment industry right now, is it possible to crash like before? Probably. To put it bluntly, I bitch at the industry in hopes it will shape up. I’d much rather be playing something other than Call of Duty 12 when I’m older.
A - Top notch and stellar. This game accomplished everything that it set out to do and then some.
B - Great! A game worthy of a B means it is a requirement for any gamer to get. Only slight set backs seem to hit a game like this.
C - Games that get a C rating are good. They may not be great. They may not be fantastic. They are fun, interesting, and worthy of a play-through.
D - Average. Sometimes games play it too safe, sometimes they don't step out of their bubble, and sometimes they have too many problems. But they are playable and you may still find fun. Those games deserve a D.
F - Don't play this. The game failed in what it was trying to do. It's not fun and it's not compelling. The game may or may not be playable, regardless, if it has an F, it's probably safe to say you shouldn't play it.