So everytime I worry that I’m being too harsh about this recession, how it impacts my hobby in particular, I find a new piece of information that only helps reinforce my apparent pessimism. Take Two has announced more losses. Their new strategy is essentially “We’re going to be just like Activision and EA”, which is disastrous.
I swear this isn’t a segue, but am I the only one who remembers the dotcom days? How about the days when everyone was going to beat Microsoft at their own game? How about the days when everyone had the new “Doom killer”, “Diablo killer”, or their product catalog had some kind of upcoming Real-Time Strategy title? Am I the only one who remembers how that played out for most of the people involved?
The big problems with the game market right now is a lack of diversification. As more people jump on the bandwagon they’ll quickly realize there isn’t enough room for everyone. That means someone has to fail. Since Call of Duty came on the scene, the Medal of Honor series hasn’t done so hot. Brothers in Arms made a brief foray, but they’re largely getting dominated by Call of Duty as well. In other words, their just isn’t a huge market for quality World War II shooters. Ironic considering Infinity Ward doesn’t even make World War II games anymore. Likewise, games keep trying to be like Halo and keep finding out, the hard way, that we already have a perfectly good Halo.
I imagine that this may be Take Two’s swan song. I can’t see their being enough demand for three mega-publishers all pushing AAA titles. The problem with the “AAA” concept is that it only works when a handful of these super expensive heavily marketed games are competing with each other and a large number of non-AAA titles. If every title is “AAA” then what that really means is that a lot of money is going to be pumped into failure. In a way that’s good news because it will only kill this failing business model faster. The game industry has always had big releases, we’ll always have “big” games. What we cannot have is nothing but AAA games. There will be no sleeper hits, no innovation, and no risk. Either consumers will flock to one franchise or everything will fail as people lose interest.
So now I’m wondering if 2010 is the year gaming loses the mainstream? Actually, that will probably be 2011. If game publishers fail to move their business forward they’ll lose the public. Some gamers might think this is a good thing, but I think we’ve benefitted by having mainstream status.