“Selling out is the compromising of integrity, morality, authenticity or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money.”
I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘selling out’ isn’t the nicest phrase. Nor is it strictly accurate for the topic of the article that you’re reading. Nor is it strictly fair. My last article had an opinion but I’m not sure this one will. Maybe one will develop as we go along.
Recently, I was reading one of the pieces in the latest issue of Official Playstation Magazine and some of the writers were talking about their pet hates. One of them talked about games that have a new edition every year and it got me thinking. The amount of money that people spend on yearly releases is ridiculous but what are you REALLY getting for your money?
Let’s start with the biggest cash cow franchise of them all and talk about Call of Duty. Every November, every First Person Shooter fan gets a little excited. The adverts look great (Kevin Spacey, no less!), the reviews always score highly and the sales always back up the hype.
I should probably interject here and tell you that I am one of those people. I’m a sucker for hype. Show me a good review or pull me into a conversation about the game and bets on me going out and buying the game are off.
However, if I was to load up COD Ghosts for an hour and then swap it for Modern Warfare 2, would I notice that much of a difference in the gameplay? I’m going with no. What I’ve actually bought each year is a different set of maps for me to get killed every 30 seconds and a few different perks. Yes, the campaign mode is different but if you tell me you buy COD for the campaign, I believe you might be lying. To add a little maths to this, over five years, if a game is normally priced at £40, I’m spending £200 on maps and perks. That’s a bit of perspective right there.
I made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says: “Bugger”.
Ok, so that might be a little extreme and there aren’t many games that you can say the same about. To give a slightly less ranting view and something a little more neutral, let’s look at a second big cash cow franchise and talk about Assassin’s Creed. One thing Assassin’s Creed does do well is change it up. We’ve had many different adventures throughout history, each one looking as beautiful as the last and each one selling just as many copies. The storylines are always lengthy with loads of extra side missions and things don’t seem stale because it feels so different from the last game (even though there is an ongoing storyline).
What Assassin’s Creed is in danger of is falling into a trap and boring people. I loved Black Flag for two reasons. Firstly, Assassin’s Creed 3 was awful. It had an awful plot and Connor has to be one of the most boring leading characters I’ve ever come across. In short, anything that followed that was going to be fantastic. Secondly, it wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed game. It was a pirate game with a bit of assassinating thrown in. Am I ready for more Assassin’s Creed though? No.
Over the next few months, Assassin’s Creed Unity is going to be released and I couldn’t be less excited. It’s just too soon.
Tactical Espionage Action.
A great comparison to that is the Batman Arkham series. Instead of a release every year, they have a two year gap. What that does is create a buzz and some real excitement.
Arkham Knight is one title I genuinely can’t wait for. It’s back with Rocksteady, previews are all extremely positive and the trailer is incredible. I don’t get that feeling for Assassin’s Creed anymore.
Another comparison is the Metal Gear Solid series. Series creator Hideo Kojima doesn’t seem to place any deadlines on when he wants to release the latest instalment, he simply releases it when he thinks the world is ready for more Metal Gear. As a result they’re always some of the most talked about releases and always score 10/10. That’s what gaming should be. Releases when the world is ready for another fix and actually has the time to look forward to it
To really show the legacy of yearly releases, I want to bring this full circle and go back to COD and First Person Shooters. To be blunt, I honestly think COD has had its day. Destiny has just been released and it’s unbelievably good. The RPG element was a risk but it’s worked really well and from a gaming perspective, it’s all I hear people talking about. Also, what Bungie have done is highlight the fact that they have a ten year plan. What that probably means is that we’ll see three releases over ten years. Players will have time to really enjoy the game they’ve bought and get some real value for money. That’s what I want as a gamer but it’s not what COD offers me any more. What developers really need to decide is whether they want to be remembered for truly great franchises that people talk about with love, or whether they want to cash in for as long as they can and then move on.
Games developers – Now is the time for that choice. 2014/15 is a genuinely exciting time for the gaming world. There’s a whole host of new games coming out that look like they’ll spawn sequels and I only hope that you’ll follow the same blueprint as the Arkhams and Metal Gears of the world.
Otherwise, gaming is going to turn into an expensive and boring hobby.