Success in the gaming industry is no longer measured by sales of a game. It’s now all about the staying power of a franchise. This is bad for gaming just as it has been bad for Hollywood for years.
Grand Theft Auto V opened up with a record-setting $800 million in first day sales. People dressed as cops to cut the lines. Others got stabbed for their game. The wildly popular game has people rushing for it in creative and dangerous ways.
This is a bad thing for the industry. Just as the summer Hollywood blockbuster list is covered by known entities, sequels, prequels, and reboots, that formula for success is even more prevalent in gaming. Call of Duty, Madden, Battlefield, Assassins Creed – they have all proven that if you want to make the big bucks in gaming, you build something that can continue to grow with each new iteration.
The creative elements of gaming development are being hampered as a result. Distributors want hot titles and no new games can ever be as hot as a franchise favorite. The top talents in the gaming industry may want to spread their wings, but the money leads to proven entities.
It’s not the industry’s fault. They’re here for business. They want to make money. They know that the easiest way to do that is to find something that people like and repeat it over and over again with different storylines and (hopefully) improved gaming quality.
There’s a nostalgia piece to it all as well. Games that made us happy when we were younger are coming out in a new and improved format that make us run out to buy them if only to relive the magic in our older form.
GTA V was a tremendous hit the moment it was announced. It may be a great game, but that doesn’t take away from the danger that innovation and creativity are hampered by developers chasing the proven formula for success.