Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Continuing Adult Gaming...

Today, I am picking up where I left off in my last post in August.  Having established that the majority of "gamers" in the American market are roughly the age of 37, game studios have caught onto the fact that gamers just don't want to finish games that can't hold their interest.  Their response?  Instead of creating better games with more interesting and compelling content, they have chosen to focus their attentions on creating the same games, but in chapter form.

This morning, I will look into how things have changed, and call for a more conservative approach to gaming:

3.)  If games were more interesting, people would spend more time playing them.

I love a great RPG.  I make no bones about the fact that I despise FPS (First-Person Shooter) games with a fiery passion - I feel like they further entrench us into this "reality gaming" nonsense that seems to be so popular.  What I love about RPGs is that they take me outside of my reality and place me into a world of magic, knights, and clearly defined quests of good against evil.  The argument can be made that FPS, Zombie Killer Games, and war games allow us to do the very same thing.  Realizing that trend, RPG producers are serving up more and more mixed-genre games to try and attract that audience.

What RPG companies need to do is take a lesson from EA Sports.  Every year, they release the exact same game with minor tweaks, new faces, and better graphics.  The overall concept is the same.  For those of us who grew up with Namco Football (which was little more than electric football in video game form), looking at the sports games of today is an amazing transition.  Realistically, however, we keep getting fed the same game year in and year out - to FANTASTIC sales and astronomical profits.

Similarly, World of Warcraft (for all of its addictive flaws) found a niche market of people who want to do the same thing all the time, with moderately altered storylines and settings.  So long as graphics get updated every so often, their base gamers don't complain.  They have, for quite some time, maintained a consistently or growing subscription base since their inception.  Console-based RPG companies don't seem to be getting the picture.

Gamers, like all other people, are creatures of habit.  They want familiarity and consistency, because it provides them with a sense of comfort.  Square-Enix is the worst offender amongst RPG companies because they left behind their core audience long ago to produce what most RPG-lovers refer to as "dreck."  Does this make games formulaic?  Yes.  But, when you have a winning formula, stick with it.  Don't drastically alter time-honored franchises to try and drag in another niche audience - it is rarely successful, profitable, or worth the time and effort.

Ultimately, the answer is simple - if you want people to finish games, don't make them shorter to keep up with their hectic pace of living, make them more interesting to keep their attention.  Despite the common wisdom that this generation has no attention span, you'd better believe they're willing to stop everything to watch dreadful awards shows, embarrassing reality shows, and movies whose run time is about an hour too long.  They want to be entertained, and if your games can't even offer that, what the hell is the point of being in the entertainment industry, anyway.