Weekly Discussion: Trenderific

I’ll be honest here, I could have easily called this trends. I just like adding ‘erific’ to the end of words. Moving on quickly from that frankly silly introduction, lets look at trends in the gaming industry right now, where things look like they’re going at the moment.

The most obvious pick is, of course, 3D. This is perhaps exemplified by Nintendo’s faith in the 3DS, although games like Killzone 3 and MotorStorm: Apocalypse certainly show that it has its place in blockbuster games. I’ve tried 3D on a few occasions and whilst it doesn’t really work for me (my Dad says the same so I guess it’s genetic) I do certainly see the appeal. In particular the depth and feeling of speed that the technology adds to racers like Motorstorm does seem to bring something genuinely new to the genre and the way games are built.

Next up is the move towards motion control, although this is hardly new. Every system has it’s own controller now, and it seems very likely that this is going to crop up in more and more games. It’s nice to see it starting to feature in more ‘hardcore’ titles likes Killzone 3, proving that the new interfaces aren’t just for party or casual games (although some titles on the Wii certainly showed this previously). It’s clearly something that’s not going to go away, although I think a lot of people would be happier if some titles kept it solely as an option rather than forcing it on you when you just want to play the newest Call of Duty.

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Finally lets talk about something a little more businessy than purely about game mechanics. I personally think we’re going to see a lot more consolidation from developers and publishers. We saw this last week from Activision when they cancelled or put a lot of their series on hold, seemingly moving a lot of their focus towards Call of Duty. Whilst they did later announce several titles tying into franchises from other media, it does still look like their significantly scaling pack their operations and focusing more on safe bets. Personally I don’t want to see the industry go this way, but I think its reasonably likely.

So those are my big three picks for current trends in the industry, where do you think things are going? Have I pretty much summed it all up, or do you think I’m completely wrong?

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21 Comments

  1. 1) Big franchises get even bigger
    2) Strangely indie games also growing stronger, as the route to market matures with XBLA, PSN & of course iOS and Android.
    3) Android to be a valid platform for gaming, yes, yes I know it kind of already is but this year the publishers will be hitting the platform at a rate not previously seen
    4) The second generation of motion games (Kinect & Move) starts to show what the tech can really do

  2. Another big trend seems to be multiplayer at the moment. Pretty much every game seems to have some tacked on multiplayer component, even games which shouldn’t have one. Uncharted2/3, Bioshock2, Condemned 2, Dead Space 2, Assassins Creed Brotherhood. All with completely pointless multiplayer additions. It would suprise me if the next God of War title (there is bound to be one) had some sort of multiplayer thrown in. On the plus side, I’m glad RockSteady have confirmed that Arkham City won’t have multiplayer thrown in.

    • *wouldN’T suprise me ;)

    • The Uncharted 2 multiplayer is anything but a pointless addition. It is a great first-attempt by ND on a multiplayer experience, rivaling COD when it comes to sheer fun. I’ve personally invested aproximately 400 hours in it, and it’s easily my favourite MP of all time. It may not be your cup of tea, but “pointless”, it is definitely not.

      • Sorry I should have been clearer: I personally really enjoyed the multiplayer for Uncharted 2 but it was still pointless in that the game would have easily stood as a terrific game with just the single player component. Whether they made a good of it or not it was still ND just jumping on the multiplayer bandwagon

    • They should only add multiplayer if it makes sense and is fun. You’re right that some games have poor MP chucked at it, but that doesn’t make it a worthless thing to add.

      UC2’s was brilliant, Bioshock 2’s was OK, but has a cult following, Dead Space 2 is apparently poorly tested, with lots of spawn camping possible, etc. etc. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, though, is quite a clever game of cat and mouse..

      As long as it doesn’t detract from the Single Player, /and/ can stand on its own two feet, I’m all for adding MP to games.

    • Personally I liked the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer, although I can understand why a lot of people wouldn’t :D

  3. Sony will finally get some decent sized games out that use the Move as it’s been sorely neglected, from my perspective. For me, it’s lost nearly all momentum.

    Big publishers will look after the franchises that make them money and cull anything that doesn’t fit their sizeable profit margin forecasts.

    Sony will continue to neglect the PS Store and not realise its true potential. It really can blur the boundaries between digital downloads and Blu-ray offerings and we rarely see it.

    Kinect will continue to sell well even though it’s mostly smoke and mirrors right now (Sony take note). Both motion-based controllers have the potential to do very well, both now and in the long term.

    My biggest worry is the likes of Mirror’s Edge being put on hold. The first one was a risk and the current situation highlights that publishers are rarely willing to take decent risks which means creativity is stifled and we’re left with a mucky gloop of FPS, driving games and some RPG sprinkled on top.

    Sure, PSN-sized titles bring innovation about but larger games still take serious investment and that usually comes with the bigger studios and publishers.

    Sony (and the like) need to realise this and start up some sort of ‘Gaming School’ where indepedent developers and smaller operations are given access to far great resources and manpower; kinda like a Dragon’s Den for video-gaming. Separate the wheat from the chaff and then push hard with the things that might succeed.

  4. I think we will continue to see the move towards downloadable titles for IPs as disc based IPs get cut in favour of well established franchises. More previously disc based companies like Double Fine producing high quality downloadable titles as a cheaper and less restricted medium.

    I also agree that multiplayer is going to appear in more and more unlikely games, sometimes to good effect like Assassins Creed, sometimes detrimentally affecting an otherwise solid single player game (as I have heard about Dead Space).

  5. Husky games to become the biggest developer/distributor the world has ever seen, trouncing EA and Activision by creating a new trend which makes everyone forget that the FPS boom ever occurred.

    • Did you test this plan of action out yet? I suggest Game Dev Story to be used as a prototype for the business plan.

  6. I may be way off with this but I’m sensing less and less creativity in disc based titles and more devs playing it safe from a financial standpoint.

    The real creation and growth is probably going to come from PSN sized titles. We’ve already seen a lot of brand new ideas and even thatgamecompany seem to have ironed out a whole new genre in zen like titles. I don’t know what they cost to make but I’m pretty sure that they won’t send a company under if they under-perform, something that’s a very real risk with bigger budget disc-based titles.

    There’s a lot of movie tie-ins which I regard as pretty safe games, whether they’re actually any good or not.
    Yearly updates are a difficult one because they’ve only earned that right by selling well but when they get tired, we see them dropped like Guitar Hero recently, though over-saturation and lacklustre ideas and improvement contributed pretty heavily in that situation.
    And for every good seller, we’ll see two or three copycat titles so the genre then becomes over saturated too, it’s a natural thing to happen with devs going with what’s popular but it’s still disappointing too.

    Not sure where I’m going with that but I’m seeing co-op used a bit too much I feel. Feels shoehorned in an awful lot and sometimes feels implemented because it’s just expected this generation. I realise that connectivity and online is a huge and major theme this generation too though so maybe it’s the way forward along with MP and I’m just being old fashioned or something.
    Just on MP, I can’t know how much or even if it did affect the story mode and it may have even been made by a different team, I don’t know but Dead Space 2 felt a bit weak somehow and I certainly didn’t get out of it what I got out of the original Dead Space and maybe in part that is down to the inclusion of MP.
    I’d like to think developers would shun an MP mode if they felt there was a possibility of it having a detrimental effect on the story mode but on the other hand, the publisher might push for it. I have no idea but it’s an interesting thought.
    It might just be because I like new IP’s and the feeling of something new, different and unexplored. Who knows?

    3D seems to not quite be taking off the way many expected and while it might not be the future, there’s certainly room for it as a niche. I’ve experienced it a few times and it’s a lot of fun, immersive and impressive visually but it’s not something I’d want all the time and that, for me, is where it falls down because ultra crisp 1080p visuals is something I do always want. For me (obviously we’re all different and this is just my view), 3D works wonderfully as an experience but I wouldn’t want it as the norm.

    Apologies for the large post.

  7. My prediction for the biggest trend of 2011: Piracy :(

    • Tuffcub, I have NO idea how good your New Year’s Party was but it’s customary to add a one onto the previous year. :-p

  8. zombies, every bleedin’ game seems to have a zombie mode now.
    wasn’t there a racing game that’s gonna have a zombie mode?

  9. I don’t like the current trend in the industry with the publishers closing more and more developers.

  10. I’ve never really seen the pint of motion control, sure its nice if it’s intergrated well but most of the time it means you’ve get to get up off your arse and gesticulate madly infront of the TV.

    It annoys when a perfectly good single player game gets a MP mode just because everyone else are doing it. I don’t mind it AC:B and UC2 because it was done really well.

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