Video Game Homgenization

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Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:01 am

This is a very good article from /. on how things that are normally seen as creative works are starting to become normalized and homogenized by metrics in order to maximize income. This article applies specifically to games, but could definitely be broadened to just about everything in the entertainment industry. From music to soap operas to writing for a news paper.

I actually agree a lot with this and have been noticing this myself. But it's quite hard to argue artistic value with someone who only values numbers. It reminds me of the valley between social sciences and hard sciences, which few dare to tread.

http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/12/what-g ... not-exist/
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:44 am

It was inevitable IMO. It isn't just the entertainment industry either; restaurants, cars, beer, you name it. The field in any mature market tends to be dominated by boring, generic "Me too!" products, with the more interesting stuff out on the fringes. Any of those fringe players who say "Hey, we've got a good thing going here... we could make a lot of money with this!" almost always end up dumbing down their product to appeal to a more mainstream audience.

In other cases, the mainstream players try to produce knock-offs of less mainstream products in an attempt to appear "trendy". Think McDonalds and their "upscale" menu additions (Angus burgers), Miley Cyrus covering the Runaways (Cherry Bomb), or Coors attempting to brew Belgian-style beer (Blue Moon). The results of these types of attempts typically range from mediocre (in the best case), to cringe-inducing.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:33 pm

The problem with gaming is that the MBAs took over the more bureaucratic publishers, bought out everyone else, and now churn out "product" based on generic metrics because they don't care or understand how games really work. A few MBAs get experience on the front lines before moving up, but too many of them go straight from classroom to boardroom and all they know to do is spin the hamster wheel. Management by pie chart and cutthroat office politics trump anyone having an interesting idea that's not a sure thing. I think crowd funding is going to make things right though, because developers will be able to go back to being digital artists who cater to the clientele (backers) without worrying as much about the business side. And when successful crowdfund-based studios inevitably sell out to the likes of EA, those not satisfied with that arrangement can go found their own spinoff and still have access to the money--something that's been sorely lacking in the past.

Oh, and as far as social gaming itself goes, the fall is little surprise as there wasn't much innovation there to start with. It's a niche gimmick that got massively hyped because it involved Facebook, lots of people use Facebook, and the media--even the tech press--isn't known for brilliant deduction and just figured anything involving Facebook must be made of solid platinum winsauce.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:48 pm

NovusBogus wrote:I think crowd funding is going to make things right though, because developers will be able to go back to being digital artists who cater to the clientele (backers) without worrying as much about the business side.


Until a AAA-crowd-funded-title is released I am skeptical. Crowd funded games are still in its infancy, and a very early one at that, so its going to be awhile ... if ever.

You need those MBA/Project manager types to force devs into keeping timelines and expectations or else you get the inevitable industry churn and you end up with something like Duke Nukem forever. Every six months there this new "OOOH Shiney" advancement in hardware and code that always seem to keep devs in a perpetual coding state.

It certainly is a fine line to balance. But in all I have to agree.

However, look at EA and their sports titles, they make little changes year to year, nothing groundbreaking or fixing things that werent broke and produce essentially the same game. But you cant fault them for that when millions are willing to pluck down 59.99 every year for a over two decades for a game, ala Madden NFL. Now its All of Duty, Battlefield, and others.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:10 pm

tanker27 wrote:Until a AAA-crowd-funded-title is released I am skeptical. Crowd funded games are still in its infancy, and a very early one at that, so its going to be awhile ... if ever.


Star Citizen and Wasteland 2?

Granted they are still under development and haven't actually been released yet, but they're definitely two of the more promising kickstarter projects in the works. Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Privateer) and Brian Fargo (Wasteland, Fallout, Bard's Tale).
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:17 pm

Yeah, to a certain degree I would agree. The money is too tempting for a lot of publishers to pass up or look past. I guess that's the difference between art and mainstream deco BS designed to look like art. JBI pretty much surmised that.

I also agree that I don't think crowdfunding will ever really give us AAA games or it will be awhile before people figure out how to do that effectively. Right now they're in the 'give me funding while I give you a bunch of eye candy and a heartfelt back story that will make you want to fund me' stage. I haven't really seen any games I would spend money on because the game itself doesn't appeal to me even if the concept of crowd sourcing or making helping someone accomplish their dreams does. Neither Star Citizen or Wasteland 2 made me want to fund them. The majority of game projects on Kickstarter seem heavily focused on nostalgia components more then anything.

I've personally looked into the video game industry quite a bit and it's one of those things that's very hard to get into if you're aiming big, even with crowd sourcing.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:32 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
tanker27 wrote:Until a AAA-crowd-funded-title is released I am skeptical. Crowd funded games are still in its infancy, and a very early one at that, so its going to be awhile ... if ever.


Star Citizen and Wasteland 2?

Granted they are still under development and haven't actually been released yet, but they're definitely two of the more promising kickstarter projects in the works. Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Privateer) and Brian Fargo (Wasteland, Fallout, Bard's Tale).


Yes even those. You said yourself they are still under development and that means at any time the plug can get pulled for what ever reason. Again I am skeptical until something is released.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:51 pm

On the other hand, you also have a few other issues. Why do the dumb down and streamline games, because it will interest more people, thus giving them more sales and more money. Hardcore gamers on the other hand, can often be interrested in a more narrow game that wont elicit a response for the masses, one problem though is that any game, still has to have a certain amount of people developing it, no matter if it caters to a nisch market or not. Especially for tripple A games. So it sadly enough, makes sense from a business POV to get as high return as you can when you are plowing down millions on making it.

The sad thing though is that the big masses, just as with many movies, just dont seem to like real quality. It might seem they just want a quick fix/escape from reality without taking the time to appreciate the medium and experience. Thus, easy games, easy to get in to, easy to leave when the next comes.

This might not always be the rule, but I would think that it is decently close to where we are at today.

- footnote -
I'm not trying to derail the thread, since we have other threads for this discussion, but there was, dont know how the future will be, a big difference between CoD and BF in that regards. Both are doing the same with map-packs, trying to get more and more out with less, but where BF shines and CoD takes shortcuts, is engine development. The last what... 5 CoD games is basically the same game only with a few new assests and maps, while BF has had clear development done through both engine and game types in many ways. On the other hand, one can argue, that since CoD is really the above shooter on rails easy escape from reality, who can fault the formula when trying to sell, just because the first games were somewhat better from a gamers opinion. For the masses, it's one thing, for the more hardcore gamers, something else.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Reticence to get behind crowdfunds is understandable, as has been said there's a lot of them out there and so far none of them have really delivered the goods. A huge budget isn't necessary to make a nice looking game though, far too much of these $100 million game projects get eaten up by marketing, publisher payola, and BS jobs like "talent manager" that draw fat paychecks but don't contribute anything beyond giving the big boss another yes-man to play around with. Sins of a Solar Empire looked damn good--and sold well--for having a six figure budget, and German developer Egosoft has been making absolutely amazing space sims on their own terms for about 10 years now. Actually quite a lot of European developers have been doing this since the publishing cartel isn't as monolithic over there, there's less of a dichotomy between AAA blockbusters and no-budget garage vanity projects. American devs have just gotten lazy from being offered huge budgets as long as they play by the rules--they no longer even consider a project unless all of the stats and metrics involved are sufficiently enormous and ego-boosting.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:27 am

NovusBogus wrote:American devs have just gotten lazy from being offered huge budgets as long as they play by the rules--they no longer even consider a project unless all of the stats and metrics involved are sufficiently enormous and ego-boosting.



I think that's an unfair observation on part of the people that actually make the games...the Developers. Most are passionate about their work. Its just unfortunate that some have to work at these sweat shops (I'm looking at you EA) to get their foot in the door.

Its just like any other job really. Most are probably trying to fill out their portfolio and then will move on once they get industry experience. Not everyone can start out at a top notch studio, those jobs are few and far between and are really only available for the cream-of-the-crop talent.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:02 am

From everything I hear, when you finally get to the point of being able to make your own decisions and design your own game, the industry has already completely burned you out and sucked everything out of you. If you want to make a video game and you know absolutely what you want and how to execute it, one of the worst things you can do is actually getting into the video game industry. No one will even look at you till you have 10 years of experience and just want to manage staff cause you're completely run dry.

Aphasia wrote:On the other hand, you also have a few other issues. Why do the dumb down and streamline games, because it will interest more people, thus giving them more sales and more money. Hardcore gamers on the other hand, can often be interrested in a more narrow game that wont elicit a response for the masses, one problem though is that any game, still has to have a certain amount of people developing it, no matter if it caters to a nisch market or not. Especially for tripple A games. So it sadly enough, makes sense from a business POV to get as high return as you can when you are plowing down millions on making it.


That's exactly what the article talks about. But because developers keep attempting to attract more and more people they see in the metrics, they don't really make a solid game. They just make what they think other people want in order to maximize profits... Only they end up making a PoS because of it.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:22 am

NovusBogus wrote:The problem with gaming is that the MBAs took over the more bureaucratic publishers, bought out everyone else, and now churn out "product" based on generic metrics because they don't care or understand how games really work. A few MBAs get experience on the front lines before moving up, but too many of them go straight from classroom to boardroom and all they know to do is spin the hamster wheel. Management by pie chart and cutthroat office politics trump anyone having an interesting idea that's not a sure thing. I think crowd funding is going to make things right though, because developers will be able to go back to being digital artists who cater to the clientele (backers) without worrying as much about the business side. And when successful crowdfund-based studios inevitably sell out to the likes of EA, those not satisfied with that arrangement can go found their own spinoff and still have access to the money--something that's been sorely lacking in the past.

Oh, and as far as social gaming itself goes, the fall is little surprise as there wasn't much innovation there to start with. It's a niche gimmick that got massively hyped because it involved Facebook, lots of people use Facebook, and the media--even the tech press--isn't known for brilliant deduction and just figured anything involving Facebook must be made of solid platinum winsauce.


I had the same hopes that crowd funding would solve the issue but after the past weekend i'm not so sure. What happened?
Ravaged - crowd funded fps game that was free to play for the weekened on Steam.

As soon as i launched the game i thought i have found the best modern game for the PC. If i pressed escape all the logos at the beggining would dissapear (as opposed to so many others were you have sit through 2 or 3 unskippable logos), then the menu had all the options you could dream off from graphical settings with FOV to control settings, being able to lock the framerate at 60 fps without vsynch, a console (you know, the one when you press ~ and you can input commands directly) and so much more.

After i finished tweaking the settings in a complete nerdgasm i proceeded to play online. Boy was i in for a suprise. The game is sh*t imo. From the bad bullet cone of fire to the player model and animation and so many more issues. I just hated the game i think in under a minute........

So even though crowd funding can cater to the special needs of a demographic, lacking the budget of big titles and the talent required to achieve them, we won't have anything significant , imo, from this scheme.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:40 am

Bensam123 wrote:They just make what they think other people want in order to maximize profits... Only they end up making a PoS because of it.


The gaming industry is no different from any other for profit industry. How can you fault them for this, as I point out in a previous post, when millions of people are willing to spend their cash on yearly releases that are essentially no different from the previous years iteration?

Those of that want quality games are in the minority.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:07 am

tanker27 wrote:Those of that want quality games are in the minority.


Depends on how you define quality. The CoD games are polished, just repetitive and not very inventive.

But compare CoD MW2 (2010) against Medal of Honor (2010). Both were triple-AAA games and Medal of Honor was promoted as a plausible contender to MW2, but MW2 is not only way better (in my opinion), but far more polished. I had TWO game-stopping bugs with Medal of Honor whereas I've never had anything like that in ANY of the Call of Duty games.

(I played all of them on the console)

And it's not like I'm in love with CoD either, as I play BF3 on the PC now and BFBC2 on the PC before that, and loved them both.

So is Call of Duty "old hat?" Sure, I wouldn't contest that. But is it not a "quality" game? It's better than a lot of other stuff. I think that level of polish is at least partially why it continues to sell well, and the fact that the CoD games are all very consistent (or boring, depending on how you see it) is also likely a selling point. Not everything needs to be innovative or cutting edge, and I think a LOT of gamers may even prefer it that way. Are our dollars worth more than theirs?
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:30 am

I would say it's a quality product instead of a quality game. You know what you get, it's polished, it's just as boring as your next standard Michael Bay blockbuster. The problem is that Activision sees it as TEH THING! So the price just about never comes down even on the older ones, so despite being years old, they are still $30. But while I liked MW2, had over 200 hours in MP, i hated host migration, but after that I just fell out of the series altoghether after blops that I played 30 hours in, despite me trying to get the games to play SP, but havent because I dont think they are worth the price. MW3 is still $60 on steam more then a year after release. Heck... MW2 is still $25.

So in my book, BF3 brings me MUCH more enjoyment, especially when we are like 8 people playing together with proper teamwork, etc. But I'm kindof learly to see how they will treat BF4 and if they try to bring anything new to the table the next time around too.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:01 pm

Aphasia wrote:I would say it's a quality product instead of a quality game.


That's definitely a better way of stating it from our perspective, but for a lot of the market it appears that a quality product is a quality game.

I'm not trying to make the egalitarian argument that all tastes are the same, as I think that's hypocritical nonsense that no one honestly believes. But I am trying to make the argument that are likely a lot more of the kind of people who see "quality product = quality game" than there are folks like us who make a distinction.

And their money is worth the same as ours. Steam sells MW2 for $25 because it sells adequately at $25.

I guess I'm really trying to say that CoD really shouldn't be the figurehead of either of the "game lack product quality" or "games lack gameplay" arguments. It's an easy target, but it's an easy target because it doesn't really fit those two arguments: Out of the numerous alternatives CoD is on top of the market because it is better. You want to see games without quality? Games with really crappy gameplay? They exist in spades, they're just not easy targets because they suck so bad they lack the prominence of CoD.

Is BF3 a better game? For multiplayer, probably. I certainly prefer it over Blops 2 multiplayer. But, then again, it seems to me that the BF franchise is PC-focused whereas the CoD franchise is console-focused. That's certainly where I play them anyway.

At any rate, they really offer two different gameplay experiences: CoD is like a knifefight in a elevator, whereas BF is more like a team-based combat sim (unless you are playing metro or the CQ maps, in which event it's like a knifefight in a phonebooth).
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:02 pm

There are a few genres that reach to the top, some form of mmorpg, fps games, sim games and sport games seems to rule the crop, and while both Diablo 3 and SC2 has a LARGE playerbase, most other games in the genre doesnt do nearly as well IMO. But I wonder if not parts of the Homogenization is due to the fact that games in some ways might still be percieved of being something to entertain the youth, while in fact one really big playerbase is made of up people somewhat 25-35 that has seen alot of games from the beginning and how they developed. I guess most younger people havent played nearly as much of the older things and probably lacks a view of the diversity that has gone on through the history of gaming.

But there are actually very good games out there, from smaller studies, they arent tripple A, but good games nontheless, depending on the genre, so at the lower and middle end you have a decent diversity, while at the top end, you have homogenization that gives us alot of clones or variants on already existing gamees. And from one that like artsy games, there has been a nice resurgance in platformers and pusslers available as well as a slightly smaller resurgance in adventure games.

So a good question would probably be, what is the next thing that will actually give us something new. VR is probably too narrow to make much of an impact, same with 3D in many cases until the tech is actually available to most of the playerbase.
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:06 pm

As much as I can't stand a lot of the platform's vocal evangelists, it'll probably be mobile gaming and Android in particular. It's an environment that favors smaller players, and the devices themselves are capable of a lot of things that traditional PCs are not. I still think crowdfunding is going to majorly shake things up in PC land but it will take time and have a limited production base as only 'known item' developers will be able to raise funding (i.e. take Mr. Wing Commander out of the picture and nobody would care about Star Citizen).
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Re: Video Game Homgenization

Postposted on Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:11 pm

Aphasia wrote:So a good question would probably be, what is the next thing that will actually give us something new. VR is probably too narrow to make much of an impact, same with 3D in many cases until the tech is actually available to most of the playerbase.

That's why gaming has 'stalled' in the first place. The tech hasn't changed, the input methods haven't changed (until recently and only on consoles,) physics has been done...all that's really changing is the level of connectivity required and what it's using that for.

Really, 'there's nothing new under the sun' applies to everything...most of the time it's evolution, not revolution.
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