The Current State of PC Gaming
When you walk into your favorite computer or electronics store, what kind of physical setup do you see in the PC gaming section? Most likely, you will see rows of largish boxes with all sorts of eye-catching colors and titles just sitting there, mockingly begging you to throw your money at them.
The promotional information on those boxes promise all kinds of groundbreaking fun that certainly "redefines the genre," and some even sport quotes from industry heavies praising the devastating awesomeness that the game brings to the table. Potential buyers are bombarded by all of this promotional hype not only on the boxes, but in the popular gaming magazines and web sites as well.
As you step back to ponder and start to pay even closer attention, you begin to realize some fundamental truths. Many of the games that make it onto the shelves are backed by huge publishing companies. Many of these companies buy tons of advertising to promote their new releases in an effort to make the public aware of them.
In fact, the more you think about it, the more you realize that modern day game production and promotion is starting to look like the Hollywood movie industry. Promotion is less about the actual plot and the gameplay and more about creating buzz around the product by highlighting certain features, like the graphics engine or the big name development talent working on the title.
Remember American McGee's Alice? When the industry started hearing about it, it was all about a well known story, Alice in Wonderland, being twisted to fit the vision of one of the biggest names in the industry: American McGee. He was one of the id luminaries behind the Doom and Quake franchises and was well regarded by fans of those series. Much of the early hype seemed to focus on just how cool Alice could look when it was made using the incredible Quake III Arena engine, which fellow Doomer John Carmack created. Imagine the minds of two Doom alumni brought together on a new engine with a new concept.
Only when youI started digging deeper did you find elements of the story and the gameplay. Much to his credit, American McGee fought mega publisher Electronic Arts on the idea of putting his name in the title of the game. From the press reports, it looked like he was more interested in focusing on the game itself and not on the personalities involved. He also seemed to make it clear that he wanted to use the Q3A engine not because it was hyped up in the press, but because it was powerful and flexible enough to help him realize his vision for the look of the game itself. His intentions seemed honorable and true to the gamers he hoped to serve.