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| The Law of Porportional Decline in Game Complexity (Add a comment )|
by: foamingpanda (3)
Posted 75 months ago in category DEFAULT
In this article, I will attempt to illustrate a porportional relationship between an expansion of the consumer market within the gaming industry and a decline in the quality of games. I have selected the Nintendo Wii as a model for my arguement, but the arguement could apply to any console developer who reaches out to a larger consumer market.
As many Nintendo fans point out, the Wii has achieved wonderful success both in the US and Japan. Wii continues to sell strong throughout both countries while encorporating larger amounts of "new" fans into the video game market. It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that Wii does not stand a very strong chance to lead the generation sales -- if not dominate and alter the market itself.
1. In the past, gaming has been a relatively small compared to other forms of popular media.
2. Nintendo produced a somewhat antiquated console at a low price. An "innovative" new control system reinforced franchise loyalty, despite the shortcomings of the hardware itself. Fans of the franchise retain their loyalty and purchase the console, ensuring, at the worst, marginal success.
3. The new control system gained widespread attention. Replicating physical motions as a means of input adds a new -- although arguably shallow, inefficient, and pointless -- dimension to gaming. Members of society who had previously been uninterested in gaming begin see an obvious change in the functionality of controllers and take interest in the Wii. Such members, we refer to them as casuals, are more likely to consider purchasing the console for its low cost (despite its limited hardware) and unique control format.
4. Traditional fans of Nintendo enjoy, for the most part, franchises exclusively owned by Nintendo.
5. Both first and third party developers produce games to make money.
6. The task of every developer and publisher involves producing a game at the lowest cost possible and selling it for the highest profit possible.
7. The exponential growth of casual gamers creates a high demand for simple games that reinforce and star the primary reason they took interest in the console: the Wiimote control scheme. Such games can be produced for a fraction of the cost of other games.
8. Nintendo controls most of its old franchises directly. These franchises ensure the loyalty of the majority of their previous market for the next few years.
9. Why should first party developers (Nintendo) continue supporting and producing new franchises that incorporate depth and meaning complexity when their new majority of consumer -- the casual gamer -- demands and purchases simple games? A few new franchises might be needed occasionally to retain their traditional customer base, but the new base of the market demands simple games that compliment the Wiimote. Demand has changed and so the product supplied.
10. I remind you, profit drives all phases of development. Why should a third-party developer invest time, resources, and effort in the production of a complex, long, and expensive game when their new market demands and buys simple games for relatively the same price? Such developers need not supply the few needed franchises that ensure the preservation of the old market -- Nintendo can do such at a lower cost.
11. As the word spreads about the “fun” provided by your new console, your market will increase in proportion to the games and demands of consolers (which we've stated as increasingly casual).
12. These consumers, as I’ve argued, will be drawn from casual segments of the market. The vast majority of games will reflect their demands and standards (in order to maximize profit).
13. Nintendo’s traditional fan base could lose interest, lower their standards and enjoy the new standard of gaming, or take any other conceivable action. Many will still support Nintendo and reach a compromise between the occasional meaningful franchise game and the endless swarm of simpler games.
14. The loss of some of this fan base would have few consequences, however; because, Nintendo has acquired a sizably larger market which demands games that yield far more profit.
15. In proportion with profit, the market for simple entertainment would continue along a growth curve and make complex games continually scarce.
Nintendo’s attempt to radicalize the industry poses a potential and very real threat to the future of non-casual gaming (at least for Nintendo fans). But it could be argued that other console manufactures might act upon these trends and utilize Nintendo’s model. There will always be a market for non-casual gaming, but as casual gaming becomes more popular, the significance of the non-casual market will shrink.
You might argue, “well Panda, you’ve assumed that casuals will not embrace complex games after exposure to casual games.” I do assume that the vast majority of casual gamers will ignore complex games, which I believe will become increasingly scarce. But, point taken. Some may very well embrace more complex forms of gaming, but how can the Wii, do to its constrained hardware, facilitate and maximize truly next-gen titles? Why is it even needed when your market is growing exponentially? How can we be so gullible and easily entertained that we do not demand different things from this industry with our dollars?
Nintendo’s Wii is an innovation. It will be one of the most successful marketing ploys in the history of gaming – it is a true innovation in PROFIT, nothing more. Stop voting with your dollars. You should not have to purchase and antiquated console to enjoy franchises or use a controller that would function perfectly as a USB 2.0 device.
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