“What games are you playing?” This is a common question asked by fellow gamers across the world. Many video game “purists” may say, “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” or “Assassin’s Creed,” or “Halo: Combat Evolved.” These were the original games of top franchises in the AAA industry. They were–and are– fun and will continue to be. Because of that success however, publishers set their plans to get the most out of them. Saturation of a franchise ensues and we begin to experience yearly releases while burnout begins to set in after years and years of marginally improved $60 games. For those of you, like me, who are burned out on the direction of these types of video games from AAA developers and are waiting for that inspired game to come out, I have a disappointing revelation for you: It won’t.
The AAA video game industry is about the money because publishers have to create profit from games that they pour money into. Few risks can be taken to craft energizing gameplay which limits creativity and creates a cycle of games that feel so similar and unoriginal. For myself and many people, this causes me to feel like there is nothing else out there. Out of this sentiment, there comes a consumer split that every major entertainment industry has–the “mainstream” and the “indie.”
In comparison, the music industry has its mainstream music with its radio hits and chart-topping artists. Then you have the people who are disgusted with the state of the music industry and cannot stand the lack of originality produced by the big record labels and in response, they listen to–or create–their own inspired music–the “indie” scene. This is the place the game industry has come to. And you know what? It’s frustrating.
I know there are many people that feel the same way as I do. I don’t like the yearly releases with little gameplay and graphical improvements while publishers and developers still demand $60. I don’t like the day-one Downloadable Content (DLC) that is locked away on the disc. I don’t like the retweaked releases of games that are announced a few months after the original release. I don’t like the rehashed gameplay mechanics in games that are not a part of the same publisher or developer. It becomes very boring and it produces burnout. But this is how the mainstream part of the game industry has established itself and it is not going to change. It’s time to start considering both sides of the game industry and it starts with accepting that there are two sides of the industry.
There is nothing wrong with the Call of Duties, the Halos, the Splinter Cells, the Assassin’s Creeds, the Final Fantasies, the Marios and any other beat-to-death franchise you can think of. A lot of them are great games in and of themselves. The gameplay is good; the formulas work. I play them frequently, personally. But it’s the same thing. Now, we have to look at the indie games industry if we want something different. The Minecrafts, The Binding of Isaacs, the Castle Crashers, the Super Meat Boys, the LIMBO’s, the Aegis Wings, etc. It’s not that indie games are more creative in every circumstance or that they are better but they are allowed to take more risks which allows for different gameplay experiences.
They can be even more entertaining than the pokemon series where you can’t proceed to tougher levels without a Pokemon go account, especially Minecrafts and castle crashers as you need a level playing field among two or more players to make it work.
If you’ve been like me and have been waiting for the AAA industry to step up and create something inspired and new, the fact is, it’s not going to happen. The AAA industry is catered to the mainstream. Those games are good. They should be played but the risk taking and creative freedom will be found in the indie side of games. It’s about that time to accept that this is the state of the game industry and learn to balance the goodness of the two sides. It’s taken a while but I enjoy the industry and all that it offers a lot more when I embrace the full industry.