Jimquisition: Guns Blazing

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The problem is Greed.
Publishers for the most part aren't happy with turning a steady profit a slow sustainable growth, they want the big bucks this applies to the share holders as well, gaming is now big money and they all want the biggest slice of the pie they can manage.
This has meant the homogenisation of everything to be like everything else in a desperate bid to bring in the cash by trying to nab other games fans, as Jim said Dead Space instead of just staying true to the original turned into Gears of War, Battlefield is trying to be Call of Duty. Every MMO is trying to be WoW, although 9 years of failure has started seeing a change to that philosophy.

This is mostly due to the people in charge not being gamers and decisions being made through focus testing and marketing research, hence why nearly evrey fucking game in the past few years has had multi player shoehorned into it with a few notable exceptions.

This is what we Fallout fans call, the "Bethesda treatment". It won't end until the worst part of capitalism finally caves in and everything goes to shit.

Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It really depends on exactly what changes they actually plan to make. There's no discernable cause for concern in the statement released by them. I hardly think "widening the net a little" as is their exact words is reason to believe that they're going to make the kinds of shifts we've seen in Resident Evil or Dead Space. It is right of Jim to warn them. It's a perfectly reasonable concern in today's publisher silliness of swinging for the moon when there's no need to and missing everything.

But seeing as they did everything right that they could have with the original, I'm going to give them some rope. That can use that leeway to make something truly wonderful or they can use it to hang themselves. Either way, the genie is out of the bottle and they have the power to do what they wish thanks to their previous success.

I'd say to trust "From Software". They do darn good work and are also part-publishers on the project in addition to being the developers. I don't much care what Namco Bandai Moneybags Games says in the meantime. With a list of titles like Dark Souls and Demon's Souls to From Software's name I wouldn't expect anything too drastic. But companies surprise us all the time.

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canadamus_prime:

geizr:

canadamus_prime:

Yeah, that's the part I don't understand. Surely the market has already shown that that practice isn't sustainable.

I have repeated this mantra more times than I care to remember on the Escapist: a company hears and understands only two sounds, the creak of your wallet opening and the slap of your wallet closing. Everything else is just noise to be ignored. The apparent fact is these "cheap, offensive" tactics that many of us on the Escapist rail vehemently against actually do work to improve sales and revenue for the publishers, as is evidenced by the repeated sales of 3+ million copies of these recycled franchises. Unfortunately, the shit that many of us here on the Escapist hate seeing in games does seem to cause more wallets to creak open. What has not been working for the publishers is the complete mismanagement of production and marketing costs. These have escalated faster than the corresponding increases in sales. If publishers could actually get better control of their costs while still maintaining their corresponding increases in sales, then the triple-A industry would be absolutely rolling in the green (and you would see even greater levels of homogenization and appeals to the mass audience). The perception of insufficient or lagging sales is only relative to the costs that have gone into the game, not because people are not buying games.

That doesn't make the situation any better, in fact it makes the situation worse.

Perhaps, but, unfortunately, reality has no obligation to conform to any of our desires, wishes, religions, philosophies, ideologies, or fantasies. It simply is what it is. Now, that's not to say that what I said above is true. I'm merely pointing to a non-intuitive possibility.

I'm not a fan of the Demon's/Dark Souls games(doesn't fit my niche), but this still upsets me, because I respect what those games stand/stood for. I'm getting really tired of the AAA market and its bullshit.

In an unrelated note, I didn't know they made sex toys modeled after the fists of porn stars... so, now I know.

I purchased Dark Souls a few months after it came out, not knowing anything about it except that it was getting good reviews. I was hooked. Best game of 2009, by far. Dark Souls took that formula, refined it (though some would argue the point) and made another excellent game.

I have high hopes that Dark Souls II will be just as good as Dark Souls, but some things do worry me. The quote from Namco that Jim highlighted is worrying. Just from reading gaming forums across the 'net, I've seen the divide between players that love the Souls game, those that don't give a shit and those that tried them and found them lacking, too hard or just not their cup of tea. Trying to reel those people in is a mistake. They aren't going to like a Souls game if what they enjoy is Gears of War, Skyrim and Bioshock Infinite.

I'm also highly disappointed that the best name they could come up with for the third game in the series is "Dark Souls II". Really? Why establish a pattern of unique, but similar, game titles only to immediately abandon it? One of the laziest things about sequels is the names. Just slap a number on the end of the old title so people know it's new. That's the path to creative bankruptcy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not down on Dark Souls II. I'm still stoked for it, I'll most likely even pre-order it. I will probably enjoy it from what I've seen, but the trend that the series seems to be leaning towards with this game makes me wonder if Dark Souls III (and there will be one, mark my words) will be the steaming pile of shit that the phrase "massive, massive triple A" makes me think of.

On the bright side, due to the increasing lack of genuinely quality games released, I've had more time to go outside and do outdoorsy activities for a change. Heres to you Major Publishers and your terrible marketing departments.

capitalism baby! it's how it works always more, more, MORE!!!

TAdamson:

Annihilist:
I should stress that "niche" is pronounced "Neeesh", not "Nitch".

From the French - Nicher:- to nest.

Worse is 'buoy'. It's pronounced 'boy' Americans, its short for buoyancy. What the fuck is a "boowy"?

Language evolves though. I get annoyed by the way that Americans pronounce herbs, Post 19th Century RP English pronounciation aspirates the 'h' but in Colonial American English (and the original French) the 'h' is silent.

A.) it's pronunciation.

And B.) television people say "nitch" and "neesh" here. But more commonly "nitch" unless you are trying to alienate the audience with your Francophone sophistication. I am not sure about in the UK, but hats off to Jim for catching up with Americanisms if that's the case.

C.) On buoy, if this is not a cruel joke. Think about the boy on the buoy, or the buoy is out to sea. In an emergency this is a life or death distinction slash potential misunderstanding that can be grave either way. Plus "boowy" sounds much better. And its not short for buoyancy, though the etymology might be identical.

They won't give a shit because shareholders are more important than customers, and niche titles don't increase quarterly sales reports to make shareholders happy.

And all those previously independent developers from the 90's and early 2000's that saw those same dollar signs when publishers began to buy them up are what got this snowball rolling.

The gaming industry needs to collapse again.

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Zom-B:
I'm also highly disappointed that the best name they could come up with for the third game in the series is "Dark Souls II". Really? Why establish a pattern of unique, but similar, game titles only to immediately abandon it? One of the laziest things about sequels is the names. Just slap a number on the end of the old title so people know it's new. That's the path to creative bankruptcy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not down on Dark Souls II. I'm still stoked for it, I'll most likely even pre-order it. I will probably enjoy it from what I've seen, but the trend that the series seems to be leaning towards with this game makes me wonder if Dark Souls III (and there will be one, mark my words) will be the steaming pile of shit that the phrase "massive, massive triple A" makes me think of.

I don't have a source to fully back this up, but if they could've, I believe Dark Souls would've just been Demon's Souls II, in all honesty. Miyazaki and the new directors of Dark Souls II have stated that the games (all three) have really nothing to do with the other in terms of story, and it's a continuation mostly on mechanics (some might debate this, and you're in the right, because we don't know jack at the moment for DaS II). The name is, I think, natural because it joins the series together. The only reason why they even kept the Souls name, if this is true, is so that people associate it with Demon's Souls, otherwise they would have named it anything else.

Back on topic, I'm not too frightened as a lover of Dark Souls. Namco Bandai will take the hit if it doesn't go as well, but ultimately From Soft calls the shots for the franchise and is the publisher in Japan. If it becomes a financial success for From, and I think it will, but bombs Namco, they can just find someone else. The question then would be if they could find a publisher just as good in terms of creative freedom.

In short, don't be worried about it affecting DaS II in terms of game mechanics or quality. Really.

Oh man, Jim you need to calm down a bit....not that i dont agree with you 100%.

I recently thought i was going off games until i realised its not me, its the crap thats being produced. Sad to have to say goodbye to one more decent franchise, heh Triple A, the Aids of the game industry...

Mick P.:

TAdamson:

Annihilist:
I should stress that "niche" is pronounced "Neeesh", not "Nitch".

From the French - Nicher:- to nest.

Worse is 'buoy'. It's pronounced 'boy' Americans, its short for buoyancy. What the fuck is a "boowy"?

Language evolves though. I get annoyed by the way that Americans pronounce herbs, Post 19th Century RP English pronounciation aspirates the 'h' but in Colonial American English (and the original French) the 'h' is silent.

A.) it's pronunciation.

And B.) television people say "nitch" and "neesh" here. But more commonly "nitch" unless you are trying to alienate the audience with your Francophone sophistication. I am not sure about in the UK, but hats off to Jim for catching up with Americanisms if that's the case.

C.) On buoy, if this is not a cruel joke. Think about the boy on the buoy, or the buoy is out to sea. In an emergency this is a life or death distinction slash potential misunderstanding that can be grave either way. Plus "boowy" sounds much better. And its not short for buoyancy, though the etymology might be identical.

Did I not say that language evolves?

Regardless Nitch is still painfully shit and boowy doubly so. I do not care who gets alienated with "francophone" sophisitication.

Buoy is at the root word or buoyant, bouyancy, etc and and it is either Dutch or Spanish with both pronunciations being closer to boy. Boowy is closer to French so who is alienating who with francophonie now?

The Games Industry: not understanding how business works since the 1980's.

Infernal Lawyer:

bunji:
Hey Jim, I thought you allready wanted to casualize Dark Souls with some shitty ez mode. This is fucking breaking my heart, but pick a fucking side and stick to it Jim.

Way to miss the point?

Jim wasn't mad about an easy mode, because it was an entirely different mode in the game rather than a change in the original formula that EVERYONE had to deal with. The old fans (back then, at least) were promised the old game that they knew and loved, yet they were bitching about how anyone who preferred their enemies lobotomized had a easy setting all to themselves, even though it would have ZERO impact on the standard game mode.

Having multiple difficulty levels is the easiest way to appeal to multiple audiences (i.e. the hardcore and those leaning on casual) without alienating anyone.

He's mad now because the developers are trying to make the CORE gameplay on EVERY difficulty level appeal to the masses by turning it into the homogenized mush that we're getting sick of.

There's a difference between making an 'ez' mode and having a 'let's waste money and resources and potentially piss off our cult fans by changing the whole game to try and attract people who don't care about our game' attitude.

Sorry but adding extra difficuly modes is just dilluting the game directors vision of the gameplay to appeal to a wider audience. That's why Dark Souls only has one difficulty mode and plays so tight; the game director knew how he wanted the game to be played and refused to sell it short to appeal to people who cant deal with adversity.

the antithesis:
Aaaaand, several users now went and looked up the Belladonna Bitch Fist just to see if this is real. It is and the comment on the Amazon page is priceless, I tell you. Priceless. I also like how the Amazon page I found says it's a package of four. I don't even want to know what someone would do with four rubber fists.

Perhaps they somehow wear out?

Unless something changed that I'm not ware of, let me make something abundantly clear to everyone... From Software is developing it themselves (like they do all their titles that I know of), and they do their own publishing within their home country of Japan. They use other companies like Agetec, Atlus, and Namco to publish overseas.

Given that, Namco Bandi will have very little to do with the development of Dark Souls 2. They have no rights to tell them how to do things, and ultimately Namco needs From Software, not the other way around. If Namco spends billions on useless ad campaigns and pushing for Dark Souls 2 to be as big as Skyrim, they'll only hurt themselves. If they do this and consider Dark Souls 2 to be a colossal financial failure, and refuse to publish any others, From will simply move on to another publisher, and we'll still get a quality game out of Dark Souls 2.

So this is actually the perfect way for consumers to get everything we want: publishers learning a painful lesson in reality, and knowing that the games we love to play aren't going to be a casualty of that process. And really, if by some unbelievable miracle Dark Souls 2 doubles or even triples the fanbase of its predecessors, I'm happy with that too. I see very few ways for this to go wrong as far as we're concerned.

Why would you do that to Chris...

I'm a big fan of the Tales games from Namco Bandai. I'm even more niche than Dark Souls fans.

Luckily, Hideo Baba seems to have no desire to change the Tales franchise into something it is not. While people who do not like Tales games might not find that an interesting prospect, I am and I do and that's why I spend money on them.

I'm trying to imagine what a Dark Soul and Skyrim fusion would look and play like right now. There's already a hot debate over whether Dark Souls is a "jRPRG" or a "wRPG" or 'neither one.' That argument would go right out the window for the most part if Dark Souls did, in fact, become more like Skyrim.

Well one thing, I think it would have far better combat than Skyrim. Skyrim is still somewhat stuck in the first person RPG discipline as you can tell that third person gameplay is less than stellar in comparison to many other 3rd person games, like Dark Souls which do punishingly hard combat in 3rd person pristinely well. Skyrim having better 3rd person action combat would be a good thing. In fact Dragon's Dogma is also better than Skyrim in this respect.

The problem is that I don't think that Dark Souls is meant to be Skyrim. It isn't so much about exploration as much finely tuned areas with finely tuned challenges. Most locations in Dark Souls are meant to kill you rather than make you wonder. I'm not against theses to genres learning from each other and having fusion games. But I don't think that Dark Souls needs to give up what it is for the sake of becoming more like Skyrim. Again, Dark Souls is about challenge more than exploration. And making it more about exploration than challenge would dilute what Dark Souls is about.

I still don't get why people act as if Dead Space 1 was that sophisticated, intriguing survival horror game that got forced into being a third person shooter franchise.

Seriously, go play Dead Space 1 again: It's a third person shooter, loud and clear. There's no resource scarcity, there's no threat in a single enemy and the game's understanding of atmosphere is that a loud bang after a few seconds of "creepy" silence makes people jump in their seats and that that's kinda fun. The core gameplay mechanic is shooting off the limbs of enemies with ever more powerful weapons. Sorry, it's a third person shooter. Yes, the setting is sci-fi horror, but it's a shooter, an action game.
Dead Space 2? Even more action, more gross-out effects and loud "shock" moments, but less horror, sorry. It's still an action game.

Why are people so pissed at EA for Dead Space 3 being an action game? Because it has coop now? Okay, that's actually a difference, but a fairly small one.

Sounds like how American automobile manufacturers design cars. With equal success.

Well, Jim, the people making decisions are business people. And they're not smart business people either - the smart ones tend to go into Oil, Military R&D, Mining and Aviation. Truth be told, the Video Game industry attracts only the middle-quality business people who don't really understand how to make businesses very successful.

These business people think of one thing and one thing only - money. They see what makes money, and in their minds, doing more of that will get them more money. Every industry suffers from this, it's not just video games. The truly successful, imaginative and intelligent business people know that to lazily copy another product in the hopes of duplicating its success is not wise. But those business people are few and far between. The majority of business people have precisely ZERO imagination (that's why they went into business after all) and want to take easy options to get big bucks.

I do not see the problem with widening the net with your advertising. I was not interested in Dark Souls. I didn't even hear about it until months after it was released, and even then it took some prodding by a few friends to get me to take the time to look at it. I fell in love. Getting your game some more exposure to try and reach more people doesn't seem inherently bad to me.

It's bad if you do it to excess.

It's bad if you disguise what the game is.

It's bad if you alter the game to suit a broader audience, at least when you do it in a way that alienates your primary audience.

It's not bad to widen your marketing a tad to reach more people, because word of mouth doesn't reach everyone, and it doesn't reach them as quickly.

Can someone please explain the problem to me? Are there other statements released by the company, other actions that make this more worrying in context? Is there a terrible aspect of widening the net a little bit that I'm just not getting?

Aw man, I was already very skeptical about Dark Souls 2 because of the title alone. Dark Souls is a spiritual successor to Demon Souls, so it stands on its own and that's reflected in the title. Dark Souls doesn't require a sequel, so why does it have a sequel instead of a spiritual successor?

I do not see the problem with widening the net with your advertising.

The problem isn't about widening the advertising but about widening the game itself. Making it more bland, less difficult and more mainstream.

MeisterKleister:
Aw man, I was already very skeptical about Dark Souls 2 because of the title alone. Dark Souls is a spiritual successor to Demon Souls, so it stands on its own and that's reflected in the title. Dark Souls doesn't require a sequel, so why does it have a sequel instead of a spiritual successor?

I do not see the problem with widening the net with your advertising.

The problem isn't about widening the advertising but about widening the game itself. Making it more bland, less difficult and more mainstream.

Maybe I misinterpreted the video, but that's not what I got out of it...

I very much agree Jim, I can't recall another time in my life when I felt such apathy for every single AAA publisher and all they games they shit out.

The only games that actually do garner my interest are smaller indie and/or kickstarter titles, and they are FAR more exciting than anything that EA or their retarded cousins can produce. That's where the real games are coming from, we do not need these corporate shitbag game publishers and their misled devs.

Voltano:
I can understand why Sterling would be upset by this, and we won't know if "Dark Souls II" would turn down this route of trying to compete against "Skyrim" until it is launched or we see more advertising indicating this. But, I'm willing to disagree with Sterling on this as competition like this could encourage growth.

If games stuck to their niche audience by making the same game for them to enjoy, then that is what Nintendo is doing. Same Zelda game, same Mario game, and only trying to do something new with the Metroid franchise (that didn't work out so well, I know). The point here is that games can become stagnant and homogenous if they don't try something new. In laymans terms, if I heard that "Dark Souls II" provides all the content I like from "Dark Souls I", then why should I buy it?

On the other hand, if I heard that "Dark Souls II" was borrowing ideas and features from "Skyrim", like a crafting system or screwing the souls system in favor a skill-growth system, I might be interested in trying it. Sterling has a few videos here where we could try ideas of a modern shooter game set in a horror setting, or showing interest in "Silent Hill" done in a top-down action RPG similar to "Diablo" on the PS Vita. I don't see how it could be harmful for the developers of "Dark Souls II" to look at "Skyrim" and see how they can use what they learned to potentially make the game better. It would be an interesting experiment, I think.

If is the case then I would actually be more excited, but the wording used by the publisher says otherwise. Not to mention the developer's director has been replaced. Things are looking a bit shaky.

The thing about Nintendo games is that they are targetted at a big audience, "children". Thats one of the big 3,
so it's not exactly niche. Also just because you target a niche doesn't mean you can't experiment with gameplay, borrow ideas, improve visuals and continue the story arc.
Homogenization and Innovation are different things altogether.

The route that the publishers and the new directors who demands loyalty in the developers side means shoving to much money into visuals, homogenizing the gameplay so it's easier, handholding, appeals to wider variety of people (who would probably not buy the game because they already associate dark souls with hard ass game and it turns away existing fans) & publishers shoving tons of money into advertising it's largely increasing expenses that's setting yourself up for failure.

Voltano:
Though it seems like the wording here is the developers of "Dark Souls II" want to 'compete' against "Skyrim", not 'learn' from it. In that case, they might be setting themselves up for failure as Sterling talked about. But either way we won't know until we learn more about the game.

Yeah, we shall have to see. I'm holding onto my money until I see the gameplay before making any decision.

TheUnbeholden:
If is the case then I would actually be more excited, but the wording used by the publisher says otherwise. Not to mention the developer's director has been replaced. Things are looking a bit shaky.

The quote is something to be concerned about. But the impression I got from this video was this is all speculation and theories that I don't know if it would turn out to be true or not. There is some evidence that this has happened in the past with other games ("Dead Space" and "Tomb Raider", for example, trying to attract an audience it isn't targeted towards). But I guess I'm trying to be more optimistic here. We won't know until we learn more about "Dark Souls II".

TheUnbeholden:
The route that the publishers and the new directors who demands loyalty in the developers side means shoving to much money into visuals, homogenizing the gameplay so it's easier, handholding, appeals to wider variety of people (who would probably not buy the game because they already associate dark souls with hard ass game and it turns away existing fans) & publishers shoving tons of money into advertising it's largely increasing expenses that's setting yourself up for failure.

Yeah, when I start to see "Dark Souls II" go this route then I'll agree that Sterling's concerns here are true. But, if "Dark Souls II" was going to be homogenized, then wouldn't they try mimicking "Call of Duty" more? I mean, that is why the multi-player portion of "Tomb Raider" was made to attract that audience. They tried borrowing ideas from a shooter that focuses a lot on military hardware to put into a game that was about a minority character surviving in a hostile environment and growing up into something symbolic in our industry.

From Software always specialized in making Western RPGs, and the big one right now is "Skyrim", so taking ideas to learn from that might be a positive step. Plus "Skyrim" is getting old and Bethesda has said they are no longer making any DLC for the game, so the odds of that still competing with "Dark Souls II" on launch decreases. But if From Software tries making "Dark Souls II" look a lot like "Skyrim" and play a lot like "Skyrim" but being not as good as "Skyrim" and detracting a lot of what makes "Dark Souls" stand out, then I guess we'll have to accept another casualty in the triple-A game industry.

BigTuk:
Well it has finally happened. The Games Industry has become the mirror image of the Movie Industry it so enviously aped after for so many years. bravo.

On the plus side, the movie industry is seeing a resurgance of Independent movies because of this exact problem... Hopefully the Independent video game publishers will be able to respond the same way as well. (However, this might mean that consoles will be for generic AAA titles and PC's for more niche, more original games.)

From reading these articles I came upon the notion that maybe the games industry is suffering from the same problem: Lazy Egotism.

In essence, the industry knows that these attitudes lead to disaster, but acknowledging this could lead to the very foundation of the current industry being shaken, which could result in many bussiness practices, and the people linked to them, being changed or outright replaced.

In other words, despite the risk for financial loss, it's seen as a worse fate to lose the current advantage the AAA publishers have if the status quo should ever be questioned.

So, the result is a self-serving lazyness, where the actual intellectual work to truly understand the complexities of the market is simply not done.

Just a thought, anyway.

Samudra:

BigTuk:
Well it has finally happened. The Games Industry has become the mirror image of the Movie Industry it so enviously aped after for so many years. bravo.

On the plus side, the movie industry is seeing a resurgance of Independent movies because of this exact problem... Hopefully the Independent video game publishers will be able to respond the same way as well. (However, this might mean that consoles will be for generic AAA titles and PC's for more niche, more original games.)

With the increasing popularity of Desura (and its partner sites IndieDB and ModDB, as well kickstarter) indie devs are getting much more exposure.. even Steam taking on Greenlight to allow some indie titles is a step towards fixing the industry by showing what real games are like! A individuals vision, personified through hard work, no cutting corners or over emphasis on things that don't matter... trying new things and listening to feedback.
Stuff like alpha funding and donation milestone rewards, and donation perks have done alot to make it profitable, especially with the relatively low costs of a small team of devs using pre-existing engines.

Things aren't as bleak as they where 5 years ago.. 2008 brought about its own revolution for games with Lets Plays gaining popularity which made playing games in front of a camera cool.

All indie's need is major publishers to establish indie branches! every other entertainment industry has done this already except the gaming industry. Fox has Searchlight Pictures, Sony has Red distribution...

The real storm in the horizon is Xbone... before this its been Securom DRM, and Ubisoft who fueled the DRM, and consolitis.

I rarely agree with everything Jim says in a video but I do this time. I pray that Atlus never falls prey to the logic failure these other niche game publishers have.

Jim I thought somebody sent you a dildo hahaha great video as always, will they listen to you? No, not a chance the lure of the green will prove too much for them as it always does :(

Just before, and I mean moments before you started talking about cutting off Chris Redfield's head, but just after mentioning a solution, these words ran through my head: "First, we must kill all the publishers." Because, as The Corporation [the film] pointed out, all corporations are psychotic entities, because all the most successful executives are, in actuality, psychotic. You don't have to be psychotic to succeed, but to be psychotic is the quintessence of the will to succeed, because nothing else matters, not even the lives of other human beings. After working for I don't know how many corporations, I can unequivocally state that any and every corporation would sell its own employees' internal organs on the open market for profit if they could get away with it. They would do it without blinking. It is only the continued existence of some kind of press and a social order among the nonpsychotics that includes word of mouth, that we are all still allowed to live. I'm afraid that this video, no matter how sensible, and it is sensible, indeed, will fall on deaf ears because, Jim, you are preaching to psychotics. There are probably among them some who are seriously, and I mean in all seriousness, trying to figure out how to rig the brakes of your car. Be safe, people. No fear. Eyes open.

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