Press Released: The Sampler Platter

Press Released: The Sampler Platter

Sean Sands mulls over how Blizzard stays on top and why he plays Dead Space with the lights on.

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Those things are delicious.

A couple of comments to the editorial: Blizzard stays on top because all of the games that come out now try to be better copies of it. Players leave only to find out they are playing a "prettier" version of the same game they've been playing, and so they com back to the game they have already leveled up a character in. They aren't coming back for the content itself, nor the new expansion on the way. They are leaving in the first place because they want something different, and every time they jump ship they find out that the developer that threw out the lifeline didn't really do anything new and unique. They are all jus iterations of WoW or they are just bad games. It's the publishers fault themselves that they can't topple Blizzard, it's not Blizzard staying on top because they are good (in respects to WoW proper).

As far as the Activision/Harmonix thing: I am happy that it is Harmonix and Rock Band getting the AC/DC track pak as well as more exclusives as it is simply the better game. When Activision took over and made GH3 they showed that they weren't as adept at making a good rythm game. Some tracks were arbitrarily harder on songs just to increase the difficulty (adding notes and chords where none existed) even though the songs themselves were relatively simple to play in real life compared to other tracks. Harmonix is attempting to stay truer to "playing" a song properly, and even though the songs overall are "simpler", the game is far more fun because not only can you succeed without being inhuman, you can also have fun while doing it.

And then there is GH:WT. Instead of sticking with the series and trying to make themselves unique from Rock Band, Activision decides to copy Harmonix entirely while trying a "we're better because we have this" approach and trying to compete with them. You do know that both games could survive very well in their own niches, right Activision? How many Guitar/Drum/Mic peripherals do we need to buy? Thanks for making your GH3 and PS3 Rock Band games compatable...oh wait... Not only that, they still haven't figured out a way to support the fans of their series. Why not do what Rock Band is and make your games forward compatable? Why not redo the songs you've done on previous games and offer them up as free downloads to the people playing your game? Harmonix is continually offering numerous new tracks to download (cheaper overall than GH3's offerings, especially considering the extra instruments), and offering deals for singles if you want to pick and choose or packs if you want bang for your buck. They are trying to help the fans of their games, and in doing so, they will get my support. If Activision tried to cater to their fans more (look you can't even upload created cover songs now with their editor...What's the point now?), I'd want to see them succeed. Now I just want them to give up and stop stealing exclusives that I would rather see on the superior product.

Lord_Jaroh:
A couple of comments to the editorial: Blizzard stays on top because all of the games that come out now try to be better copies of it. Players leave only to find out they are playing a "prettier" version of the same game they've been playing, and so they com back to the game they have already leveled up a character in. They aren't coming back for the content itself, nor the new expansion on the way. They are leaving in the first place because they want something different, and every time they jump ship they find out that the developer that threw out the lifeline didn't really do anything new and unique. They are all jus iterations of WoW or they are just bad games. It's the publishers fault themselves that they can't topple Blizzard, it's not Blizzard staying on top because they are good (in respects to WoW proper).

Just to clarify something, Blizzard has always played it safe. They use time tested gameplay elements and tweak them to fit the game they are make. None of their games do much of anything different, they just do things right. There's nothing about WoW that hasn't been done in any number of other games, including older MMO's. The reason to WoW's success has very little to do with the quality of the game, or the fact that other games are like it though.

The biggest reason why WoW (and all other Blizzard products for that matter) are so popular are that they've come out during a stagnant period of whatever genre they represent. Diablo came out when Action RPG's hadn't been released in a while (the same thing happened with Diablo 2 and will be happening with Diablo 3). Starcraft was released when the RTS market was dry and empty. WoW came out during similar times.

This is the biggest reason why Blizzard has such success. I don't buy in to the "We release games when they are finished" crap. By the time they announce that they are working on a game, they have the majority of it done, despite saying they've only started work on it. Take a look at Diablo 3. It's gone through 3-4 art style changes and has been in development since before Blizzard North left. Why are only 3 classes and Act 1 done? The answer is that they are lying. Most of it is done, just like Starcraft. They release their games when the market is dry.

Of course this is speculation, but the speculation matches what has happened in the past and what is happening now. Lets take a look at SC2. A huge RTS is coming out around the same time that SC2 is (Red Alert 3) and, surprise, they announced that SC2 is going to be 3 games. Why would they do that? Because they know SC2 won't sell as good as they want due to another major RTS being around at the time of release and want to get people interested in the game at 3 different times.

The initial release is for the fans.

The second release is for the Red Alert 3 people.

The third release is for whatever RTS comes out after that.

If you examine the Action RPG market, the only games that have been released recently are Hellgate: London and Titan Quest. Both of the companies that mode those games tanked. One tanked because the game sucked and the other tanked... well, I don't really know why. What a good game Titan Quest was.

Anyway, Diablo 3 will be released in a time where a decent Action RPG hadn't been released in a few years, and none at all had been released in a year. Even if the game wasn't Diablo 3 and Blizzard didn't make the game, it would sell well. Why? Because of a stagnant genre being reborn.

Whatever happened to Ghost? You know, that Starcraft FPS that they were working on? Yeah, what kind of games dominated during the period that the game was in development? First Person Shooters. Did it ever get released? Nope. Reason? Competition was thick. Examination of the Blizzard track record shows this.

 

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