Jimquisition: An Industry Of Pitiful Cowards

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NEXT
 

An Industry Of Pitiful Cowards

The games industry is so scared, it runs screaming from problems that aren't even real.

Watch Video

I didn't even know Squenix said that, but maybe the other companies will follow suit and admit that they were wrong. Things probably won't go back to the PlayStation 2 era of anything getting a pass but it's better than 2008-2010 being littered with Halo clones and 2011-2013 being littered with explosion fests filled with QTEs and homogenisation.

Hi Jim, I was the one who made all those horrible business decisions. So, uh, sorry about that.

Also, I broke the dam.

Regarding the backdrop issues, do you not have any space to put more distance between you and the backdrop? That's always been a problem, regardless of the shininess of the backdrop. You should not be lighting the backdrop with the main lights, it should be separately lit. In fact, even the terrible shiny backdrop could have worked if it was sufficiently separated and angled so that the reflections don't bounce straight back at the camera.

You looked so naked up there without your backdrop, I had to censor it for the kids :P

OT: I love "no duh" moments. People like JRPGs? No duh Squeenix.

Great episode as always Jim.

It's puzzling indeed, I believe the same thing can be said about streamlining games and making them too easy because for some reason all developers started thinking gamers might become disinterested in the content if it's too hard to achieve anything in the game.

I really hope SE will revert their approach towards FF, last few games in the series were abysmal, I'm still hoping for something in the spirit of FF6, 9 or even FFT or Vagrant Story :(

How ironic it it to say that Resident Evil looks like Gears of War, when Gears of War is Resident Evil 4 2.0 Halo edition.

I think the problem is that the executives are sitting in giant echo chambers. They think something is a bad idea and go out of their way to ensure that it fails (executive meddling, less development time, lower budgets and so on) and then point to that failure and scream "SEE!?!?! IT FAILED!!!!". This is not unique to the video game industry, anyone who is a fan of Sci-Fi and good cartoons on television will attest to the same shit happening (Firefly the most famous example among many others). And if they think something is a good idea then they will put all of their resources into it and even if it fails they will blame everyone and everything (pirates, new console generation, microwaves, conspiracy of journalists, mind control).

Also, to expand on some of the genres that were mentioned in the video, here are some more:
Space Sim genre is dead outside of X series, Eve online and possible hope of Star Citizen

Point and Click adventure genre was dead until it was revived by Phoenix Wright and then Telltale

WW2 FPS are gone

DDR, Guitar Hero, Rockband also gone

RTS hanging on thanks to Blizzard and Relic

TBS hanging on thanks to CA and 2K

Video Game industry is bigger than it ever was and at the same time it is blander than ever before. And I have no idea what can be done to wake those executives up. Bravely Default acted like a wake up call but most publishers are not willing to risk even a small niche title whose success might shock them.

Very good episode.

However, I think the problem was less about fear and more about greed. Yeah, JRPGs and survival horror and other such "niche" markets never really stopped being successful, but the problem was that executives at Square-Enix and Capcom and Konami, etc. all saw "Halo" and "Call of Duty" making way more money than they were and deciding that they could be just as successful if they did the same thing. Rather than remaining content with the modest success they were enjoying, they decided to try and out-Call-of-Duty "Call of Duty", and as a result, they alienated the market they had and reported losses.

One peculiar upside to this, however, is that this environment in the AAA industry is pretty much what allowed the indie market to gain as much appeal as it has. The timing was just perfect for them and there was basically no competition from the AAA industry. Additionally, the lack of AAA niche titles has made people so hungry for this kind of game that when they do get around to making a AAA niche title, people will absolutely devour it. Like with "XCOM: Enemy Unknown". I love that game, but if it came out in a market where that kind of game was more commonplace, people would have torn it to shreds for its abrupt story, its awkward voice acting, its lower-quality visuals, and its somewhat incomplete and inconsistent game mechanics. Still, since a AAA game like it hadn't come out in ages, it became incredibly popular and people couldn't stop singing its praises.

Let's hope this really is the beginning of a return to form.

I'm surprised Jim didn't mention Nintendo at all in the video. I know that they haven't really been as extreme as some of these companies are, but at the same time, they're not reaching far enough to really warrant any applause. Look at the line-up of first party games the Wii got within it's first 16 months to what the Wii U got in it's first 16 months. You'll notice that there's a huge difference between the two.

Also, people have been shouting at Nintendo to bring back their old series such as Star Fox, F-Zero, Eternal Darkness, and a number of others. Heck, people are still screaming at NoA to bring Fatal Frame 2 and 4 to the states, but Reggie is too scared of the games failing to even do it, yet NoE took the chance with FF2 and it was considered a success. They can't just live on the trinity (Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon) for the rest of their days and hope that their consoles and games sell. That's part of the reason the Wii U is failing. There's not enough there to really warrant a purchase of it, besides the back catalogue of 2012 ports and Wii games.

Having more games like Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, and Hyrule Warriors are what gets more people to buy consoles.

The same happened to space fighter games... The industry dropped them cause they thought they weren't popular, after great stuff like X-Wing versus Tie Fighter and Freespace 2. Right up till Star Citizen proved them 41 million dollars wrong. And still counting.

It baffles me too, I honestly wonder what it was that set this mindset off. There must have been a catalyst surely?

I've always felt that the AAA industry's brains fell out around the beginning of the last console generation. Actually to be more precise, sometime around 2009. Good to see that Square-Enix has managed to salvage at least part of their brain.

I wonder if it has anything to do with focus testing or something of that ilk, get a small group of people together, ask them will they play survival horror games, then when the response is not that great, declare the genre dead and move on. I have no idea. But if it is anything like the people I worked with (admittedly in telecommunications but the same principle I believe can be applied here) it could be the issue where a guy or girl says something they think is trendy like people only want action rpgs now, they have surrounded themselves with yes men or women, who nod their head and because they don't have that person or set of people who tells them they are wrong and stupid then the idea grows, evolves and money is lost.

While I agree with you that they have made many mistakes, I don't particularly agree with why they have done them.

I believe it was more to do with how much gaming sky-rocketed when it became online, as that's when it really took off. Once they saw there was a lot of money to be made in games they decided to try and only make "the next big thing". WOW was a hit so we have seen a ton of clones. COD and Halo are the same, they have made a ridiculous amount of money and so other developers want that too. So many developers that made other types of games have begun to make theirs slowly become more similar to what the biggest ones have. I can only see this as an attempt at trying to strike gold like some other companies have.

The reason for why other genres (stealth, horror, RPG's and JRPG's) have been put on the back burner is because while they make money, they don't make as much money as the largest titles. But admitting to wanting a bit more money being the reason isn't something a good corporation is ever going to do. So they spun the "These games aren't popular" line. This makes it sound as if the decision to not make niche titles is somehow the customers fault rather than theirs. It means we can't complain because if we wanted them, we'd be getting them. As we are not, clearly it's because there isn't a demand for it.

A little like how Ubisoft recently claimed that we get yearly Assassin Creed games because people want them. I sincerely doubt this was the case. I believe they knew they'd sell because customers hate to feel like they are missing out and they cashed in on it. With the exception of Assassins Creed 4, the actual opinion of Assassins Creed games has been slowly dropping since AC2. I think most people were sticking with in the hope that next time would be better. This is especially true considering most people seem to agree that the sailing was the best part of AC3 and that AC4 was a good pirate game, but not so much an AC game.

This is all my opinion of course.

CAPTCHA: bon voyage

Couldn't have said it better myself, Captcha.

Good episode as usual, Jim. Ya know...I think Sega's kind of in the same boat right now. It took them a while to get the clue that the thing that sold in regards to the Sonic games was more emphasis on the fast paced gameplay and less on the story elements. (Though, TBH, considering that both Colors and Generations were good, I can't help but wonder if the fans just wanted to see Eggman/Robotnik back as a true villian and final boss and not a punchline that creates the REAL final boss.) Sega also had that awkward period where they had games which were more story driven...even to the point where they ripped off other stories. *gives the stinkeye to Secret Rings and Black Knight*

Still...with them I have to wonder if they were ill-prepared for the kind of success that Sonic had. Especially considering the fans who still look to SatAM with fond memories and who probably helped create the mass of success that Sonic had back then.

I don't quite agree with Jim's comments regarding JRPGs. On other forums I visit, Japanese games (and their RPGs in particular) get a lot of flak for "refusing to evolve" or "not going with the times". I can't help but suspect that FFXIIII and its sequels were attempts from Square-Enix to respond to that criticism.

Are we sure the 'refocusing on traditional RPGs' etc thing from Squeenix wasn't just an april fools joke? Because they sure picked a day to announce it on.

I find it surprising Jim didn't mention RTS - a genre that right now only has two companies in total working on them (that'll be Blizzard and Focus Interactive - you all know the former, but the latter make the Wargame Series, and are working on Etherium), to the point where the entire genre looks skeletal because one company has become a damned joke who deliberately try to appeal to Nostalgia to overlook how mediocre their output has been (and how they're usually quick to be screwed over by their business partners)*.

And then there's Command & Conquer 4, the game to the entire RTS genre what Resident Evil 6 is to the entire Resident Evil series. C&C 4 screwed up it's home franchise so badly that it's looking pretty damned dead at this point, to the point where it's dubious we'll ever see another C&C game. I get the feeling that a similar line of thinking lead to this.

In truth though, the RTS as a Genre has been on life support since 2007 because of this (it doesn't help that the only financially successful RTS games from that year were Forged Alliance and C&C 3 - everything else was either poorly received, sold exceptionally poorly or some combination of both**).

* For the dense, yes I am talking about Petroglyph - the company whose talent (and dignity) evacuated when Universe at War tanked hard. It says a lot when even after seven years have passed, the damage from that disaster can still be seen clearly. They are in every sense of the word a shadow of their former selves.

** From the top of my head, the list (as best as I can remember it) was Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, C&C 3, Universe at War and SunAge. I'm likely forgetting two or three. All I know is that only Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and C&C 3 sold decent numbers - as opposed to games like COD 4 and Team Fortress 2.

So basically the Game Industry, when coming up on a slight curve, swerve like fucking crazy and end up in the ditch.

Thanks for the episode, Jim.

Although, I do have to wonder if it is less about fear and more simply "Follow the Money." I realize it's an old hat to rag on games like Call of Duty, or the brown-and-gray cover shooters, but those were the games that were making stupid amounts of money (and granted, still do). I'm sure most companies saw this and thought "that's where the market is! Let's rework our existing franchises to get these people to buy our games too!" Hence, Japanese companies try to "westernize" their games (yes, I realize I'm painting with broad strokes here), and other similar companies, Japanese or otherwise, trying to make their games more appealing to a certain demographic, damn the "niche" fanbase beforehand.

You know, this all reminds me of back when I was growing up and reading comics when everything had to become dark and serious, because a handful of titles made mainstream attention. Soon, every other comic was trying to be the next "Dark Knight Returns" or "Watchmen" by making their characters all dark and menacing and it went that way until people finally got tired of it (and the stupid marketing ploys - hologram covers, limited edition metal covers, etc.), and the comic creators begun to realize how much of a fucking joke they'd become. The game market seems to be shadowing this, albeit about 15-20 years later.

Well hold on there, Jim. I remember saying a long time ago that even though the core of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was good, the whole game wasn't actually a Banjo Kazooie game at all and I recommended that the core of it should have been put into a different IP entirely.

But you said no. You were saying that that was a good thing that they were experimenting around and trying new things with the brand even though it didn't match the brand at all. OK, that's fine. But then, you say in this video that the action RPG that Square Enix was making was a mistake even though it was trying new things with the brand.

Explain!

So it's the MTV excuse huh?

Back in the early '00's they got rid of a channel called MTVX which played rock and metal 24/7. They canned it in favor of a fifth rap station and their excuse was "well, no one likes rock music at all." Then they just eliminated all programming involving rock or making sure rock didn't play when they did blocks of videos. It has gotton to the point where if that Miley Cyrus thing didn't happen, the biggest controversy would have been them doing the best rock video of the year backstage before the show even started.

Sounds a lot like how the games industry with everything that isn't trying to copy CoD.

A rather breezy episode, Jim. Good work.

I think they tend to have a very one dimensional view of gamers. For example the logic would go something like this. FPSs are popular and people who play FPSs ONLY like FPSs. This means that you can't sell JRPG or survival horror to the same person that buys an FPS. Therefore the rising success of Call of Duty implies the death of Resident Evil or Final Fantasy. Most of the people on this board can just look at their own libraries to see that that's utter balderdash. Unfortunately those in charge of the decision making are more likely to listen to the Good Idea Fairy rather than reality.

no argument there jim you are right, is only shameful the big AAA publishers reached this point

Sir Shockwave:
I find it surprising Jim didn't mention RTS - a genre that right now only has two companies in total working on them (that'll be Blizzard and Focus Interactive - you all know the former, but the latter make the Wargame Series, and are working on Etherium), to the point where the entire genre looks skeletal because one company has become a damned joke who deliberately try to appeal to Nostalgia to overlook how mediocre their output has been (and how they're usually quick to be screwed over by their business partners)*.

And then there's Command & Conquer 4, the game to the entire RTS genre what Resident Evil 6 is to the entire Resident Evil series. C&C 4 screwed up it's home franchise so badly that it's looking pretty damned dead at this point, to the point where it's dubious we'll ever see another C&C game. I get the feeling that a similar line of thinking lead to this.

In truth though, the RTS as a Genre has been on life support since 2007 because of this (it doesn't help that the only financially successful RTS games from that year were Forged Alliance and C&C 3 - everything else was either poorly received, sold exceptionally poorly or some combination of both**).

* For the dense, yes I am talking about Petroglyph - the company whose talent (and dignity) evacuated when Universe at War tanked hard. It says a lot when even after seven years have passed, the damage from that disaster can still be seen clearly. They are in every sense of the word a shadow of their former selves.

** From the top of my head, the list (as best as I can remember it) was Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, C&C 3, Universe at War and SunAge. I'm likely forgetting two or three. All I know is that only Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and C&C 3 sold decent numbers - as opposed to games like COD 4 and Team Fortress 2.

dunno about that, what about the total war series and company of heroes?

Bravo Jim, wonderful work here. So often it's the specialized game that breaks the mold and wins our cash and awards. It's a shame that everyone jumped after COD money when they (those doing the jumping) weren't even a basic military shooter to begin with.

Indeed let us all thank god for...this is freaky

I was glad that Bravely Default succeeded as it did, and I'm glad that Square-Enix has opened their eyes (the new Hitman will supposedly return to the original style of gameplay) to the fact that not everything needs to be an action game. I do hope that Capcom learns this lesson as well, but Capcom has many problems beyond just Resident Evil.

The sad truth is that multiplayer FPS games are what's selling right now, but that doesn't mean that games of other genres can't find success.

And then people wonder why I'm primarily gaming on my 3DS these days, where old ideas tend to find new life.

In my eyes, it's because of the current generation of consoles selling well overall. As an industry, the big names in publishing consoles and games saw huge sales in the consoles, and attributed that to potential huge sales in games, which lead to development studios being created and a higher number of people hired to develop games. But the issue immediately differentiated when the big publishers saw their games not selling as well as their internal marketing people speculated. You got the Wii selling a total of 101 million, the 360 selling a total of 81 million, and the PS3 selling a total of 83 million. A marketer would say that that's nearly 300 million customers, when the reality is possibly 1/10th that if lucky. The numbers say so many bought all those consoles, but those numbers do not account for replacements, people owning multiple consoles at a time (Be it multiple of one brand or one of each brand), or people that are non-consumers (This would be people that bought the system as purely a DVD/Blu-ray player, use the non-gaming apps mostly, etc). So you now have bloated budgets, bloated studios, and an extremely bloated marketing campaign.

That's why I would say the "Future-proofing" is so sickening horrible. The execs are chasing horribly exaggerated numbers, and we can see that with how the PS3 handled after the PS2, as well as the Wii U after the Wii. Looking at VGChartz, the PS4 has sold 6.5 million, the Wii U has sold 5.9 million, and the Xbone has sold 4 million (Numbers may be outdated). Compared to the current gen, three years on the market saw the PS3 sell roughly 24 million, the Wii sold roughly 52.6 million, and the 360 sold 13.5 million. If anything, big publishers and big console makers are going to need to shrink in size or they'll over bloat and rupture. If the "trends" continue, we'll probably see the new generation of consoles meeting underwhelming sales due to the "non-gaming" console buyers sticking to what they have and not getting the new consoles.

Transdude1996:
I'm surprised Jim didn't mention Nintendo at all in the video. I know that they haven't really been as extreme as some of these companies are, but at the same time, they're not reaching far enough to really warrant any applause. Look at the line-up of first party games the Wii got within it's first 16 months to what the Wii U got in it's first 16 months. You'll notice that there's a huge difference between the two.

Also, people have been shouting at Nintendo to bring back their old series such as Star Fox, F-Zero, Eternal Darkness, and a number of others. Heck, people are still screaming at NoA to bring Fatal Frame 2 and 4 to the states, but Reggie is too scared of the games failing to even do it, yet NoE took the chance with FF2 and it was considered a success. They can't just live on the trinity (Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon) for the rest of their days and hope that their consoles and games sell. That's part of the reason the Wii U is failing. There's not enough there to really warrant a purchase of it, besides the back catalogue of 2012 ports and Wii games.

Having more games like Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, and Hyrule Warriors are what gets more people to buy consoles.

I'd say the issue with Nintendo is they have a "Don't fix what isn't an issue" mentality and it has become a problem. Mario, Zelda, Pokemon are not broken so they incrementally improve the games, while adding some innovation. Then when problem games do happen (FZero, Metroid, Star Fox), they put these IPs in stasis to look at in the future to see if they can fix them. Which then leads to these IPs being out of the loop for most of a generation or two potentially. With the Wii U, I feel Nintendo realized that new, and I mean absolutely new, IPs are a must, but they let the 3rd party take the lead for the first year the console was out. And the 3rd party publishers snubbed Nintendo hard with just ports of games already released, with Ubisoft taking the brunt of actual new games (Which negatively hit Ubisoft as well). At this point, I don't think Nintendo will really care anymore about 3rd party publishers because of how badly they reacted to the first year the Wii U was out in the market without competition from both Sony and Microsoft as well as Nintendo itself.

Chemical123:
I think the problem is that the executives are sitting in giant echo chambers. They think something is a bad idea and go out of their way to ensure that it fails (executive meddling, less development time, lower budgets and so on) and then point to that failure and scream "SEE!?!?! IT FAILED!!!!". This is not unique to the video game industry, anyone who is a fan of Sci-Fi and good cartoons on television will attest to the same shit happening (Firefly the most famous example among many others). And if they think something is a good idea then they will put all of their resources into it and even if it fails they will blame everyone and everything (pirates, new console generation, microwaves, conspiracy of journalists, mind control).

Also, to expand on some of the genres that were mentioned in the video, here are some more:
Space Sim genre is dead outside of X series, Eve online and possible hope of Star Citizen

Point and Click adventure genre was dead until it was revived by Phoenix Wright and then Telltale

WW2 FPS are gone

DDR, Guitar Hero, Rockband also gone

RTS hanging on thanks to Blizzard and Relic

TBS hanging on thanks to CA and 2K

Video Game industry is bigger than it ever was and at the same time it is blander than ever before. And I have no idea what can be done to wake those executives up. Bravely Default acted like a wake up call but most publishers are not willing to risk even a small niche title whose success might shock them.

That's a good point, and a very likely possibility

Great episode, definitely capstones my frustrations with the industry over the last decade.

The notion that entire genres can "die" was the most ridiculous thing to come from these big publishers, and every single time.. every single time they tried to re-invent a franchise for mass appeal, it always failed (or at least the parts that were homogenized were typically cited as the weak link of their respective games, ie: QTE's in 99% of them).

With the topic of this jimquisition in mind, it's going to be very interesting seeing how Dragon Age 3, aka Inquisition turns out, given the broad appeal dumbing down bull**** of DA2. Are they going to find that middle ground, or will it just be another cashtastic copout.

I think part of it is that "doing fine" isn't good enough for large shareholder driven companies. You always want to be doing better, growing etc... So in some ways this is Square giving up and saying we aren't going to get "big market" money.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here