The gaming press should be pushing developers to try new things, the God of War creator says.
David Jaffe thinks that the gaming press needs to start getting tougher with developers and publishers. He feels that if journalists spend more time calling out the lack of innovation in modern games, it might go some way to improving the state of the industry.
Jaffe pointed at the tank scene from Battlefield 3 that EA showed off at E3. He applauded the skill and artistry of the scene, but said that he hadn’t seen anyone calling DICE out for creating yet another turret section, something that developers have been doing since the 1980s arcade game Battlezone. He compared the situation to movie reviews – he singled out Transfomers: Dark of the Moon as an example – which would praise the visual effects, but criticize the movie for being boring or predictable.
“I’m not saying we should try to be like movies,” he said. “But when they talk about stories, we could talk about gameplay – and I’m not saying they’re the same thing, I’m just saying that’s the meat that makes both mediums special. Theirs is character, emotion, storytelling; ours is interactivity.”
“We as developers are not pushed enough by the journalists that cover us,” he added. “I think that if critics demanded more on a continual basis … it would start to get both readers and perhaps publishers thinking in that way. And as they did that, they’d start to reject things that might look great but really don’t offer anything new.” Jaffe added that he liked commercial games and shooters just fine, and that he didn’t want innovation just for its own sake, rather he wanted the press to challenge developers to push themselves.
While plenty of people would agree that game critics could stand to be a little tough, Jaffe is perhaps being a little optimistic about how much sway the gaming press actually has. Going back to Jaffe’s rather apt comparison to the Transformers movies; reviewers savaged the first two films, but they still made millions and millions of dollars at the box office. As much as we might wish it were different, a critical press can only do so much against a multi-million dollar marketing campaign.