Bugbear Entertainment Producer Joonas Laakso thinks gamers are tired of all the "handholding" in modern games and have begun to yearn for some of the challenge that games of yore used to serve up on a daily basis.
You may not recognize the Bugbear Entertainment name but you'll surely recognize its work, which includes the FlatOut series, Sega Rally Revo and the in-development Ridge Racer Unbounded, the next chapter in Namco's storied racing series that's due out sometime next year. In other words, it's fair to say that the people there have some idea what they're talking about when they talk about videogames and what Laakso is talking about is that people are getting a bit tired of coasting.
"I think games in general used to be a little bit simpler, but also a little bit more demanding. I'm not sure if consumers actually want all of this handholding we're offering them now," he told CVG.
"I think that maybe there's a demand for more in-depth gameplay experiences than what have been catered to lately. Maybe we've been doing too much automation," he continued. "For example, our previous games in the Flatout franchise were really difficult games - I couldn't finish Flatout 2. There have been some really difficult games in the past but the fans seem to like it and we get fan mail weekly about it. People really seem to like those old titles and they want something like that."
I've been playing videogames for an awfully long time and I can attest to the fact that games then were a lot tougher than games now. We muddled through somehow [although I never did manage to finish Crescent Hawk's Revenge] and enjoyed some great experiences but, on the other side of the coin, the audience in that era was much more focused, dedicated and willing to invest huge amounts of time into individual games. What's needed, according to Laakso, is "balance."
"I think that studios really have to find a balance between offering more spectacle and higher production values," he said. "But I think maybe as an industry we've gone too far in that direction - for all spectacle and too little gameplay, and games become disposable experiences instead of games which you keep playing for years and years."