Well I know I haven’t written anything in what seems like forever but I was stricken with inspiration today. I really wanted to talk about where the game industry has been and where it looks like it’s going.
For years now I’ve felt like the industry has been strangled by how much money people have made. Almost like it grew too fast over the past 20 years. In the 90’s and early 00’s it seemed as though whenever a game came out that everyone enjoyed, it was because someone had a vision to create something new, interesting and fun. At times games could make us see things in a whole new light. Then came the 7th gen consoles.(PS3 Xbox360) For a while things were still looking good.
The notion of DLC had yet to be butchered into what it has become lately. Developers like Bethesda released honest-to-goodness expansion packs, like the ones for Oblivion. Sans the minor stuff like 9 dollar horse armor. I’m speaking more of Knights Of The Nine and The Shivering Isles. The latter is still my favorite questline in any Elder Scrolls game so far. Even a game Like GTA IV had awesome expansions in the form of The Lost And Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony. Even if they were a little on the pricey side, they offered entirely new stories for a game we had already gotten our money’s worth out of. But with successes like these, game publishers saw and opportunity to cash in on us. What started out as an awesome idea to extend the life of a game you’ve already paid for, publishers decided to use as a way to basically rob us.
Publishers, being the financial power behind most triple-A games, have way more power than we realized. They would come in and tell a developer what parts of a game needed to be removed and sold as either DLC or as a pre-order bonus to one of the publisher’s retail partners. So instead of selling a complete product and using DLC as a means to make extra content, they decided to intentionally remove content and charge you $1.99 for things like a weapon skin or an alternate outfit. Things that used to be unlockable by either beating the game or entering a cheat code. Needless to say companies have gotten more and more shady with things like this as time has gone by.
On top of that we’ve also seen legendary game companies from the 80’s and 90’s seemingly forget how to make video games. With the massive success of games like Call Of Duty, every company has tried to jump on that band wagon and make a game that can capitalize on that success and make millions of it’s own. Well while in their attempts to make all this money they’ve alienated those of us who have been there since the beginning. Not to mention releasing some really, really horrible games.
For example, Megaman came back in a really big way with 2008’s Megaman 9. It was the first entry in the original series since Megaman 8 way back on the PS1. Not only that it was made in an 8-bit style like it’s NES predecessors. It was received with open arms and glowing reviews. It did so well that in 2010 Capcom released Megaman 10! Yet another 8-bit Megaman game for fans everywhere to enjoy. It was around this time that Capcom announced another, brand new Megaman game titled “Megaman Universe”. They even made an elaborate stop-motion trailer depicting Megaman breaking out of the game world and into someone’s bedroom. At the same time Keiji Inafune himself would announce that he wanted to make a Megaman Legends 3. He stated though, that in order for Capcom to agree to funding the project he needed to prove there was enough interest in the title. They made a website and special forum where fans could go to show their support and even vote on things being put into the game. After a while all news on both games would go dark. Eventually Capcom came out and cancelled them both. Much to fans’ disappointment. Shortly after this, it was announced that Inafune would indeed be leaving Capcom.
Months later Inafune would reveal that he was creating his own video game studio known as Comcept. He would then take to what was at the time a very young website known as Kickstarter. He wanted to make a brand new Megaman game. Obviously though, he didn’t own the rights to the Megaman property. So what he proposed to all of us was a “spiritual successor” to our beloved Blue Bomber. Mighty No. 9. As soon as news broke that he was attempting to raise funds for a new Megaman-style game, his kickstarter would go on to smash it’s goals. Mighty No 9 is set to release later on this year and is available for pre-order on Steam.
More recently we would see another legend of game-development leave his former employer. Koji Igarashi. The man who gave us the now iconic Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. The game that literally created it’s own genre known lovingly as Metroid-vania. Igarashi, too has turned to kickstarter to fund his new project titled “Bloodstained”. In his kickstarted video, Koji explains that for years he’s wanted to make a sequel to Sypmphony Of The Night but his bosses always told him that not enough people want it and therefore it wouldn’t make enough money to be worth the investment. He has gotten together many former colleagues of his to work on this new game including the composer of Symphony Of The Night, Michiru Yamane. This game too has smashed it’s goals and reached over $5,000,000.
This brings us to earlier this week. As you know it is the week of E3. The week game fans the world over look forward to all year round. The time when we get to see all the awesome stuff companies are working on to take our money! Many are calling this year’s convention the greatest of all time. Honestly, I’m inclined to agree. With announcements like Square finally committing to remaking Final Fantasy VII, it’s a good time to play video games. Sony did something at their E3 press conference I never thought they would do. They came out on stage and officially launched a kickstarter for someone else. None other than Yu Suzuki himself came on stage to officially launch his kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III. They counted down and asked everyone to go to the website and check it out. 12 hours later the game had exceeded it’s $2,000,000 goal. As of writing this it currently stands at just over $3.1 Million and still has 29 days left.
So if you’ve managed to stick with me this far you’re probably wondering why I’ve hit you with all this information. What’s the point I’m trying to make? The point is simple. It’s become overwhelmingly clear what we, the fans want to play. I do not believe we are all stuck in the past and want to keep playing our SNES systems. I think we all love new franchises. There’s nothing like that feeling of playing a game you’ve never played before with no expectations of a previous title. The feeling of experiencing everything about a game for the very first time. I don’t think anyone wants to give that up. But at the same time we don’t wanna see the games and characters that we loved so much, the ones the built the gaming industy, get left by the wayside. We also don’t want to see them butchered the way Sonic has been in recent years. We want them to continue to be around and in new and awesome ways. The question is, why haven’t these giant publishers realized this?
Well, unless you work at Capcom or Konami you probably will never truly know the answer. One can, however, speculate. The reasoning you hear most often is that the sheer amount of money it takes to run these giant corporations from day-to-day is simply staggering. So in order for a company to agree to drop millions on a project. They need to know with some certainty that they will do more than break even on it’s return. This makes perfect sense. Especially when you take into consideration the recent rumblings at Konami concerning legend and Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima. After officially signing on to work on the newest Silent Hill title, Kojima evidently had a falling out with one of the big shots at Konami. Kojima’s name was removed from all material regarding Metal Gear Solid 5. They also announced that Silent Hills would be cancelled. On top of all of that Konami said they would be largely shifting focus from console videogames to mobile games and other things exclusive to the Japanese market such as Pachinko machines.
With this information it can be assumed that Konami is making these moves in order to enter safer markets with more guaranteed returns. That makes total sense. For Konami. What about the fact the Capcom has essentially buried Megaman for no reason. Or how about the fact that Sega has been sitting on Shenmue for years and has done nothing with it. Could it be that the suits in charge of these massive corporations have just lost touch? Or maybe they simply no longer care what people want. Either way it seems clear to me where the industry is going. Kickstarter and the like are the way of the future. If Publisher’s don’t want to let these people make the games they want to make. It’s obvious that we, the fans, are ready and willing to help get the games made that we want to play. So why leave it up to some suit has no idea what we want? There’s only one thing I’ve been wondering. Why not start a Kickstarter and attempt to purchase the rights to whatever franchise you’re trying to resurrect. I mean these companies obviously aren’t using them. Why not cash in? Maybe if we’re lucky enough some of the original members of Team Silent could even get back together for Kickstarter. Yeah, I know, it’s not gonna happen. But I can dream can’t I?
For more information on Mighty No 9 click here
For more information on Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night click here
For more information on Shenmue III click here