Are Publishers Getting Out of Touch?
Now more than ever, gamers are getting a little wiser. You may argue against that, but that's really besides the point. We're critical, we whine, and we "boycott" (lulz). We entered the information age a while back and the effects are still strong. Nothing escapes our twitchy internet-surfing fingers. Our voices can easily be heard for the juggernauts that fuel our favorite pastime. So why don't they seem to be listening?
Recently, THQ announced that the Red Faction franchise will not be continuing in "any meaningful way". This is presumably due to the lackluster performance of the most recent game in the series, Red Faction: Armageddon. Now, if you know anything about the release history of this gen, you'd know that the previous installment, Red Faction: Guerilla did very well. It boasted open environments and fully destructable structures throughout. It was arguably one of the games that we were imagining could be possible when we were starry-eyed about the "next generation". To top it off, it cleared one million units in just over a month.
Then comes Armageddon. A linear "sequel" with limited destruction and is what many would consider a step back for the series. Now, you'd THINK this would tell THQ that abandoning the selling-points of your previous game was a major factor to Armageddon's failings. Instead, they figure, "Well, guess people just aren't into this anymore." Did they not see or hear the criticisms? I think when people heard about a RF sequel, they got pumped. Why wouldn't they be? Give us more of what we love!
Let's take a look at the Kingdom Hearts series. Here, we have a quote reported not too long ago of the "difficulty of getting new players into KH." I'll say so right now that I've been wanting to see a KH3 sliding into my PS3 for the longest, so call me biased if you want, but this stuff is real. Why have they been ignoring what so many fans have asked for? Square Enix cannot possibly be so self-absorbed that they cannot see the internet craving for a proper console sequel... could they?
The rising costs of productions and the harder failings of flops means game companies are less willing to take risks than ever before. That's understandable to a certain degree. But when does it become too much? When does it go from us being a stray thought to not even being considered at all? Do our opinions even matter? Whether it's Lucas Arts' inability to give us a proper Battlfront sequel or EA's desire to tack on multiplayer where it wasn't asked for (Dead Space 2), it seems that publishers are becoming so ignorant to the pleas of the hardcore to the point of not only disgusting us, but hurting their finances.
Could it be that they are taking the wrong approach to their business? The gaming industry is similar and disimilar to other industries in specific ways. In this case, THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Do gamers always know what's best for the next upcoming multiplayer game? NO. But it's only for so long we're going to let ourselves get herded around to places we never wanted to go while expected to stay in line.
As the sole reason these people are where they are today, we should have more say in what games are released. We need a setting where we don't get corporate fingers in our faces telling us, "You don't know what you want. Take this and be happy." It's easy to blame the rise in casual gaming for this, and maybe we should, but that's another thing altogether. Ultimately, we are the driving force behind this industry; and it's a fragile one. When we don't like something, havok ensues and can mean the closure of a studio and the loss of jobs.
As much as the majority of us may be in the dark about business essentials, we all know the role of the rodent in the maze. Eventually, he's going to learn to find out what he should do. Publishers... I'd hate to one day have to say that they didn't meet the prestige of the lab rat.