I'm not a big fan of Destructoid's Jim Sterling. In some of his writings, I think he has been immature, overzealous, arrogant, antagonistic and just downright unpleasant. His reviews feel knee-jerk, unintelligent and at times dishonest with the objective points made. However his Jimquisition videos are something to behold. Much better with politics in the game industry and very much on the dime with business matters in the game industry. Recently, a Jimquisition video put something into perspective for me and I thought I would give my thoughts on the subject.
The AAA Game is a lost art. The big, hyped up experiences are not all they are cracked up to be anymore. Perhaps it is the fans growing up and becoming more decisive, or perhaps the games themselves have lost their charm. Either way, the term "AAA Game" no longer holds the same water as it did roughly a generation or two ago.
Back in the days of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, fans were always ecstatic for a new "big" release. The next Ratchet game was exciting. Halo 2's launch was epic beyond the scale of most games. Dare I bring up Twilight Princess toward the launch of the Wii and the end of the Gamecube's lifecycle? These games were BIG. They were AAA games. The fans were behind them, they sold many copies and the publishers and developers made money.
This is not the case in this day and age. With rising development costs and expectations, we are seeing more and more large scale flops. A particular example is Tomb Raider's recent reboot. Despite being a stellar and well received game, even selling several million copies, the game STILL managed to be costly to Square. It's possible to infer that if Square had opted to leave out the unnecessary multiplayer mode, the game could have been budgeted more effectively and therefor been more successful.
Another example is Resident Evil 6. This is an incredible example of something great jumping the proverbial shark. Resident Evil 4 was a turning point in the series and skyrocketed the franchise into a glorious and newfound mainstream fame. Suddenly it stopped being about fun gameplay and chilling stories and started being about Gears of War-esque co-op and in RE6's case, a muddled and disorganized clusterf**k of unnecessary gameplay tweaks and poorly utilized ideas that bogged down Shinji Mikami's original concept for the gameplay style. Resident Evil 6 was critically panned by many. I'm unsure of its financial success (or lack thereof) but presumably the HD remake of the much more lauded 3DS game Resident Evil Revelations was speculated to be made to make up for the losses Capcom had suffered from RE6's failure.
Even Dead Space 3, a long awaited sequel to an otherwise fresh take on survival horror, incorporated more action and a co-op mode and supposedly under performed compared to previous iterations. Why? To "broaden the audience" and to of course do what everyone else is damn doing. Because nothing cries new and fresh like copying Gears of War or Call of Duty.
A AAA game should not be such a blind shot in the dark. It should not be a massive gamble that is riding on 5+ million units sold to break even. Making games more generic and less unique in an effort to appeal to the mainstream is NOT going to work for what has for the most part been a very NICHE market! Only games with child/family appeal can get away with this (casual games like Wii Sports and cartoon-esque games like Skylanders come to mind).
A AAA game is a fun, successful game that a majority of people can agree was a lot of fun, such as a Smash Bros. game or an InFamous game or a... well, I'll get back to you when Microsoft makes an interesting new IP that isn't a shooter or a Kinect game. Publishers, STOP ignoring your fans and forget about the mainstream. You won't hook them with a niche game with casual elements, but instead you'll lose EVERY potential audience you have; just ask Capcom whose track record consists of "AAA games" that consistently fail to meet their expectations due to their lack of development prowess and poor business decisions, customer consideration and PR.
Anyway here is the link to the video that inspired this blog. Kudos to Sterling (man, that's weird to write out). http://www.youtube.com/watc...
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?