You take games too seriously.

Make Money, Money Meathead

EDIT: Please note this article was posted before Kotaku’s Activision article using the same lame “Make, Money, Money” joke. I would like to believe they stole it from me. Moving on…

I appreciated Ken Levine’s comments last week about the “meathead” gamer. In the past decade, a rift has continued to grow between the hardcore gamers and the casual, “Madden” gamers. I say rift loosely, because it’s one-sided; only hardcore gamers care. They fear that their niche of RPGs, adventure games, and fighters will be abandoned for casual releases.

And it appears the hardcore have reason to be afraid. In Japan, the casual market expanded rapidly, continuing to grow with WiiFit and various SingStar (karaoke) games. Their studios struggle to finance hardcore games, and now must rely on American studios to bear the torch—Japanese games like Silent Hill and Dead Rising have been signed over to American developers for their sequels.

But I don’t blame casual games. I blame development costs.

It’s important to consider that games were originally created as toys. During the Atari days, these toys were simple and cheap to produce, allowing for massive amounts of releases in a business’ fiscal year. This format is not unlike that of the Wii, with it’s outdated graphics and user-friendly control scheme. The goal of most retro studios and many Wii studios is to make as much money off of the cheapest development possible.

But the PS3 and Xbox360 games are entering a new terrain. These games are so detailed and complex that they are more than toys, they’re unique experiences. I truly believe videogames have found themselves in the next generation. Yet, these experiences require studios to accumulate ridiculous development costs. While these studios aspire to tell interesting stories or offer unique experiences, they must achieve their one ultimate goal: to sell a product.

I know lots of comments, posts, and class discussions deal with the artistic integrity of the medium. But I think it’s important to remember the people who pay for the development of your games, the 500,000 people that make it a success, aren’t like you. They’re the meatheads.


Filed under: Commentary, Industry, , ,

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this is a blog about video games by chris plante, sam ryan and chris littler.

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