Game Theory: Are Gamers Killing Video Games?

Are Gamers Killing Video Games?

So people didn't like Virtual Boy and aren't buying the Wii U. Well, in PART 2 of our "What Gamers Want" series, we look at sales data to uncover a shocking secret in the games industry: Gamers DON'T want innovation! Despite all our calls for increased creativity, we just don't buy creative games. And our inconsistency is singlehandedly killing Nintendo.

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What an excellent video.

But of course, you have to buy into 'Gamers' being a united group- I mean, a lot of those sales could be from new gamers (gamers here referring to just, well, people wanting games). I suspect that as an average new player of games eases into his or her likes and dislikes, console preferences and genres, they become more refined as to what they are looking for and begin to try more varied content within their defined niches, taking n the AA and A level content over time, and therein getting a taste for more unique or innovative games- again, this is a supposition, not fact. And some probably just stop at the big names, being satisfied with the AAA.

I was ready to be outraged when I came to the video- I'm still not sure why I take being a 'Gamer' as my defining feature, it's just absurd. But after watching it, I was quite surprised by the stats on display.

Man, these game theory videos are some of the best around. Weird when it popped up on the Escapist, but I'm cool with that.

It is an interesting point, but for the sake of discussion, I think your Mario example is flawed. The reason why Super Mario Bros is the best selling game in the franchise is because it comes bundled with every NES on sale. It is the same reason why Wii Sports sold 3 more times than Resort and Wii Sports Club is faaaaaaaaaaar away from those milestones. Also, the game has been remastered time and time again, so I can't be sure if the statistics include only the NES version or the remakes for every Nintendo platform in existence since.

What this does show, however, is that we are not the center of the industry. There are a LOT more people out there buying games that don't bother with reviews, forums, youtube videos, etc... At the end of the day, marketing is a far more useful department for sales than developers, designers or QA.

I love game theory but I was thrown for 6 there at the end.

That Wee-Ooo-Wee-Ooo thing is a joke me and my friends have been making off the Wii-U for quite a while.
Kudos on any and all Kung Pow references.

Sobering stuff here. It shines a harsh light on the over-inflated sense of entitlement our community has. Many players get bored too easily and complain that they want something NEW, but complain again when the NEW thing they get isn't their kind of NEW. It's also the developers' problem, because for decades, I've seen them innovate so much so fast, they've hit a creative brick wall, and might be on the verge of running out of ideas.

I think it's more of a gamers choosing to go with the safe bet thing, than anything else. I mean think about it. Most games retail for $60 minimum, and up to $200 for that ultra limited special edition. Now if you had to spend that kind of money what you spend it on? The game that is new and innovative (which you know if it will be amazing or utter crap), or the sequel to that game you know is good. I don't think gamers are against innovation it's just that 9 times out of 10 gamers are choosing the safe bet sequel as opposed to the risky bet new innovative IP.

Prices go up, consumer tolerance goes down; tolerance goes down, consumer becomes more conservative. Conservative consumer buys safe, familiar products, producers make more safe, familiar products.
If this cycle encourages growth, you'd better believe that producers are going to exploit the shit out of it, and that's how we arrived at the sad state of AAA gaming today; that is why we can't have new things.

There are too many games trying to capitalize on the same few proven things, and that has gone on for so long that we're less inclined to try new things and in doing so, less inclined to promote new things (or anything that strays too far from the original concept).

Twitch-shooters like Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Quake and Serious Sam are pretty much dead despite the greater shooter genre being among the most overdone and lucrative in the business. People gobble up the same CoD4.x game year after year because it's safe, just as they did with Halo before it.

Shooters that tried something different like the SWAT series just died from sheer pressure.
(WoW killed virtually every MMO before it; the only notable exception is EVE Online, and that game hasn't exactly lit the world on fire like WoW did.)

SkepticalHat:
I think it's more of a gamers choosing to go with the safe bet thing, than anything else. I mean think about it. Most games retail for $60 minimum, and up to $200 for that ultra limited special edition. Now if you had to spend that kind of money what you spend it on? The game that is new and innovative (which you know if it will be amazing or utter crap), or the sequel to that game you know is good. I don't think gamers are against innovation it's just that 9 times out of 10 gamers are choosing the safe bet sequel as opposed to the risky bet new innovative IP.

^This guy knows what's up.
I'll add that in times of economic downturn, people are (by necessity) going to be more choosy and conservative if cheaper options don't make themselves available.

So this is the real reason why we have super Mairo 3D world instead of Super Mario Universe?

I politely disagree, and i'd like to cite this as one of the reasons leading to my disagreement.

Atmos Duality:
-snip-

SkepticalHat:
-snip-

it might also have something with the flakiness of the game media, buying being expensive and the review sites and journalists being an unsavory unethical lot by and large people, just fall into rut of being what is tried and true rather then wasting money on something that could disappoint.
which inevitably leads to things like this


it's also good to remember what happened during the most disordered time of the industry, the lack of regulations, the bad games, cashins and the like from the Atari days. Tell If it weren't for nitendo's NES, there would be no console gaming if it had not promised order with that console (and lied a bit).
We need order as human beings to assure in some sense our resources are being spent accordingly, most of us are not consummate gamblers nor would we spend the sheer amount of money on games and systems if we were.

Going for sequels is a safe bet because much of the marketing is already done. Whenever a new IP is created they have to educate the consumer it was the product is all about. But if it's an existing IP people already know what to expect on some level. Also their fan base helps drum up word of mouth by taking about the previous installments.

There is also the natural evolution of games. Just because something is the next in a long line of sequels doesn't mean it's the same old same old. Try playing the 1st game in an IP and then try the 3rd or 4th. A lot of times the newer ones are better than the original because they have had time to refine the game by seeing what works and what doesn't. That IS innovation.

You don't need brand new IPs to innovate. People who are not fans of those franchises often don't see the changes that happen over the years to make the game better. There are sometimes missteps during the process as some sequels gets hammered for being worst than the original. But given a strong franchise fans are likely to be more forgiving and pickup the next title. Where as a brand new title that makes a few missteps is likely to not get much of a following and unlikely to have a sequel, and even if it does it won't have the same following as a successful franchise as people will look back on the single installment as a poor experience.

Also I find a lot of people clamoring for "innovation" are actually just look for variety, or some sense of nostalgia. That is some kind of game genre/mechanic which is not present in AAA games because it fits in more of a niche market. However it does show up in less polished indie games if at all. For example I'm a fan of 4x games but a lot of times the indie 4x games are really bad.

You can tell they are not made by professionals as the UI is cumbersome and unintuitive. And in some regards feels like the older games from the "golden age". I mean simple things like Right clicking to execute orders in RTS, hotkeys, and so many other things that we take for granted were all innovations at their time but have since made gaming much easier and more intuitive that playing games which lack these basic features stick out like sore thumbs. Those indie games often lack the polish they makes the game feel smooth, intuitive, and easy to jump into. Which is not a good thing because studies have shown people judge a game by the first 10-15 minutes of play and will often stop playing if they are not engaged at that point.

Some of his data though is suspect because it is effected by console generations. The game cube did not really do that well compared to the other consoles at the time so it's likely games would not sell as well. Also as I mentioned before people know what to expect from a franchise and so breaking from that expectations is bound to have the exact opposite effect you would expect from appealing to those clamoring for innovation. Wind Waker I think was a good example of this. As the Zelda franchise had been pushing for a more realistic looking tone with the series on the N64 and then to go to a childish cartoon theme completely turned off fans.

If however they had sold it as a new IP and just gone straight to twilight princesses I think they would of had much more success because they could have appealed to the zelda fans without alienating them. A good comparisons would be if they did the next Call of Duty in the art style of Borderlands. Sure there are some borderlands fans out there that make find that cool but a lot of CoD fans will likely not be amused at this change.

The problem with "innovation" is that we don't know what the next big thing will be until it is thrown out there and see how people respond. Also a lot of studios don't seem to know how to balance innovation and franchise management. They either go too far and end up tanking the latest release and potentially the franchise as a whole for several years or they drive away their original fan base and instead find a new fan base.

Final fantasy is a good example of this, I know a lot of people who liked the original games in the series but saw it decline and thus no longer buy them. However FF games still sell well and have a strong following. I can only speak to my experience but I know several people in my online gaming group who do like the new FF games but they were also not fans of the earlier games and have little interest in them. So even though the games are titled the same they are drastically different and appeal to different audiences.

There is also the fact that the gaming audience as a whole has steadily grown over the years. So games released 10+ years ago were done so to a much smaller market and thus are going to have lower sales but their sequels will have the benefit of brand recognition.

Well 95% of everything is crap, for example the Virtual Boy was horrendous, people buy what they know because they know it works

I'm 90% sure that those sales charts for assassin's creed, CoD and battlefield would change drastically if you included:

- AC: Unity
- CoD: Ghosts + AW
- BF 4 + BF hardline

MatthewPatrick13:
Are Gamers Killing Video Games?

So people didn't like Virtual Boy and aren't buying the Wii U. Well, in PART 2 of our "What Gamers Want" series, we look at sales data to uncover a shocking secret in the games industry: Gamers DON'T want innovation! Despite all our calls for increased creativity, we just don't buy creative games. And our inconsistency is singlehandedly killing Nintendo.

Watch Video

There is a fine line between "innovation" and "gimmick" and for the last few generations Nintendo has been diving over that line face first.

Things that are innovative become industry standards. The analogue stick was innovative. The Rumble Pak was innovative. The WaveBird was innovative.

Nintendo hasn't done innovative for a long time and it's their own damn fault.

What about Minecraft? Or Fez? Or Braid? I guess super meat boy wasn't innovative but then again, there's limbo, FTL, etc, etc. What games are like minecraft that isn't a clone? Infiniminer I gues but that came before it. And how many copis has it sold? Is this not a new and innovative idea? Is minecraft stale and boring?

I have a simple question. Are the gamers asking for innovation a vocal minority who do buy innovative games?

My impression of the industry is that the people who ask for innovative games normally are buying them; but they're a small niche market when compared to something like halo fans.

It's not a secret, I certainly don't want innovation in videogames, at least I don't seek it out. It's nice when we get new things, but I don't believe we should strive for it so hard; to me that's like trying to fix something that isn't broken.
Also I always thought the "this isn't innovative enough" crowd just didn't like videogames, since they came into this apparently thinking everything is un-enjoyable and needs to change in order to be good. That's like me becoming a football fan tomorrow and demanding the mechanics of the game be altered every year in order to make it entertaining to me.

I'll just never understand that mindset, I couldn't imagine wanting a "re-imagined" pepperoni pizza every time I order out. I probably order that kind because I liked the taste of the last one I ate, so why get weird about it?

And 'New' has proven it most certainly doesn't always = good, I don't know where this idea even came from.

Did you account for growth of the entire market when looking at those sales charts? because you know just because more copies are sold does NOT mean its more popular when you have something like 40% population growth early in gaming. in fact when you account for it it turns out that sequelitis isnt actually selling that well.

As far as Nintendo goes, Nintendo and innovation is not something you should say in same sentence.

what i see here is cherry picked examples and research bias. completely ignoring actual innovative games and instead pretending that Nintendo digging their own hole is somehow "gaming is dieing". well heres a newsflash - Nintendo is the smallest part of gaming.

You know why HL2 sold better than Mario 8? because Its one of the best games (according to critics and gamers alike) to ever walk the earth. But of course lets ignore that because we need to find excuses to fit your theory, right?

At the end of the video i decided that the author simply does not even know what innovation is and is just trying to pretend to know what hes talking about.

Notch has purchased a $70m mansion in Beverly Hills, which puts a slight hole in that argument. I think it's more accurate to say that innovation is a gamble. You probably won't be successful, but if you are you can make a lot. But many AAA games seem to need half of all gamers to buy a copy just to break even, so it's not feasible to gamble with that kind of budget. They also cannot spend a massive amount on marketing innovative games for the same reason. But a cheaper game like say Amnesia: The Dark Descent can be made for a few hundred grand and sell millions, compensating for all the similar but unsuccessful projects.

hmm lets think of games that use to do the same thing every game..... I GOT ONE: wipEout. that game did the same thing every time it was released but still, they were god damn cool (shame studio liverpool had to close though)

Alatar The Red:
I'm 90% sure that those sales charts for assassin's creed, CoD and battlefield would change drastically if you included:

- AC: Unity
- CoD: Ghosts + AW
- BF 4 + BF hardline

They would, and they would be inaccurate as those games have not been out for very long. Sure, the majority of sales happen in the first few weeks, but plenty of sales get racked up over the years, especially for games that are fairly meh, in a year populated by bad/broken AAA releases. Wait for them to go through a few steam sales, and the numbers will drastically change.

So gamers should support every piece of innovation for its sake? Just because something is innovative doesnt mean people should automatically like it. Look at Apple, they never released the first smartphone, tablet or mp3 player - but when they did they did it was at a time when those things were wanted.

I'd like to point out that much of Super Mario Brothers sales figures are greatly inflated due to it being bungled with the system for a long time.

About people wanting to go with the safe bet. With stuff they already know. That's often attributed to new games being so expensive. Also I find it hard to believe that Ocarina of Time has only sold 4 Million. It seems like it's been released on every Nintendo platform under the sun.

Can't help being reminded of this when reading the title.

OT:

Gotta agree with what some people have already said. Just because many gamers cry out for innovation does not mean they are duty bound to leap on every new thing like it's the second coming of Christ. Some ideas capture our imagination and some things do not. Ultimately, people will vote with their wallets.

 

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