Monday, January 27, 2014

Gaming this week: Bad Corporate Decisions

Where is the world of gaming going?

Following the news this week, and seeing some of the new things coming out, I'm acutely aware that Shadows of Mordor looks like Assasins Creed II. And it definitely does. I don't have a problem with more games like Assassins Creed honestly. If they can make the formula fresh, or put that code that made that game into another universe, I'd be happy with that.

Assassins Creed: Lord of the Rings. You can't unsee it can you?

What I don't like to see is nearly a blatant copy of the mechanics, with just different skins to push out a demo to garner interest in a game. I understand that many games in this generation are derivative of other engines, or code. But I see the gameplay demo in this Machinima video and I honestly can see just a world re-skinned to meet the demands of a director that wants to push out a demo.
We as a community have to encourage balanced derivative design, which is inevitable, with original mechanics and art. They have the art down fine in this game, it genuinely looks like the Lord of the Rings franchise. The mechanics however seem ripped directly from another franchise, which then just makes your game a Frankensteinian invention. This is why large game factory companies like EA get bad reputations but still make money, because they demand speed and results rather than innovation. So we end up with this style of game. Just to meet the demands of the public. So honestly if we want mechanics and art that are original, we as the public have to stop paying out for games that are just the result of game-mills.
Image from
In other news, I saw the Candy Crush Saga developer King, and their lawsuit against The Banner Saga. The best opinion I've read so far is from this article from Tycho on Penny-Arcade. He hits the nail on the head. King has moved over the course of this lawsuit from saying that it's not the "word" they've copyrighted, it's that people may confuse "The Banner Saga" with "Candy Crush Saga". I'll say this, that if you're playing either one and don't know the difference with purely a visual, then you probably shouldn't be playing them. Not to mention that most of Candy Crush business isn't in the same market as The Banner Saga. It's not even on the Steam Store, which is where I'm sure The Banner Saga sold most of their copies of the game. Either way, I would hope that the courts have enough common sense to crush this at the lowest level possible. Then again, games have this enigma about them when it comes to courts, so I may just give up on believing the courts can handle this.

These two stories have something in common, we have to stop rewarding bad corporations for bad business decisions, and poorly designed games. My wife doesn't call herself a "Gamer" but I catch her on her phone crushing away long into the night. So what does that say about the culture of gamers? It's expanding, and we need to ensure that games like The Banner Saga have their place, and can't be pushed out of the way by companies that cater to "non-gamers" like my wife. I'm not saying that we need to stop King from publishing any more games in the future, I appreciate the addictive nature of their game and the ability it has to indoctrinate people who would otherwise not pick up a controller. We have to find a way for all these companies to co-exist, and maybe if gamers become shareholders, we can oust the CEO's that make poor decisions for the market as a whole, and install people that synergize with this new world culture of gamers.

That's how I want to believe the world will end up. Companies that communicate and listen to the masses, and honestly create good games for their loyal customers. 

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