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Default Gamasutra - The Cycle of Life

May 20th, 2007, 23:55
The second game analysis piece today is from Gamasutra and is titled The Circle of Life: An Analysis of the Game Product Lifecycle. The article contends that specific game (sub) genres have a clear life cycle, with the public becoming enamoured with new genres and then eventually becoming bored with it over time, ultimately leaving the genre a small niche with only a small group of hardcore devotees. Seem familiar? The actual example used is the Adventure genre, although clearly it could be applied to CRPGs — if you accept the premise:
During the niche stage, the audience begins to fragment. Not surprisingly, people have difficulty maintaining nonessential skills at elite levels for long periods of time. Burnout erodes communities from within and many players lose both their skills and their urge to keep buying new games from the genre. The virtuous circle that produced the homogeneous market of gamers falters. Their addiction fades.
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May 20th, 2007, 23:55
It is the gaming industries fault that crpgs and adventure games become niche since they either come out with crap most of the time or not even come out with games at all and sometimes they try to destroy the genre.

If the majority of crpgs and adventure games that came out were decent, good or great games then the genre wouldn't become niche.

Stop trying to blame it on people getting board but on the low quality of the games that come out.
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May 21st, 2007, 02:07
Quite an interesting article. Putting the market under the microscope: Business 101 comes to game development, indeed. A somewhat cold-blooded look at the games industry and it's perceived 'needs'—by developers, for developers, as it were.

I feel soiled. I guess it's just my long-term denial that games are made for money. Of course they are. Of course, as consumers whose $$$ drive the success and failure of millions of products, I suppose it should be no different to be objectively analyzed in the game market, but still..let me rant. (It's good for my blood pressure):

I find it interesting, first of all, that they place this category last in the marketing 'life cycle'—after Decline(my bold):

Niche: Finally, the genre dies in the mainstream market. AAA teams actively avoid the genre and the existing audience for the genres must rely on re-releases or independent games made for love, not money.
Q: Do they honestly think that if a AAA team made a great CRPG, nobody would buy it?
A: No, not enough people to pay the marketing department and CEO's would buy it.

Some of this analysis of genre 'life cycles' is undoubtedly accurate, of course, but it leaves everything out that matters—except how to make money:

Large teams are assembled with the goal of creating products that have a shot at becoming first or second in an established genre. In light of this business strategy, it makes sense that companies tend to value craftsmen designers and developers who are passionate about building incremental improvements within proven genres.
I give up—-how can you be passionate about 'building incremental improvements within proven genres"? Craftsmanlike, perhaps. Passionate? I'd reserve that for something a bit more creative.

Some of it is blatant:
Ultimately every game developer must ask “Who is my game’s audience, what are their needs, and how does my game compete?”
Yes, that would be good, but another question might be "Is my game inspired, competent, and fun or is it a piece of bat dung unfit to see the light of day?"

Finally under the "He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it" category, the conclusion:

The history of CRPGs. This historical article gives a blow-by-blow account of how the computer role playing game genre evolved and fragmented over time. Note the numerous mentions of fan betrayal when the developers change the core mechanics of their titles. Over time, the ‘traditional’ CRPG genre fall into the niche stage and is supplanted by the 2D action RPG (of which Diablo was the genre king) and the 3D action RPG (where Bethesda’s various titles were genre kings).
IMO,There's a flaw in that reasoning. Yes, the traditional CRPG genre has become niche. NO it has not been duplicated, replaced let alone supplanted by action-rpgs. Hey guys, you can't buy what isn't there.

The perception of the market and the 'needs' of the game producers are what have "supplanted" the genre with something they think is the same only better (for them as easier to script,develop and sell) and that we know is not the same thing at all.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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May 21st, 2007, 03:47
Magerette, I think you are forgetting that the devs are the ones asking for the huge budgets from the publishers that guarantee that the game will need mass market appeal (dumbed-down, stream-lined, action-packed with dull repetetive combat, and lacking innovation).

WHo is more at fault and greedy: the ones asking for all the money or the ones giving the money (even if they give it with rules).

The simple solution is the devs ask for less money and get more freedom and less restrictions to make better games that appeal to us more. But they won't. Is that the publisher's fault?

And when you break it down, the games we say we love don't sell all that well. PS:T, the FO's, Darklands, RoA trilogy, etc. This market just has poor taste.
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May 21st, 2007, 14:42
Well it used to be a lot of real game/computer enthusiasts playing, now the industry is much more mainstream, so I'm unsure if much of that applies.

Adventure games where fun because they where a new kind of game rather then being great games themselves. They were great ways of telling interactive stories involving the player much like the early FF books by Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone but thereís no game to master there as such. Though they did have the nice memory combat system, which was fun and unique to a computer game game.

Thereís also so much more competition now then there used to be. So many games coming out that require a lot of time to master/complete. There just isn't enough time in the world for all these games anymore. The industry is boring as hell atm as well - especially crpg'wise. That could be me getting bored of games though as I've really seen little thatís kept me interested for awhile now.
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May 22nd, 2007, 21:07
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
Magerette, I think you are forgetting that the devs are the ones asking for the huge budgets from the publishers that guarantee that the game will need mass market appeal (dumbed-down, stream-lined, action-packed with dull repetetive combat, and lacking innovation).

Nah, I happily blame the devs as well. The devs, the publishers, and society in general, just to be all inclusive.

WHo is more at fault and greedy: the ones asking for all the money or the ones giving the money (even if they give it with rules).

The simple solution is the devs ask for less money and get more freedom and less restrictions to make better games that appeal to us more. But they won't. Is that the publisher's fault?
This article was written from a developer's perspective on a site for developers, roqua. That's part of the reason it ticked me off. I don't expect the suits in the publisher's chairs to have any sense of commitment to much besides making big bucks;I just remember a time when devs were gamers, not aspiring Donald Trumps.

And when you break it down, the games we say we love don't sell all that well. PS:T, the FO's, Darklands, RoA trilogy, etc. This market just has poor taste.
Most of those games were made before games, period, sold all that well. But I don't disagree with you, roqua. Greed is the name of the game, and marketing is the Orwellian destiny of all consumer commodities.

It should be different after the Apocalypse,tho.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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