What is the Next Best Thing? (Re-post)
*As a follow-up for a news story posted on Star Wars: The Old Republic having a free weekend pass, I wanted to re-post an article I wrote describing the next big thing in games to be games like SWTOR, multi-genre games. This editorial was written before the move to the wordpress site so I’m not doing it for hits if that’s what you’re thinking.
It’s no secret that we’ve seen tons of first-person shooters in recent years and that one franchise rises above all. I think you all know which one I’m talking about but how did it get so big? Those crazy sale numbers you see for each Call of Duty title nowadays is enough to take on several big-budget summer blockbusters in a grudge match and not even break a sweat. Each game makes more money than the last so that only means that the Call of Duty money train won’t stop, it’ll keep going until until it runs out of railroad. So that’s common knowledge at this point, but Call of Duty wasn’t the big hitter it is today until the fourth installment in the series, Modern Warfare.
This isn’t an article praising the franchise as much as the haters want it to be, so they can hate somewhere else; it’s an article showing you, the reader, how the first-person shooter genre started dominating the industry and what would be the next big thing to get rid of the dominance. I think Call of Duty 4 had a ton to do with that.
Most multiplayer games now have that COD4 progression system, in one form or another, because it worked so well in Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. Did the single player story have anything to do with it? Maybe. You do see a lot more cool and unique scenarios in first person shooters with a much more Michael Bay-esque campaign in the Call of Duty series in particular. Whatever clicked with Modern Warfare doesn’t matter, what happened after that game shipped was the coronation of the FPS genre. Of course, developers want to make money so the clear thing to do would be to capitalize on that success which in turn creates tons of new FPS games. So the question to ask now is where to go now after the flood of first person shooters?
As much as I love some good ol’ FPS action, I’m getting a bit worn out. I started gravitating towards that genre over everything else and I realized that the more I played first-person shooters, the less it felt like I was playing a new game rather than just an expansion of a Call of Duty game. One other genre I’ve started to really like are role-playing games. I can transport myself to another world and just live in it; completing quests, fighting bandits, exploring caves, etc… If there was a game to come out that embodied the two into something that was fun to play and immersive like a Skyrim and had those snappy/fluid Call of Duty controls; that would catch my attention, whatever you’d call it.
What I’m getting at is that I think combining some of these other genres into one game is a ticket to the big show. Gamers are starting to see that cross-genre mixture more and more each year. Each game that pulls it off successfully is a new kind of fun for me and I’m sure it is for gamers like me. A great example of the FPS genre mixing with another is Borderlands. Gearbox set out to create a co-op first person shooter with RPG elements and they succeeded. The only shortfall in Borderlands to me is that the game could of been so much better than it turned out to be, the potential was there to make a super game that incorporated all of those elements seamlessly into one, without holding back on one element or the other. The good news is that Gearbox had made a new IP and it turned out to be a success so there will be a sequel coming out this year because of it. It will be interesting to see where they take that franchise next, more of the same or expanding on the concept already created.
Another great example of a multi-genre game is the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Old Republic is an MMO from the guys behind big franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, Bioware. Bioware has created some of the best RPG games of the past decade so what was next from them? More RPG’s? Try an MMO with a story. Sure, most MMO’s have some type of back story in them but it usually goes unnoticed or is literally a back story that takes a back seat to your social shenanigans. These guys wanted to make this concept work and by early feedback, they succeeded. This is a major milestone in my book for Massive Multiplayer Online games and I really can’t wait to see where The Old Republic goes in later development cycles and newer MMO’s do to compete or even top what Bioware created.
To wrap this all up: First-person shooters are dominating the industry for the most part, but it’s looking like that might change. The more Old Republic, Borderlands, and Dead Island’s you see will hopefully steer developers into the multi-genre game. Incorporating two or more great genres into one super game is a recipe for success to me and could significantly increase the mileage I get out of a game.
So my question to you guys is not whether Call of Duty deserves the title of FPS king or all the money it gets; it’s what your ideal multi-genre game would be. Have fun with it, think of games you love and comment with two games, that if mixed together, would create a super game with a fist big enough to take down the juggernaut.