Hello LusiReaders! Being original in anything is hard. In July, our very own Ethan ‘Ethos’ Pipher quoted Ecclesiastes 1:9 which states that “there is nothing new under the sun”. How can anyone hope to be original when even the bible, a text which many base how they live their lives, is saying that nothing is new. As a filmmaker we are told a saying, “Good filmmakers borrow, great filmmakers steal”. Looking at these two examples there is very little to no originality in anything any more, which I believe we have gone over in the podcast quite a few times. My question to this is, where is the great amazing work that EVERYTHING seems to have based themselves or ripped off of?
This thought process comes from a conversation I had with Lusipurr the other night in which we talked about the originality of games developed recently. The two of us talked over which side of development had more individuality. Japan or the West? The answer we came up with was neither. It is the indie developers of both regions that are coming up with more original video game material. If you look at the video game industry and the big companies, the only two that are putting out quality and original material are Valve and Blizzard. Unlike EA or, Blizzard’s other half, Activision, Valve and Blizzard are not putting out sequel after sequel each year for their huge money making series’. Even when Emperor Kotick tried to force Blizzard to come out with the new StarCraft II every six months. Of course Blizzard, being a tad more caring of their consumer, did what Emperor Kotick wanted but a slightly twisted, for the benefit of Blizzard.
Instead of making one game that is broken into three, which is what Kotick wanted, Blizzard is making three full length epics. Kotick will still get all the money he wants and it would not have been the demise of a beloved Blizzard franchise. Valve is much the same why with the production of their games. Yes there are the jokes that Gaben does not like the number three and yes we will probably never see Half-Life 2 Episode 3, but let us put all that aside and look at the games that they make. Yes, they take forever but they are quality games. Their games periodically receive high marks and rave reviews. As an added bonus Valve will periodically put games on sale so everyone has a chance to try and get their hands on everything from indie titles to triple A products.
But what of the other companies in the western gaming market? How can Valve and Blizzard be the ONLY two putting out something of true quality that is a big budget game? Well I will compare it to the film industry. Back in the 1920’s through 1940’s all the big film production companies were owned and run by artists. Sure they did not have big budgets, but they had talent and the artists behind these films knew that they had a box to work within and were able to be very creative in the restriction of their budget. With a small budget they did not have to try and appeal to everyone watching their films. They could quite easily make their money back through that niche audience. Then in the 1950’s the business and lawyers started to take over head positions in the film studios. With this filmmakers were able to get bigger and bigger budgets for their creative works. But to make their money back these films had to appeal to the widest possible audience. Thus become diluted and bland.
This is what has happened to video games in the present day. This is what Japan is trying and failing at, this is what the big Western development companies have been doing for the past couple of generations. Gone are the days when gaming was a niche market and Japan ran things and got all the money. Gone are the days of the Super Nintendo golden age. the video game industry is the top grossing entertainment industry, it makes the most money out of all the other current industries. To get more money and to get that money back, the sacrifice is originality. Thankfully, Valve/Steam is keeping a vast part of the indie genre alive. Indie games have never needed millions of dollars back, hell I think some developers in the indie sphere would just like people to play their game and talk about it than make money back.
What do you think about this part of the state of gaming readers? Do you feel that you would rather just stick with the originality of indie games or does that small child in you still believe that EA and the Kotick Empire are able to put something out into the industry that is truly original? Let me know in the comments.