We are reaching a turning point for the games community. I love the gaming industry, though the games released of this current console generation have arguably been played very safe. Remasters seem to be common place amongst the ‘new releases’ pages, and annualised franchises find themselves extremely profitable year in. Even when discussing new IPs, they fall very close to the developers’ previous projects (see Bungie on Halo/Destiny and Ubisoft on Assassin’s Creed/Watch_Dogs).
Only the developers know for sure
A theory about the safe plays by publishers suggests that there was fear that dedicated console gaming was dying out, with people moving away from the living room set-up to the portability of a mobile device. This of course backed by the dedicated gamer’s hesitations and rejections of newer financial revenue streams available with the connectivity of the Internet (microtransactions, free-to-play, etc). While we can’t deny the actions that publishers have taken in recent years with regards to money grubbing, the flip-flop on online passes shows that they are aware of the voices of a greater community.
This is in stark contrast; the last few years have been a turbulent time for the socio-political aspects of gaming. With the rise and continued rumblings of the movement we see that there are clearly issues with transparency between developers, publishers, games media and/or the end consumer. While the major group involved with the movement and argument has devolved into anti-civil rights and witch-hunts, we can’t ignore that the way the media get treated ended up settling them into their own class, often made obvious by interactions on open social media platforms. But to isolate themselves from a greater gaming community is harmful, isolating publishers from the masses.
It’s a young field of entertainment that is rapidly growing to be more accessible to a wider audience all across the globe. Many publishers have attempted to use the technologies available in a newer, more connected world to strengthen the gaming community. While there would be times where a game would not see release for months between the Americas and Europe, even with the same languages being used, it’s recently become common practice for worldwide releases within days or even same day as other regions. This helps deliver gamers with a greater sense of community, especially considering the importance that social media plays in the discussion, hype and promotion of games.
Pikachu connects the gamers with a worldwide Pokemon release date
In January the major game publisher EA announced that they would not have a presence at E3 2016, choose separate events across the globe and noting that it wished to get their info more directly to fans (http://stevivor.com/2016/01/ea-ditching-e3-exhibition-floor-space-for-public-events-in-la-london/). Activision While March has seen Activision announce that they’ll be trading a large space of the showfloor for a single booth for Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty title (http://seekingalpha.com/news/3157076-following-ea-activision-blizzard-drops-e3). Days later, Disney and Wargaming have announced that they will have no showfloor presence at E3 this year (http://stevivor.com/2016/03/e3-2016-disney-wargaming-activision-ea-wont-booth-year/).
Aside from Activision, a common element is seen in all these decisions. They want a better way to connect directly with their user base, the end paying consumers of their products; the community. Even a newer mobile gaming firm is choosing to move away from the heavy spotlight that comes with the spectacle of the E3 expo. While there is panic about what will happen to the juggernaut of gaming news that was the tidal wave brought on by E3, an approach that sees these publishers release information more evenly throughout the year is a good thing. Games that would of otherwise been ignored for the newest 15 second teaser of an AAA title, consisting of nothing but concept art and CGI, games will have a better chance of garnering a fair amount of appreciation.
We witness a fall in organised game journalism websites for the power of vloggers and Let’s Players, using the ease and accessibility of Youtube and social media to garner their communities. Their agenda is straight forward while a major gaming news site is often obscured. The relationship between publishers, sponsors and the large game media sites that need their support to survive must continuously negotiate between themselves and the level of which their audience is exposed to the advertising that keeps the lights on and the bills paid.
Heavily sponsored sites such as Games On Net, MMGN and GameTrailers were shut-down, showing that their overarching conglomerate owners weren’t able to profit from their longstanding business models. Instead of changing to deliver what people wanted, they folded and took jobs with them. Currently Kotaku’s strongest selling point is not delivering new information on games but instead sharing media that their community would enjoy.
A focus on pleasing and engaging with their community is something that branches across all of gaming. The power of online means that connections with others who are passionate enough to buy the game you’re playing is available to engage not only in discussion but the way that you play. The developer, the publisher, the media and the end consumer need to appreciate each other’s role and I believe that we are in a period of time where consumer, those that keep the gears of game industry going is being appreciated more than ever and that they feel reward. It’s a good time to be a gamer.
I should apologise to my 5 readers who thought I’d stick to my plan of writing more but whenever I sit down to write this kind of stuff I start contradicting myself. I’m sure you’ll be able to spot them in this too, but regardless I thank you for taking the time to read this. This is a topic I’ve tried putting on paper a number of times only to find myself in a web of confusion, with so many points just not adding up. As for the regularity of my ‘named series’ blog posts, I can’t get emotional about these things on the fly. I can recognise that there’s something wrong but then I get caught up in what the other side of the coin could be and decide to throw the small post. But rambling, thanks.