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BBC: E3 was full of dross

Sunday, 4th July 2010 12:23 GMT By Joe Anderson

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BBC reporter Marc Cieslak has said “innovation was in short supply” at E3 this year, with the majority of the show floor being taken up by “shooters and sequels.”

Speaking on the latest episode of BBC technology program Click, Cieslak said, “There were literally thousands of new games on show at E3, adding, “unfortunately many of them are a bit mediocre.”

Cielak went on to say that finding “gaming greats amongst all of the dross” was “almost as difficult as navigating the mass hordes out on the show floor.”

This is a worrying trend which also seems to concern industry analyst Michael Pachter who recently said the “games industry is in persistent decline”.

Thanks, Gamezines.

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23 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    Agree + no decent announcements.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Grimrita

    Totally agree. The industry only has themselves to blame and its no coincidence that the recents stories all talk of ‘doom and gloom’ in terms of sales.

    There’s only so many times you can repackage the same old shit – just ask Apple with the iphone

    #2 5 years ago
  3. Droid

    Makes me wonder how games companies manage to find funding for these projects in the first place.

    #3 5 years ago
  4. Bulk Slash

    Even with middleware like UE3 it’s ridiculously complicated to make a game these days. It needs an enormous team, 2 years of work and a lot of money. With all those constraints the industry just can’t afford to innovate or risk something new if they know they can make money off a sequel.

    Sure you can make something simple for XBLAh/PSN/WiiWare, but it’s only the AAA titles that really sell in huge numbers these days. Who wants to spend £44.99 on a game that’s only average? This is why the industry has been getting so aggressive on second hand sales.

    Most developers and publishers can’t afford to invest for two years to make a flop. It’s no wonder the publishers and developers are happy for this generation to last longer, trying to make games for hardware even more powerful would probably bankrupt them.

    Someone is going to have to find a way to make development much cheaper and easier before risks will be taken again. Maybe it needs to be something crazy like the hardware platform coming with its own game engine? Developers then just supply the configuration, scripting and artwork. It could lead to games all looking the same, but it could simplify development a lot.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Gekidami

    I dont see any relation to what Cieslak is saying and what Pachter is saying. None at all.

    #5 5 years ago
  6. Crysis

    @4 100% agreed, i honestly know nothing about coding, programming etc, but based on things I’ve seen, you could be right.
    [Also to note, development ease can make or break a console, look @ the original xbox, it was much more powerful than the ps2 but does not look great due to programming issues & is much harder to develop for (as is with this current gen with the ps3)]

    #6 5 years ago
  7. Freek

    Innovation is alive and well in the downloadable games scene. Small teams of entheusiastic developers, often self publishing, are making some amazing games. Smaller in scale but just as much fun as the big productions.

    #7 5 years ago
  8. kingofscotland

    1st parties need to lead by example when it comes to innovation and I think Sony have to a certain extent by getting behind Heavy Rain and Last Guardian and a number of psn games like flower. 3rd parties need convinced and ea tried with mirrors edge which reviewed well but didn’t sell enough so it is hard for them.

    #8 5 years ago
  9. McLovin85

    There is always an exception to every rule however. Look at Media Molecule. They made LBP with a team of 6-7 people (or something like that) so it’s definitely possible to be innovative, have a small team and create a AAA title.
    The guys who made Joe Danger (ok it’s only a PSN game) were in a team of 4.

    When I hear of games requiring huge amounts of people I just think there is serious inefficiency going on in their development teams. Games like Epic Mickey requiring 250+ people to work on it just doesn’t make sense to me (even if some of the work was outsourced). Didn’t Uncharted 2 have something like 100-150 people? so they created a huge, awesome game with only that many people.

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Armitage

    I agree with the man’s assessment of E3. While there were some games shown I am interested in, there was nothing particularly excitingly new or different that really stood out, that I remember anyway.

    As Bulk Slash points out a major obstacle is the huge investments that are required in terms of money, time and personnel. However, there are exceptions as McLovin85 indicated. I was going to cite the E3 where LBP was revealed to contrast with this year – there hasn’t really been an equivalent game shown this year that had everyone hyped and enthused, unless I’m missing one.

    In general though I do think Sony are better when it comes to taking risks and investing in games that have at least some novelty and innovation than other big publishers.

    A probably insane idea comes to mind – would it be possible (at some point) to write a sophisticated AI that would be able to actually write bits of code itself or even produce some art assets for a game? That could make a difference. Whether it’s actually at all possible or not I have no idea. I have heard of programs that have produced pieces of (apparently quite decent) music and artwork. Can’t remember where I read about these so I don’t have any links. Anyway, just a thought.

    #10 5 years ago
  11. Droid

    @9 According to the BBC, LBP was made with a group of 30 people. But as with all games they hire/fire people as they need them.

    #11 5 years ago
  12. NiceFellow

    I believe the industry is facing the following challenges:

    1 – it’s fragmented. The PS3/360 and wii have ended up splitting the consumer pool making it tougher for developers to get a game to the widest audience unless the title is very known or attractive to that particular demographic.

    2 – HD title’s are expensive to produce and the shift to Western developers and titles on the PS3/360 seems to have resulted in a Hollywood style focus on ‘bigger and better’ which means that for every hit there’s plenty of money wasted down the drain.

    3 – Online is the big thing, but if you think about it overpriced map packs aside it limits growth and spending. So many PS3/360 owners are playing MW2, Halo3, Gears, etc. online and either renting or passing on SP titles like Alan Wake or only investing in titles with big, robust online experiences. This is a limited market though, there isn’t enough room for every developer to succeed with online titles so many fall by the wayside

    4 – third party developers have failed (in my view) to work out the Wii which offers lower development costs coupled with a good control scheme for most genres. They see the big sales on HD consoles and wonder how to be the next MW or they run scared of Nintendo titles on the Wii

    5 – with big investments comes a risk adverse approach – sequels and more of the same are lower risk than innovation. Simple as that. This ties back to the Hollywood mentality I see behind Western driven gaming development.

    In short – the way gaming has been shaped has seen a lot of growth and some monster sales, but it’s skewed to a narrow range of genres and titles with more and more titles seeming to end up failing to find an audience – look at Alan Wake recently.

    This seemed to be positioned as a AAA 360 exclusive and it launched to what look to be very mediocre sales. The same thing has happened with Modntation Races on PS3 – an actually very good Karting title.

    I do believe there is a storm brewing behind the earlier growth and the fact consoles end up trying to be different with their own exclusives and shutting out the competition.

    #12 5 years ago
  13. Happy Hardon Harry

    I agree with Cieslak, most of the games at E3 are piss-poor and lack the innovation the industry needs.

    The industry needs to get away from these meat-headed shooters i.e. Gears, Halo, Killzone, etc.

    Also, E3 is extremely tacky, the show has no class.

    #13 5 years ago
  14. Robo_1

    @7

    Totally agree. Understandably given the tough financial conditions involved with putting out a full price console experience, innovation has found it’s home in small downloadable titles.

    That said, I don’t fully agree with the assertion that E3 was full of dross. Games like Killzone 3, Halo: Reach, Bulletstorm and Black Ops may well just be riffs on an established genre/formulae, but hey, I like shooting things in the first person, and as long as companies continue to push out polished enjoyable experiences, I don’t care if their foundations are well worn.

    I also think it’s to easy to blindly praise innovation and cast scorn on sequels. The fact is that some innovative titles are a bag of shit, whilst some cookie cutter sequels are immense fun to play. I’m not saying game companies shouldn’t continue to look for ways to push games forward, but I’d rather play a well polished take on an existing idea, than an innovative but unenjoyable title.

    Gamers often say one thing and do another though. The cry for innovation has always been at the forefront of comment threads and the gaming press, but when publishers do take huge creative gambles, they rarely pay off commercially.

    There’s no mystery behind why core games never do much on the Wii either. It comes down to the fact that we’re mostly a bunch of graphic whores, and we like our games to look nice. So when we have the chance to buy a game, it’s often for the HD consoles because we are guaranteed a certain level of production value. Coupled with the HD consoles superior online and the added perks of trophies/achievements, then there really is no wonder most core gamers spend their money on the HD consoles as opposed to the Wii.

    #14 5 years ago
  15. RoarrrUK

    @Robo_1 – well said. I share those views.

    #15 5 years ago
  16. Dannybuoy

    With innovation comes risk. With risk comes financial uncertainty. Some devs know they just need to plunder the wallets of the mass market, so they make incremental updates of existing franchises. Innovation might not reap rewards so we are stuck in a bit of a cycle now. Blame the mass market for buying all the dross out there.

    #16 5 years ago
  17. akrillic

    @ 16. Absolutely correct. The vast majority of output from the film and music industry can also be considered dross. Publishers will always try to appeal to the largest demographic possible in order to maximise sales. This is true across all mediums. With games its no different.

    #17 5 years ago
  18. Armitage

    Well I for one disagree with this idea that any game that tries to innovate is doomed to fail, that gamers are to blame for not buying innovative games. LBP has often been cited as an example of this, yet has I have heard sold over 3 million copies, has a (ambitious, from the sounds of it) sequel planned, has over a million user generated levels (many of which are of an extremely high standard) and has established Sackboy as a new gaming icon. All in all, sounds pretty successful to me, for a new IP made by a start-up company with a small team of 30-odd. Heavy Rain has also done well commercially from what I have read, as have other titles that try to push the envelope (I would include Far Cry 2 in that, but I realise many wouldn’t).

    #18 5 years ago
  19. blackdreamhunk

    you can blame Sony, Microsoft and game devs like epic games!

    #19 5 years ago
  20. Gekidami

    I’d rather blame Blizzard; nothing but sequels. Oh look, Bioware are making a Star Wars game with more sequels in development on the side, how original. Valve? Portal 2? A sequel? Oh dear.

    #20 5 years ago
  21. Rudderless

    There was enough good stuff on show if you looked hard enough. Didn’t help that a lot of the best titles weren’t on the show floor, and were only being shown in behind-closed-doors presentations.

    Also, it’s incredibly hard to judge entire games from half-hour (often even shorter) demos, so how some of you who didn’t even go can say “most of the games were piss-poor” is hard to fathom.

    #21 5 years ago
  22. SwiftRanger

    All these comments and yet we keep on buying average titles like Modern Warfare (2) which are like the games equivalent of “Die Hard 4″.

    There were so many shooters and standard action games at past E3 because those games sell the most in the hardcore space and they get the most attention from the games media (including VG247). People want the goody joy blockbuster-feeling because it can be exciting sometimes but with an “it always has to be BIG/no doubt this sequel is gonna rock”-attitude you’re only get the typical same games into the spotlights/at the top of the charts and that’s the standard drivel shooter. Only those kind of games offer some clear visual output (akin to movie scenes) that has to be crammed in a 60 seconds trailer.

    This industry already is in a Hollywood stage and it’s getting incredibly boring.

    #22 5 years ago
  23. Blerk

    There might have been a lack of innovation, but I don’t think it’s fair to say there was a lot of ‘dross’ there. Even the by-the-numbers stuff tends be be fairly decent quality these days, the time of the truly awful game is just about over. Unless he spent the whole show touring the Wii shovelware area.

    #23 5 years ago

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