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Oddworld CEO: “The games industry has more Britney Spears-class content than Pink Floyd”

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 09:07 GMT By Dave Cook

Oddworld co-creator Lorne Lanning has spoken out against the abundance of ‘Britney Spears-class’ games out there today, and has called on the industry to produce more intelligent, deeper and relevant content.

Speaking with Polygon, Lanning mused, “As storytellers in the 21st century, many designers, creators, and writers will be compelled to make deeper more meaningful and relevant content that reflects the challenging issues happening in the world around them today.

“Storytellers have been doing this from the beginning. Shakespeare reflected governmental corruption in his plays, without preaching about the obvious issues of his day. Pink Floyd was able to express cleverly their issues with the negative music industry practices and general dismay with capitalism, while in turn making some of the greatest selling entertainment music of all time.”

“When content is deeper and more meaningful, then you can still create highly digestible and widely consumable entertainment products. Or, you can make Britney Spears albums. The games industry has more Britney Spears-class content than Pink Floyd. We just always aimed to deliver more of the later.”

Part of the problem, Lanning says, is that publisher’s marketing departments are more interested in sales than the subject matter itself. He added, “The least likely place we should expect to see more subtly influential, deeper content is from those products with the highest budgets and greatest focus on ‘must have massive audience consumption results.’ Anything that looks to possibly rock the boat toward that end, and reduce the size of the possible audience take will prove more likely to be cut from the end product before it ever makes it to the shelf.”

Echoing the opinion of many developers we’ve spoken to over the years, Lanning conceded that the indie space is producing the most interesting and topically challenging content today. He continued, “The more audiences realize that deeper content reflecting relevant truths can be more refreshing and engaging, [the more] we see documentary films having greater successes than ever in history. This is reflective of an evolving appetite that more people want more meaningful content and want to walk away from their experiences with more lasting impressions that add ‘more value to their lives.’”

“This is why indie music is trending far more interesting in its content than the big pop stars with the highest short term sales,” he added. “This is why indie films have more meaningful and lasting results on audiences than big blockbusters. Games are no different. It’s an investment versus returns reality.

“The best way to see deeper content manifesting in any of those mediums, is for creators to figure out how to deliver the products cheaper so that they may retain far more creative influence in the end product. Great content lasts the test of time, big pop for the moment evaporates from the history books more quickly.”

Do you agree? Is the indie space producing the most interesting and though-provoking content out there today? Is the blockbuster arena in a rut? Let us know below.

Via GI.biz.

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16 Comments

  1. CyberMarco

    Amen to that!

    Actually the more mainstream/popular a medium gets, the more shittier is going to be. That different/unique “feeling” is fading as more people try to harvest it.

    The claws of capitalism!

    Let’s rock! \m/ \m/

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Mr Sparkle

    Hmmm…What to do when you hate both of those?

    #2 1 year ago
  3. monkeygourmet

    Def agree with this.

    It’s the same with anything that becomes popular though. The real sad factor though, is when visions are changed / perverted to fit in with what a big comapny thinks is ‘in’.

    Many examples of games and great IP’s losing there way this generation through greed.

    Another problem with ‘popular’ gaming, is that it’s such a varied medium. That means, they can cram so much ‘cool’ stuff into one project and it can become a complete souless cluster fuck.

    Something that really stood out for me was playing the new ‘Syndicate’ game. There was a agent style boss fight and suddenly, out of nowhere, this extremly shitty Dubstep kicked in to make the fight TEH INTENSE!!!

    I just thought… Im not the target demographic anymore…

    #3 1 year ago
  4. DrDamn

    I agree to an extent but pressing L2 + O to Fart sounds a lot more Britney Spears than Pink Floyd ;)

    #4 1 year ago
  5. monkeygourmet

    @4

    :D

    #5 1 year ago
  6. tenthousandgothsonacid

    Pffft ‘Toxic’ is better than most of the Roger Waters era stuff from Animals onwards :)

    #6 1 year ago
  7. DSB

    It’s really not a failure of any medium if it doesn’t critisize society Lorne. That’s looking at it way too narrowly. It should be about a good story as part of a good experience, rather than always making a difference.

    If you make a difference, good, but that’s not the object.

    But aside from that I think it’s an inconvenient truth. Gaming is still a medium that’s perfectly content wallowing in B-movie content instead of ever reaching for the stars.

    We’re slowly going to get there as the industry attracts better and better talent, and the mediums start to cross over, but it’s going to be painfully slow, and that’s why it’s my mantra that videogaming is looking for its Charlie Chaplin.

    The sort of guy who looks at an industry that only cares about churning out near-identical movies that never venture further than one guy kicking another guy in the butt, and really strives to take it a lot further than that.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. fihar

    Really? It’s 2013 and the best thing he can use as an analogue is Britney Spears and Pink Floyd?
    Shouldn’t it be like, Flo Rida and Arcade Fire or something?

    On a serious note, I get what he’s saying but I don’t think it’s as bad as he described, just like monkey said, it’s just that the industry is only entering this situation now. I mean, the Flo Ridas, the LMFAOs, and the will.i.ams still exists in the music industry and they’re still just as many as they always have been, if not more.
    The problem he stated isn’t just limited to the video game industry, the film and the music industry is pretty much the same I’m certain.

    The dust will eventually settle in for the video game industry. The masses can still have what they want, and the more discerning customers will have no trouble finding what they want as well.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. DSB

    @8 I don’t think that’s true at all. Queens of the Stone Age, Oh Land, Pink Floyd, Sia and countless other artists that are truly musicians rather than neatly designed marketing concepts, are still backed by multinational, filthy rich record labels. You don’t see EA or Activision giving half a fuck about indies, regardless of how talented they are.

    And while A&Rs are often treated like gutter trash by the business segment, they still influence the industry itself, so you essentially have (well, mostly) very competent enthusiasts helping to pick and vet the investments, whereas the videogame industry often has these soulless suits trying to judge concepts that they don’t understand, because they’ve never touched a videogame.

    It’s apples and pears.

    If I was in videogame publishing, I’d look for the smartest, most competent indie developer I could find and hire him to help me find or define the next big amazing videogame. That would be doing it like the music industry.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. fihar

    @9
    Again, the music industry has already went through this phase while we’re still pretty much in the middle of it. The comparison is more like a ripe apple and an unripe one.

    Valve has started doing this with Portal and Sony with thatgamecompany and there are quite possibly other examples as well. Call me a naive but I’m pretty sure EA and Activision will eventually come around.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. DSB

    @10 Ah, fair point. We can hope!

    That’s what I mean by Charlie Chaplin. Before he came long movies as a whole were really low brow and primitive.

    Maybe I’m a pessimist, but it seems to me like the industry is doubling down on keeping games primitive and predictable. Their only concern seems to be delivering more of the same to the exact same customers, rather than trying to find the next big thing that will actually deliver gaming to entirely new people.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. fearmonkey

    All I can think of is Activision releasing another COD and saying “oops I did it again”.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. fihar

    @11
    Yeah, but wasn’t Charlie Chaplin the one that refused to move to talkies because, I quote, “They are defeating the meaning of the screen”?
    Citizen Kane and Vertigo is a talkie.
    I found it odd that you use him as an analogue for this case.

    I thought the mobile push of recent years proves that companies are actually tapping into an entirely different group of people?
    And there already was a big thing that delivers gaming to an entirely new people, it’s called the Wii.

    I don’t think you can reach an entirely new group of people by relying on software though, it has to come from the hardware side. Touchscreen did wonders for mobile devices and handhelds. Motion control did the same for the Wii and for the next thing, Oculus Rift perhaps?

    #13 1 year ago
  14. DSB

    @13 That’s technology though. His contribution was in shifting the entire way the industry conducted itself.

    I’m not saying he was the be all and end all, but really everybody was shit scared of talkies. It was new tech, they had all become famous on basically being clowns, rather than real actors, but keep in mind that Chaplin was one of the few silent movie actors who managed to nail it after the transition.

    The Great Dictator is arguably one of the best things he’s ever done, and it would never have been the same without the Hynkelspeak or “Look Up Hannah”.

    What makes him important is that he was instrumental in handing the power over to creatives rather than whoever is holding cash, and thinking cash.

    I beat this drum a lot, but Jason Rubin is a similar type.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CspgyYf8G3Y

    He obviously felt pressured to leave the company after making that speech, so unlike Chaplin he didn’t win, and obviously the creatives don’t feel strong enough to push their influence yet, but guys like Rubin are what the industry needs in my opinion.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. bradk825

    Yes and no. I find there is some fluff coming out of AAA right now but there is also some great storytelling being produced.

    I take things said by Lanning with a grain of salt. He is very much a “I am a genius and everyone else produces pure shit” kind of personality according to everything I’ve read from him. E.G. he just compared himself to Shakespeare.

    I’ve played games this year in which I found the story exciting, addictive and intelligent. I’ve also played games where the story was an afterthought. We’ll soon be seeing what happens when you have hacktivists deciding to take their vigilante justice into the physical world in WatchDogs for example. That’s a very interesting idea driven by current events (Annonymous and their fellows) and it’s coming from a AAA studio.

    It’s also worth mentioning that there is a mix coming out of the indie scene too. How many indie titles can you buy right now that are nothing more than a rip off of another game? An indie title just got pulled from the virtual shelf at Steam for being incomplete.

    So I’d say he has a point as far as some of the content that’s out there, but he’s being far too general as usual.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. fihar

    @14
    Ah, I see your point.
    I’m not familiar with Chaplin all that much really, The Circus is pretty much the only thing I’m familiar with, and I never knew that Rubin was that outspoken. Granted, I was 13 when he made that speech and back then I don’t even knew the guy existed.
    Thank you for pointing that one out.

    Still, I always thought that creative freedom is something you earn though. I seriously doubt Inception would have been made if Nolan’s Batman bombed.
    And that deal Bungie had with Activision allows them to keep the rights to any game they made for the duration of the deal didn’t it? And as I understand it, Sony is quite lenient on Team ICO and Naughty Dog.

    Indies and newcomers are still going to have a hard time if they ever wanted to break into traditional console space but The Chinese Room and thatgamecompany did it and at fear of sounding like a fanboy, I have complete faith that Sony will do the right thing in the hopefully not-so-far future.

    #16 1 year ago

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    Destiny players regularly compare the size of their Grimoire Points. Learn how to make yours the biggest. Destiny guide: how to earn Grimoire Points In Destiny, earning most Grimoire cards is just a matter of playing the game, maybe a little more attentively than usual. You’ll either need to complete a certain number of actions […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows will let you play as a baddie

    Shovel Knight owners will benefit from the generosity of Kickstarter backers quite soon. Because Shovel Knight was overfunded during its Kickstarter campaign, developer Yacht Club Games committed to releasing free content updates. The first of these, Plague of Shadows, has now been detailed. The expansion stars baddy Plague Knight, who turns on his former allies, […]

  • GTA controversies, from Hot Coffee to PR manipulation

    GTA has a long history of controversy. The latest Did You Know Gaming tells the full stories behind the sensational headlines. Grand Theft Auto is such a byword for controversy that it’s easy to forget the full context of what actually happened to bring mainstream press, politicians and interest group awareness to the Rockstar series. […]

  • Infamous 2 one of five new PlayStation Now additions for March

    PlayStation Now will expand to the tune of five new games this month. The March PS Now additions are Infamous 2, Twisted Metal, R-Type Dimensions, Alone in the Dark: Inferno and Operation Flashpoint: Red River. PS Now will set you back $20 per month or $45 for a three month subscription. It offers all you […]

  • Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster gets PS4 release date

    Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster hits PS4 in May. The PS4 release date for Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster is May 12 in North America and May 15 in Europe. Gematsu reports a special pre-order bonus calendar with art by Yoshitaka Amano is available through the Square Enix Store and participating retailers. In Europe, pre-ordering […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting 15 new Prestige levels

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can now aspire to the ranks of Grand Master Prestige. Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games will add 15 more Prestige levels to the latest Call of Duty, giving players at max XP a chance to grow even further. According to the Sledgehammer Games blog, when you enter Master level […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End recreated in Minecraft

    Destiny’s toughest challenge gets even nastier if you throw Creepers into the mix. The ultimate Destiny challenge – for now – is the Crota’s End raid. Taking place in an alternate dimension accessed through the Hellmouth on the Moon, the Raid takes Guardians through a pit of darkness to the resting place of Crota himself. […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D trailer introduces the Heir to the Monado

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3D protagonist Shulk is the Heir to the Monado, his distinctive red sword. Let this trailer fill you in on what that means. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D releases for New 3DS on April 2 in Europe and April 10 in North America. As well as all the content of the Wii original, it has […]

  • The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod covers Morrowind, Oblivion and more

    The Elder Scrolls: Total War is a terrific mod allowing you get get intimately involved with the history of Bethesda’s detailed fantasy universe. The first release of The Elder Scrolls: Total War dropped on the weekend, giving players their first chance to try out LoRdNazgu1‘s creation. This version runs from 3E 427 to 4E 45, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 out now on Steam

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is out now. Yes, we’re surprised too. You can grab Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 on Steam for $8. Developer Scott Cawthon really doesn’t mess about; the game was only announced in early January. Here’s the blurb: Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed it’s doors, the events that took […]

  • EVE Online heister makes off with $13,000 worth of goods

    EVE Online is a hotbed of villainy, espionage and backstabbing, but one intrepid corporate thief has made waves even in this setting. The thing about EVE Online is that it’s a true sandbox: the game’s rules are very loose, and allow players to make careers out of theft, piracy, assassination and espionage in addition to […]

  • Marth Amiibo getting a stock refresh in North America

    Nintendo of America has announced a fresh supply of the difficult to find Marth Amiibo. The Marth Amiibo will be back in stock in the US in late April, the platform holder said on Twitter today. Planning to pick up Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and don’t have a Marth amiibo? More are headed to stores in […]

  • Skyrim beta update upgrades creation kit file size

    Skyrim has been granted a new beta update – more than three years after launch! – to improve the experience for modders and those who use them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in November 2011. I think that’s worth noting before we discuss the beta update that dropped today, even as Bethesda is working […]

  • Paradox’s next epic RPG is, uh, Knights of Pen & Paper 2

    Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is very serious business so please enjoy this very serious trailer. “Return to the dicey world of Knights of Pen & Paper for a new turn-based adventure, where players get to take on the role of players, and also of the game’s encounter-designing, rules-laywering GM in a fully customizable […]

  • Amplitude looks amazing in new gameplay trailer, has a team multiplayer mode

    Amplitude may have been delayed but we still get something this March: a fine new gameplay trailer. Amplitude is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 sometime in northern summer. It’s a reprisal of Harmonix’s classic rhythm action game, a forerunner to its later efforts with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and was crowdfunded. Update: Turns […]

  • DayZ creator’s “crazy”, “esoteric” next game developed with Improbable

    DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall has dropped the first vague details of his new game project. “I do not want to make safe games. I do not want to make games the way we have been making them. What if the most experienced video game staff in the world collaborated on the most esoteric and […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will support AMD’s Mantle

    AMD has confirmed what most Battlefield fans thought. Battlefield Hardline will indeed support Mantle. Battlefield Hardline will support Mantle, AMD has confirmed. Some players weren’t sure whether the retail version of the game will support AMD’s API, due to its absence from the recent PC beta. AMD did not say whether the feature will be […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 GDC 2015 sizzle reel shows what the tech can do

    Unreal Engine 4 is a pretty versatile bit of tech, as this new sizzle reel shows. As one of the more ubiquitous engines, Unreal will be on show at GDC this week. Developer Epic produced the following sizzle reel to quickly demonstrate what it can do – cutting edge graphics (there are very few games […]

  • Survarium’s latest patch removes limit on battle ammo, rebalances experience gain

    The latest Survarium patch has readjusted the value of experience and reputation points gained and removed the limit to the maximum amount of ammo you can use in combat. Survarium developer Vostok Games has released patch 0.27a to the public, having recently finished testing it. The patch is a major one and covers changes to […]

  • The Hunt Begins in new Bloodborne TV spot

    Bloodborne is so close you can almost smell its coppery tang on the wind – and also you can watch commercials for it. Bloodborne arrives on PS4 at the end of this month (March 24 North America, March 25 Europe, March 27 UK) so excitement is starting to build. Sony isn’t helping keep us calm […]

  • World of Warcraft: you’ll soon be able to buy game time with gold

    Blizzard will soon allow World of Warcraft players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard has announced a new system that will launch soon for World of Warcraft. The system is called WoW Token. Using this system, players will be able to buy game time using in-game gold. Here’s how it […]

  • 3D Realms’ Bombshell returns with the first gameplay trailer

    Remember 3D Realms’ Bombshell? The isometric ARPG that was announced last year? Well, it’s back, and we get to see gameplay footage. The game stars Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a bomb technician turned mercenary with a mechanical arm. She will embark on a quest to rescue the president and save Earth, all while shooting aliens. The […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to use

    Epic Games has made Unreal Engine 4 available for anyone to download and use, for free. Unreal Engine 4 is now free. Anyone can download it and start using it, the developer announced today in a blog post. The download features the the full set of tools used by Epic, and includes 100% of the […]

  • Call of Duty European Championship winner announced

    The winner of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship has been announced. This past weekend, 28 teams representing UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe and Middle East attended the final of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship. UK team Epsilon eSports was crowned […]

  • GOG brings back Insomnia sale with discounts up to 90% off

    GOG.com is bringing back its Insomnia sale event with even more games. GOG’s Insomnia sale is back with double the amount of games. This year, there will be two sets of games available at once. The sets are seasoned classics and fresh new titles. Each set will feature games with discounts up to 90% off, […]

  • 2K is shutting down NBA 2K14 online servers, won’t affect career save files

    2K will be shutting down the servers for NBA 2K14 this month. The publisher revealed yesterday that online servers for NBA 2K14 will be turned offline on March 31. “You will no longer be able to play ranked games/online association,” reads the announcement. NBA 2K14 relied on online servers to store save files for MyCareer […]

  • One Dead or Alive tournament organiser is proposing ban of “over-sexualised” costumes

    A Dead or Alive tournament organiser has suggested a soft ban on some of the game’s “over-sexualised” costumes, and not everyone is happy. Tournament organiser “The HuBBs” took to the FreeStepDodge forums to suggest a list of rules that other offline tournaments can follow. The list goes over stages, characters, moves, which is certainly in […]

  • Destiny: all the news from Bungie’s open house Q&A

    Bungie hosted an open house Q&A session with the community last week and lots of exciting news have come out of it. Arekkz Gaming has gathered all the information that came out of Bungie’s open house Q&A in one handy video. The list is massive, going over Exotic weapon balance, upcoming events, PVE, Crucible rewards, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to honour Nimoy with in-game memorials

    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]

  • Hayter’s gonna hate: the voice of Solid Snake wouldn’t answer my Metal Gear question

    Voice actor and Hollywood writer David Hayter discusses the differences between movies and games. And politely declines my leading question. “It might be fun to do a crazy, over-the-top film version of Saint’s Row.” Yeah, that headline is a bit cheap but you’re reading the work of a man who once asked the maker of […]

  • Xbox One bundle gets £100 price cut in UK

    Microsoft has knocked up to £100 off Xbox One bundles in the UK. The Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed bundle is now £100 cheaper and comes with a free £20 voucher to be spent on the official Microsoft online store. Over on the Xbox online store there’s a £70 price cut on the white […]

  • Pokemon Shuffle downloaded 1m times, free stuff given out to celebrate

    Free-to-play 3DS title Pokemon Shuffle has been downloaded over 1 million times. As a reward for playing the match-3 puzzle game Nintendo has gifted players a Complexity -1 item for free. The item reduces the difficulty of a level, according to Eurogamer. By all accounts Pokemon Shuffle is a cynical game with poorly implemented microtransactions. […]