Techno-Logic: A Look At the Game Industry

Special to the Parade

Techno-LogicHey everyone! Hope you had an excellent Halloween! Next is Thanksgiving! Man, time flies. Last week I wrote about the season of threes. We have a handful of major games releasing: Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. Those are just the threes I mentioned, three of which will have launched by the time you read this. Also in the pipeline is Super Mario 3D Land and Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. Don’t forget Arkham City and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. Those are just the ones that immediately come to mind. There is a bunch more, and I’m sure readers can think of plenty of games that arrived over the fall/winter half of the year.

Most fans of videogames love the idea of having plenty of games to play. Then we tend to remember that these games typically run 50 to 60 bucks a pop. To any of us who pay monthly bills, that’s not exactly an awesome scenario. Budgeting yourself to maybe one or two games a month means you will still miss out on a lot. It just seems that every October we see at least 10-15 major games that are worth owning. Publishers, hoping to cash in on the holiday season, schedule their heavy-hitters for that part of the year, and some games tend to get lost in the shuffle.

Perhaps I’m dating myself by talking about this, but I do sometimes miss the older days. Back when I was young and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was king, we’d get just a few major releases a year. Back then, Nintendo regulated publishers’ releases. Developers had to acquire a license (though they still do) and publishers could only release five games a year. This was to prevent over saturating the market, something that happened with Atari in the early 80s and nearly destroyed the industry.

Of course videogames are a very different business these days. Games have million dollar budgets and developers hope to sell millions of copies. A high-budget game floundering could mean the end of a development studio.

This has led to sequel after sequel. Publishers choose to stick to what is safe rather than take risks, sequels can often work off of the same game engine as their predecessors. Sometimes, it angers gamers, but as long as we demand better graphics and longer games, it’s going to keep up. Let’s just hope that some developers and publishers continue to innovate on smaller platforms like iOS, PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade (XBLA), where budgets can be smaller and risks are much lower.

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