Jimquisition: The Games Industry is Full of Cowards
In the latest episode of the Jimquisition, The Escapist Reviews Editor Jim Sterling looks at Bravely Default — a game whose success has caused Square Enix to think it should be making more of the games it has always been known for and have always been good at delivering.
From Jim’s perspective, it seems publishers like Square and Capcom (and everyone else) convinced themselves their popular games were going to fail, or that they weren’t actually all that popular, and that’s why we ended up with action-heavy Resident Evil, mainstreamed Final Fantasy, and a lots of other not-really-great ideas. It’s a pretty compelling argument.
What GameFront contributor Phil Owen pointed out to me, though, is that Jim might be missing a key element of what drove so many publishers to try to reinvent the wheel with their games: namely, Call of Duty money. It seems every triple-A title that comes out does so with the expectation of selling 5 million copies or more. Remember when Square Enix said Tomb Raider missed sales projections with the 3.6 million copies it moved at launch (it made money by the end of 2013, though)? What about when Electronic Arts said Dead Space 3 would have to move at least 5 million to be worthy of further investment?
Also at issue are inflating budgets and an expectation of selling crazy numbers of copies and making crazy money. It seems to me that ever since the Call of Duty franchise cracked a billion dollars in a single year’s sales, a great many decisions with rival game publishers have been angled in an attempt at finding a way to bake that kind of bread. So while an abject fear of imagined failure is definitely part of the story, with game companies often fleeing from niches even if they’re profitable, I can’t help but think it’s not the whole story — but then, Jim has said as much before as well.
At least the Bravely Default story is a positive in the vein of “this is what we’ve been saying all along,” though. Hopefully Capcom gets the picture with Resident Evil, because despite having reviewed Resident Evil 6 and liking it well enough, I’m still not excited for further games in that franchise until they start to tap what made them great to begin with.
What do you think? Agree or disagree with Jim (or me and Phil)? Let us know in the comments.