38 Studios. For the past two weeks, this story has practically overshadowed every other story in the game industry. Even in the mad dash of news released in the weeks prior to E3, which any other year would be all the news in this business, the demise of 38 Studios looms over everything. And it seems to me that over the last couple of weeks everyone has put their own $0.02 in. Most of it from the perspective of passersby staring at the spectacle of a horrific traffic accident on the side of the freeway. But maybe it’s because everyone is in shock (unless you are in New England, then you are outraged – New Englanders love to be outraged by anything people in high places fuck up at; just ask Drew Bledsoe). But everyone else seems to be transfixed, which is probably why some of the most obvious stuff that should be what is being said about this situation, is not.
I’ve been reading everywhere like a madman, and the most obvious things, the stuff that in this particular incident are likely to be reserved for hindsight, no one is saying. And worse still, none of the talking heads in the game business are even speculating on solutions to fix this mess at all. This despite the fact that if 38 Studios goes under, it is going to have a negative impact on every game publisher and developer in North America and the EU. Half of every politician for the next decade will use 38 Studios as the poster child for not handing out tax breaks, and tax credits to game studios under their aegis. For the end gaming consumer, this means that the price of games are about to go up again over the next few years. When you consider that in many places, game companies receive between 30% to 50% of their development costs returned to them via nontaxable revenue earned under tax credit programs, you begin to realize very quickly why the retail price for games is headed upward should 38 Studios tank. And what is most sad, is that 38 Studios can be saved; should be saved even. I’ve already listed several good reasons why, and there are even more.
The subject of recent classic PC franchise reboots, has been something I have been avoiding for some time now. When I discovered these cherished moments are being dumbed downed into shooters, to appeal to a larger, less cerebral audience, than the audience who initially made these classics, there are mixed feelings that come with that. On the one hand, a popular IP from the days of my youth, will now be appreciated (to some degree), by an entirely new audience. On the other hand . . . well, the games have been dumbed downed, and very likely devoid of most of what made them special in the first place, just to reach this new audience. In my mind, it’s like having sex while wearing a concrete condom – the upside is that you are having sex . . . if you can call taking almost everything that makes sex pleasurable in the first place, having it stripped away, and replaced with a blunt-force object, “having sex.” (more…)
Joystiq’s Jason Lomberg wrote a nice editorial piece concerning video gaming’s shallowness, entitled, I’m Tired of Saving the World. In the piece he goes on about how in creating only the most surface of stories, and always avoiding the more interpersonal type of stories that directly connect with the human condition, gaming as a whole has sold itself short as a medium. In the piece he gives several examples of where gaming has gone wrong, and several more examples of some promising work done in recent years, that while their merits may be debatable depending on who you are, tend to attempt to push games into becoming a more versatile medium; and hopefully, into the true potential inherently in the medium.
Anyone who has known me for more than a few years, across almost any forum I have frequented, knows this issue, and it really is an issue with the medium, is one of those I have written about passionately over the past decade. It used to seem that I was alone in my feelings toward how far the true potential of the medium could stretch, but lately it seems that slowly, more, and more people (at least in the gaming press), are beginning to wake up to this potential. If you have not already read Jason Lomberg’s editorial (linked above), then do so, it is a really good read. And pretty much every thing that follows in the rest of this post, serves kind of as an addendum to what he wrote. I have a future post planned to expound far more into the subject matter than this post is today. I’ve been writing about this for ten years, so you can bet I have more than a few observations, and things to share on the issue. (more…)
January’s Game Informer world premiers a freshly announced South Park: The Game, a role-play game (RPG) from publisher THQ, and developer Obsidian Entertainment, developers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas. The game will be a full-sized, premium priced game, coming to PC and current gen HD consoles, presumably in 2012. And based on the Game Informer cover art, will be a game take some manner of inspiration from the season six episode, The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers, and Make Love, Not Warcraft, an episode from the 10th season. (more…)