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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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Secret Sauces Define Call Of Duty, Pokemon, GTA, And Assassin's Creed This Year

Posted on Friday, October 18 @ 20:26:27 Eastern by


With millions of fans snapping up new entries in their favorite games this year, it seems like 2013 could be summed up in two words: secret sauce.

The mega-franchises, the triple-A blockbusters, the rehashes, the unimaginative churn of gaming... they all seem to hone in on one thing and refine it to an extreme. For Grand Theft Auto V, this means delivering one of the best, most entertaining open-worlds complete with a "fuck-you" attitude that gamers can't help but eat right up.

For Pokemon X & Y, it's a matter of maintaining the steady rhythm of new kid, new town, new adventure, new world, new and returning monsters, and 8 gym badges with an elite series of opponents waiting for a final conflict. This is my one sticking point about X & Y even if both games are fantastic at creating more satisfying catching-training-trading-battling distractions.

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg directly mentioned a Call of Duty "secret sauce" at the massive CoD: Ghosts multiplayer event:

I've been asked to decode the secret sauce of Call of Duty countless times. Is it the archetypal fantasy of being a hero and unlocking that inner soldier in all of us. Is it the technology, the graphics, the silky smooth controls? Is it the framerate, the progression system? Sure it's all those things… but at the end of the day none of that matters if they don't all combine to add up to the essential ingredient in the heart of every Call of Duty game and that's fun.

If I hadn't told you who the quote was from, what context, and edited it for hints of Call of Duty, could it have been any other gaming executive hyping up any of 2013's biggest games?



Could Reggie have said it? Or one of the Houser brothers who poked their heads out as they do when a new game is coming from Rockstar? I'm sure I've heard the Assassin's Creed developers say it too.

These games are fun certainly but each has its own merits, drawbacks, weaknesses, flaws, strengths, and uniquely satisfying feedback mechanisms. I hope the open worlds continue to drive for deeper and more interesting levels of interaction. I hope the shooters maintain a focus on speed and accessibility. More importantly, I hope the people behind these games (not the ones selling them to us) continue iterating smartly and provide new looks and ideas to massive brands.

Call of Duty certainly impressed me with its secret sauce strength earlier this year and Pokémon X & Y (review incoming) disappoints me by sticking too closely to its secret sauce. Black Flag could be smartly chasing a secret sauce they debuted in last year's Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto V continues to play the parody well.

What other mega franchises have a secret sauce? Do the developers change enough to stay fresh?
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