Vox Pop of the Month (January 2009)
Posted on Wednesday, March 4 @ 18:11:50 PST by Nicholas TanYes, I know Vox Pop has been delayed. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't want your money? Right?
Due to technical difficulties, I haven't been able to do Vox Pop for January, but everything should be in order (for now). So you can expect another Vox Pop in a few weeks for all you GR members featured in February. Once again, staff blogs and manifestos are excluded. And only the best Vox Pop entry of a member in a given month is considered for that month's Vox Pop contest.
Quote of the Month: "There are people on this board who would stand in front of the neon blinking sign pointing to the duck while holding Harper's Compleat Duck Identifier of the World (and how to tell them from drakes and goslings) open to the illustrated plates and still wouldn't know the duck even after it beaned them in the head with an egg." - Miscellaneous
Title: "Has Video Games Entered A Recession?" (should be 'have'... but what-ev)
Title: "A Whole New World"
Title: "Winter and the Wii, Low Risks and No Rewards"
Comment: If seemingly aiming on the same topic, the three picks (and in a way, the fourth Vox Pop entry in January, Sammo's 'Operation Anchorage') all cause me to comment on the recession and its impact on innovation. It's a bit of a sour note to begin on, considering that this is the first Vox Pop for 2009, but the economic crisis looms too large to be ignored.
I predict that for the next two or three years, we will see a shift from innovation to conservatism. Many of the companies that are in danger because of the recession is due to too large of a budget in research and development, and not enough on the bread and butter of franchises: sequels. As such, sequels and prequels (that are sequels) will become even more prevalent than before - Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, Overlord 2, Godfather 2, Halo 3: ODSDT, Resident Evil 5, and a long host of expansion packs. For sure, there are plenty of new high-profile IPs that will try to grab a foothold in the new market, but aside from maybe about five of them, don't expect them to get as much attention and sales, if just because the regular consumer isn't willing to risk sixty smackaroons on a potentially unfamiliar game.
This observation, however, is made by the economist in me and not by the reviewer. While I recognize that companies have to stay afloat, I wish to see new ideas and games that are designed not to satisfy my general hunger for solid games but my hunger for new experiences, new conceptual spaces for me to explore.
But I also predict that while major players like first-party developers and high-profile third-party developers will stay close to the belt, this is also the best time for independent studios to hit a winner out of the park. The XBLA, Wiiware, and PSN are fantastic platforms for new ideas to shine, and with their production costs being quite small compared to that of full-blown, "next-gen" titles, we will see artful gaming retract to the smaller, more flexible studios.
Now, this doesn't mean that we won't see a few points of interest here and there like Gardening Mama, Heavy Rain, Brutal Legend, and Madworld (and possibly UFC 2009: Undisputed and Singularity), but by and large, we will be seeing a few years of stabilization and refinement in high-profile titles before they are ready to dive back into the risky waters of creativity.
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