I have been doing this blog now since February (sorry for the recent infrequence of posting.... will resume 4 to 6 posts a week very soon as my schedule clears a bit) and in easily 66% of my posts I talk about the hard fact that the average gamer is not the 12 year old boy with negligent parents, or the college frat kid wasting $50k a year to get drunk and make bad decisions, but rather the average age of a gamer is 34. (Side Note: I link to that report so often but it is relevant in most every point I try and haphazardly make!)
Here is the thing though with people who are all grown up; they have outside obligations. Most of us have jobs, lives, etc and we don't have the 40 hours a week to game like many of us used to. Problem is with the lack of free time, the leisure activities we do engage in need to be as worthwhile as possible. Getting to my point....
Publisher THQ recently shut down Kaos Studios. Despite decent sales, the poor precieved quality of recently released FPS Homefront ended up being the final release from the New York based studio.
How did everyone not see this coming?
Saying the FPS market is saturated right now is like saying there are a few polygons in the models for Crysis 2. Thing is that the core demographic for these games, the "34 year old's", don't have enough time to play every FPS that comes out. We are going to only get the best titles that all of our friends are getting. We want new ideas that make the interactive medium more enticing. You can't just say "well we have an awesome story!" That only works in books and movies; it takes more to carry a game (see this post).
Right now the FPS war is dominated by the Battlefields, the Call of Duties, and the Halo's. Unless you are willing to spend millions of dollars and throw as much top notch talent as you got, you can not compete with a standard FPS. If you are clever you can try something completely different (upcoming post on why Left 4 Dead is the best FPS series in the last 4 years), but ultimately AAA publishers are not willing to put enough eggs in one basket and really take a risk on a product.
The video game industry needs to realize that the business model of good makes more money than great will not propel them to profitability. What I am really trying to say is that if I can only play one new game every couple months it's not going to be good. It's not even going to be great. I, and the core demographic whom I represent, only have time for the best.
How many layoff's from Valve have we ever read about? Even Blizzard?
I don't have time tonight but I really want to expand on this idea with my thoughts on publisher Kalypso, with whom I am very torn.