Dedicated video game developers should be allowed to diversify
Stop me if you’ve seen this before in the video game industry, a series is successful, it becomes a massive/highly popular cross media franchise and makes the people behind it a ton of money. In response, the publisher of said series forms a dedicated studio devoted solely to cranking out further entries in that popular series, to the detriment of any ideas the video game developers may have.
Sadly, it happens all the time. Halo with 343i, Gears of War with The Coalition (Formerly Black Tusk.), Battlefield with DICE and Call of Duty with the various teams involved with that property. Though it’s becoming fairly standard, I’m not a fan of this business/studio model.
When video game developers are forced to play in the same world over and over and over again, things become stale and people behind the scenes become burnt out physically and creatively.
When founders Jason West and Vince Zampella bristled at being made to work on Call of Duty by Activision for the rest of their careers, they were dismissed and had to launch a new studio. That rebirth gave the gaming public Titanfall, one of the best multiplayer shooters in a decade.
After the failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines by Gearbox, Sega put The Creative Assembly (Best known for the Total War series.) in charge of reinvigorating the IP. In spite of their largely RTS background, they made one of the best entries in the franchise to date. It’s a dammed shame it won’t get a sequel.
In addition, GameFreak, the company best known for the Pokémon series and work with Nintendo, recently made a game for the PS4 and X1. Though Tembo the Badass Elephant didn’t receive critical acclaim, it was a nice example of a studio that had been pigeonholed into one genre keeping it fresh for a change.
Bottom line is this, forcing a team to continuously make one thing is a very bad idea.
Remember the cool concept Black Tusk showed off before they were bought by Microsoft? Well, that mystery heist game set in China will probably never see the light of day now. It’s probably canned due to the publisher’s laziness and cowardice about possibly offending the Chinese in any way shape or form. Get it together Microsoft.
Remember the marketing in the lead up to Halo 5 that teased the greatness of its story mode? (I’m sure we all saw the trailers playing up Spartan Locke and his hunt for the Master Chief, they really did look quite cool.) And remember how disappointed we all were when it turned out to be utter garbage?
That’s all the result of this horrible model. You should never lock creative people into a box. The sooner EA, Microsoft, Sony and others come around and realise that what they are doing is bad for the industry and consumers, the sooner better games will make their way onto the market