I am now thoroughly convinced that the era of complex, challenging, and elongated games is on the way out.
It isn’t an easy ordeal to divide video games between the casual and hardcore. Everyone has their own opinion to express on this matter. One game that is easy to me may very well be challenging to you.
If I were to round up the entire Call of Duty community and play the line game, asking the question, “Is Call of Duty a hardcore game?”, I’d expect the majority of the people to answer no.
It would be a joke now to say that this question could very well escalate to a very harsh, verbal disagreement between the two sides.
Gamers outside of the community may very well argue that the automatic heal functionality is not hardcore. Or that perks allowing for a faster draw of the weapon or the ability to stay hidden from enemy radar also crosses the line.
The industry as a whole has adapted and changed over the last generation of consoles to suit the needs of the casual versus the hardcore. Technological innovation and more difficult development formulas have led to an increase in sales costs.
In order to make a profit, companies had to alter their business strategies to meet the needs of a consumer group who just wanted to play video games for fun…those who didn’t have the time or will to play games like they were a second job.
Developers were forced to create games that held your held while still entertaining you.
Infinity Ward, developer of the original Call of Duty, made this type of experience happen. Their strategy is copied and pasted over each year but still manages to break sales records. Modern Warfare 3 had the most successful launch in entertainment history!
Their model: Create a Michael Bay like experience jam-packed with a short, gripping narrative and as much explosions and action sequences as possible. Yet that isn’t the only part of the gaming industry they “revolutionized.”
Many players want to feel some sort of achievement for what they’ve done in a game and on a constant basis. Call of Duty’s multiplayer provides an addictive and streamlined experience that constantly rewards the player for just about everything they do. It also encourages them to do even more…thereby keeping them hooked for a longer period of time.
The achievement model didn’t stop there, however. It expanded into many different variants across many of the consoles and PC services. Players earned these “trophies” and could then compare and show off their achievements to other members on their friend list.
Video games have become more of a social hub where friends and family can connect and catch up on “things,” the competitive nature of the medium slipping away at a very fast rate.
Then we have the Angry Birds epidemic that has spread like a virus to all forms of media. The .99 cent app made millions for developer Rovio. The reason it’s so popular is because players can jump into the game and jump right out of it as quickly as they want to. It’s the perfect time-killer. Don’t be surprised if our future is filled with games just like it.
One could argue that video games like Skyrim or Mass Effect are hardcore, but look at how long it takes to make them. Notice how long it took to develop Skyrim — almost four years! If Bethesda tried to annually release a new Elder Scrolls game similar to the Call of duty franchise, the games would probably be awful.
To build a good RPG takes time, talent, and lots & lots of money. It's an expensive process. Companies look at it this way — they could make an amazing game that would cost a fortune and wouldn't create a revenue stream anytime soon. Or they could make an Angry Birds type of game that is simple, fun, and appealing to almost everyone. They'd make a load of cash far more quickly. No one likes to wait around for something; we want it now.
And it's that impatience on the part of gamers, coupled with the expanding audience, that is creating this simplistic era of video games.