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This is the end: Why millions of gamers love to play in the apocalypse

DayZ

Above: Hopefully you won’t end up like this guy in DayZ.

Image Credit: Bohemia Interactive

The future of the genre

Since online survival games are still in their infancy, it’s hard to tell how long they can keep their players engaged or what kind of content developers need to add to maintain their interests. You get the sense that Bohemia, Sony, Phosphor, Facepunch, and others following in DayZ’s footsteps are all in this together. Judging by the close relationship each developer is trying to forge with their hardcore early adopter communities through forums and websites, everyone is still figuring out just how far they can go.

But that doesn’t mean they’re afraid to offer predictions. Both Smedley and Sineni believe that the genre will one day expand beyond its end-of-the-world trappings.

“It’ll be interesting to see where this genre heads,” said Sineni. “There’s no reason why you can’t make a game like [The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim] like this, filled with 64 other people on these lands and you’re going around and bumping into people. … These mechanics can be put into space. They can be put into fantasy. They can go into cyberpunk. You can do this kind of [persistent] world anywhere.”

New developers would do well to heed that advice. Survival games are becoming a crowded market on PC, and while they aren’t available for any of the living room consoles, SOE is arguably in the best position to make that happen (Smedley is open to the idea of porting H1Z1 to the PlayStation 4).

And if post-apocalyptic entertainment behaves like any other trend in pop culture, it’ll likely simmer down over the next few years anyway.

“The nature of the mass media tends to be that when you have something becoming very popular, everybody jumps on the bandwagon,” Donovan said. “And then soon enough, the quality starts to sag. … Even with kids’ entertainment with [Young Adult] novels and movies — The Hunger Games kind of thing — everything is post-apocalyptic. Kind of like with the romantic vampires, I think it’s going to run its course until maybe the next time we’re completely freaked out by some kind of national or world emergency.”

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4 comments
Joshua Darlington
Joshua Darlington

Mix modernity and monsters. Game devs are always working on a more advanced duck hunt.

Caleb-Louis van Loon
Caleb-Louis van Loon

I think the whole apocalyptic scene is stale and predictable, keep it current-day and explore the societal and technological state of 2014 and onward. Watch Dogs should succeed at doing so.

Matthieu Lebas
Matthieu Lebas

Well I guess that's because when it's apocalypse in the world, all the power structures of our Society are down, and the user feels there's more room to create, build, and set his own rules over the world. I confess that it's really arousing (in the sexual sense of the word).

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