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Games Entertainment

No Blockbuster Titles in 2005? 116

Posted by Zonk
from the maybe-if-they-weren't-all-sequels dept.
The NYT is reporting that, unlike last year with likes of Half-Life 2 and Halo 2, 2005 has been curiously devoid of gaming hits. "With the introduction of a brand-new console, the Xbox 360, millions of players are supposed to be raving about the new machine and buying tons of new games to play on it. None of those things are happening. Sales are down relative to the holiday season last year, and major publishers are getting hammered on Wall Street. And so there is a lot of angst out there in the video game industry."
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No Blockbuster Titles in 2005?

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  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diamondmagic (877411) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:31AM (#14285001) Homepage
    I hear Nintendogs [wikipedia.org] was a hit.
  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:45AM (#14285068)
    No original ideas... sequal after sequal, rehash of the same game ten different ways. How many ways can you fight WWII or demons on mars?

    No matter how much EA spends on promoting it's latest FPS - it's just like the original with extra antialiasing. Woopittie doo. My money is spent much better elsewhere.

  • by thenetbox (809459) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:52AM (#14285112)
    Though i'm not sure that there weren't ANY blockbuster games but it sure feels like it. This is what happens when large gaming companies discourage original ideas and only go with the bigger guns + more polygon count game design route.

    Original ideas are risky but now it seems that lack of original ideas is riskier.
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by diamondmagic (877411) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:03PM (#14285189) Homepage
    Really? The DS is outselling the PSP about 3:1.
  • by Malor (3658) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:47PM (#14285431) Journal
    Just not for BLOCKBUSTERS.

    Great games I can think of offhand:

    Guitar Hero
    Darwinia
    Civ 4
    Space Rangers 2 (starforced, sadly)
    We Love Katamari

    Very good games:

    The Movies
    Warhammer 40k: Winter Assault (this is a sequel, so maybe it doesn't count, but I really like this game)
    T2X (amateur mod for Thief 2, surprisingly good, although a bit uneven)
    Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney (DS title)

    I'm sure there are more, but my memory fails me right now. I was just thinking yesterday that there have been an awful lot of great games this year, but usually from unexpected directions... all of the big publisher games have been pretty mediocre. The EA method (Let's Ship Yet Another Sequel To Something That Sold Big Last Year) is failing... nobody is generating new game ideas.... new property, as it were. They're all focused on exploiting what they have instead of making things that are genuinely different or fun.

    Because they haven't been investing in new gameplay ideas, they're running low, and people aren't buying as many games. This isn't really rocket science.

    EA would have been far better off, instead of coughing up huge money for that exclusive NFL license, in investing that money in about fifty small game developers. 45 of them would have failed spectacularly, 4 would have done well, and 1 would have been a megahit for the next generation of sequel exploitation. Instead, they paid way too much for a license that will ensure that their football team sits around collecting paychecks without actually having to work very hard, since they have no competition.

    It's interesting that of all the big players, only Nintendo seems genuinely committed to doing new stuff. I just recently picked up a DS and Phoenix Wright, and I've been very pleased with it... I didn't realize a touch screen would be fun, but in fact it's very natural and a great gaming idea. That's why, I suspect, they're professionals, and I'm not. :-)
  • by alphaseven (540122) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:59PM (#14285897)
    I'm sure there are more, but my memory fails me right now.

    F.E.A.R., Psychonauts, and my favourite game of this year (and the best game I've ever played, despite some framerate issues) Shadow of the Colossus. God of War was fun, and there were some really interesting games with some gameplay issues such as Indigo Prophecy, Killer 7 and Facade. Sort of sad how people complain about unoriginal sequels but when something new comes around it doesn't become a hit. And a lot of people are calling Resident Evil 4 one of the best games ever but it's sales on the PS2 have only been so-so.

    I think it's unfair to compare things to 2004 though, the end of that year was unusual in that so many high profile sequels came out around the same time, many because of delay. The complaint last year was that too many games were coming out and that some publishers where going to get hurt.

  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:03PM (#14285919) Homepage Journal
    It seems like a lot of the huge game developers now take many years to make their games, and due to the decline in the market and the cost of making games a lot of the smaller companies are going for consoles or just not huge blockbuster games. It's sort of like the film market, where there can be quite a lull for a while before many different studios release their brand new biggest titles that have taken tons of development time.
  • Re:Call of Duty 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:23PM (#14286020)
    I picked this up the other week for £20 and I must say I'm really enjoying it. However, it is of course a sequal and does boast "nice graphics". Good game though, it'd be shame if people avoided it just because they thought it was another sequal that was just the same with a higher polygon count.

    First of all, it's "sequel" - I don't think I've seen a single person spell that word correctly in this thread yet. (And it's become sort of a plague in any game-related thread on /.)

    Anyway, I think the bottom line is CoD2 is just another WWII FPS with better graphics. However good it may be (and I'm sure it is), it is at best an incremental upgrade from the previous game, and from other games in the genre.

    I think one of the problems is that the sequelitis that's plagued the industry for the past decade or so has had this really bad side effect of both driving away casual gamers who are more open to new things, while at the same time hardening the expectations of those buyers that remain as far as what a developer can do within a specific genre. So now the very people that publishers count on to buy these new sequels pretty much demand that they be just like the last game only incrementally better, which ensures a built-in audience but at the same time also attracts basically zero new buyers. Because if you didn't like the last game enough to buy it, why would you like the new one if it's pretty much the same thing?

    This is at least in part responsible for the drop in game sales this year. Obviously, there are a lot of other factors involved - people saving up for new systems, developers moving their top dev teams to new platforms, etc. But just knowing my own personal habits as someone who used to spend thousands of dollars on games a year (I'm 33, I have disposable income), and knowing both the feelings of friends in the same boat as me along with what I read in various places on the net, I have to believe that there are a lot of people out there who are just dissatisfied with what they see as a boring, uninspired, utterly derivative crop of current games. We want something new, not the same thing as before but with better graphics.

    Bottom line is sequels can draw on their built-in audience (that's the whole point) but they do nothing to expand the market or draw in new gamers. If all that you've got available on the market are sequels (as is pretty much the case right now), then the prospects for industry growth are basically nil.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Headcase88 (828620) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @05:20PM (#14287021) Journal
    I've noted to myself several times that 2005 has been a bad year for games. Everyone will have different tastes, but the only two that really held my attention were Super Mario Strikers and Guitar Hero. Regardless of tastes, though, there couldn't have been too many games that any one person could really fall in love with.

    Reference Gamespot's platform picks [gamespot.com] and see how many you liked. Of course Strikers didn't even make a blip on their radar, which I'm disappointed in.
  • by yoyhed (651244) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @06:27PM (#14287329)
    Resident Evil 4's sales on the PS2 have been so-so because it was already out on GameCube for 6 months and it sold excellent on there. RE4 is one of the best games ever, having played through it myself on GC and having tried the PS2 version, but the GC version beats the PS2 version any day (the control just feels right on GC, it feels like a port on PS2).
  • by 2008 (900939) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:49AM (#14289042) Journal
    Actually TFA in this case isn't complaining about sequels. It's saying there are no blockbusters, unlike Half-life 2, Halo 2 and GTA:SA from last year. All of which were sequels. A good game which is a sequel to a good game is quite likely to be a blockbuster.

    Besides, 2005 has seen a lot of new and interesting games released. Many of them are on the DS, so you may have missed them. None of them were really blockbusters - new and interesting doesn't sell that well.

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