But in the stampede towards the mass market, the industry shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that video games have built their legacy and reputation on both inclusive experiences (ie the ones for my Wii-owning dad) and visceral, single-player entertainment (ie the ones for me).
Yes, great family games – some of which, like Wii Fit and Professor Layton, stretch the definition of ‘video game’ – are raking in cash for retail. But so too are the games for more mature audiences.
Resident Evil 5 is the biggest new release of 2009 so far, whilst Killzone 2 is the biggest single SKU released this year. Both are action-driven games for a specific audience (check the age rating on the box) – not ideal to crowd around and enjoy with your gran.
The real measure of a grown-up industry is one that celebrates and champions its variety.
And the industry needs to be prouder of the fact it doesn’t just excite one nebulous mass of people that likes Nintendo and party games, but serves a diverse set of players that want different things.
LAND OF THE RISING FUN
On page 14 we turn the spotlight on the rising power that Japanese publishers command in the UK.
It’s turned out to be more topical than we thought given the news as we go to press that Square Enix is to merge its European operation with Eidos – despite originally saying the two would be independent.
Call it what you will – a rebranding, a revamp, a closure – ultimately this spells both good and bad news. Yes, two respected publishing labels have found a way to stay strong. But the merger still puts a bunch of jobs in the US and Europe at risk. Here’s hoping those people whose roles are under threat find a new home quickly.
Our story that the Official Charts Company wants to start counting Guitar Hero, Rock Band and SingStar DLC towards the weekly singles chart is yet more evidence that people want a slice of the games pie.
So there’s a chance that, when the brilliant The Beatles: Rock Band is released, players could net the Fab Four their 18th number one.
But it’s only a slim chance. Fact is, until someone like Sony breaks the lengthy production cycle for DLC track releases and manages to get reactive content – like The X Factor winner single being released on the SingStore at the same time as it hits iTunes – this is a booming part of the industry that won’t get the kudos it deserves.