Shooters are absolutely huge right now, but are they as huge as they used to be? Of course, we can't go a year without seeing a Call of Duty release, and then there's Medal of Honor, Battlefield, Spec Ops: The Line, Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Crysis, Gears of War, and about a million other shooters either recently released or about to launch. It's safe to say that shooters are the most popular thing in the gaming industry right now. But, judging by past trends, it doesn't look as though this will be the case for long.
Every year, E3 shows us what the face of the industry looks like, and for the past several years that face had "SHOOTERS" written across its forehead. Last year, every company under the sun had a shooter they wanted to push. Alongside the mainstays like COD and Battlefield, we also saw things like Inversion, a shooter based on gravity mechanics, and Binary Domain, a shooter based on robots and team synergy. Go back even further and you'd see the same sort of atmosphere for the last three or so years, if not longer.
However, this year was a little different. There were still loads of throwaway shooters, but they were actually a lot harder to find. And even the big boys have been falling out of the public spotlight as of late. Modern Warfare 3 did not have as strong a reception as Black Ops, and Black Ops 2, while causing quite a bit of buzz, did not draw crowds nearly as big as Modern Warfare 3's crowds at last year's E3.
Now, this phenomenon is nothing new in the gaming industry. There has always been some genre of game that was both easy to make and easy to market. The gaming community is one of trends, and they tend to squeeze the last big thing to death before moving on to the next big thing.
Back in the days of the NES and early SNES, you could package just about any IP as an action platformer and watch it sell. Mario and Sonic started the craze, but soon everyone from Ren and Stimpy to Cool Spot had a platformer.
Then, during the later days of the SNES and early days of the PlayStation, the Japanese RPG was king. We saw Final Fantasy greats like Final Fantasy IV, VI, and VII release, of course. Then other franchises like Breath of Fire followed until eventually even American companies were making J-style RPGs like Legend of Dragoon.