Is the apparent dumbing down of video games becoming an epidemic, or is the chasm between novices and fanatics growing dangerously wider?
Here's the problem: The range of skill and experience levels among gamers is dangerously unwieldy. For decades, that wasn't really a problem, since most gamers were on the same page due to limited availability of games and game systems. To adjust for the inevitable diverse skill levels, games incorporated various difficulty settings. And then there were cheat codes.
A huge gaming market is developing, thanks to apps. Much of this demographic is made up of new, casual gamers who are largely inexperienced and have little interest in complex console games. But they have strength in numbers, and that can have an adverse affect on the rest of us.
These app gamers have money. Developers want that money. These app gamers are not interested in devoting the time to develop skills to tackle games like those of the Halo franchise. They want games they can pick up and play, such as Angry Birds. Not to rag too much on Angry Birds, but it's so similar to Worms, which was released back in 1995, that I wouldn't be surprised to hear about a lawsuit.
Big-name developers have already begun catering to these fast-food novelty gamers. This could result in relegating the hardcores to less innovative products.
Entrepreneurs go where the money is. iPhones and apps are the new virtual gold mines. Developers are flocking like angry birds to satisfy demands. A thinning of resources is being caused as developers strive to keep their feet in both streams, resulting in a dumbing down of console games, both to entice this demographic and keep the tight budgets in line. In the last year, I've seen plenty of examples of poor production values, sloppy coding resulting in annoying glitches, repetitive gameplay, and a general lack of imagination.
There's been a lot of disappointing games released this year, including Duke Nukem Forever, Dungeon Siege III, Thor: God Of Thunder, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, to name a few. Now I'm not attributing these games' shortcomings to app development negligence, but as you can see, developers need to focus more effort than ever into making games fresh and exciting for the advanced market. This effort isn't necessary for the newbie app players market, which makes it all the more attractive, and ultimately lucrative, since there's less time spent in R&D and production. The sophisticated gamer is feeling like a jazz lover on a deserted island with an AM radio.
Developer Hand Circus was responsible for the popular app, Rolando. They have since decided to enter the console market with Okabu. It's undeniably cute, as you control a couple of clouds that float around squiring water on offending polluters. With only a few commands on the PS3 controller, the game is easily accessible to the app crowd. I can't fault these developers for trying to make a buck by catering to these people, but I'm not sure I want them moving in, lowering intellectual property values in my next-gen console neighborhood.
By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*