It seems like it was only yesterday that Atari and Nintendo of America changed the world with the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo home consoles. Those breakthroughs changed gaming forever. Fast forward to the modern-day and what has changed? Video Games are at the forefront of the entertainment medium sharing equal footing with Movies, Music and television. Billions of people play video games in some form everyday, whether it is from a home console, PC, or mobile device/handheld, etc. You can’t go a day watching television without at least seeing 3-5 commercials for games. Musicians and celebrities market and endorse games as much as anything else does. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, comedian and television personality Jimmy Kimmel are featured in the television ad for Call of Duty Black Ops. The industry has had a remarkable transformation.
Modern day top-tier video games are on par with big budget motion pictures in terms of marketing and reception. Activision and Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was awarded the Guinness World record for biggest entertainment launch in history. The game on its first day of release made over 400 million dollars in revenue. Its Treyarch produced successor Call of Duty Black Ops overall would outsell Modern Warfare 2. These games made more money in their first week than some of the all-time top-selling movies of the decade like The Dark Knight, Harry Potter, etc. Video games have become big business and integral parts of modern pop culture.
There is a tradeoff to all the major success the industry has enjoyed.
The sad reality for entertainment in general is, when it gets too big, major problems ensue. Hollywood has run wild with scandals, and undercurrent squabbles since going to the movies became a major pastime for Americans. As the video game industry continues to grow, the same problems are beginning to happen. Most notably the co-creators of the COD Modern warfare franchise and heads of Infinity Ward were escorted away and fired by Activision. They filed a class action lawsuit against Activision and a counter suit followed.
The industry today is as innovative as ever, however it has become the “Wild Wild West” in more ways than one. Due to the bad economy over the last few years which affected all businesses and industries, many Game developer companies’ had huge layoffs. Battles for sales have been more intense than ever as of late. With the Call of Duty franchise far ahead of all games in all genres it has naturally become the “elephant in the room”. Almost every first person shooter that releases tries to copy the best aspects of the COD games. The result is a genre hand cuffed by mediocrity and long bereft of a challenger to its marquee franchise.
Rarely these days do we the consumer, receive a game that is truly unique and revolutionary. Some of the most notable to emerge over the last few years include Gears of War, Assassins Creed, God of War, Halo, Red Dead Redemption, and Uncharted Drake’s Fortune. These titles have been largely successful and have been followed up with sequels that have all pushed the industry forward. These titles show the blueprint that is necessary in order for video games to continue selling at record pace, and the survival of the industry. It is up to us to reward the best quality publisher’s with our support by buying their games and downloadable content. The audience dictates the direction of the industry. What we buy will control what they will sell. Expect nothing but the best from your video games and from developer’s.