[Editorial] How Sales Help and Harm the Industry.
How do sales of a console translate to a better gaming experience? Some would argue that they don’t, but some would also argue that without a game or console selling, many multi-million selling franchises wouldn’t exist. I hate to use Nintendo as an example of success, because their first-party exclusives are all platformers and show no diversity, but alas. Nintendo has been going strong for over thirty years using the same formula that made them successful in the first place. Their commitment to continuing to provide worthwhile family entertainment is known the world over and when you talk about popular video games one name stands above the rest: Mario. Though Mario started out as a minor character in the first Donkey Kong, the character’s influence on mainstream video games has been extraordinary. You ask any kid who Mario is and they’ll know, even in war torn battlefields. That’s pretty impressive.
Mario aside, the thirst for progression in gameplay and graphics could not be possible without the contribution of the fans into the collective pot from which these games get their funding. Do some games take more money than others because of content? Yes. Do some games take more money because of the ego of the company/creator of the franchise? Yes. Do some games take more money because of greed (EA)? Most definitely. To think that a video game of epic scope like Halo or The Last of Us could be done on an indie budget is extremely naïve. But even still, there is room for improvement on the big budget IPs and their reliance on sales. One priority could be to lessen the restrictions on console’s backwards compatibility and extend artistic boundaries for the developers. By doing this, you’ll have a console that sells even if the console before is/isn’t owned and you can keep releasing games for the previous console with increased/leveled sales. This is one of the reasons why PC gaming is furiously oversaturated with titles, both indie and otherwise. No restrictions, sans what the consumer will buy to keep the computer up to date.
Where does that leave the consumer though? And the sales of the respected companies for that matter? Possibly in the hands of the board of trustees that oversee the company. Some would even say it’s in the hands of the people who run the censorship boards and family alliances. Without all of these wheels to grease in order for a new IP to be accepted over trusted IPs, there would be an influx of freedom in the video game industry. Unfortunately the only true freedom we see in any of these companies is again in their spending of money earned/invested on relatively useless IPs that run their course where others are cancelled. One example was the Star Wars Darth Maul game that was being developed before Disney took over LucasArts. The game was thrown out with job cuts and new hires abound. People who were loyal fans of the idea were met with an “oh well” when asking about its demise. That is an example of millions of dollars going to the restructuring of an entire brand and the slashing of an entire franchise. As you can see, sales work two ways in the politics of the video game industry.