If it weren’t for the man sitting on the crapper in the picture above, I may have thrown in the towel when it comes to gaming a while ago.
I have written at length on this site and others about the visions of people like Goichi Suda and David Cage who manage to create ripples in the stagnant body of water known as video gaming. I have purchased a grand total of one new console game this year: Lollipop Chainsaw. Who made it? One of the two men I just mentioned.
Game developers, listen the fuck up. It’s time to go to school, and your professor is also your ultimate advisor, counselor, and disciplinarian: a customer.
Several days ago, I wrote a column on another website about how I thought Dead Space 3’s marketing team should be “sacked” (English vernacular for fired). Here, the gloves are off, and I have no censors. What I truly wish is for someone to go directly into Electronic Arts’ headquarters – don‘t worry, security can‘t be THAT tight – find the nearest conference room and take a liquid, burrito-fueled shit on the closest table. I think that would make us even, because as far as I am concerned, that is exactly what EA is doing to the Dead Space series.
If you aren’t yet caught up to speed, EA’s Vice President of Global Marketing (a title that would make me want to shoot myself in the fucking face) Laura Miele stated in an interview with MCV, a UK gaming magazine, that “product research” mandated a change in tone for Dead Space 3.
We were doing research coming out of Dead Space 1 & 2 and we’re really proud of those products. We received feedback to understand how we can take the game out to even more consumers…We were hearing feedback that they loved the thriller game, but it was pretty scary and the obvious next step was that they wanted to play with someone. So we introduced co-op into the game.
At the end of this interview, Miele mentioned she would rather “go to [a] scary movie with my husband rather than sit at home with the lights out watching one on my own.” I’m going to refrain from any sexist comments because Miele just set back her own gender by a few years with that one. Never mind the fact that playing a horror game is so vast in difference from watching a horror film; for the ladies reading this article, don’t worry. Linda Miele is looking out for you, and so is the rest of the power elite at Electronic Arts who wouldn’t know innovation if it fucked them in the ass and didn’t call the next day.
To be fair, the original Dead Space was not necessarily groundbreaking. All of the roots can be traced back to Resident Evil 4, and DS took those mechanics and crafted them into something incredibly terrifying. The original and sequel sold close to 5 million copies, which is no small feat for any game. Of course, for EA, that means “yeah, but how can we sell twice that amount next time? I know! Let’s dumb it down, shoehorn drop-in/drop-out co-op into the experience and pretend it’s really ‘two games for the price of one.’ Brilliant!”
We have EA’s marketing team to thank for this. You know what else deserves their praise? The fact that Shadows of the Damned, a creative collaboration between – you know it – Suda and Shinji Mikami and the most original title released in 2011 next to Catherine, sold less than 50,000 copies for its debut on both the 360 and PS3. Does anybody remember an advertisement for the game? No? Exactly. They paid no attention to something fresh, but you can rest assured that their advertisers were readying the next round of cock size comparisons between Battlefield Bro-Down and Call of Duty: Red Bull UFC Edition.
One thing Suda has never skimped on is creativity. Whether you like his work or not, he has never shied away from trying something new. Each of his games contain their own universe with a respective flavor and feel. Even if they share similar gameplay traits (Lollipop Chainsaw’s combat had a slice or two of No More Heroes in it), the presentation in every game carves out its own unique place on a shelf. Moneymakers like COD, Battlefield and just about every sports game are on the opposite end of the spectrum, with a simple change in the number representing the year masquerading as a reason for you to blow another sixty bucks. Even Resident Evil 6, which I am going to end up purchasing out of loyalty, could potentially fall victim to a simple cash-grab thanks to DLC. There is no brand new game on the radar this year that looks compelling enough for me to drop cash for it, but thankfully 2013 is looking different.
Watchdogs and The Last of Us impressed a hell of a lot of people during this year’s E3, and for good reason. They both look fantastic and they’re – get this – NEW. New story, new setting, new atmosphere. Why is it still so goddamned hard for publishers to see that the market, yes, the fucking MARKET is hungry for a flavor we haven’t had shoved down our throats for years? Suda gets this, and so does David Cage, who I would call the Paul Thomas Anderson to Suda’s Quentin Tarantino. Cage is looking to take games to the level above what he managed to pioneer with Heavy Rain, a game which won three BAFTAs for Original Music, Story and Technical Innovation. With Ellen Page starring in Beyond: Two Souls, I expect the game to not just innovate but further change the landscape of interactive entertainment as we know it, whether people want to go along for the ride or not.
I find myself purchasing less games every year, not because I like playing them any less. The increasing pile of bullshit that clogs the options of games has made me reevaluate how I am as a gamer, and more of my money has gone toward independent offerings through digital purchases rather than big retail releases. I keep getting pissed off at major publishers and I know I am not the only one. As soon as a game becomes a hit, every last goddamned drop has to be squeezed out of an ensuing franchise. Think back – there was a time when Kingdom Hearts was just one game and Final Fantasies were just that – final. Even Mario is starting to fall victim to this, with a barrage of 2D entries hitting at once across both the Wii U and 3DS, which will include DLC for the first time.
If one person is out there who reads this and gets their eyes opened, I will be happy. There are other options out there from military first-person shooters funded by the same giant companies that shill themselves on television, the source of a zombie infestation that has happened right under our noses. Lift the fucking veil and make your choice the next time you put a disc into your video game system. Need more motivation? Let Howard Beale tell you.