As gaming becomes more and more a part of the mainstream, gaming companies find themselves facing a unique set of circumstances. What was once an industry that had been overrun by a very particular group of customers has now become a multi-billion dollar industry that caters to an enormous range of personalities. With this paradigm shift has come a growing need for game manufacturers to create new and unique gaming experiences that can engage a wider range of audiences. In working toward this goal, companies have started to look toward different game production models that oversee the way in which they approach new properties.
One important shift here is that larger gaming companies are becoming more and more set on limiting development for games that do not seem to have “episodic” potential. Episodic potential means that the game can be turned into a franchise of games instead of just one standalone game. There are many different reasons for this push, but most of it has to do with how profitable episodic titles can be over a longer period of time. When a game is able to build into a series of games, there is a high level of brand recognition that the game benefits from. When the game sells more due to this brand recognition, this relates to better overall sales figures for the company putting the game out. Some notable proponents of this strategy are people like Bobby Kotick Activision CEO.
The benefits that come with these games is that they are generally more broadly enjoyed by a wider range of people. First person shooter games are among the most popular games out there when it comes to episodic conversion. These games are generally not built upon their story as much as they’re built upon their game mechanics. Highly-detailed particle calculations make explosions look ultra-realistic, while advanced motion capturing and dynamic textures help make physical elements come to life on screen. These are processes that are extraordinarily expensive and which require millions of dollars in investment. This money is going to be invested on the understanding that the subsequent games using the technology will end up generating a profit. This is why so many smaller companies focus on story-driven games and so many larger companies seem to focus on effects-driven games. In many ways, they are all simply playing to the individual strengths they enjoy given their position in the market. Of course, that isn’t to say that smaller games are not as enjoyable or popular as larger games.
Smaller, independent developers are constantly hitting the market with new and exciting platformers, RPGs, top-down action games and first person shooters that really break all the rules. While the larger companies tend to follow or create these standards, independent developers spend a lot of time breaking through the supposed mandates of the industry. As a result, these companies generally enjoy a very devout following that regularly consumes the games they’re putting out.
In the end, the truth is that there are a lot of different ways to develop a game and bring it to market. While not all game companies will be focusing on the same markets, they both have a part to play in the overall gaming world. Finding ways for these companies to co-exist and thrive equally is a key component of building games for the future.