You Say You Want A Revolution?By: Nick Arvites
You say you want a revolution, well, you know,
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution, well, you know,
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
-The Beatles, Revolution 1
Many of my peers are already hoisting the Nintendo Revolution as the savior of the industry. According to the pulse of Nintendo Nation, the Revolution will bring back innovation to the home console industry and ultimately beat out the higher priced and more powerful Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I, however, am often the contrary voice on our staff and in the video game world. Every time someone starts writing or talking about how the Revolution will save the industry, I look down and shake my head. Ultimately, the claims that Nintendo will ride in on some winged mythical horse and save the industry are often repeated and, once again, will prove false.
The key claim that is used to propel the Revolution to the role of future savior of the industry is that the gaming industry is set up for another crash similar to the one in the early 1980s. For the uninformed, this crash decimated the industry for years and only ended with the rise of the Nintendo Entertainment System. After the dust settled, industry mainstay Atari fell and never fully recovered. Many current Nintendo fans point towards Nintendo's emergence at this point as proof that the company is the choice for pulling the industry out of a crash. However, these people tend to ignore what actually caused the industry to crash out in the 1980s. While aggressive pricing wars certainly had an effect on the industry, the major problem was the lack of software publishing controls by the hardware manufacturers. As it stands today, the console manufacturers still maintain control over titles developed for their platform. While there will always be knockoff titles, there won't be another influx of cheap, shoddy knockoff products that completely disrupt the marketplace.
The lack of originality in gaming titles is perhaps the only argument I've heard that has any merit. As the industry grew in the last 10 years, many of the smaller development studios were acquired by large publishing juggernauts. Instead of releasing titles that could be a risky move, many of these larger studios only release titles they know will succeed in an ever-growing market. However, there are several things wrong with this scenario. First, it overlooks that original games are still released frequently. While there may not be that many of them when counted in the list of total annual releases, they seem to come out more when you count them in with the games that get higher ratings and actually matter.
This argument also believes that people will stop buying unoriginal titles. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The constantly steady success of the Madden franchise kills that argument instantly. The reality is that games are increasingly moving towards a Hollywood-type model concerning releases. Like Hollywood, gaming companies are looking at the bottom line and only producing titles that they feel will sell. In addition, the unoriginal game argument never really defines "unoriginal" games. Art and entertainment throughout time have based themselves on predecessors, and video games are no exception. If we took the "lack of originality" line to the extreme, many of the top titles of all time are thrown out because "it's just another shooter (specifically Half-Life)," or "it's just another 3D adventure game (Zelda: The Ocarina of Time)." Frankly, this is an unrealistic standard and should not be kept up. If a game comes out that makes no real breakthroughs in terms of genre, but does everything better than any other game in the genre, does it lose merit simply because it isn't an original idea? Absolutely not.