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The future isn’t AAA games

On the last podcast, I mentioned that I didn’t think games like Darkfall and EVE were pushing the industry anywhere. I’m not so sure I believe that anymore.

My reasoning was that those games were so niche that they weren’t going to sway big bears like Blizzard. Now though, I’m thinking that I may have been a little close minded to how the spread of ideas works. Blizzard might not pick up on innovation of niche games but one of the other big boys might. Say, Aion for example. From there, a good idea yet underappreciated idea gets the mass attention and can spread in its own course.

Don’t get me wrong. When I say that the future doesn’t lie in AAA games, I’m making no bones about which titles will have the most subscribers. AAA games market more, polish more, and aim for the average Joe more. They’ll always outgun the little guys, pushing their games out from indie development firms. Niche games will stay niche, until word of mouth gets them the fanbase to move forward.

In a way, the lessened subscriber numbers actually help these games. Indie games don’t have investors breathing down the backs of the developers to make sure they’re designing for five or ten million people. They’re free to take risks where AAA games cannot.

Big games move slowly. Everything must be approved, and checked, and assured for maximum profit before it gets put in (spit-shine patches not included). Where AAA titles may stagnate in a swath of “more of the same,” niche games have the freedom to pull up roots and change whatever they think will bring the most fun to their players.

Aion Snow

Dynamic weather in Aion

In short, niche games are the hotbed for innovation. They’ll be what keeps the industry fresh and moving forward. They’re the testing ground for new ideas and, once AAA games pick up on something that’s well received, that idea will be elevated up and made standard in some big game.

It’s a pretty radical change from how my previous statement came off. But, you know what, that’s okay. The truth, I’d have to say that if every tenth indie idea got even the slightest consideration from Blizzard or NCsoft, I’d be surprised. Most things these games do will go un-noticed or considered too risky. Every now and again, though, a good idea will rise, credit-less, into the big leagues.


1 comment

  1. We Fly Spitfires

    Ahh glad you’re changing your mind about EVE 🙂 I think any MMO – whether it’s triple A or not – that pushes the boundaries and tries something new is what will change the industry (obviously). Unfortunately, the more money involved and the bigger the investments, the less likely risks will be taken.

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