Gaming industry giants Electronic Arts have been in the news a lot lately. From telling the fans that their micro-transaction approach was working and that disapproving voices were a “vocal minority” to winning the Worst Company in America’s “Golden Poo” award, EA have been on a roll when it comes to making gamers ornery.
The latest came from Chief Creative Officer Richard Hilleman telling GamesIndustry International that video games aren’t a mass market entity and that it’s “fringe”. He also mentioned that it would be ideal to merge video gaming with television to form a strong mainstream entity and that by being one and the same with TV gaming could be comparable to TV programs and big screen movies.
Hilleman also said that “TV is where gamers go when they put down their mobile devices, making the platform (television) an attractive business opportunity for the company.”
The question that should be raised is: Would game quality suffer if say some of our favorite companies decided to go for the mass market? Would these companies make games specific for the mass market—which some already do. If the beloved AAA titles were to cater for the mass market (i.e.: casuals) then it’s a given that gameplay and the appeal that brought the game to dance in the first place would suffer.
Casuals are what make up the mass market; social and mobile games are pretty much their segment of the gaming universe outside of the party games that make their way onto consoles and games based on Disney movies. Games could be created just to draw in that market of fans, but chances are it’s those trademark titles they’ll want to make appealing.
This could also mean that TV programs based on the games would be a step that a company such as EA would like to take. This wouldn’t be a bother, after all one of my favorite shows growing up was The Super Mario Bros. series of shows by DiC Entertainment. Why haven’t we seen more Super Mario Bros. cartoons? Honestly.
The only gripe that could come from a TV show based on a series is that fans of the show would only reference the show when seeing something game related. It’s a minor annoyance, of course. Just take a look at any YouTube video for Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas and see how many “Supernatural!” references pop up. The same goes for knowing any other song only from playing a game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero.
Go on, have a look. The article isn’t going anywhere, there’s still much left to say on this.
From a marketing standpoint, if the show is a hit that could easily reel in people to buy the game. Of course that would move consoles too if they don’t have that, but that’s larger task given the prices of games and consoles as they stand now and how much they will be when the other two pieces of the big three enter the fray. The other thing with this though is that it would be best if the fans of the show were at least closer to that circle of core gamers than deep in casual gamer territory.
Core gamers will purchase a FPS (first person shooter) that is 90% similar to last version, the special edition game, the special edition console with the game skin on it, the shirt, the standee, the tournament fighter control pad, the expansions, the DLC, and the bundle. In the case of the show, they would likely get the box set for the season as well. They would also put in the time to play the game online regularly and rack up those trophies and move up the leader board. That isn’t guaranteed with casual gamers even with great advertising and a top notch show. At best they might get box set. It’s not indicative of all casual gamers, but the vast majority wouldn’t put out the large wad of cash to support the franchise.
All of this which the core gamer—the ones who truly love gaming and their chosen franchises—are doing; that’s what keeps the industry afloat. It’s what has grown it to the point where companies can continue putting games and—in the cases of some companies—put out largely the same game as the last one and milk fans with DLC of stuff that should be in the game to begin with.
The way to look at this is that what Richard Hilleman is suggesting is merely a way to make money on the industry, but not really add anything to the overall experience. Or rather I should say “at least nothing good” for those of us who are already here and aren’t going anywhere.
EA’s comments like this, blaming the fans for their Worst Company in America win, and dismissing the vocal fans that actually provide input on their games as opposed to those who just play what is put out there as “the vocal minority”. EA should listen to the fans, not just read the criticism and get defensive and dismissive, but listen and see why whenever there is EA news fans scoff and roll their eyes.
Sure you can’t see them do it from comments, but it’s surely not hard to imagine eye rolling, scoffing, obscene gestures, and foul language being used. Even from comments online foul language is doled out like candy at a festival.
While it’s likely to be a change that the fans won’t be able to stop and will have to just accept or move on, it would really benefit EA to listen and not tell fans what they want as if the majority speaks for all of them. They’re called a silent majority for reason.