There's lots of interesting news in my Google Reader today. Perhaps the best place to start is an article on Gamasutra called Will 'Casual' Games Dominate the Future of the Industry?. This is a question Bill and I have been asking a lot lately on AA, and it's interesting to see how the opinions of the "professional analysts" GS pulled together compare with our own. I also have some news about upcoming Wii remakes, news of another "eye-based" controller, and more funny ads from GameSetWatch.
Anyway, first the GamaSutra article. Here's a good quote from one David Cole: "A key for the industry is being able to diversify. A game system should offer all kinds of content for all types of consumers. If you go back to the original Nintendo 8-bit and 16-bit systems, you will see that those systems offered all kinds of games. He cites the karoake abilities of the PS1 and PS2 as reasons those systems triumphed over Nintendo's consoles of the same era. The other opinions point out that targeting the young male is still sound strategy, since that market continues to expand exponentially. Others point out that lumping Windows-freebies in with "casual gaming" might be a bit misleading, since a secretary's killing a few minutes at lunch with Windows Solitaire is not going to reward any casual game developers (i.e., there's no money in it).
You may wonder why I've been keeping an eye on all this "casual gaming" business. The main reason is that it's a vital niche for independent developers, who can't compete with the AAA boys on their own turf. These "simpler" games are often far more feasible for smaller companies to produce. This is great news for us, because a smaller company is often willing to pursue innovations and even radical new ideas that would be instantly rejected by some overfed CEO at a big company. Modern indepedent developers have much in common with older generations of game developers, who relied more on the uniqueness of their games rather than huge franchises to sell games. Let's hope for the best.
There is also news about two interesting upcoming classic remakes for the Wii: Rampage and Mortal Kombat. The last title is particularly interesting, because the developers are experimenting heavily with adapting the game to accomodate the Wii's unusual controller. The result could be, at least according to Midway's Ed Boon "either one of the biggest hits in the world or a big failure." I'm betting that it'll be neither, though I am interested to see how it unfolds.
And speaking of innovative controllers, some Canadian scientists are experimenting again with eye-based controllers, or control schemes based on detecting your eye movements and acting accordingly. Apparently, they've achieved some measure of success, and claim that eye controllers dramatically increase the gamer's immersion in the virtual world. Now that is interesting. Then again, I suppose not having an explosing pain in your wrist while playing a game is always helpful in your immersion in the game.
Finally, rounding out this set is another set of funny game ads from GameSetWatch. I'm sure you'll get a kick out of these mutant monikers from hell. "Revengers of Vengeance," anyone? Ha. The funny thing is, I'm pretty sure that title is meant to be taken sarcastically, since the rest of the ad is full of some pretty funny claims ("Based on a True Story") being one of the best. It's almost as if the developers knew they had a suckbomb on their hands, so they gave totally free reign to their marketing dept to try to salvage something from it. You have to admit, it seems more promising than a game called "Brain Lord" that doesn't have any brains for you to blast.
Revengers of Vengeance, a interesting idea went totally wrong. :(
Check out Sega-16.com for the review.