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I hate Halo and I hate Final Fantasy

posted on September 28th, 2007 by jay

Not because I’m one of those rebellious gamers who thinks hating popular franchises is cool (though it is cool, you should try it), and not because Halo and Final Fantasy games are bad. I hate mega-popular franchises because gamers love them too much.

Every copy of Halo 3 sold tells Microsoft they should pay for a dozen more “I’m a big guy with a big gun and I plan on shooting you in the face, also there are aliens or Germans” games for the 360. Every copy of Final Fantasy Crisis Core sold sends the message to Square that they are right to limit original output and they should in fact support their enormous company by releasing 4,000 titles in the same series (or two).

Really I’m not mad at these games at all, but rather I’m mad at gamers. Of course you should buy Halo 3, it’s good, but buy some smaller titles, too. Take a chance on something you’ve never heard of, or better yet, do research and find a title that was well reviewed but failed to make a commercial splash.

Think about all of the games that could have existed if it weren’t for a management meeting where the question raised was, “This sounds like a good idea for a game but would it stand a chance against Final Fantasy?” The amazing presentation that big-name games bring us are easy to defend as good – beautiful games challenge other designers to make beautiful games. That’s how capitalism works, sure, but there are so many smaller developers that just cannot compete. As a gamer, I want good games even if they can’t stand up to the cut scenes in a Final Fantasy or the massive hype of a Halo.

Gamers don’t take risks on smaller unknown games because it is human nature to save your money and spend it on something you know you will like. The industry feels this – one in five games is profitable. I don’t know how to overcome this dilemma, but imagine the wide breadth of games we would have to play if even two in five games were profitable?

Halo 3 selling a bajillion copies is actually a bad sign for the game industry. No other industry is so homogeneous that this could happen. Even the biggest blockbusters of Hollywood don’t appeal to every movie goer like Halo appeals to every gamer. Because we all like the same games it will continue to be difficult for creative and offbeat titles to make any profit. Diversity is the sign of a healthy industry and for the most part is what the game industry lacks.

The music industry, despite having problems of its own, is a good example of what the game industry should strive to emulate. There are a million bands in the world making enough to continue creating music. Humans have hugely diverse taste in music and so we can support a huge amount of artists. Does this mean games need to cost $15 each, or will need to increase their audience drastically?

I don’t know, but I’m fucking sick of hearing about Halo 3 so I’m going to go play my newly purchased copy of Luminous Arc.

20 Comments

  1. christian said on September 28, 2007:

    For a moment I almost read “Disney is the sign of a healthy industry”, and I thought I’d have to kill you.

    The music industry is what gaming should stay far away from emulating. In fact they’re already there. There aren’t really a million bands playing any gig larger than a local bar, and not only do those groups have limited exposure, but are usually just getting by. The music conglomerates design bands and shove them down your throat, making you want to like them and going the safe route. The smaller stuff exists, but you have to look hard for it, because no one is going to push it for them. It is an industry where Britney Spears can win the highest award in the land. Sound familiar?

    Again, we must look to film. The blockbusters sell, but there still exists popular film-festivals where artsy stuff can get attention. It is an industry where the blockbuster can make the money and the artsy, powerful stuff can win the accolations.

    Now excuse me, I have more Halo 3 to play. I’ve only used the words “fag” and “gay” twice in the last week.

  2. Jeff said on September 28, 2007:

    So true… I dont know any of you but I assure you, I FUCKING LOVE THIS SITE!!! Thanks for taking the bullshit out of game reviews.

    Keep up the honesty!

  3. jay said on September 28, 2007:

    Thanks Jeff.

    Christian, I know the music industry sucks but I think you’re over exaggerating artificial acts as being the only money makers. The film industry is probably a better goal, but I could list 50 Swedish death metal bands that break even for you. My point is that when people have varying tastes, the market can support more variety and this is what the video game industry needs. I think we agree on the point, quibbling about which industry sucks how hard aside.

  4. christian said on September 28, 2007:

    Thank you for the kind words Jeff.

  5. Rich said on September 28, 2007:

    Persona 3 kicks Halo 3 in the balls 1000 times + infinite.

  6. christian said on September 28, 2007:

    Rich – don’t be startin’ trouble now bro :)

  7. Dan said on September 29, 2007:

    IMO it’s also the studios’ responsibility. They just need to have a blockbuster in their portfolio that they can milk. Then they can put some of the money they made off that into more experimental games. Some companys already do that. Others don’t, and that’s the real problem.

  8. TrueTallus said on October 1, 2007:

    I’m with Dan on this one. Selling big on a safe franchise or licensed game allows publishers the luxury of a diverse stable of games. If people didn’t support Konami by buying from dependable franchises like Metal Gear and DDR, we never would have seen Ring of Red or Lifeline. And while Clover Studios might have died eventually, I like to think that me buying RE 4 made Capcom a little less reticent about greenlighting Godhand. I can understand the worry over giving game publishers the wrong idea, but I think that, the way things work right now, holding off on purchasing a good game to send a message does little more than deprive you of a quality experience and game companies of a bit more R&D money.

  9. Stefan said on October 1, 2007:

    I’m going to agree with Dan too – Disney may rake in money at the movies, but because of that I can go see my Miramax. The big studios learn from the successes and failures of their small indie branches, letting them try new things out without the fear that one bad project is going to sink the ship. I think as the game industry matures and more small, quirky games go on to be huge hits you’ll start to see more publishers spinning off experimental brands.

    That said, the best way to encourage this is to help those excellent independent titles become hits, so I suppose I end up agreeing with jay as well :)

  10. Daniel said on October 1, 2007:

    I agree, however, downloadable gaming, like itunes did for music, is the future. XBLA is a great example as well as Steam, take away the packaging and disc manufacturing and you have easier to buy, and slightly less expensive games. Xbox 360 makes gamers buy tons of extra games thar we would never buy; through that gamerscore system. Halo, is the wrong one to start bashing since it was made by the company that made oni, among other things. Madden however, fuck madden…

  11. Billy said on October 1, 2007:

    The problem with varying tastes and breaking even, is that people usually don’t go into business to cater to a minority unless they want to own that niche in the market, and then you get what we got anyway. 1 company producing the same regurgitated crapload. And I don’t know a single business thats goes into business to just break even. Making video games is a business 1st, and an art second… sad as it is, thats the reality. Until that changes we’re just gonna have focus groups and market advertising and research looking to unload the next game that will make the most money. I don’t think that sucks, if games were not a business and it was just art, I doubt any of us would play many good games… hell we would be sitting in a basement somewhere playing D&D.

  12. Weefz said on October 3, 2007:

    I agree with you in principle.

    BUT… An awful lot of smaller games are either less-polished clones or, to put it simply, crap (See Genji:DOTB). And they still retail at almost the same price. At £25+ per title, it’s a lot of money to risk on an unknown property.

    Another issue: A lot of developers seem to reinvent the wheel for every new game. You’d think they would have eliminated crappy third-person cameras and dodgy control schemes by now, but no. These continuing problems make non-mainstream games seem even less worthwhile.

    People’s music collections have expanded massively since the launch of iTunes and its ilk (as Daniel says above). I think games will do so as well, what with the range of demos available on Xbox Live and their increasing availability on the PS3. Nintendo needs to sort themselves out and offer the same on the Wii.

  13. Tyler said on October 3, 2007:

    Dude are you nuts. ok im with you on the halo franchise it sucks not because its popular because they basically copied timespliters. i bought halo 3 like an idiot and now im using it no lie as a coaster for my drinks.i hate halo. But final fantasy that is crasy ff 7 and ff 8 they were the greatest.

  14. Jeff said on October 4, 2007:

    Wouldnt it be great if we could just homebrew games for the nextgen consoles? Sure would create a whole lot more variety. I know theres plenty of talent out in CGI that arent working for studios. I bet if they could get themselves a team of mates who write good game scripts and and others for strategy then all they’d need is access to the technology to write these games to a nice little wii disk and… Hey thats right, that might end up losing money for nintendo. Oh well a man can dream can dream cant he?

    BTW I liked FFVII but I only played it cause lots of people told me it was a good game. Thank god they didnt tell me to jump off a cliff…

  15. jay said on October 4, 2007:

    I look forward to the day when game development tools are robust and cheap enough that ragtag groups of spunky youths can develop their own game.

    Also, I should clarify that I like many Final Fantasy games. My point wasn’t that I think the games I mentioned are bad, just that they represent something bad about the industry.

  16. Diana said on November 9, 2007:

    I tend to agree about Halo for the reason that it is a carbon copy of a million games that already exist (basically).

    I differ a bit on FF because at least in its time it was very original, all the way up until about FFVII. After that, yes it did become a bit of an industry machine to make money, but if you think about it other games copied FF to make a million carbon copy RPG games, not the other way around. In this sense the FF games and square are not what should be bashed, rather the other companies who saw a good idea a decided to make a profit off of it.

  17. christian said on November 9, 2007:

    Diana – I respect your approach, but Final Fantasy began as one of many cash ins on the RPG craze started by Dragon Quest 1. The Job systems implemented in FF 3 and 5 were also done first by the Dragon Quest series.

    The early Final Fantasies made some progress in storytelling, but just like most of those carbon copies, it owes its life to Dragon Quest.

    What you certianly could argue is that the modern day FFs (anything from 7 onwards) eclipsed Dragon Quest as the source of inspiration for the genre, even if Dragon Quest could still sell as much or more. The eventual trend of ATB-like combat systems, bishie character designs and quasi religious/sci-fi plots can be traced to the modern day Final Fantasies, whereas Dragon Quest continued to march on to its simple, conservative style. That is not to say that FF was completely innovative, as I would argue that is far from the case, but it would be foolish to deny its effects.

    Where you can blame Square is their actions in their most recent years, where they are much more content to release remakes and spinoffs than full fledged games, and anything that isn’t FF seems hard to come by. It no longer seems as if they are willing to make something like Vagrant Story or Xenogears again, and after the poor reception of FF12, many are cautious as to how they will approach the mainline FFs.

  18. Andrew said on January 3, 2008:

    I’m with you taylor. Instead of using halo as a coaster, however, I used it as a foreign object to rape my dog.

  19. shota said on January 4, 2008:

    Halo is the refuge of a reptilian mind in an otherwise mostly mammalian society.

  20. christian said on January 4, 2008:

    I like Halo. But we’ve been over this before.

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