Bitter medicine: What does the game industry have against innovation?

Publishers tout it, developers strive for it, industry media praise it, but do gamers buy it? Part 1.

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."

This fall's critically acclaimed film about pioneering broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, Good Night and Good Luck, ended with the respected newsman delivering those lines to an assembly of his peers, urging them to utilize the new medium of television to its fullest potential.

It's a sentiment that should be familiar to gamers, who often call upon developers to push the medium to some higher state of existence. Sometimes those calls are made by developers themselves. Or publishers.

But just like Murrow discovered throughout his career, these media are money-making businesses first and foremost, and their failure to realize their potential to the fullest is not always due to a dearth of talented individuals "determined to use it to those ends." As often as not, it comes down to matter of what's best for business.

In the gaming industry, nobody's more concerned with what's best for business than the analysts. But now even they are complaining of a lack of innovation in games. Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter has been bemoaning the lack of innovation in the industry for years, and earlier this month pointed to the lack of originality in this year's heavily hyped holiday lineups as a reason for this season's industry-wide slump.

"Inovation's dead," Pachter laments. "Dying. Every once in a while, somebody will slip something in that will shock us, but for the most part there's no money in innovation, even if it's great."

In most cases, the risks of attempting to do something new simply outweigh the benefits, according to Pachter. With next-generation development costs skyrocketing, publishers want proven sellers, safe choices that they can be assured will provide a reliable return on their investment.

"The best business for a publisher is to give people what you know they want," Pachter says. "And what you know they want is a sequel to what they wanted last time. So we don't see a whole lot of innovation."

And even when innovation gains traction, publishers have a way of institutionalizing it, sometimes to the extreme. "Every now and then a company will come up with something really innovative and they'll sequel it to death," adds Pachter.

It may be working for now, but Pachter sees some negative long-term implications from this approach, as it's not just the companies who innovate that will look to capitalize on those breakthroughs.

"The problem I have with the whole sequel thing is it's not just sequels," Pachter says. "It's once we see that World War II combat shooters work, we've got 50 of them. The funny thing is the next year after we saw that, everyone thought, 'If World War II worked, Vietnam would work too.' But all those games were a disaster. Now we've got how many more World War II games coming out?"

So following trends and doing the same thing as everyone else isn't a surefire route to success either, but at least publishers know that a really well-executed World War II shooter will probably still sell. For evidence of that, just look at Activision's shooter Call of Duty 2, which was purchased by about three out of every four Xbox 360 owners at launch.

"Clever and different and new doesn't necessarily work unless you convince consumers that they really want it," Pachter says.

Compare the sales figures for Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Extreme on PlayStation 2 and Katamari Damacy. According to the October NPD numbers, the third installment of the Dance Dance franchise has moved more than 559,000 copies since shipping on September 21, 2004. By comparison, Katamari Damacy, one of the biggest innovation success stories of the last few years, has moved just over 300,000 units since hitting shelves on the same day.

"It's the combination of giving a consumer something he wants and then letting him know that you're giving him something he wants," Pachter says. "And it's the latter more than the former. There are games like Psychonauts that are pretty innovative, but nobody knows it exists except the 50,000 hardcore guys that bought it."

According to the most recent NPD figures, Psychonauts has moved nearly 51,000 copies on the Xbox, not quite 23,000 on the PlayStation 2, and a little more than 12,000 on the PC.

Developed by Grim Fandango creator Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine Studios, Psychonauts is something of an industry-standard cautionary tale about innovation. Psychonauts is about the story of a young child stowaway at a summer camp for psychics who must enter into the minds of his fellow campers and the camp counselors, and it was originally planned as a high-profile Xbox exclusive with Microsoft itself as publisher. However, Microsoft dropped the project in March of 2004 with no reason given.

Schafer shopped Psychonauts around for months before finding a new publishing partner in Majesco. The game was released on the Xbox, PC, and PS2 earlier this year, and met with critical praise and consumer apathy. Majesco (and a number of analysts, Pachter included) had great expectations of the game's retail performance. When the sales didn't materialize and another high-profile Majesco title flopped in Advent Rising, the company lowered its projected revenues for the year by a third, the CEO Carl Yankowski resigned, and a number of shareholders sued as the stock plummeted.

Innovation's a risky business. As the executive vice president of Vivendi Universal Games' worldwide studio at the time, Michael Pole understood that. That's why his company passed on publishing Psychonauts, despite Pole's own affection for Schafer's work.

"If you were to ask me who is one of the most creative and innovative people in the business, it's Tim Schafer, without question," Pole says with enthusiasm. "The guy is just as good as it gets… I so desperately wanted to work with him on that product, and we weren't able to get a 'green light' at Vivendi. But if you look at the unit volumes [Psychonauts sold], could we have done better with it? I don't know."

The green-lighting process is a cold, mechanical process by Pole's description, and one every major publisher uses to determine which games get made and which ones don't.

"You have to look at a product from every angle," Pole explains. "What is the product's genre? What are the platforms? How much money are you going to spend? Who are the people that are building it? Is it a licensed product? Is it an original product? You then present the idea to the green lighting committee, which is, like the senior management in sales, senior management in marketing, and product development. And then, basically, you run the numbers. And it's a numbers game after that. If the unit volume comes back and it supports the development [costs] and what you'll need to spend at marketing, then the product is given the green light."

It's tempting to look at the process and say the qualities that made reviewers love the game were the same qualities that made Vivendi gun-shy about publishing it, but Pole says the biggest problem was actually the game's platform.

"The biggest challenge for us was that the lead SKU was the Xbox," Pole says. "So when you look at the unit volumes and you look at the genre of the product, that was a little bit challenging because there weren't a lot of character action games that had done well on Xbox."

So because Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, Voodoo Vince, and Blinx the Time-Sweeper didn't post big numbers, it was considerably more difficult for Psychonauts to find a publisher. Depending on how good a job one thinks Majesco did with marketing and distributing Psychonauts, its disappointing sales might vindicate the publishers' decisions to pass on it. So why didn't it sell better? Schafer says it's always tempting for developers to blame failures on bad marketing (convincing consumers they want a game, as Pachter would say), but it's usually more complex than that.

"It's a number of things," Schafer believes. "Some of it is how the game was sold and some of it is how the game is made. We looked at various things about the game like the age of the main character. The age of the main character affects who will be drawn to the game and I think our main character was a 10-year-old boy. So were we selling the game to 10-year-old boys or were we selling the game to an older market? Because a lot of the humor and the puzzles are for an older market. We thought we were safe because Zelda's got a young kid as a hero but that falls into the special rule of Zelda-can-do-anything-it-wants. I guess the rule is that if you're established, you have more room to experiment."

Despite some second thoughts about some of the game's design decisions, Schafer still thinks Psychonauts could have been a hit if the industry worked a little differently.

"If there was just some way that it could sit out there and take its time and let people discover it, then it could be very popular. But it's just so hard that the games go in, they're on the shelves and then they're not if they don't [sell]--if their preorders aren't good, even. So even before the game is in the stores it has to be a success or else it just doesn't get any shelf life. That works against a game like Psychonauts that has such great word of mouth. How can that word of mouth do any good if you can't go to the store and buy it?"

Digital distribution of games is one such solution to the shelf-space problem, and Schafer says he wants to use it eventually to sell smaller games that would allow him to try out new ideas with less risk. Digital distribution also allows companies to offer games in release windows like the film industry, an approach currently used by various subscription-based gaming-on-demand services. So a game might have the equivalent of a theatrical run on store shelves, followed by online distribution for those services' subscribers, much like a feature film would eventually be shown on premium cable channels like HBO or Showtime. Schafer thinks there's more to be learned from the film industry about fostering innovation, but not everything will work for games.

"There are a lot of things about the film industry we kind of aspire to, like some of the funding models that give more control to creative talent, innovative financing and things like that," Schafer says. "But there's a part of me that also looks at the film industry and [sees] it's not super great right now, either. It's not a hotbed for innovation either. But it does have an independent film machine that's viable, and that's something gaming doesn't really have. In film, you can have the independent movie win best film of the year at the Oscars. But there's not really a chance that one of those indie games is going to knock out Halo, you know."

Schafer's not the only one comparing games to film. After leaving Vivendi Universal, Michael Pole joined up with former Electronic Arts Los Angeles executives Rick Giolito and Mark Skaggs to form Trilogy Studios. Where his previous position had him reluctantly nixing innovation as an exec at a worldwide publisher, Pole finds the shoe on the other foot now as CEO of a company making an episodic "first-person shooter/RPG combo" for PCs and next-gen systems.

Pole compares the current game industry landscape to that of the movie industry at the height of the studio system.

"They controlled the talent," Pole said of the movie studios. "They controlled the directors. Everybody was under contract, and for the longest time there seemed to be a stifling of creativity underneath that system. What the games industry is finding now is while you can amass an extraordinary collection of talent, extraordinary games are created within small teams. The best new intellectual properties are coming from independent--self-funded for the most part--studios."

He points to Bungie as an example. It had gained a reputation as a top-notch developer and had begun work on Halo long before Microsoft purchased the development house. Trilogy now has its own intellectual property to work on, a small development team with big credits (Skaggs was part of the Command & Conquer development core while Giolito was key to the Medal of Honor franchise at EA), and thanks to independent equity funding, money to go make the game.

Pole said that independent funding is opening doors to a number of non-traditional publishing models for the company. Coming up with at least part of the game's budget on its own gives Trilogy more leverage in negotiations. Instead of just pitching their game to publishers, the developers now are in the unique position of being a little choosy about who will put their game out. It's not enough for Trilogy to make a AAA title, hand it off to a publisher, and cash a check. Pole and his team want to know that their work will get top-notch marketing and sales support that will do their game justice.

While independent funding and digital distribution might fundamentally alter the landscape of the industry to make it more innovation-friendly, that change isn't going to happen overnight. And until it does, Schafer's putting the hard lessons learned from Psychonauts to use. But even with a few more years of experience and a greater understanding of how publishers assess potential projects, he's running into problems finding a home for Double Fine's latest.

"Pitching is pretty demoralizing," Schafer admits. "I'm working on a new game now and we have a couple of publishers that are very interested, but in finding them we talked to a lot of publishers who are incredibly risk averse. And in pitching the game to them I found myself playing down the innovation of the game and playing down the creativity of it a lot because it's--just hearing those words--those are the wrong words for them. I found myself trying to explain the game in terms of how everything in it had been done before just to calm them down, and then I come to work and I go to a design meeting and the focus has to be, 'How can we do something that's never been done before?'"

This pitch doesn't just make the difference between being picked up or not. It also impacts the game's budget.

"If you're using an existing game play mechanic that was a big hit and a big successful license you can do a $15 million or $20 million game now," Schafer says. "And if you want to talk about making either one of those original then, you now have knocked off $6 million off your budget right there."

Sobering as that might be, Schafer doesn't see it as any kind of sign that innovation is dead or dying.

"I've always found that at any given time there's some publisher out there who's interested in innovation," Schafer explains. "Different people have taken up that mantle from time to time and they always get excited about it and then for some reason or another that light kind of goes out and someone else picks it up. And as long as there's at least one publisher out there who is interested in innovation and doing something revolutionary then I think games like that will keep getting made."

Of course, that outlook might spring from the knowledge that without such patron publishers, the future of innovation in this industry might not be so bright, and Schafer's future projects might not get made.

"I am optimistic about it because I have things I want to try," Schafer says, "and that would make it easier for me to do the kinds of things I like to do. And also because I'm just very, very determined to stay in the game and be annoying to everybody else until we win.

"Can't let the f*****s win," he laughs.

The second part of GameSpot's look at the business side of innovation will focus on the 800-pound gorilla of third-party publishers, with Electronic Arts Los Angeles studio head Neil Young outlining the company's strategy for success. In addition, Ultima creator Richard Garriott and Castaway Entertainment's Michael and Stefan Scandizzo weigh in on their current attempts to get innovative games to market.

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Discussion

213 comments
thedarklordrand
thedarklordrand

Innovation is not dead, sometimes innovation can sell but it is just risky. The sucess of games like Katamari Damacy and Shadow of the Collossus are really giving me hope for the future. It is knowing how to sell minnovation that matters. Hideo Kojima is an extremly innovative designer and he suceeds because he has a lot of money power to back him. Tim Schafer is also brilliant but unfourtunatly he does not have the backing that he does.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

The games industry and games media are full of BS. Media: They give 1/2 page upfront then a great review (say 94%) and in 6 months their saying they promoted the hell out of it. The big guys pass it by, it ends up with a publisher with one tenth the advertising budget , the game flops and the big guys say 'see?'. I mean, it's totally ridiculous! If the big guy had said 'yes' spent it's normal ten times the advertising than Majesco, there would have been more copies in stores and it would have sold 10x more. So as long as the smaller publishers are the only ones to take 'innovative' product, why the heck should be be surprised they sell less? Pulbishers still don't promote to hardly anyone but the games magazines and websites. Games like Psychonauts need what Infocom did with their text adventures in the 80's - promotion in the NY times and Readers Digest , etc. Publisher's talk about a mass market, but they don't even talk to 99% of that 'mass market'!!! Instead of paying for games journalists to fly to their HQ to look at a game, they should get a few gamers like the one's leaving comments here. They'd get more honest feedback and be closer to the customer. Even I can think of a retail market with 40+ million customers a year that this industry doesn't even touch. I know one retail outlet that get's 8 million customers a year and the store has no software for sale. It alone could probably shift 100,000 units a year if the right product was produced. It's not just innovation in gaming we need, it's innovation in thinking, marketing and selling as well.

SyluxElite
SyluxElite

Pshconauts was innovative in exicution and it was a wonderful game to bad it didnt sell well

S_Jake
S_Jake

Murman, you couldn't possibly have played the same Psychonauts that I have. On the subject of innovation, it's been dead for so long that the carcass has long since decomposed and only a few bones remain. Most of the games mentioned by simpaticoman aren't innovative in the slightest (with the notable exception of GTA III); Final Fantasy X is essentially a derivative FF game (and the worst, I may add), RE4 was a departure from a typical RE game (and amazing), but innovative it wasn't. The Warriors basically rehashed the GTA formula (albiet very well), God of War is derivative (even though it's good) and Silent Hill is a RE rip-off franchise. All in all, I think I have to agree with stpaul that the game industry is moribund, but I also have to say that it wasn't always this way (thanks again, big business, for doing your utmost to suck the life out of one of my favourite pastimes).

stpaul
stpaul

face it, people. the gaming industry is moribund.

simpaticoman
simpaticoman

There is still room for innovation (Which isn't exactly the same as new) Prince of Persia series prove it, Psychonauts prove it (Great, hilarious game) GTA series prove it, the warriors (Great beat'em'up game) and God of War prove it and recently Silent Hill and RE4 prove it. Final Fantasy X prove it too. And Hideo Kojima's MGS series prove it too. We can tell new stories, we can take old stories and tell it in a new way. Either way entertainment + culture = We are better people. If you have the sensation that you are a better person after finishing a game (Because something new has been added to you) then that game has got its purpose. I do not agree that we have to "convince" anybody to make them feel they "need" something. People must be INFORMED. INFORMATION is the big word. I played psychonauts not because it was a platform game but because it was created by Tim Schafer, and it did fulfill all my expectations.

simpaticoman
simpaticoman

There is still room for innovation (Which isn't exactly the same as new) Prince of Persia series prove it, Psychonauts prove it (Great, hilarious game) GTA series prove it, the warriors (Great beat'em'up game) and God of War prove it and recently Silent Hill and RE4 prove it. Final Fantasy X prove it too. And Hideo Kojima's MGS series prove it too. We can tell new stories, we can take old stories and tell it in a new way. Either way entertainment + culture = We are better people. If you have the sensation that you are a better person after finishing a game (Because something new has been added to you) then that game has got its purpose. I do not agree that we have to "convince" anybody to make them feel they "need" something. People must be INFORMED. INFORMATION is the big word. I played psychonauts not because it was a platform game but because it was created by Tim Schafer, and it did fulfill all my expectations.

nirvana175
nirvana175

IMHO we consumers are the most guilty. If we "long for innovation" but when we go to the store we keep supporting mainstream games and buying sequels then we shouldn't expect a change on the landscape. Damn, I'm sure we don't even email publishers/developers thanking or spanking them for creating such pieces of art/trash. We just don't voice our opinions, we don't do research for new games, we just go to the store and look at the shelf, even if truly innovating games (normaly independent ones) won't ever be on that shelf. We look at game creation only as consumers, not art creating. Money is involved? Yes, like in art. But the day the game industry begins to incorporate a niche for independent games aside from mainstream games, that day we'll stop complaining about lack of innovation, like in the movie industry. But we as consumers need first to voice our needs for such scheme, for such a change. When that happens, who will care if dance dance revolution n-th gets made if there's room too for games like live for speed? IMHO, if we as consumers crave for a change, voice it, and stop supporting bad me-toos. There are countless free and original and independent-made MODs out there that are way better than the n-th WWII game bought at the store. Peace.

rob3nelson
rob3nelson

For Nintendo, innovation is something forced upon it, not something it would choose to of its own free will. It must innovate or die. The giants of the industry (Sony and Microsoft) don't innovate because they don't have to. To be truthful, nobody likes to innovate when he has a wife and kids to support. Innovation means uncertanity. Uncertainty means not knowing whether or not you'll be paid. People and companies innovate only when they have to, when they feel as if they have nothing to lose. My whole point is that if Nintendo is innovative it's something they shouldn't be praised for, just an indication of how deperate it is to regain market share. By predisposition, though, it's not a particularly innovative company. Very few companies or individuals are. It would be more accurate to call those individuals (and ocmpanies) who are innovative by nature (like Miyamoto, Sid Meier, and Lord North) - creative geniuses, not innovators, since their innovations proceed from something within themselves not something external like market forces. And, how many creative geniuses are out there? Not very many! That's why there's so little true innovation out there. There are very few creative geniuses out there.

DrinkDuff
DrinkDuff

I am really getting tired of the same thing over and over again... It's really starting to feel like all of the FPS games are starting to run together into a big violent mess.... There have been numerous times , where I have greatly anticipated a game only to be let down due to the feeling: "I've done this before a million bajillion freaking times", and I'm really tired of it. I haven't thoroughly enjoyed a game (to the point of obssession) for a really really long time.... And its seems like this year I am feeling it even more. However, don't lose faith. There is still hope yet! Hopefully, things will turn around...

hlskittypryde
hlskittypryde

innovation isn't dead persay so much as kinda shoved under the rug. look at nintendo and the reaction to the revolution controller. i can't wait for the thing! 4d gaming...give it to me now. psychonauts i thought was an incredible game. one of the best this past year. but it didn't sell for some reason like i thought it should have. same thing with death jr for the psp. i thought it was fantastic. it was different. i love it. i embrace it.

ivanfred
ivanfred

Sony Playstation 2 was the first console that I purchased and used since Sega Genesis. I was astounded at the progress the video game industry had made since the days of Sega Genesis. However, it did not take long to realize that the video game industry had become similar to the movie industry. Once a good idea works, we get one sequal after another and lots of copycats. I hope that the next generation of consoles will introduce us to something new and different because I just don't see Playstation 2 doing it.

predator8u
predator8u

Psychonauts isnt innovating its just another platformer

ace_of_spades
ace_of_spades

The flame of innovation seems to be dying out and on the verge of being out. It is quite sad.

Cervantes_Soul
Cervantes_Soul

Psychonauts itself wasn't that innovative. Seemed like another platformer to me, though it was indeed hilarious. Great game too, but I don't think that Psychonauts was anything revolutionary.

PyleA
PyleA

Listen guys, I have some major points I want to get across to you. Take them or leave them, I just need to get 'em out there in the mix. 1.) Everybody brings a bias with every conversation (forum discussion). Yes dear reader, even this post. 2.) I do enjoy articles like these that are definitely open for discussion, not flaming, bashing, childish name-calling or stating that you are definitely right. 3.) NOT EVERYBODY AGREES WITH YOU! This is a place to share opinions, views, insights and even kind words. This shouldn't, but always does, become a place to "show your colors" if you will. I don't care if you have a Nintendo tattoo on your backside; it doesn't make you an authority when it comes to talking about Nintendo

PyleA
PyleA

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

CX_32
CX_32

Innovation? People don't want innovation. They want the same thing, over and over. That's why the GCN isn't selling- there aren't enough mainstream FPS, RPG and normal 3rd person acton games. This could be a cause for concren to the revolution too.

nahton35
nahton35

Innovation nor creativity doesn't sell in the States. Thats why we don't get to see many innovative and creative games. Here's to another year with updated rosters and another mountain of violent & bloody shooters.

MauricioBlues
MauricioBlues

If we see the bright part of it, some times is good that innovative games don

FFDickeyX
FFDickeyX

aye. Nintendo is doing awesome things, but people and gaming publications always say "this is great, but will it work?" even the gaming articles dont always support innovation. They always get the audience to doubt it. japan probably welcomes innovation much more. I mean, most of the sequels for games come out on the pc and japan plays console games more. We should all be more like the Japanese, the true gamers.

yongruler19
yongruler19

Innovative: new and original or taking a new and original approach. Creative: using or showing use of the imagination to create new ideas or things. Use the word innovative right people we want creative games (that

chaoz_golem
chaoz_golem

EA does innovate...unfortunatley, its definition of innovation sucks. Innovation (n) Verb: To innovate Definition: ROSTER UPDATES BABY! as for the nintendo stuff...nintendo does innovate. this year more on hardware than anything else. and yes, they use the same characters, but cmon. The line between Super Mario and Mario 64 was massive. And Zelda looks prettier all the time...

thxcertified
thxcertified

What a well thought out interesting article. I really appreciate a mature and articulate store. Can not wait until the next installment.

ironcreed
ironcreed

Sadly, the gaming industry is currently overwhelmed by commercialism....plain and simple. Game developers are following the trend of the music industry, in that they roll out overly hyped garbage heaps of games, just like the music industry rolls out one boy band or Britney Spears wanna-be after another just like they are being shot off of an assembly line. In other words, if it sells once, package everything else up to be similar, hype it to the max and release it to a duped and blind public who will ignorantly eat it up because it is all to familiar to them....despite the fact that underneath the hype, it is really just a turd that is wrapped up in a pretty, presentable package in order to fall in line with what is "currently the trend." It has been the same story throughout history and within just about any communtiy that has ever existed....If you dare to step out and challenge the status quo with something NEW and INNOVATIVE, then chances are....you will be BITTERLY REVILED by the masses for it....at least until they actually catch up with what you were trying to convey in the first place, and then of course, they make you a saint. Funny how things always pan out that way when it comes to innovation....your reviled at first, then after you are dead or at the very least in your last years, you finally get recognition from a public that finally "gets it."

blackjack4124
blackjack4124

Odd isn't it, how some really peripheral innovations succeed when the truly unique types of innovation fail. Just look at light bloom and sweat - two things that do very little, but seem to have been accepted as nigh-on necessary in future games, whilst the truly weird lives on only in Nippon, it seems.... Perhaps it reflects the way people play VGs in different countries: In Japan, its an experience - like say reading a book or playing a board game, in the rest of the world, perhaps it is no more than a way to unwind - more akin to TV and movies. Perhaps not - feel free to disagree - it's a free internet opinion wise.

biobug
biobug

wow that quote was used wrong... yeah at the time TV was underused ... but look at it now supergenius its one of the biggest industries in media... good article , NOT!!!

Akira-Angel
Akira-Angel

i think we will see more innovation with the new consoles. New technology developers should see this as a chance to try new things. Its true that innovation is dying on current consoles but it hasnt always been this way. When the current consoles were first released nobody would have said innovation was dead. Lets hope that with the new consoles innovation will be reborn it would be sad if its just more sequels and games that lack orginality. Surely with the new power these consoles provide exciting new things can be done that havent been seen before.

Raylen12
Raylen12

The real problem with Psychonauts was that the older gamers thought of it as a platformer, and the younger audience didn't know it existed. Its problems lay soley in marketing. And I had never heard of Katamary Damaci until a few months ago. If I had before, it wasn't memorable; a game about rolling a ball around? That is how it appeared to me, even after I noticed it. Another variable to consider is the developer: If Bungie had created Psychonauts, it would have been a massive hit. Or Ubisoft, even. Those developers are widely known and famous for their excellent games.

somejobro
somejobro

OK.Let's re-read this article and think about innovation again.The industry is designed so that innovation will fail.I will use Psychonauts as an example since it seems to be quite loved here. Imagine if it HAD sold millions and millions of copies.Does anyone honestly think the money made would be used to make more interesting stuff?HELL NO!! 6 months later you would see Psychonauts 2, followed close behind by Psychonauts 3.Don't forget about Pychonauts 4 and Psychonauts Kart Racing.Never mind the portable versions that would come out.Maybe a Psychonauts Tactics game too... My point is this:be glad your favorite game dosn't sell that well.Hell,you found it, so why worry?Chances are that if you are looking for new ideas in games you probabaly hop on any news of something"innovative" and follow it until it lands on store shelves. RANDOM POINTS:1)Sports games should be excluded from any conversation on innovation.Sports fans want to play sports games with updated rosters.If that wasn't the case we'd all still be playing Madden 93 or something.The problem is that an updated roster and a new gameplay feature is not a new game...it's a patch.A patch is not a $50 investment.But I guess as long as people are willing to pay $50 for a patch ,game companies will milk it.How do you innovate a sports game anyways?Maybe some Tiger Woods-like analog stick movement to throw the ball?Does that even count? 2)Nintendo IS after your money.That's how they pay the bills.That's why Mario is in every friggin game they release.He sells games.But if ANYBODY is going to think outside the box and try something new,it will be Nintendo.You either love them for it or maybe you hate them for not being more like everyone else.Either way,you have to at least respect the effort,even if you hate that fat Italian plumber.

kjax8
kjax8

Just as with all forms of media, video games are still going through that "golly gee-whiz" stage that both movies and television did. The games we get today, and the industry we see today are comparable to 50's television, and 30's movies. The industry is still so enamored with itself for just being able to make games and do all this "cool stuff" with them. To them games are still games, and they're not being viewed as an art form like some TV and movies have become. I think that as my generation comes to power, the ones that grew up their whole lives with the Nintendos and Segas etc., we'll see a radical shift in what games come to mean to most people. They will be less and less games, and more and more a legitimate form of art like movies have been recognized as. NOT to say there will be an "Independent Revolution" the industry isn't built that way, but they will be a massive shift in core values for the industry

smarb001
smarb001

no offence to the gamecube... on second thought i shouldnt have even mentioned the gamecube.... GO NINTENDO

smarb001
smarb001

Uh, sorry i shouldnt have added the gamecube there, its by second favorite console. GO NINTENDO!!!!

smarb001
smarb001

i mean no halo is great game and i dont cae about its graphics!!! and the is the xbox is stupid, then the ps2 and gamecube, in comparison, is a pile of ****!!! Anyway, i agree with most o you guys, nintendo is going in the right direction with its games.

tannernin
tannernin

and Gmoney, Mario and Zelda arent kids games. I bet you never played zelda ever because you are too busy playin the ovverated game HALO, and other games Like that with such good graphics. Let ne tell you what Xbox is in My Opinion. A Stupid system that focuses only on grahpics. The controller stinks. Too many buttons, and half of the games on Xbox are sports games

tannernin
tannernin

I agree with... everybody that said this: Look at Nintendo, this excatly what they are trying to do and will do with the rev. Animal Crossing, Phoenix Wright, Trauma Center, Mario Kart. All of these are very innovative games. And for this guy to not realize that, i think i shouldnt be listening to anything he says.

moozeditty
moozeditty

Don't give up, Mr. Schafer! We believe in you!!

BeefieCheesie
BeefieCheesie

Psychonauts was allright, I'm sorry, but I can understand why it didn't sell as well. It was unique and had some amazing characters. But it was still a platformer, frustrating camera angles and all. It didn't exactly have an audience, like Schafer said in the article.

Dizzy_Dude
Dizzy_Dude

Innovation: People don't, especially a lot of the people here, realize that a game's creators, developers, and publishers, their visions, ideas, and ability are totally different from the people who play games. As you can see here, half of the people love rehashes and sequels. Others love innovation. Others love innovation in rehashes or sequels. Can't you see: people have different taste. You can't argue points like this. This is like a hardcore Windows XP user trying to convert a Linux user; or a Christian converting a Buddhist: you can't! On the subject of Sony: They have been the "wierd guys" in gaming since the PS came out. Did you know that Sony actually thought they would crash and burnin gaming and they almost didn't? The PS is an amazing innovation from consoles of that time: Nintendo 64 and Sega and yadda, yadda, yadda. When the PS2 came out, some people just thought that it was a graphics and sound update in a fancy box. That's wrong. It was a whole different system of hard/soft/firm-ware. It is like (I know I seem like I keep mentioning this, but I will talk about Microsoft later) a Windows 3.1 user buying a brand new state-of-the-art system. And so many games andf new innovations were given in this console, sure, there were a lot of sequels and hashes - but these had new innovations along with new games. Nintendo: o, Nintendo. You guys should stop rambling. As somebody mentioned earlier: The reason they did not talk about the Revolution in the article is that people did not have it yet! I completely agree that Nintendo is the EMPIRE of REHASHES, REDOINGs, AND SEQUELS!!! Sure, Mario is their mascot: but did he need to be in 100 games?! Do they need to be making Mario Party 72? OR what about Super Mario Sunshine 64 for the DS (or something like that)? A rehash? Yes. Or what about Pokemon? Of course, they're sequeling it like crazy! I have only started to see this game as how neat it is now on the GBA's (I only have the GBA or, specifically, GBM) now because of it's innovations! Can something be innovative if it's a rehash with new game innovations? Yes. So, I believe Nintendo is on the right track: but it seems like they are trying too hard at innovation: one console after another;one same game with new crap after another;accessory after accessory:they are an indie trying to be a corporate giant. In between, Psychonauts was just purely awesome. It was really fun and neat and, repetitively, innovative. It was an awesome game that deserved a better publisher and more sales. This, an honestly great game, and deserved much more. Microsoft: the exact opposite of innovation. I never liked XBox's concept, and I think they're just trying to rule the world with their giant. And even if they hit gold on one thing, they copy it over and over again. "Oh, great, the same game with extra blood!" Sure, I may be stereotyping becaue I have never played it, but, honestly, innovation is what it lacks from what i've heard. It's basically Windows Media Center with a controller and blood on a TV. 'Nuff said. Devs don't kill innovation. Gamers do.

ff7cloudking
ff7cloudking

Well, I agree partially. Nintendo hasn't done anything innovative with Mario for a while. The Timesplitters games... aren't too different from each other. Whats is the difference between the Starcraft games on the PC, other than a couple new units? Most WW2 shooters are almost the same. I said MOST and ALMOST. And, can someone give me a good difference between the Halos, other than online/multiplayer or story/plot. But, I think that they are overlooking some games. Like Destroy All Human, Katamarie sereis, Pyshconauts, Soul Caliber 3 (Character creation), and some others. And, Nintendo is being innovative with the Revolution.

DemonSlayer2063
DemonSlayer2063

I think innovation is actually just starting to hit its peak, with all three next-gen systems having very different types of games being released. The only console I really see having a ton of just-some-more-sequels by big-profile game names is on the PlayStation3. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, but Nintendo really has innovation under its belt. With the Revolution and Nintendo DS, there is no developer that can even come close to the innovations that Nintendo can offer. I find that getting more of the same turns me away from gaming...in the past few months, my gaming "fire" has seriously burnt out, mostly because there is just nothing new coming out that really piques my interest. Next-gen will definitely be a time of "rebirth" for videogames, mostly because on the next-gen platforms, you can do so much more on. With physics rapidly becoming more popular in games, developers will be able to flex their muscles and evolve the interactivity in games to a much higher level...which is basically innovation. Nintendo is trying something completely new, and very daring, but at the same time is getting largely positive feedback. I can't wait to see what developers can do with next-gen platforms, especially on the Revolution! I like to see new things being done, which is one of the primary reasons the DS is such a cool system to me. My opinion about the gaming public being somewhat reluctant to buy new games because most of them are into sports and shooters; two genres that really can't be innovated much upon. But there is still no telling how the public will react to innovation next-gen. Basically, if there are great games, there will be gamers buying those games.

neocbax
neocbax

The day we find a true innovative game, that day a new "genre" of entertainment will born, just as videogames were born 25 years ago. lets face it, videogames basis are now stablished and its hard to change them. maybe we find a game with an innovative storyline but with the same recycled engine (F.E.A.R.) or maybe an innovative gameplay engine but with the same old story, saving the world from destruction or at least the day.

slayerv2
slayerv2

I agree Psychonauts was a great game, i guess people are too busy with thier conformity and familiarity. Screw the familiar and bring on the good. I mean it too . For example there is like 50 ww2 games , why cuz they sell. Games like Psychonauts , Beyond Good And Evil,Scrapland and other underdogs where amazing but no one really cared about because they were too snugly warm with their familliar crap ( no offence). So come on people ge out there check out some new games that may not be as well known rent first and u like it then buy, and quit b****ing that innovation is dead because its not you just have to leave the old shell and search for something new.

rob3nelson
rob3nelson

Ninetendo's the only innovative company out there? Remember Donkey Kong? I remember playing it about 25 years ago. Now, every year, Nintendo keeps putting out a new Mario this and Mario that. I say, "Let them just keep coming. You can't get more innovative than that!" That Miyamoto's sure is a genius. Who would have thought that after 25 years people would still believe that Mario and the Legend of Zelda are still innovative? Only now we have Mario scratch and snif games for the DS and Mario fishing games for the Revolution. If this is innovation I'd rather be dead.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

shafner - Sorry, but the Dreamcast died because Sega had a horrible legacy prior. The Saturn? The 32X? The Sega CD? The Sega name had become poisonous by the time the Dreamcast came out, so of course the Dreamcast floundered.

MorwenLaicoriel
MorwenLaicoriel

I'm definately a fan of 'innovative' games, although I like some 'mainstream' games, too. But yes, we definatley need games like Katamari Damacy and Psychonaughts to get more attention from gamers. I believe part of the problem is a large segment of the market is driven by kids getting games from their parents. That's why games like Bratz and Madagascar get on best-seller lists, while games that don't have a licence to them are sometimes ignored. I think that Katamari Damacy would've been a great game, for example, to market to kids as well as adults. The characters are as colorful and crazy as any cartoon, the gameplay is fairly simple, and it's a game that parents as well as kids could enjoy. Not that adults can't enjoy the game as well (if you pass over the game simply because of the 'crazy, cartoony graphics', shame on you), but it was a game that COULD work very well as a kid's game. Not that adults don't have a large segment of the market as well (games like RE4, GTA, and Halo clearly show that teens and adults have a say), just that it's one way games could be noticed. *shrugs* But in general, the best thing I can say is--SPREAD THE WORD. If there's an innovative game you like that isn't getting attention--tell your friends! Post about it in forums! Heck, create a gaming club and take turns introducing your new favorite games to people. Psychonauts has some die-hard fans (my friend even wants to get a tattoo of one of the characters and calls the game her 'crack'), it's time for these fans to start spreading the word!

shafner
shafner

anybody remember the Dreamcast? Seaman? Jet Grind Radio? First online console? or just Sega in general? They tried to push the boudaries and be innovative and they ended up losing the system wars because of it. It's a sad industry when things like that take place and we, the consumer, allow it.

shotokan_42
shotokan_42

forever_blank, to be honest, I think the reason that Nintendo wasn't mentioned was that they're THE only company that's USING innovation on the Revolution. I mean, look at the controller for the system. Has ANY system that's ever been made in the last 20-25 years had a remote controller to play games only? I believe that's the reason why Nintendo wasn't mentioned. Nintendo's using innovation, the other companies aren't. And I'm an Xbox gamer dude.