Sorry for those of you who were happy to see me not post blog last week.. was on vacation and now I am back! (Over 2000 rambling words for you in fact…)
There is a lot of choice in today’s gaming world. So many more that any time in its history that I feel it’s hard for a games community to survive unless it is one that has multiplatform and multigame players in its ranks.
In fact, it makes the argument that ‘We need to go back to classic INSERT YOUR FAVORITE GAME HERE’ a moot point. The days where thousands of users were in your favorite games lobby, where it was constant week after week, where posts in forums were all positive, where the grass was greener on your side of the fence are gone. Simply, you can’t go back to the way anything used to be, because we’re not talking apples to apples anymore
Let me outline my train of thought on the complexity of modern day gaming in a simpler bastardized flow chart.
Let’s look at chopping it up into what path a gamer can choose. Now the reality is, while if you have the time and most relevant money, you can take many of these paths right from the top. But most of us can only afford to go into multiple directions only within a certain platform machine we choose to be ‘My console’. But let us first outline the paths.
CHOICE: ‘What platform do I get?’
You have the PC or console at the highest level. I used to be exclusively a PC gamer for over a decade, by the way. When you choose the PC path, you need to have right equipment; in fact it’s recommended you have an idea of what type game you will be playing right from the start to make sure you have a machine that can handle it.
Now if you have chosen the console side, you have a couple more decisions before you hit the next level the PC players choose. So that being said.. PC players wait while we go through 2 decision steps for console players.
CHOICE: “What console do you wish to get?”
Of course the big three are (In alphabetical order to avoid catfight) Nintendo, Playstation & Microsoft. (I will now refer to Microsoft machine for the rest of this article as ‘Xbox’.)
Now while it’s not always in effect when it comes to console gaming, right now we are at a recurring but temporary state of being in flux of ‘New gen or old gen’. This then creates another decision.
CHOICE: “What gen of my chosen console do I want?”
Now with fans of Nintendo, there are increasingly less games for the old gen, WII, so the WII U will be the choice of most who prefer Nintendo. But for the fans of Playstation and Xbox, the choice isn’t a slam dunk. Games for both their units still are in production.
While to a lot of us, getting old gen right now is a short term deal no matter what. One can’t ignore the low cost point of the old gen with the still available and in production games, makes it a viable option for those with a tighter budget.
You also can’t knock the fact that right now there is no question that more players are still on old gen than new. This will change, but for those who eventually filter down choices to games requiring multiplayer, old gen normally offers bigger communities to pool games from.
The next choices are where more people will choose multiple paths. In fact I can’t branch off any more subgroups on the flowchart because it would be massive. So now using the ‘multiple selection’ angled box, we sweep downward despite the incredible amount of choices we have. Add the lopping factor that we play multiple genres and it blows the stats nerd/flow chart peoples mind.
CHOICE: “What Genre do I want to play?”
IMPORTANT VARIABLE: For Genres, I found this WIKI page that best outlined the array to choose from… over 50.
Not an easy answer as most of us will play multiple genres. Not regularly per say, but at the very least dabble, after all some genres have their own sub types. Like shooter games which as the linked wiki page shows 7 different types.
CHOICE: “What game do I want to play?”
Well, this is where it gets interesting, I like FPS so I can play Halo, COD, Titanfall or hell even Plants vs Zombie’s Garden Warfare. PLUS DOZENS MORE IN ONE GENDRE ALONE.
CHOICE: “What version of a game do I play?”
Well for Halo fans on a 360 for FPS, they can play Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo Reach, Halo CEA or Halo 4. For COD they can play… good lord.. one of around 8 titles. YOU GET THE PICTURE! But to be fair, let’s say by average, any major given game has 3 versions.
ADDITIONAL CHOICE: COMMUNITY POSITION:
Now that you have chosen to be a FPS playing Halo 4 on the Xbox 360 as your main form of gaming, you actually take another step as a specific role in this community. You can be one or even more of the following.
Non Clan Player: Casual Player
Non Clan player: Competitive Player
Clan Member: Casual Player
Clan Member: Competitive Player
Community Creator: Making things like maps, organizing tournaments, machinima, podcasts, YouTube ect.
In short, you play a different role(s) on a micro level.
SO WHATS MY FREAKING POINT?
‘We need to go back to classic INSERT YOUR FAVORITE GAME HERE’
Remember that line? Well 10 years ago, when Halo 2 took over the gaming world, or at least took it by storm, for those in the FPS genre, this was a golden era. The common lament repeated countless times since that this was heyday for Halo possibly no other console game has scene must understand that the landscape has changed.
With so many options of consoles, genres, games within it and even games competing with themselves, a games community is not easily one that can grow too large for too long. There is competition everywhere and the new hotness is always releasing shortly.
Each step down form the choice selection chart I showed and outlined shows gamers offshooting to smaller groups. More choice is nice, too many choices may still be good.. but the bottom line is smaller communities that turnover more than a guy in bed after 3 cups of coffee. More choices mean more fracture, though I do not think we should all be slaves to one game. Nor do I even feel there is middle ground.. the point is long term community focused on one game.. okay? This isn;t reality any more.
I’ll even say that with social media, where a tweet or Instagram shot showing something in a game somewhere is also adding to the fickle standings of nearly all games while we wait for the new thing to happen as we play the current fav. We should know its essentially short term communities we hop in and out of.
I mean if you were playing Halo 2 in 2004, there weren’t as many systems.. there weren’t as many games to compete with. There wasn’t a tweet to come out saying COD clan ABC was having a tournament that lures people away.
Hell I LOVE Twitter, Instagram and the fast pace of the gaming scene that comes partially from these forms of social media. But there is a cost. Ignorance is bliss, might be a good expression on how we were more content to play the same game for so long back then. We love the game we were playing, we weren’t easily bombarded with propaganda about other games or systems even. Or maybe that were spoiled now? Do we think loyalty is needed? What benefits loyalty in today’s gaming world? Shouldn’t we just play what gives us enjoyment.. point finale? In the end it comes down again to the fact with all the choices and fast pace around this hobby we all love, a long lasting, stable community within a game that has high population numbers is simply becoming less and less a possibility each day.
Let’s keep in FPS on console thought as an example.
I am a Halo player.
Halo 4 community died off and lost many players to Halo.. Halo Reach and Halo 3 even. Other players like myself went to Titanfall. In fact Titanfall took a huge chunk of COD players who weren’t thrilled with Ghosts (Kinda like Halo fans weren’t taken by Halo 4) Battlefield 4 initially took a lot of FPS people to its side, but the horrible server issues have to a degree crippled play having FPS fans scurry to the other titles.
Yet here we are, Titanfall pretty well having disgruntled refugees of the other aforementioned FPS games clinging to it, loving what it brings to the table with its mobility and simplicity. As big of a fan of this game as I am, there is no question a drop in numbers coming, due to the nature of this hobby of ours now. Halo comes out with the Master Chief collection in November, which to complicate things is 4 Halo games in 1 which will fracture its community within itself from a day 1 release. The new COD, which clearly has taken popular angles of Titanfall is coming at the same time. Then there is the game they say is a FPS but is really a MMO in Destiny coming out to grab bodies. Battlefield Hardline will desperately try to gain its followers back in October ITS GOING TO BE TURMOIL IN NUMBERS EVERYWHERE. My current crush Titanfall will fall victim to a reality of the modern day gaming culture/cycle.
But this is the nature of the beast. It is why we can’t go back. The competition and expectations are too high.
It is something repeated in all genres, though there is no question is exceptionally nuts in shooters.
Lets go back to the final step, a role within a certain games community. So if in 2004 I was a Halo 2 player who also hosted a community website, I could thrive and cater to hundreds if not even thousands of regular visitors. But in 2014, with H2A (Part of the Master Chief collection) you are going to have a huge launch, but also a huge drop when the new hotness in whatever form happens.. because it will. It may be in 2 months, 6 months but certainly no longer than the following year when the madness starts all over again of the fall release fury. It is just how it is. Mom and pop style websites used to be everywhere and thrive years ago.. now they have fallen to the wayside, and Facebook with it’s idiot proof way to make anyone create a fansite to whatever they want, helping out this angle.
The fact is, as mentioned early in this novella when I said “I feel it’s hard for a games community to survive unless it is one that has multiplatform and multigame players in its ranks.” Which is what modern day clans like the Porkchop Platoon and VOX clan are doing. They are genre driven and accept multiple games under their banner. Yet even with this approach, while they do maintain a high regular membership to play with compared to say a standalone COD Ghosts clan, but even with the new releases they take under their wing, fractures happen. The turnover is not as high as standalone clan, but is still high.
I laugh when I see 1000 slots for friends on my Xbone… hell I would love 6 long term friends I can count on to play Titanfall with long term. Because in 4 months from now we could all be playing different games.
So let’s close this puppy up…
Thomas Wolfe is quoted: “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
I’ll amend and add the following to this.. “…and you sure as shit can’t go back to classic long term individual game community.”