An article by Elite Knight. The climate of video games and video game companies are changing, but many companies can’t keep up. With the release of Cyberpunk 2077, we got a good look into what happens when companies can’t adapt to the changing climate. The game was in development for 9 years, but still couldn’t catch up to the times. As hard as it is to believe after 3 delays and 9 years of development, it was rushed. There was one of the largest ad campaigns for a game with some of the biggest hype for a game release, with high expectations that they promised to meet, but fell short by releasing a game that feels as if it’s still in beta. What does all this say for the future of games?
In 2003 a game called Call of Duty was released. This game turned into a series that changed game companies forever. Every year a new Call of Duty game came out. Since 2003 there have been 23 new Call of Duty games. They managed to release multiple new games in one year and every year after, which was completely unheard of. This system damaged small companies, today called indie creators, because they may have one popular game, but can’t keep up with a new game every year. Companies like Bethesda have tried, but failed. Bethesda has a reputation for releasing very buggy games, and sometimes not even patching them. In recent years they’ve managed to fix this, but will never find the success Call of Duty did
Indie games can find success, with great examples being Half Life, Counter Strike, and Left 4 Dead. These games all have something in common, they were all made by, at the time, small companies and had little to no advertising. Everyone has heard of these games, and they're still relevant today, with Counter Strike Global Offensive being the top played game on steam, Half Life still having a loyal and large fan base, and Left 4 Dead getting a third game. Other than these examples, there's not really any other indie games that stand out too much. The life span of indie games tends to be a month, and I'm sure you'll be thinking of Among Us, but the reason I don't mention it is circumstantial. The game has been out for multiple years, and I feel without the quarantine, and definitely without the large youtubers playing it, Among Us would never get as big as it is. Indie games struggle to survive in the changing video game climate. With that being said, why was Call of Duty able to survive and stay relevant for so long?
Call of Duty has multiple companies and large budgets to work with, but more importantly, they have one template they use that makes games easier to produce. I’ll call the cookie cutter games. Like construction workers can make the same house multiple times quicker than they can make different houses multiple times, games like Call of Duty, Fifa, NBA, etc., can do the same. In Call of Duty’s case, they use the same template and change certain things. They don’t have to write new code for game mechanics unless they add something new, drastically reducing the development time of the game.
Building games ground up like Cyberpunk takes time and money. This sort of game was unheard of, with the closest thing being Grand Theft Auto. Cyberpunk was hyped up and given high expectations, and CD Projekt promised to meet them. The graphics became too advanced for many current systems to meet, causing bugs and glitches, leaving a sour first impression on gamers who were excited for the game. CD Projekt tried to rush a game that needed time, even after the delays. Fans of GTA have wanted GTA 6 for many years, but after the Cyberpunk release, they have decided to let Rockstar take their time. Cyberpunk showed what happens when you promise too much too soon but can’t deliver. What does this all say about the future of games though? What I think it says is large companies will continue to thrive and small companies won’t be able to keep up. We’ll see games come out here and there by smaller companies, but nothing to the extent of games from Rockstar, EA, Nintendo, or Treyarch/Activision.
The blame can also lay on us as gamers, being too critical holding games to the height of games such as Call of Duty, not thinking that small companies don’t have the same resources as big companies. The climate of video games is changing, but we have to make sure we allow room for smaller developers who are slowly being weeded out.