Gamers don’t want innovation

No, this isn’t a game theory. This is fact.

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Gamers don’t want innovation

Christopher Quiton, Staff Writer

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So…remember the Wii U? It was the console that didn’t appeal to anyone (I liked it enough, but I digress). It was a financial failure that sold less than the Nintendo GameCube, which already underperformed…in 2001.

Why is that? The best-selling console of all time, the PlayStation 2, is nothing more than a supped-up Super Nintendo.

Why does a Call of Duty game sell more than a game like Undertale or Katamari Damacy?

Why is a game like Grand Theft Auto V the third best-selling game of all time when it barely innovates on a fundamental level?

Using this and other factors, I have determined that gamers do not want innovation.

One thing that points to the fact that gamers do not want innovation is the existence of the Wii. The Wii is a common argument point for why gamers do want innovation. However, the Wii was never marketed toward the core gamer audience. In fact, when the Wii Remote was announced, fans clamored for a more traditional controller, something that would be satisfied by the Wii’s Classic Controller: a more traditional controller that plugs into the Wii Remote. However, the Wii was still a massive success, selling over 101 million units.

Why is that? Well, the Wii was marketed towards casual gamers (who are people that only play a few games a year. i.e. people with lives). Marketing towards families and people who don’t normally play video games is the reason it sold so well.

But the Wii was released like, nine years ago. Surely, this has nothing to do today, right?

What about sales numbers for actual games?

What about games that are praised for being new and innovative?

Believe it or not, they don’t sell as well as you may think. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker sold 3 million units despite being praised as an innovative Zelda experience.

However, it has the name recognition that a game like Okami (which was released around the same time for the PlayStation 2) that sold only .55 million units, does not. This is despite the game being hailed as a work of art.

What about best-selling games per year? Since it’s 2018, there’s nothing worth noting (except Kirby: Battle Royale).

So, in 2017, the best-selling game was Call of Duty: WWII. Even in Japan, where RPG and Visual Novels reign supreme in terms of sales, Call of Duty: WWII was still in the top 3 (although…CoD is released by Square Enix—developer of Final Fantasy—in Japan). It was second place only to a Pokémon game.

But gamers don’t like to use sales numbers. They like to use ratings. Okay, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the highest rated game on Metacritic in 2017. The game was followed by Super Mario Odyssey and Persona 5. These three games have brand recognition (whether you know who Mario is or not), like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

Video games are not meant for a dedicated audience. They are aimed at (“filthy”) casuals. They are intended to pull in a new audience. That’s just business. True, there are some games that are aimed at people that grew up with older games (like Shovel Knight…best game ever) so they exist. But they are the exception to a rule stating that video games are still a product. They still need to sell to new people to financially succeed.

Without the casual gamers, and those who really want to waste their time shooting people and playing virtual sports, the gaming market would have been dead a long time ago.

However, just because something sells doesn’t mean it’s a true testament to what gamers want. A game like Minecraft is the second best-selling game of all time. If you have been living under a rock, then Minecraft is a game where you can do whatever. Think a game like Grand Theft Auto V or Journey but with more freedom. The game was initially shunned because of the old pixelated art aesthetic and the fact that it had no goal. Yet the game is immensely popular and is only a few thousand units behind the best-selling game of all time.

And games like Undertale and Doki Doki Literature Club are considered to be some of the best games of recent years. DDLC is also free, so it can’t be compared to games like Call of Duty: WWII or Star Wars: Battlefront II (both of which are under some controversy right now).

Games like Cave Story and Ikachan (which are both free and made by one person) are persisting to this day; Cave Story for Nintendo Switch was one of the highest-rated games of 2017.

I think the point of this would be that gamers don’t know what they want until they see it. That’s why things like the Nintendo DS family of systems has continued to sell so well. It’s why games like Breath of the Wild were able to overtake games like CoD: WWII in terms of popularity. Innovation only works when it is in a logical fashion or when it’s shown to people. Score one gamers, and score zero for Game Theory.