I’m going to give myself 10 minutes max on this because I tend to never finish any well placed thoughts these days without going into detail.
So about a month ago I’m making the travel across town (not a pilgrimage, although from that wording it sounds that way), just grabbing some needlessly costly cables for a tv because I was too impatient to buy some online, and I spot a billboard for Battlefield 3.
I’m sure you’re aware what BF3 is, even when acronym’d, it’s EA’s latest attempt to dethrone the retail juggernaut that is CoD. It’s all modern shooter bullshit of course, but this isn’t Medal of HonoUr, this isn’t even Bad Company, this is a third attempt! Admittedly it actually looks decent, but I knew that without seeing a billboard. A billboard in summer for a game coming out in the fall. One of five billboards in my town. We’re getting an odd picture right?
It’s probably bothered me even moreso because Shadows of the Damned more or less bombed, and the new Alice game to a lesser extent. While not perfect games they were made for the core audiences. People who know names like Mikami, Suda and American McGee, or at least know the critically acclaimed games they’re responsible for.
I’d otherwise be ashamed to not know when a game releases, but frankly I was surprised to find Shadows on store shelves without any prior hint from advertising. And in fairness I didn’t even see it at first even on the shelf, someone at GAME had to point out to me it was sitting at the bottom of the shelf, number 15 in the charts. I think that about sums the game’s exposure up; out of sight and mind.
I wouldn’t be so annoyed at EA if it weren’t for the fact that despite all the shooters, racers and sports titles they pedal yearly, there’s at least glimmers of originality in titles like Mirror’s Edge. Or at least a new flavour to existing popular game types like Dead Space and Dante’s Inferno.
Now that’s a game: Dante’s Inferno. It had the Visceral, the team behind Dead Space. It had art direction by Wayne Barlowe, a genius of mindfuckerry and responsible for Guillermo Del Toro’s trippest looking movie creatures. It had excellent source material, God of War pastejob and a spot at the Superbowl. Sold well, played like crap. It was a good effort but it was just another ‘me too’ title, the same way Medal of HonoUr was.
Marketing money doesn’t kill bad game design, but it saves titles from irrelevance. We’re not in a particularly exciting season for games, but if publishers aren’t going to tell you about a game they insist on releasing in the drought, why do they even bother?
EA: I don’t buy your shooters, your sports games and your racers, but when you want to treat your new franchises as well as Dead Space, let me know. Preferably with a billboard.
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