This week, I’ve been playing a variety of older games, or games which are built around unfashionable playing styles.
- Starcraft 1 (THE old school RTS)
- Dragon Quest IX (old school RPG, you wander around and kill stuff and get xp)
- Thief 3 (picked up from the last big Steam Sale)
- WoW/LOTRO (may be popular but the game model is 5 years old)
SC2 and DQ9 are both current chart-topping mega-sales games. Both of them are polished revamps of types of game which simply haven’t been fashionable over the last few years. Civilisation 5 will also probably be one of the big sellers of the year when it is released, and not because of its innovative game play.
So clearly players love them and are racing out to buy and play. Aside from the question of how Blizzard could afford to ignore a red hot property like Starcraft for 10 years rather than putting out a couple more expansions, maybe we need to think about why we view games as going in and out of fashion.
Some computer games will go out of fashion because they were designed around hardware that no longer exists. Or they were designed around limitations that no longer exist.
Some will go obsolete because of the internet. For example, these days you can assume that anyone who wants to know spoilers, tactics, or walk throughs can just hop online and get them. That affects the types of puzzles which people play.
Some won’t go obsolete precisely but will be refined out of recognition.
Some just reflect the current preferences of game designers or current views by publishers on who their main market/ profit is (Who is the core player? How much time do they have to play? What makes them buy games? What makes them pay more?)
Good design does not go out of fashion.