More like time for a revolution. A major trend I’ve noticed in the
uncreative industry, which has persisted for a considerable number of years, there’s been a major stagnation of creativity and originality in the movie and video game industries especially.
In the movie industry (specifically Hollywood), very few original movie scripts are even considered, and a good part of the movies that are released are either based on a book or a book series, or a sequel. Add to this what almost seems like an ‘uncertainty principle’ – sometimes critically acclaimed movies flop, and some critically panned movies turn healthy profits – and the movie industry is in dire straits indeed (pity I’m not discussing the music industry where that pun wouldn’t have been out of place). Also, the overwhelming dominance of Hollywood-produced movies compared to European movies and foreign films, even compared to anime films, further complicates this situation.
Those who have truly original screenplays are probably lucky to even have the door slammed in their face, meanwhile, for example, Disney starts adapting their animated films into live action willy-nilly – giving the impression of ‘run out of ideas’ and ‘cash grab’. Potentially promising original concepts are essentially ignored by producers, directors etc – the ones with the real say in what gets made and what doesn’t – and writers are treated like they’re a dime a dozen and expendable, and receive among the worst treatment of any creative industry positions.
The video games industry, unfortunately, is, in my view, in a much worse situation. Due to the ‘unholy trinity’ of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed, the overwhelming majority of original (keyword: original) video game concepts are not considered for development and potentially struggle to establish themselves as a franchise if they are somehow developed.
Assassin’s Creed is by far the least offensive of the ‘trio’ I mentioned (AC: Syndicate was for me the best in the series [AC:Unity, though, was a glitchy mess with overpriced ‘pay-to-win’ micro-transactions]), while Call of Duty has maintained annual releases for about the last decade, sells 15-20 million copies per game with minimal innovation and negligible originality and artistic vision, and 2/3 of their sales are solely from the U.S. Even assuming Call of Duty budgets of say $50 million, releasing games annually and selling 15-20 million with each game equals negligible financial risk – in effect Call of Duty is being rewarded for (IMO blatantly) cash cowing and taking no creative risks, and many game developers are wary of releasing their games anywhere near 2 weeks either side of a CoD release to avoid missing out on sales. Add to this the overall lack of original IPs outside of Indie developers, and the situation is potentially quite concerning.
Assassin’s Creed, GTA and CoD seem to both individually and combined outsell what seems like 90%+ of other games and franchises, and the majority of devs seem too afraid to attempt an original IP due to the potential of having to compete with AC, GTA and CoD sales. It’s quite concerning that these three franchises represent such a large proportion of video game sales – IMO it’s stagnating originality and few non-Indie devs except maybe Nintendo seem to be willing to ‘test the waters’ with a new IP.
CoD in particular seems to show that gamers are perfectly content to eat up ‘more of the same’ and not take a chance on something new, and therefore fewer original IPs are considered in the first place and a situation of PCs and game consoles rapidly becoming almost absurdly powerful, but few truly original concepts and clever art direction to fully utilise such powerful hardware – powerful graphics hardware is somewhat squandered achieving ‘photo-realistic visuals’ which often become ‘dated’ far quicker than most alternative art styles.
The less said about micro-transactions – especially the ‘pay to win’ variety – the better.
The situation is probably not as pessimistic as I make it sound – there are far more options for video game development than ever before (smartphones and tablet gaming, crowdfunding, open source dev software such as Unity, etc), and PC and consoles are becoming ridiculously powerful – these days it’s a case of (to quote The Beatles’ ‘All You Need is Love’) ‘nothing you can make that can’t be made’: major console hardware and media format storage capacity limitations that once existed – esp. on NES, N64, PS1 – barely exist anymore.
What we don’t need anytime soon is ‘more powerful hardware’ (sorry Sony, I don’t care about ‘PS5’s specs), what we do need is/are ‘more artistic gameplay concepts’ and ‘better artistic vision’ and ideally, ‘innovative art direction’. We have incredibly powerful hardware, yet gameplay concepts and artistic ‘vision’ are not necessarily superior to the PS2 and PS3 eras, just (insanely) better graphics than anything pre-‘PS360′ (compare: Final Fantasy VII [PS1] vs Final Fantasy VII Remake [PS4], ’nuff said!) and maybe visibly 25% better graphics compared to PS3 and 10-15% better graphics than Wii U.
There is an obsession, mostly Western, with achieving and trying to boast about ‘unprecedented realism’ (as though ‘realism’ is somehow super exciting) and ‘physics engines’ (big whoop!) instead of boasting, or being able to (legitimately) boast about ‘unprecedented artistic vision‘ – to quote the old Lego slogan: “Limited only by your imagination”. Originality and especially imagination should be virtues, or at the very least, being unimaginative and uninspired shouldn’t be rewarded while having artistic vision and being original are discouraged and/or disregarded – I, for one, am tired of Call of Duty’s ‘unprecedented cash cowing‘. Not to that mention Western developers seem to be allergic to developing for handhelds.
I quietly hope that the games industry gets a much needed ‘shakeup’…but you know how it is: ‘don’t hold your breath’. Well, I probably shouldn’t go swimming for a while then…