The fledgling Irish gaming market took an unexpected hit back in August when Big Fish Games closed their doors. The closure of the Cork office has some questioning the future of the Irish gaming market, and many are wondering how Ireland can compete on a global level and what can be done to help the relatively new industry grow. However, there are many different markets in videogames now and plenty with room to grow.
Looking Towards Facebook
Some believe that Ireland could learn a lot from the Swedish gaming market. Sweden has been a gaming hub as of late with many new development studios popping up over the last few years. The New York Times recently interviewed several employees from Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (DICE) regarding recent trends. DICE is responsible for numerous successful videogames including the popular line of Battlefield releases. They have recently released Battlefield 4 to great commercial success.
Employees from DICE revealed that a lot of Swedish success has come from a focus on videogames that follow the Facebook gaming format. Essentially this means that many videogames from Sweden focus less on storylines and more on simplicity of gaming.
The best examples of this type of gaming are fan favourites Candy Crush and Angry Birds. These snippet based videogames are highly popular and addictive yet have no real story to speak of. Candy Crush is the most played videogame of 2013 online and Angry Birds is among the most popular videogames in history.
This isn’t saying that narrative gaming doesn’t still have a niche, but that niche is shrinking. An example of perhaps the future of narrative gaming is Star Stable. Considered one of the best fun and educational horse videogames for kids, this MMORPG is story based but has challenges that can be beaten in a short amount of time. In a way, it incorporates snippet based gaming into a narrative videogame.
Realism is Out
An interesting trend revealed by the New York Times article is that many videogames are moving away from realistic gaming. Much of this is based on the recent failure of Electronic Arts’ Medal of Honor reboot. The videogame was developed to be one of the most realistic virtual military experiences in history. A pair of retired Special Operations soldiers advised on the development of the videogame and received help from dozens of commandos. In the end, the videogame was extremely realistic but did not resonate with fans.
DICE decided to go a different direction with Battlefield 4. They have added adding more features that put in more of a “cool factor” with the fans. Developers have put in some study to the videogame, but put more emphasis on the wow factor than making it true to life.
Players are wanting games with more features and satisfying gameplay. If they play a shooter, they want bigger explosions, better weapons, and more carnage. They don’t want to be expert marksmen, but rather the guy that blows stuff up.
In the end, many fans don’t want long drawn out videogames with a lot of storyline. They want something that can give them a satisfying gameplay experience in a short amount of time. As a result, developers will have to shift to developing more snippet-style videogames or risk losing customers.