analysis of game evolution

As I’m sitting at my desk this morning taking a coffee break I started to think about how games evolve over time. How game developers alter the next iterations of their game and why they do what they do. I look at games like World of Warcraft and think back to when I first started playing. It was all about the hardcore Raid scene and all about the game being a grind where only the most dedicated players succeeded. Over time that paradigm started to change and people became more interested in leveling alts, farming mounts and pets and doing other side things rather than just raiding. That is when we saw a shift in how WoW was developed. They started making the game appeal more to the new type of players.

This idea of reading the community and shifting the game around the tendencies of the community always seems to be how a game grows. Games like CoD noticed that their player base liked the more casual atmosphere and with every iteration they are coming up with ways to keep that group satisfied.

To avoid sounding redundant I won’t go over some of the other game I’ve noticed this with but for the most part it seems to be pretty true across the board.

There are some companies that don’t follow this tendency though and as ive noticed most that don’t seem to falter. I like to use the example of the SOCOM series in this situation. The first two games were very popular and had a large following. The third was ok but started to stray a bit from the first two and some feathers were ruffled. Then we make our way to the PS3 versions where the games really innovate and add features they see in other popular titles and in a sense forget where they came from. When that happened, the SOCOM community all but died.

I actually sometimes forget a SOCOM 4 was even released. Why is that? Well I think when you look at evolution of games one factor needs to remain. That is, don’t forget where you came from. Evolution is great, but if you add so much and change so much that the game doesn’t do much to remind people of why they enjoyed the game in the first place, previous fans tend to leave.

That leads me to the Halo franchise. A lot has changed in the game over the course of 10 years. With that one would tend to think then that the community has changed a lot over the past ten years. But wait. Has it? Did the community change so much that what has been implemented and added reflects what the community enjoyed/enjoys Halo for? I tend to think it didn’t. I guess I never noticed this drastic swing from competitive to casual that we saw with Reach and now Halo 4. Ranked playlists were always very popular and H1, H2 and H3 are held by many in the community as the top notch experience you can get playing the game. So where did this shift happen that warranted such change?

I guess I don’t see it. I don’t see why. Nothing really happened before Reach that would lead anyone to believe a new Halo that stayed similar to its predecessors would have failed. More importantly I never noticed any type of trends that would have pointed devs in the direction of what was added In Reach and now Halo 4.

This isn’t to start a flame war or anything of the sort more just a jumping off point for some intelligent discussion on what lead to changes like this and what you think. What am I missing? If we are going to say Halo isn’t copying CoD then we need some answers as to how this type of evolution could come about without outside factors.

I agree. 343i are doing what businesses do. Taking from current popular titles to make it more “relevant.” It’s just that I feel that there is such blind devotion to game companies these days that they feel no matter what happens, no matter how much change is injected, the company is always “right” and no criticism should dare fall on them.

At least, that’s what I’ve observed lately. And it’s not just the Halo community.

> I agree. 343i are doing what businesses do. Taking from current popular titles to make it more “relevant.” It’s just that I feel that there is such blind devotion to game companies these days that they feel no matter what happens, no matter how much change is injected, the company is always “right” and no criticism should dare fall on them.
>
> At least, that’s what I’ve observed lately. And it’s not just the Halo community.

See I think you are spot on there. It is a strange paradigm I never noticed years ago. I mean sure companies have always borrowed ideas but when something that has the success level that Halo did its odd to see such drastic change, especially when there was no indicators of its success wearing off.

Why Halo is being changed:

  1. Game devs get bored pushing out the same game year after year.
  2. What’s the point in remaking a game that’s already out? Been there, done that.

And another thing:

  1. If you’re suggesting Halo would still be topping the XBL charts had Reach been a Halo 2 clone, you’re deluding yourself. Halo was losing the crown regardless of what happened with Reach, CoD’s time had come.

> Why Halo is being changed:
>
> 1) Game devs get bored pushing out the same game year after year.
> 2) What’s the point in remaking a game that’s already out? Been there, done that.
>
> And another thing:
>
> 3) If you’re suggesting Halo would still be topping the XBL charts had Reach been a Halo 2 clone, you’re deluding yourself. Halo was losing the crown regardless of what happened with Reach, CoD’s time had come.

  1. I think you are misunderstanding me. I don’t think it needs to be the same game every year. I just think game should be developed based on trends in the community and its player base. I guess I never saw the community requesting gimmicky things or even leaving because it didn’t have those things. People weren’t leaving in droves until Reach came along.

  2. So many on these boards throw around “remake” so liberally. A game can play by in large like its predecessors and still not even remotely be a “remake”. Fixing annoyances, adding new maps, gametypes, weapons and extra features like Forge, Theatre, Firefight ect are all ways to evolve a game without disrupting anything else. I dont think something that does that would ever be called a re-make, just like Halo 3 wasnt called a remake of Halo 2.

  3. Im not suggesting it would be beating CoD but I most certainly am suggesting it would be doing substantially better than Reach.

Also I would like to just throw it out there that Im not opposed to a lot of what they are adding I honestly dont care as long as there is classic and MLG options. Just more discussing why I dont understand it.