The popularity of shooters has grown substantially throughout this console generation. Some gamers may argue that the genre is becoming stale — a sentiment Battlefield 3 developer DICE chalks up to a lack of innovation.
Karl Magnus Troedsson, DICE’s general manager, believes that few developers take the need for evolution seriously. Troedsson believes that FPS gamers expect to see a worthwhile step forward from new games, and that a lack of innovation will cause those same games to be left behind.
The developers at DICE try to get around this issue by constantly challenging themselves to do better. The members of the Swedish studio believe that there is always something they could have improved on, and by focusing on those faults they’re able to keep innovating.
“DICE has a strong history, for good and for bad, of doing this. We constantly bash ourselves and say, ‘We could have done that better’. It might just be a rendering feature but in the end it adds up to the complete experience of what we’re doing.”
While the Call of Duty vs Battlefield debate is pointless, it encapsulates many of Troedsson’s points. Battlefield 3 ended up being a huge success for EA, and that is perhaps due in part to the differences between the two franchises. Battlefield 3‘s vehicles, destructible environments, and large player count helped it to stand out from Activision’s shooter.
Even with the differences between the two games, they did have one thing in coming: a modern setting. Troedsson, however, doesn’t believe modern settings will be the de facto standard for long — as with gameplay, developers have to change eventually.
“I think we’re going to start seeing people moving away from the modern setting, because every now and again settings or themes start to get stale and then everyone jumps over. Y’know, at some point dinosaurs are the hottest thing and everyone is making games with dinosaurs, but there are trends. It used to be WWII, and recently it’s been the modern era and people are now moving towards near future.”
Troedsson’s points also bring up the issue of AAA budgets, in that games are just becoming too expensive to make. Shooters in prticular can be a massive cash sink for developers, especially for those who want to compete with the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that developers don’t want to take risks when one game can make or break a studio’s future, leaving it hard to imagine much innovation coming from developers who don’t have the financial backing of a studio like DICE.
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