Video Games and the Pressure of Change and Mass Appeal
by Brandon Russo on April 24, 2013 at 02:00 PM EDT

Video games, like any form of media, are susceptible to garnishing change. Eventually, this type of detail tends to draw a wider audience towards it, resulting in a mass appeal that had yet to be seen by the developers.

Sometimes mass appeal and popular trends cause developers to change the structures that gave the games cult following in the first place. Occasionally, these changes are welcomed with open arms. Sometimes, however, original fans may be distanced by the differences.

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Let’s take a series like Resident Evil, for example. An originator of the survival horror genre, the games combine claustrophobic environments with thrilling scenarios and difficult combat situations. This enabled the series to move forward and continue making sequels. Eventually, this led the developers to change some of the original mechanics that defined the Resident Evil games in the first place.

These changes were accepted, and Resident Evil 4 was placed on a high throne of appeal. Resident Evil 5, however, took these changes and added even more differences. For this reason, it was not as popular. Eventually, Resident Evil 6 became a completely different standalone game, with only a title and characters connecting it to its predecessors.

This factor can inevitably alienate fans. Generally, the mass appeal factors over fan base. Money and income tend to come above what made the game special in the first place. Because of this, long running titles like Resident Evil 6 and Sonic the Hedgehog lose their charm in favor of sales.

Even Grand Theft Auto IV brought up a number of complaints from fans. Not to say any of these games are bad, because I personally enjoy all of them. They are just a little different, and that comes with the potential estrangement of fans.

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A particular kind of care goes into making a game for an unknown audience. Developers put great time and effort into the creation. Typically, the game is the result of a small team working hard to accomplish something they love. When these titles become big budgeted expensive ventures, it seems to become less of a venture in care, and more of a venture in cranking out a game before a deadline.

Of course, there are always games that maintain the things that made them special in the first place, while still appealing to a large audience. The Pokémon series still maintains its diehard fan-base. The Legend of Zelda series usually receives positive reviews.

The Elder Scrolls series seems to be doing fantastically well. I think what it all comes down to is the care that developers have when creating something. To create anything well, there must be a certain desire to create. Without that, there is always something missing.

Do you stand by your favorite series no matter what?

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