Yes, it sound counter-intuitive, lemme explain…
I just read ‘the long tail’ ( http://www.amazon.com/Long-Tail-Future-Business-Selling/dp/1401302378/ ) and although I pretty much knew what to expect and didn’t expect the book to tell me anything I didn’t already know, one thing from the book stuck in my mind:
Everyone has individual tastes, everyone actually, given the choice would like something that is fairly niche. This is why amazon is the perfect example of the long tail, and why the VAST majority of its sales are not from the top 10 or even the top 50.
Books have very low fixed costs, so there are books to cater to practically every niche imaginable. (http://www.amazon.com/No-Idle-Hands-American-Knitting/dp/0345362535/ ) Because everyone can have their book niche easily satisified, a lot of people go out and buy the books they really want to read. There are the occasional mass market hits that everyone seems to read (da vinci code and harry potter), but they are the exception, not the rule.
When the costs of production go up, and the amount of stuff produced shrinks (think triple A PC and console games), things change dramatically. The games that get made appeal to the widest possible subset of people, and many would say are thus dumbed down. So far, so obvious, but the interesting point is that even the people buying them are not getting what they REALLY want. The dumbed down mass market games aren’t really being made because “this is what most people actually want to buy”, what’s happening is “this is what most people will settle for, given that the games they really want are not there”.
So given this theory, I’m suggesting that a hell of a lot of people who go out and buy Halo 3 (for example) would really prefer a slightly more niche, more quirky, more original game, but they settle for Halo 3.
We don’t (sadly) have a good way to measure the extent of someone’s satisfaction with a game, they either bought it or they didn’t. We don’t know if they thought “OMGZ! Halo 3 at last, the game that equals perfection in my book!” or “There are no decent games out at the moment. I guess I could get halo 3, it has some shooting and nice gfx”
Is this bollox? or is there some truth to it? Would the flght sim and point-and-click adventure genre spring back to life if people actually made some of them?
I know a similar thing happens in movies. My brother goes to see a movie once a month at a minimum, regardless what’s on, even saying before he goes that it will probably suck. Are people doing that with games? and does this mean there are vast markets for interesting cool stuff if people will just make it?