Every now and then someone has to come out and tell us that there are no new things under the sun, that people are lacking in creativity, and that gaming is too reliant on successful formulas. So, basically the same criticism that has existed around all art forms for ages. The latest critic is Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Kirby who is currently working on Super Smash Bros.
In his weekly column in Famitsu, translated by Polygon, Sakurai explained that independent design studios are an antidote to the repetition of the modern game scene:
Is there any industry that relies so much on reusing and reusing their old titles as much as video games? Compared to other media like movies, dramas, animation, novels and comics, the glut of franchises and remakes is at an unnatural level.
He explains that there are so many hurdles in gaming, it makes sense for there to be sequels and franchises. It can take a while to learn the rules of a game, the universe of its setting – developers can benefit by working with existing structures while simply adding new features. However, Sakurai is not criticizing the AAA studios for being successful, he just sees the importance of other alternatives:
Good games attract fans, and if you have fans, you have an advantage. You try to use that to make the title something bigger, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to give up on innovation. Popular, well-made games deserve praise, but titles that have some kind of unique creative spark to them also need to be praised in this way.
While I definitely agree with Sakurai – there are a lot of franchises and remakes in gaming – it seems a bit rich coming from a guy who is working on Super Smash Bros. How many iterations has THAT game gone through? However, I think it’s important to keep an eye on new IP and exciting things going on outside of the major franchises; those are the games that are inspiring the AAA studios anyway.