Do Gaming Trends Repeat Themselves?

Gaming has seen many trends come and go over the years. Genres move through different cycles and developers tend to follow whatever is most popular, leading to generations dominated by one specific type of racing game, open-world game, action game, etc. Take the first-person shooter, for example. In the early 2000s, thanks to Medal Of Honor, Battlefield, and Call Of Duty, historical shooters were king of the action game market. Then, a couple years later, modernity was what it was all about and these games began to adopt contemporary storylines and weaponry for players to experience. After that, FPS games went through a period of complete fiction, where Titanfall and Call Of Duty emerged as sci-fi shooters with a focus on player mobility. Each of these trends iterated on the FPS genre and improved the formula in some way. Every new idea allowed for game mechanics to be added that otherwise wouldn’t have made much sense in the past. With this in mind, should we be alarmed when the two biggest franchises in the shooter genre appear to be moving backwards? 

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Video games have suffered issues of homogenization in the past. When games borrow themes and elements from others, a situation occurs where everything begins to feel the same. There was a period of time in the last generation in which all third-person titles became cover-based shooters with survival elements and obligatory stealth mechanics. This issue still persists with other genres as well, such as with horror games nowadays and how every one of them is a first-person chase simulator where the player has little or nothing to defend themselves with. The success of Outlast and Amnesia was so great that even Resident Evil got in line with the trend. 

However, this is a problem that can’t necessarily be fixed in the usual way. When it comes down to it, the industry is run by money, so of course, publishers would want to fund games that are more likely to succeed, which is often those that imitate what’s popular and are an indicator of where the market is going. But luckily enough, that exact motivator is why the issue is nothing too much to worry about. No Call Of Duty: WWII would be made if an audience didn’t want a return to historical shooters in the first place. Specific games will always be made provided that enough people want them.

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Getting back to the original question here, gaming trends do indeed repeat themselves as they have done in the past and are doing again now, but that isn’t exactly an issue in today’s world of video games. There is enough diversity in what we play that the ‘military shooter’ is no longer the only route for FPS games. Even though the industry is retreading ground, developers are always finding new ways to reinvigorate old ideas. If you feel that the industry needs more original concepts in themes and gameplay design, then be sure to support the unique titles that take genuine risks. 

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6 thoughts on “Do Gaming Trends Repeat Themselves?

  1. The thing with imitating what’s most popular is that it’s hard to do with gaming. The time it takes to go from idea to release for most games is pretty long. Some people claim that Call of Duty is imitating Battlefield with its return to previous conflicts whereas it’s more likely that the WW2 game was in production before Battlefield 1 had its theme announced.
    I agree with your core point though, trends will come around again as current ones become stale. There are only so many themes to use I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that in general, publishers and developers see trends emerging and follow them. It would indeed be misguided to say that Call Of Duty is copying Battlefield when both games have been in development for years now. But there’s no doubt that the next few instalments in these series will be historical shooters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the way you expose it. Unfortunately, money is the fuel of every game development, so most publishers won’t risk supporting a game different from the standard cannons. Big companies usually think more about the millions to be earned rather than the truly game experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only way to make everyone happy is if customers decide to put their money where their mouth is and support innovative gaming experiences. That way, companies can still make their millions and funnel that into new things. But perhaps the problem is that the majority of gamers simply like things the way they are. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      Liked by 1 person

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