Depending on who you are and what time of year it is, you’ll likely be thinking either one of two things: there are not enough games to play or there are too many. When we were kids, the former sentiment was what rung true for us the most. As young people, we had too much time and not enough pastimes. Now that we’re older, the prevailing opinion has switched, with more people struggling to get through their personal checklist of video games. However, this isn’t just an individual issue but one that affects the entire games industry. Indeed, from repetitive trends and genres, gaming has bloomed many oversaturated markets.
The funny thing about gaming trends is how they look through the lens of hindsight. In the beginning, a new innovative game sets the style for a genre, changing up gameplay design and presentation. Then, after about a year, that original innovation becomes the norm, popularising and standardising a style that was once unique. This observation can be made when viewing the FPS genre of late. Since Titanfall, shooters have moved towards a more colourful and energetic direction. Even Call Of Duty jumped on the bandwagon with its slew of futuristic, momentum-based games—now swapped out for the new trend of historical shooters. Apart from the Call Of Dutys, Titanfalls, and Battlefields, however, Overwatch has renewed a sub genre in class-based shooters. Its meteoric success has spawned a myriad of ‘imitators,’ much to the detriment of all in the market.
LawBreakers is the latest title to enter the fray of an oversaturated genre, suffering because of it. Despite having unique mechanics and gameplay ideas, the game was unable to carve out an audience from the people coming off of previous shooters or still enamoured with them. Even the game’s director noted this as a possible downfall for the aspiring franchise, saying, ‘the problem is there’s usually only room for about three,’ and that ‘everybody after’ is ‘picking up the scraps.’ An oversaturated gaming industry is bad for everyone: players get sick of video games and yearn for something new, while developers wonder why their games aren’t being bought.
The current glut of triple-A and indie games wouldn’t seem so bad if individual titles did more to differentiate themselves from the herd. Nowadays, quality isn’t enough. For a game to truly succeed based on its own merits, it must be markedly different from the competition, and there should be a marketing push for those differences to be made known.
The dilemma of ‘too many games’ is often one that can be remedied through oneself. We have all gone through a period where we’ve had many great games to play yet no compulsion to play them. The best solution would be to just take a break from gaming. And when it comes to oversaturated markets, the industry needs to find a way to control its own output of games, despite how easy it is for video games to be made, nowadays. For that to happen, developers and publishers must take responsibility, seeing where best to devote resources and creativity.