Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
1.1 The Changing Tide
A few years ago, the war looked like it had been won. Microsoft and Sony
had divided the gaming public into two hostile camps. Nintendo's Wii
managed to widen the traditional audience of core gamers to include fami-
lies, expanding the target audience to both younger and older prospective
players. Instead of accepting third place behind Sony and Microsoft's supe-
rior hardware, Nintendo took simpler game mechanics and cheaper hard-
ware and proved that they could expand gaming into a more mainstream
In the meantime, while the three console manufacturers continued to focus
on living-room experiences, fans lamented the supposed death of PC gam-
ing. Games like Halo and Call of Duty had moved the traditional first-person
shooter (FPS) and action markets towards the consoles, but millions of new
players flocked to PC-based online experiences. In particular, 13 million of
them happily shelled out $15 a month to Blizzard to play World of Warcraft ,
and hundreds of thousands more subscribed to a half dozen or so of the less-
successful Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games. Most of these MMOs
danced happily in the wake of early innovators like Ultima Online , Meridian
59 , and EverQuest , and even more ancient MUDs, MOOs, and BBS games,
forgotten by all but the old sages of game design. The death of PC gaming
turned out to have been exaggerated, and the PC remained a viable platform
for game development, albeit one that now needed to offer a different type of
product with a different business model. The war for the hearts, minds, and—
more important—the pocketbooks of gamers seemed likely to settle into a com-
fortable four-way victory in which console manufacturers competed with one
another for an expanding market and PC gamers subscribed to one or two of
the big MMOs.
However, a quiet, powerful new force was germinating, heralded by compa-
nies like PopCap Games and led by a vanguard of strange, cheap, lo-fi experi-
ences with names like Habbo Hotel and Second Life . Games like Puzzle Pirates
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