I was at Gamestop this past week looking for any hard to find games. While scanning the shelf of Wii titles I must have seen at least 20 titles that look like they were made in 2 months. I saw “The Price is Right” game, various titles ending in z (bratz, catz, etcz), and other lesser quality titles some going for $40 new. Next to that in the bargain bin is the entire Sly Cooper trilogy which would cost $20 used to get all 3, the designer in my started to weep for a second there. I then started to think, are cheaply made games like these good for the industry? I think that there is a valid argument for both sides and I’ll look at both and try to be as subjective as possible.
Pro: While these games aren’t advancing the creative medium of games by any means they are providing something else, income. For every copy of High School Musical 3 that is sold that’s more money publishers can use to fund another game and more money for developers to stay afloat. Shovelware titles that are aimed at those who don’t follow the industry all that well means that they will make sales where other games wouldn’t which I think include games that parents buy for their children. Also they allow smaller developer houses a chance to add a completed game to their resume which can mean all the difference in the world with getting more work.
Con: Let’s face it, the hardcore gamer will look at any of these titles and scoff at the thought of buying them. This means that future titles from that studio will be looked at with skepticism. Building up “cred” with your fan base is important, as we all have companies that we are less likely swayed by negative reviews of their games. The bigger problem is that publishers are more likely to give money to these titles rather then something new. From a business perspective, would you rather finance the next Shadow of the Colossus or the next Hannah Montana game?
Personally I think shovelware titles are good as a short term benefit but hurt the industry in the long run. I think the padding out they’re doing for the Wii library is killing the already on life support hardcore scene. I think the biggest issue that shovelware titles can cause is confusing the masses, if someone who has no idea about video games buys one of these titles and finds out that it is horrible, would they really risk buying something else after dealing with the last dud? In a bit of serendipity it was just announced that the newest Fatal Frame title for the Wii is not coming to America which I have no effing idea as to why. However the rage I’m feeling now makes this a great time to end the entry 🙂