A quick post over at Joystiq is talking about two Electronic Arts titles that underperformed this holiday season, survival horror title Dead Space and the, um, brightly colored Mirror’s Edge. Both are considered relative failures, even though each sold just over one million copies. One million copies. There are labels that celebrate when games sell that well. I guess one million isn’t impressive next to multimillion-selling juggernauts like Rock Band, but especially for new untested intellectual property going out into a market that sometimes shies away from any game that isn’t a sequel to something, that’s not that bad, right?
Game development for the high-definition consoles can be prohibitively expensive, which really puts the pressure on efforts like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge, two games that were generally well-received but didn’t set the world on fire especially in the midst of the holiday rush. They need to pay for themselves but they can’t possibly, and so perfectly good games and franchises are swept under the rug. Such is the way of our business-oriented industry. Financial pressure in this God-awful recession is going to stifle high-profile attempts to innovate, leaving all the interesting stuff to indie developers. That’s okay, I guess, but is it wrong that I also want interesting envelope-pushing games that deliver a longer more story-driven experience?
I hope people like EA keep taking chances, because it keeps things interesting. These Trying Times are making that kind of thing harder than it ought to be.