The delusional Beauty of Innovation
We all love innovation, although most of us are afraid (or lazy) of doing things differently or taking risks by going in another direction. Which brings us to this vague conclusion that we (most of us) don’t actually love innovation but we love the successful results of them.
The avalanche of sequels (which is rampant among games, movies & even books) is a perfect example for the fact that people love the familiar in a different package, not an entirely unfamiliar stuff. Just look at the UK & US 2012 Sales figures ( Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Madden NFL 13, Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed III, Just Dance 4, FIFA 13, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution ). Not that there weren’t any new innovative games in shortage in 2012, but most people are afraid (take risk) to invest in/buy a totally different game than what they were playing everyday. David Cage creator of Heavy Rain, said.
“Sequels kill creativity and innovation,” he declared. “Many people want the same and if that’s what you offer them, they will gladly buy it.” He continued: “The result is very simple. Gamers invest money in publishers having no interest in innovation. [Gamers] encourage [publishers] to keep making the same game every Christmas, and everybody’s happy.
Movies also follow similar patterns too. Just look at the malayalam Film industry. Although superstars have managed to flush out tremendous amount of garbage Flops, yet people (and inturn producers) still prefer seeing & producing their movies. Despite high praise and Facebook posts & comments on how good a new generation or innovative movie is, i was totally disappointed on seeing empty queues and empty seats in the theater while the superstar average movie is houseful on the next theater. ‘Traffic’ was a good movie, but never got any initial attention. I saw the film with just 15 people in the theater (& it ran only for 1 week, only to return after 4 weeks). Wiki says “The film had only an average opening in Kerala box office.”
Even most of the Big game publishers & Game Producers are too afraid of innovation & looking in a new direction. ‘Limbo’, an awesome indie game designed by few guys at Playdead, is among the top lists of any ‘Top Games List’, along with common names such as GTA, God of War, Half life , max payne etc.
Wiki says, “ Limbo Team did not want to commit to major publishers, preferring to retain full creative control in developing the title. Playdead chose to ignore outside advice from investors and critics during development, such as to add multiplayer play and adjustable difficulty levels, and to extend the game’s length. ”
Innovative game designers often find it difficult to convince the publishers. Innovation at its heart, is risk. Jonathan Blow, the indie designer of the masterpiece puzzle Game ‘Braid’, was $40,000 in debt at the time of the game’s release on xbox live and had invested $200,000(1.09 Crore) into the game’s development. Hello games, had to publish ‘Joe Danger’ on PSN by themselves, since they couldn’t convince big publishers. Joe Danger sold 50,000 copies in its first week on the PlayStation Network. Here are some of the replies given to them by some publishers.
“Name me one popular game with motorbikes?”
”Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me”
”I can see this working as a Facebook app”
”We want games that are less about fun right now”
”We love the theme, but with a different game”
”Can Joe be a monkey? We like Monkeys”
So the next time you hear innovation, don’t overwhelm yourself with the notion of ‘coolness’ & ‘Awesomeness’. There are bigger (bad) things happening behind it.
“We don’t give people what they expect, we want to give them something they want without knowing they want it.” – David Cage