In preparation for the glorious release of Mass Effect 3, gamers everywhere are enjoying a taste of the game’s demo tonight and throughout the rest of the week. With an offering of both single player and multiplayer, it’s giving everyone a chance to see what all the hype (and in some cases, the fuss) is about. To join the Shepard spirit, we thought we’d debut a new feature, a brainchild of the good sir Anthony Taylor. Because he’s cool like that.
This feature, titled Renegade/Paragon, is a look at the video games industry through the brutal cut-and-dry scope of the Mass Effect universe. Here, we grade certain entities and rate them as either Paragons — bastions of light and purveyors of all that is good and true — or Renegades — bringers of gloom, doom and every corridor of evil in between those two. Afterwards, you get to make your own calls on the situations.
Let’s get started. Who are the current Paragons and Renegades in the industry?
Double Fine and the Kickstarter Adventure
Last week, old school adventure game pioneer and auteur Tim Schaefer led his company Double Fine on a bold new expedition: crowd-sourcing the funding for the development of a new game. Yes, this had been attempted dozens, if not hundreds of times before by other independent and smaller companies, but never before on this scale — Double Fine asked fans to help them front $400,000 to create a PC adventure game of old.
And guess what? It worked. Not only did they raise enough money, but they shattered their goal. The current number of dollars raised sits at $1.77 million. The traditionally cynical cloud of gamers mustered a storm of goodwill, rallying around Double Fine in an effort to lash out at publishers who are constantly in the way of creativity and progress.
In one seemingly small act, Double Fine and adventure game lovers showed publishers a number of things. Namely, that not all gamers’ needs are being served by what’s considered to be marketable. And secondly, that the old way of doing business might not be viable forever. Does it change the face of publishing for everyone? Not at all. But it definitely has shown all sides of the industry that perhaps someday, there can be a different way of getting great games to people that want them.
Team Ninja’s New Direction
War might never change, but sometimes the world of gaming does. And Team Ninja, makers of everything from the classic Ninja Gaiden series to Dead or Alive Volleyball, have noticed. The creators of the recent Metroid: Other M have built their reputation on making outlandish, unbelievable, difficult and sometimes sexist games. But that soon might change.
While they were once content to create games that appealed to a different audience, Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi says that their new games won’t just focus on sex and violence. Their staff has been infused with a load of new talent and fresh ideas, and they’re ready to make more mature, emotionally driven games – even at the risk of losing some of their old audience.
Considering the world of gaming is populated with enough immature drivel and bro-titles to last a lifetime, it’s nice to hear that someone is finally snapping out of it. For all of their ridiculousness, Team Ninja is actually a very talented studio that knows how to make tight gameplay coupled with great visuals. If they’re abandoning a past that focuses more on breast size and over-the-top violence for something more refined, I think that means that gamers win.
PlayStation Vita and the PSP Passport
In terms of handhelds in the marketplace, Sony has always had the bastard stepchild. The Nintendo DS crushed all of the PSP’s hopes and dreams like a goomba underneath Mario’s boot, wowing gamers the world over with some awesome first party software. Now, with the 3DS hitting a world of problems, the PlayStation Vita was poised to swoop in with great first party software of their own, a fantastic price point and really impressive hardware. On top of that, they were going to give passports to everyone who owned PSP games, allowing them to download them to the Vita for discounted prices.
Cue the misstep. It came out this week that Sony is now amending that last promise: North American gamers will not be able to download PSP games through the UMD passport feature. Not only does non-backwards compatibility seem like a bad business move, but bucking your customers that held onto their PSP games due to your promises goes a step even beyond that. These are people that have not only spent money on your products, but they are sticking with you and spending even more in order to purchase a PS Vita in the first place. For a company that has been showing huge strides in the way it connects with gamers’ needs and interests, this is a tumble backwards for Sony.
And there you have it, the current Paragons and Renegades in the gaming business. What do you guys think of these topics, and are there bigger examples of Paragons and Renegades that we neglected in this instance? Go!
Image Source – Deviant Art