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JWeinCom said:

This is kind of confusing. It states that Nintendo has less Game of the Year Awards, and that is because they don't give their developers creative freedom. And I have no idea how we got from point A to point B.

The games that have won game of the year over the past five years are TLOU 2, Death Stranding, God of War, Breath of the Wild, and Uncharted 4. Death Stranding is the only one that wasn't part of an established IP. TLOU2, Got of War, Uncharted 4, TLOU 2, and BOTW are all sequels to hugely popular franchises. Doubt the devs had to twist Sony or Nintendo's arms to get them to make it. Aside from Death Stranding, and maybe BOTW, none of them were especially risky in terms of gameplay. Looking further into the games that have won GOTY awards, most of them were fairly safe choices (Skyrim, Oblivion, Dragon Age, Uncharted 2, RE:4, Halflife 2, etc.)

The specific examples highlighted, aside from the potential cherry picking issue, don't make a ton of sense to me. TLOU2 was a sequel to an incredibly popular franchise. Doubt Naughty Dog struggled to get Sony to greenlight it. Death Stranding was a divisive game, but it had a huge name behind it and a ton of buzz from being Kojima's first game since his leaving Konami. Don't see how it was inherently more risky than publishing something like Wonderful 101 or Astral Chain. I don't really see what's inherently risky about Returnal either. Haven't played it yet but from what I've seen it's a Rouguelike (or rougelite) style game that's mixed with a shooter. And, I'm not trying to knock the game, but I don't see anything hugely risky about it.

This thread is kind of all conclusions without anything defined or explained. What makes a game risky, brave, or creatively free? How do we tell when games are such? How did you conclude that GOTY awards are signs that games had creative freedom? Why are putting gamers first and giving developers freedom contradictory? How risky and brave are Sony's titles outside the small segment of games that will win GOTY awards? Nintendo's?

For most of this (because I don't feel like repeating myself), I'll refer you to my reply to mZuzek above. My thoughts are tough enough to put into words the first time, let alone many times, many ways.

For the bolded part though, some of the commercial risks I see connected to Returnal:

1) It's a roguelike type game. In a AAA space. With an actual budget. That doesn't exactly happen very often for a very real reason: the difficulty level of such games tends to be fairly high since they tend to lack many modern conveniences people are now used to (e.g. by forcing you to start over after every death), which can be a turn-off for many people.

2) It's an original IP, so it doesn't come with a pre-established fan base attached that's guaranteed to buy it.

3) It's got a female lead (with short hair and everything), which also tends to reduce sales since most gamers are male.

4) The choice of story structure and themes here. Enough said.

5) The unusually high starting price tag. This one I don't sympathize with.

It seems like cumulatively these were just too many chances to take for even most PS5 owners. I can think of one that might've been better scrapped, but I still like the game and can't help feeling like Housemarque clearly had the creative freedom they wanted to make exactly the game they wanted to make. Now that doesn't by itself make a game good by any means, but to me it sure makes a difference anyway. And I hope that, in the aftermath of Returnal's commercial failure, Sony will still be willing to maintain their relatively hands-off approach to the content creators they subsidize.

Last edited by Jaicee - on 26 June 2021