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Three Moves Ahead Episode 126 – Contemporary Antiques

July 21st, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 7 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


PC Gamer EIC Logan Decker joins Rob and Julian for a discussion of Christoph Hartmann’s comments that strategy is not a contemporary genre. They dig into his interview, and what he meant. They also cover other publishing models, and how they stack up to what game publishers do, and discuss how Hartmann’s comments reflect a much broader struggle to figure out what people want in a new media landscape. Does being relegated to a smaller market actually make strategy healthier for those of us who still enjoy it?

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Disobedientlib

    I wonder if part of the reason for the lack of strategy games on the consoles is the increasing blending of genres in game development. So instead of straight-up strategy games, you get niche games that include some aspects of strategy, like Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, Valkyria Chronicles, R.U.S.E., Under Siege, Greed Corp., Swords & Soldiers, Little King’s Story, Tactics Ogre, etc.

    Of course, the argument could be made that pretty much all of these console titles, perhaps with the exception of M&M, did not sell well…

    Thanks for another great and stimulating discussion guys!

  • chouzar

    Regarding the new XCOM, I really don’t understand why release it as a shooter, in other words, why stamp the XCOM name on it. Just judging by graphics it looks a lot like a “Shock” game. Maybe it would be unwise to realease two “BioShock” games at the same time. I guess the X-Com franchise was just sitting there with no exploit.

    But yeah, it is true that I could not be happier with the current state of the “Strategy genre”, there are tons of games out! in the past month I have played Supreme Commander 2, Frozen Synapse and Armagedon Empires. If I’m in the mood for a complex or not so complex, long or not that long strategy game, it is available.

  • Happy Hour – July 21st | RobZacny.com

    […] and I appeared on the GWJ Conference Call this week, and I think Julian and I did a terrific 3MA with Logan Decker about that whole “strategy isn’t contemporary” kerfuffle. You […]

  • kenny b

    @disobedientlib — your evaluation of modern genres is spot-on. Very few developers really stick to one classical genre, which honestly I enjoy, yet it does make it difficult for these same developers to create games from more pure genres.

    The analogy with automatons is great, in any creative field there is a great deal of unexplored territory, and having too many commercial concerns necessarily antagonizes the ability of developers to explore this territory. I really do agree that avoiding strategy is the “trendy” thing to do: I am seeing parallels when everyone cried that “PC gaming is dead” years ago, before Zynga and Steam reminded gamers that, hey, the install base of the PC is bigger than all consoles combined, and the barrier to entry for developers is several orders of magnitude lower than for consoles.

    I think Hartmann’s comment was intentionally broad, a justification for a decision that was obvious for them, and not really to be taken as a serious insult to strategy games. It’s good that it’s made people discuss the role of strategy games in modern gaming. I am more disappointed that XCOM seems to be a static, story-based shooter à la Mass Effect, rather than the emergent management / tactical experience the original was.

  • Paul Jenkins

    I really enjoyed Logan Decker on this episode. He has a wonderful radio voice, and he made the podcast overall very entertaining and informative.

  • Gunner

    Another great episode. Logan was fantastic and I hope he gets a chance to return.

    My take is that, contemporary or not, strategy games are in a very good place right now. The recent resurgence of quality wargames, competitive RTS like StarCraft, and the huge selection of quality indie titles make it so that I could easily spend all of my gaming time switching between a set of extremely varied and quality strategy titles.

    With results like these, I don’t think that the major publishers would have much to offer aside from possibly pleasing but unneeded graphical enhancements and larger marketing campaigns. While those types of things would perhaps be good for the strategy genre’s general health, my experience as a core strategy gamer would remain largely the same either way.

  • Mishera

    For larger publishers, indeed right now consoles are getting the majority of attention, but often they get into a mode where they don’t want to take risks because of the potential loss, and often they have shareholders to answer to. Ironically Microsoft is a large part of the problem too. Publishers might feel that they get more from developing from consoles, but if Microsoft bought Steam and put it on every os that they push out, the console/pc discussion would largely move back to the latter. Console games and to a smaller degree facebook games are getting a lot of attention because of Microsoft’s neglect of the platform.

    I say ironic because Microsoft brought us so many things with xbox live that pushed game development forward. Before everyone talked about the iphone, xbox live had a large amount of community developed games. They also pushed forward episodic content as a way to bring in more sales among other things.

    It seems to me with all this discussion of how to make good business models from selling games we already have a lot of solutions. Expansions, and episodic content can be part of the solution. You have a new idea and don’t know how it will sell? Make some episodic content and post it on xbox live. It doesn’t even have to be a full game but something just showing one aspect of the gameplay like a new fighting engine. Steam showed that you can have a whole financial life of a game with Team Fortress 2.

    Building franchises is also a solution that I hear nobody talk about. XCOM is a series that has a lot of followers, so why not make a shooter based on it? It seems to me that if they wanted to make a strategy game later a good shooter would only serve to help sales. I could apply this to so many franchises. I would personally love to see a game bases on battleship fights from the sins of a solar empire world. Heck Mass Effect and Halo are worlds just waiting for more content.

    But one thing I would really love to see an expansion of community developed games. With so many people making games and with the desire to make video games, there has to be some way to organize it to make a something and profit from it. To me this is really the future since the route we’ve gone with large publishers can’t sustain itself. Believe it or not video games are still in their infancy right now and we don’t know what they’ll become 10 years from now. My only fear is that publishers don’t get in the way of making them greater.

    Excellent podcast guys.