Author Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game
) told Wired
that he's fed up with the state of gaming and not optimistic about the future. Card notes that today's gameplay is repetitive and the storytelling is minimal at best. The problem, Card says, is the publishers who don't understand the medium and are prone to financing / pushing safe bets, essentially leaving the developers pigeonholed.
Let's sympathize with the publisher's position first. They largely hold a fiduciary stance, which means they act in the financial interest of the company. The goal of a business is to make money, after all, and unfortunately the safest bets are generally the same gameplay mechanics known for decades with prettier graphics and more particle effects.
Assuming developers have the ability to innovate in the industry (as Card implies), is it the responsibility of publishers to advance the medium through risk-taking -- say, one art house game for every 2-3 mindless shooters, annual sports iterations, or licensed action romp? With game development costing in the tens of millions of dollars and more, and shelf space limited in brick-and-mortar stores, innovation is a hard pill to swallow for profit-seeking corporations. The hope, perhaps, lies in digital distribution or even simply online purchasing. At that point, however, the responsibility lies with the consumer to use his or her wallet and make a stance for innovation.