Longevity in gaming

Published June 10, 2009

Apparently, the Sims 3 is breaking all kinds of records, and I don’t own it yet. Grr.

According to this CNET story, EA are reporting that the game sold 1.4 million copies in the first week, is topping the PC gaming chart, and the iPhone app chart, plus it has been EA’s best game launch ever.

Now, CNET suggest that whilst this is something of a surprise, it does fly in the face of criticism levelled at EA that they rely too much on long-term game franchises. So what if the Sims has been around for almost a decade? If the fans still want it, then EA would be foolish not to keep producing it.

I think perhaps the game works so well because it isn’t something that gets old in the same way a story-based game would. For example, the Tomb Raider series is exceptionally popular, but as it tells the story of Lara Croft, it upsets fans along the way. Some people dislike the vast changes from one game to the next, and it’s easy to take it the wrong way. Resident Evil is another example.

On the flip side, racing games, and sports games tend to reinvent themselves, and get away with it, because people will always love to race and I will always love to control those darned Sims. Improving gameplay, adding in new bits for diehard fans, but keeping the general principle the same, there’s no reason why the Sims can’t go on for another decade.

The one game that I feel breaks my theory, is Grand Theft Auto. Each game seems to have a story, but also has the sort of open gameplay that means fans can keep coming back for more.

I am by no means a gaming expert and would love to hear the opinions of anyone else out there. Is it wrong for EA to keep churning out the same old games? Why is it harder to reinvent a game which has a storyline?

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