we often worry about "a flood of crap" when things become too easy to do. the internet suffers from a flood of crap content so severe that we need advanced technologies like the googles and what not just to swim through it all and dig up the good stuff. but right now, with the recent bombardment of video game releases, i'm feeling the opposite extreme: there are too many good games out there.
there are so many games out there that look amazing - and more are on the way - and i want to experience them all. not only for entertainment, but also for their innovative designs and cutting-edge craftsmanship. but as a phd student, i only have (or should commit) time for one or two. i imagine the average gaming consumer my age with expendable income feels the same way, but is willing to commit even less time.
so, i _want_ to give all these game companies my money, but in order to do so i have to give up $60 a pop and reserve a whole fuckin' weekend to make it worthwhile. no way. not gonna happen. and that's no big deal for me - my life will probably be just fine if i don't play Fallout 3 (but i will be a little sadder). but for Bethesda, that's revenue lost.
how could they get that money? i don't think less games is the answer - no, keep em coming. at a time like this, when the industry is at its most creative, the more the merrier (and i see no reason why publishers would self-regulate like that). but i would like to see the option of shorter experiences. back in the day, a little known publisher named Apogee published little known games like DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D. but $60 for the full game wasn't the only option. you could buy 1/3 or 1/4 of the game - the "shareware version" - for $10-15. so if you didn't want to commit $60 and 20 hours of your life to a game, you could go the shorter route. sure, it's not getting $60. but it's getting $15. and that, last time i checked, is way better than nothing. multiply that by the number of gamers who feel the same way i do and you're looking at...well, i have no clue. but hey, it _could_ be huge!
some would scream, "not every game is a level-based first person shooter that can be split up like that for shareware!" fair enough. but you can sure as hell try. just consider it another design constraint/trade-off. game designers work under all sorts of constraints that result from economic/technical realities (time and money to name a few), so if the constraint of "shareware-ability" can be justified, then you should try adjusting your design accordingly. there is no reason why an RPG like Fallout can't be split into discrete chunks - there are only reasons why it's hard. and if my gut feeling is right, whoever cracks that nut is potentially cracking into a revenue stream that's feeling very over-fucking-whelmed right now.