It may be popular, but is there any genre more maligned for it's lack of innovation by "hardcore" gamers today than the venerable first person shooter?
Well maybe the sports genre... (sorry Samit :( )
Still, at some point, you have probably heard someone say that they hate FPS's, and when you hear someone critiquing the genre several comments generally come up:
While those exact words aren't always used, the basic sentiment is that the FPS genre is overcrowded, the online community is filled with assholes, and the games themselves generally require you to run through linear corridors mindlessly blasting away at enemies charging you headlong. However, the most damning problem with the genre that many people cite is the "sameness" of the games. By most accounts it looks like the "FPS formula" is pretty much set in stone.
Here's the thing: while many people fault the FPS games for the things mentioned above, I really don't think that the genre is stagnating. FPS games are popular, and as such will have many mediocre to bad games flooding the genre, ultimately making the games seem "samey" and unoriginal. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any genre that becomes as popular as the FPS genre is today will get overrun by crap games that essentially "whitewash" it.
Anyone remember when platformers and shooters were all the rage?
Looking back today we can say "oh man, things were so much better back then." but were they? Since we were so much younger we probably didn't notice as many of the flaws in our now beloved "classic" genres, but think back about how many garbage games were made for the SNES and Genesis to capitalize on the success of games like Mario and Final Fight and it seems pretty clear to me that nothing has really changed. Every once in a while we get great FPS games that expand the genre like Portal or Bioshock, but 90% of the time we get games that either "refine" the genre or simply tread metaphorical water. Same thing was going on back in the day; you have innovative games, good but unoriginal games and bland copycat games. It only seems
like the genre isn't going anywhere because of the sheer number of titles, but make no mistake: this is a genre that is extremely old (at least on the timescale of videogames), and we are still seeing innovation, partially due to the crazy overcrowded market.
Even if there were a lot of copycats in the good old days, was the ratio of innovation to unoriginal better back in the day?
Can't really say, but regardless of which genres innovated more or faster, I don't think that it's fair to label the FPS genre as "stagnant" or "unchanging".
Believe you me, I'm as critical of the FPS genre as the next retro gamer, but I feel the need to just shout out into the dark abyss of the c-blogs...
FPS games aren't stagnating, they're just popular.
Random quote... EXECUTE!
“I used to make original snowmen, but it was time consuming, hard work. So I said, heck, this is crazy! Now I crank out crude imitations of what's already popular! It takes no time or thought, and most people don't care about the difference, anyway! And what good is originality if you can't crank it out?”
~Bill Watterson via Calvin