Keep the Change: A Look at Why Games Stay the Same


You’ve all heard of them. Those elitist gamers who just can’t seem to accept the fact that Call of Duty is a great video game series. The ones who aren’t really into Madden 20XX, or Battlefield, or Assassins Creed, or any of those other big name titles out there. They claim to be the “real” gamers and they look down on you for your choice in entertainment. What is it that makes a gamer so sour towards true greatness? Sadly, I am one of those people.

And yet I’m not. Allow me to explain.

Video games have been a solid source of entertainment since PONG, and since then they have always been near and dear to my heart. However, as the years go on, I see a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon: games refuse to change. There have been twenty-two Call of Duty tiles since it’s initial release in 2003, including the few mobile games, and a couple of expansion packs. There have been fourteen Assassins Creed games since it’s release in 2007, including mobile and handheld versions, but not DLC. And don’t even get me started on series like Ratchet and Clank that can’t seem to find an end. Why does the industry feel the need to spew game after game at us until we get sick of them and move on to the next big thing? I’ll tell you a little secret, though. I love these games. I love them and I hate myself for it, like a fat kid eating his last piece of anchovy, spinach, and pineapple pizza by himself before throwing the empty box away and wondering why he still has no friends. I can’t stand the fact that Call of Duty hasn’t changed since the first Modern Warfare game, and that Assassins Creed refuses to end, and that Final Fantasy isn’t as final as it sounds. And yet, I always end up spending money to play the latest carbon-copy version of the same old game. Why do I do this? Because these games work!

First person shooters, while all relatively the same, hold true to the fact that shooting things is fun! Why shouldn’t I enjoy sprinting around with a sniper rifle and 360 no-scoping scrubs from the comfort of my desk chair? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Why wouldn’t I love jumping off a roof into a pile of hay, before leaping out into a crowd of guards and totally going Yoda on them before disappearing into the populace like it never happened? That’s awesome! Who am I to hate on such a thing? How is it a bad thing that I love stealing someone’s new Corvette, crashing into an ambulance, firing a rocket-launcher at a bus full of children, hiring a hooker, beating her to death to save ammunition, getting my money back, then getting arrested because I accidentally tried to car-jack a cop car only to pay off the police with a few hundred bucks so I can get back on the streets to do it again? Perhaps that last one went a bit too far. I think you can see what I’m getting at, though.

Always take a selfie before murdering dozens of people.

What I hear time and time again from gamers is that they want something new, and that they want something different. In the end, though, sales numbers don’t lie.  According to weekly sales stats, as of this week, the global top selling game is Watch Dogs for the PS4, and since this game was pushed so hard for “next gen” gaming, it isn’t so surprising. However, the number two game that outsold every other console version of Watch Dogs?

Mario Kart 8.

That’s right, people. The game franchise that has had the same formula since 1992 is the number two selling game in the world this week. And you know what other game is topping the charts as the number four selling game in the world? Wolfenstein: The New Order, of course! And why is that? Because it’s a franchise that knows what people love. A trend that’s been popular since the 1940’s:  killing Nazis! And if there is anything that I do love, it’s killing me some genocidal Germans! (To our German readers, we here at Armed Gamer value your readership and in no way affiliate you with the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler, or any other Nazi, unless you yourself are, in fact, a Nazi.)

Look, they’re even faceless, so you don’t have to feel bad!

While we are on the topic of recent success, let’s take a look at some games that have had historical success. In terms of units sold, Wii Sports is the number one selling game of all time, which, quite frankly, isn’t surprising because it came with every Wii console that was ever sold. However, when we move slightly down the list, just under Super Mario Bros. for the NES, and two slots above Pokemon Red / Blue in the number five slot, at number three sits Mario Kart Wii. In fact, if you take a look at this list, there are hardly any games that don’t follow your standard formula of FPS, driving, platformer, or RPG, with the exception being the games that actually started the trends (see games like Grand Theft Auto III and World of Warcraft).

One final point that can be taken from the world’s most popularly sold games is the value of one company in particular, and that is Nintendo. While a lot of people claim that Nintendo is on the downhill slide, and that they release the same old tired games over and over, they do this because they understand what their customers will buy, and they know how to market those games extremely well. Of the top 15 highest selling games in video game history, every single one of those games was sold by Nintendo, and ten of them were sold within the last decade. So when companies are tracking sales stats, it’s not EA, or Microsoft that is leading the pack. It’s a little Italian plumber with a red hat and a bad-ass stache (as opposed to a bad ass-stache, which is totally gross).

Who DOESN’T love this place? So spacious.

At the end of the day, I love games like Limbo and Shadow of the Colossus. These games will forever hold a special place on my mantle of games. However, I don’t let that love for games with vision and artistic value spoil my love for a good old fashioned point and click shooter, or a nice bloody hack-n’-slash every now and then. If every game were like The Last of Us or Braid, they wouldn’t be special any more. Games are meant to be fun, and they are meant to entertain us. It’s like saying you hate the movie Dredd because you prefer to watch Donnie Darko. They are two totally different films and are meant to be enjoyed in their own way. Just because you like one better doesn’t make the other a total shit-show, and the same can be said between games like Battlefield and Amnesia. It’s all about the player, and how they view the game.

Featured Image Credit to Kerokid

About John Mann

is a 22 year old student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. With a major in English and a minor in Secondary Education, he will one day teach the next generation important skills for life. His roots are in his two favorite systems, the SNES and the N64, though he plays most games on his PC. John is married and lives in Jacksonville, AR with his wife Rachel.

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