So there has been news about both of these old classic favourites getting new games this year. Earlier we heard about how the new X-com game, famously a strategy game about building a base, training your troops, equipping them then going out and fighting aliens all in rts style was going to be “re-imagined” as a first person shooter. Then later the developer of said game came out and said how the game had to be a first person shooter because “rts was not contemporary” but what he really meant was, there wasn’t any money to be made in rts games anymore.

Then more recently the first news about a Syndicate reboot emerged, again famous for being a real-time strategy squad based, combat game set in a future where corporations upgrade and equip their cybernetically enhanced agents to go out and make a “hostile” takeover of other corporations in a bid for global domination of said business. This new game set in the Syndicate world was..you guessed it, going to be a first person shooter.

So what we have here are two great classic franchises that have been revived as something they never were. What is the point of that? Why bother keeping a license for a much-loved product and then throw out all of the trappings that made that product loved? People didn’t love X-com just because it had aliens in it, they loved it because of its squad based strategy, rpg elements and research & management aspects and equally people didn’t love Syndicate because of its Blade Runner esq theme, they loved it because you took four guys tooled them up with implants, miniguns, lasers and persuadatrons and then went out and made an army that could all fit in a single car.

There is a huge market for first person games thanks to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and while I don’t like the annual milking of said franchise the console generation have proven there is money there. They have also proven the market is highly competitive though, there are plenty of existing first person shooters out there and setting yourself up as a new franchise in that market is a hard sell.

Alternatively you could, you know, make sequels to the games that already have a fan base. Apparently there is no money in rts games so what is Relic, Blizzard and EA doing? oh that’s right….they make highly popular rts games, Dawn Of War/Company Of Heroes, Starcraft & Command & Conquer. So what the statement “no money” really means is that the gameplay experience on console is rubbish so console players won’t buy it. This is a fair point but then, why do franchises popular because of the PC & Amiga need console customers? again Blizzard, Relic and EA still have those development arms of their companies working on rts games so there must be money in it, no developer stays in development on a game style nobody buys.

The market for rts games may well be smaller, but so is the competition so the market share if you make a decent rts game is much larger than one of a dozen first person shooters launched every year.

I despair at the current business sense that only first person shooters matter, in a business where you can create anything, apparently you shouldn’t, not even if it was well-loved. What we really need is for consoles to figure out how to create a controller that rivals a keyboard and mouse then we can move on from this rubbish about first person shooters being the only games worth making. Either that or for developers to start making better games for less money so the profit margins aren’t so outrageous.

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