Failure to Launch

During Microsoft’s most recent and somewhat incorrectly branded “Ultimate Game Sale” on the Xbox One Store, I picked up 2013 launch title Ryse: Son of Rome and quickly finished it in less than 24 hours. Though short, the hack and slash sword and sandal game from troubled European developer Crytek was visually nice and centered on a fairly well crafted story for a game.

In spite of those positive points though, like so many other launch titles that will come after it and like so many that have been created before, it will go on to be forgotten in our history.

When you look back at previous video game console launches, you can see that when sequels in long running franchises or related games are excluded, the original stuff doesn’t endure at all.

When the original PlayStation launched in the U.S., it had the following games available for purchase, other than Rayman and Ridge Racer, none of the other original properties on there are remembered today by a majority of the population. I’ve never heard of Kileak and I sure as shit have no idea what Battle Arena Toshinden is and I’m certain you don’t either my dear reader.

Going forward in time to the release of the Xbox 360, you can find exactly two original games that Microsoft saw fit to market alongside their new system. Gun and Condemned: Criminal Origins. I played and liked both, but clearly consumers did not. If they had, each series would still be in the public conversation today, but alas, Gun had its thunder stolen by Red Dead and Condemned is only available to play on the Xbox One through the backward compatible system.

Now, though the more seemingly “Hard-core” catering console manufacturers don’t often have the best luck with their original entries, that trend seems to be different with Nintendo. On the SNES, the original launch titles available when the console debuted in the U.S.A. all have had entries in the modern era. F-Zero, Pilotwings and SimCity all are present and talked about today, though not always in the best light if you remember the debacle that was the latest Sim game.

Bottom line is this, when a new console comes along and people gripe about the games available at launch, they’re usually correct if the historical data is anything to go by. Often time’s industry leaders are perfectly content to give consumers pumped out sequels and average dreck that fails to leave an impression on the public and the industry as a whole. This needs to change and soon.

Perhaps the solution is to make some titles download only. This way you can take more interesting risks and save costs, but conversely one would also risk wrath of a base that is still largely hostile to an exclusively digital medium. I suppose that much like those who still continue to watch the never ending and depressing chore that is The Walking Dead, there are no winners in video game making. You’re always bound to piss off and alienate someone out there.

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