Video Game Missed Opportunities

A collection of some prominent video game missed opportunities.


Middle Earth & Video Games

You don’t have to look very far to see J.R.R Tolkien’s influence in video games, as fantasy RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age proudly display their debt to Middle Earth. Yet competent video game adaptations of Tolkien’s works, in particular The Lord of the Rings, are few and far between

The Lord of the Rings offers developers a well-established universe and a huge fan-base, so it is quite surprising that so little has been done with so much. Time and time again disappointing efforts have left gamers unsatisfied and increasingly wary of future attempts. EA have done little of note with the license, including their unimaginative movie tie-ins, and Warner’s recent Aragorn’s Quest failed to wow the critics. Snowblind is the latest studio to have a crack at it, with a more mature and violent approach in the forthcoming War in the North, though you will have to excuse me if I don’t hold my breath. The history of Tolkien video game calamities is almost as well established as its success in print and celluloid.

One day a developer will get it right, and when they do they will have a global hit on their hands. The ideal time to have done this would have been ten years ago, at the height of LOTR mania – thanks to Peter Jackson’s masterpiece film trilogy, but hey, better late than never.


The proposed 5th generation Sony/SEGA console

I’ll let SEGA ex-president Tom Kalinske explain (taken from IGN);

"We got together with [Sony] and defined what we'd like to see in our next hardware. We had this great idea that it should be a joint SEGA-Sony hardware system. If we had to take a loss on the hardware (which was the norm then), we'd split the loss on the hardware, but we wouldn't split software, so any software they did, they'd get 100% of the profits, and any software we did, we'd get 100% of the profits. It seemed like a fair deal since we were eons ahead of them in terms of software development.

So we go to Japan, and Sony management liked the idea. Then we went to SEGA, and Nakayama hated the idea. [laughs] So that was the end of that, and the rest is history once again. Those were the specs that became the PlayStation."

Whatever your stance on SEGA, there’s no denying that it would have made for an intriguing partnership. I envision a Saturn duct taped to a walkman, but in a good way. However, it may have stunted the emergence of the PlayStation brand, which probably wouldn’t have been a good thing, though it may have prevented the series of calamities (mostly self inflicted) that sunk SEGA as a console manufacturer. 


Suda51 at Sofmap, Akihabara

It’s December 6th 2007 – the Japanese release date of No More Heroes. Suda51 and Yasuhiro Wada are on hand at an Akihabara signing event, pushing their new game with friendly smiles and small talk. The only problem is that no one has shown up, except the press. No games were purchased or signed within the first 20 minutes, until, as legend has it, one Famitsu reporter decided to break the ice by buying a copy, getting it signed and posing for a picture. Not the most fortuitous of starts for No More Heroes - one of the best mature games available for the family-friendly Nintendo Wii.

I include this as a personal missed opportunity, as at the time I was living just down the road. If only I had been as passionate about video games then as I am now, then I would have been the lone customer. If I had gone, I’m pretty sure we would have had a conversation something along the lines of this:

Me – Thanks for signing the game. This turnout is pretty shit. Fancy a beer?
Suda51 – That sounds great! You’re the best Matt. Do you want a job?
Me – Sounds good. Can I have a number after my name?



DJ Hero

The DJ Hero games came two or three years too late. Had they been released at the peak of the music game boom - a time when consumers were more receptive to expensive plastic peripherals and Guitar Hero and Rock Band ruled the charts - they would have been in a much better position to succeed.  DJ Hero arrived at the tail end of those halcyon days, with an expensive price tag (£99.99) and a turntable which was incompatible with other games. By the time DJ Hero 2 arrived in Autumn 2010, the music game genre was at its nadir, evidenced by the piles of heavily discounted and unwanted sets of plastic instruments lining the aisles of most entertainment stores. Within a couple of months the series was placed on hiatus, as Activision ditched their entire music game portfolio, including DJ Hero developer FreeStyleGames.

It’s a crying shame as both games are excellent and I would urge you to pick up a copy of either game with a turntable if you are yet to do so, as they are now heavily discounted everywhere you look. Both games received stellar reviews, but unfortunately these plaudits did not translate to strong sales. When it comes to DJ Hero, it’s a case of the right game at the wrong time.


The years BW (Before Wii)

What were the “casual gamers” doing before the release of Nintendo’s Wii? How on earth did they pass the time? Did they do real sports, or perhaps even exercised without a Wii Balance Board, if that’s possible? Were they using PS2 discs as Frisbees? How could families hope to bond without their little white box? The mind boggles. The only thing that’s clear is that millions of dollars of potential profit went-a-wasting as console makers scratched their collective heads as to how they should go about milking the huge market of untapped gamers. Then came the Wii remote and no one was safe. With Kinnect and PS Move now in tow, even your Grandma is a potential gamer.

Comments

  1. The Sony/Sega one is interesting. I recall hearing you talk about that Suda 51 thing before. That would have been cool if you went.

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  2. Ha! You have a very good memory! I recycled that Suda51 section from a post i wrote on 1UP in 2009. I'm sure Suda51 would have been wowed by my gaming ideas and hired me on the spot - or just smiled politely and hurried me along.

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