Making Original Games: The Critic’s Take

Making Original Games: The Critic’s Take

Gameloft is a French games studio that publishes most often on mobile phones. Many of their games are high-quality portable re-releases or remakes of games that were made popular ages ago (Earthworm Jim, Oregon Trail, Assassin’s Creed). Therefore, while we understand where they’re coming from, it’s hard not to smile at the company for criticizing the industry’s supposed lack of innovation.

“The video game industry has always played around a limited number of themes. There is maybe one new idea a year,” said Gameloft CEO Michel Guillemot at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where Gameloft announced a partnership with Panasonic to bring downloadable games directly to televisions. “If a type of game is not available, then you should make it. The damaging thing is if you do a bad expression of a good idea.”

Admirable words, though they sound a bit awkward given the context. Isn’t that a bit like the classroom copycat urging the brainiacs to study harder so he can get more right answers?

All said, every human being in a free society has a right to stand up and criticize. Book reviewers criticize authors even though they themselves have yet to publish a work; music critics praise or look down on entire albums even though they’re not capable of making a guitar do anything except wail in pain; video game critics write up elaborate reviews of video games even though they can’t formulate a working maze with a pencil and a piece of grid paper. And most of the time, these critics bring up at least one good point in their analyses despite not having any personal hands-on experience in the field. Gameloft has some trouble with the whole “original IP” concept, but that doesn’t mean Guillemot should be barred from speaking about industry stagnation–nor does it mean he’s necessarily wrong.

That said, it never hurts to lead by example. If Gameloft wants to chide the industry for its lack of new ideas, that’s fine. Thing is, nobody is going to take the criticism seriously, not until Gameloft produces some original games (it has major expansion plans for the coming year), steps back and says to the world, “See? We got it together and made something new and cool. Now the rest of you need to give it a try.”

If Gameloft manages that, we’ll sit and listen the next time it doles out criticism instead of just raising a jaded eyebrow.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. I’m one of the biggest haters of sequelitis, but I have to defend Gameloft a little bit here.

    That quote seems a bit ambiguous to me. He says “type of game” referring, to me at least, to platform availability. The games that GameLoft makes are not new IP, but they are “new” in the sense that they are essentially making mobile versions of console games like FFXIII and Starcraft. Essentially “new to this platform” as opposed to actually new IP.

    This just means more exposure of ‘real games’ to mobile gamers.

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