The Burning Question: Are you the audience developers have in mind?

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Have you ever played a game and even though the previous game in the series was your favourite, something about this new one just doesn’t gel with you? Maybe a game that has always had a singleplayer only focus, with an amazing story and perhaps multiple endings and huge replay value is suddenly has a heavy multiplayer focus and the systems of the game have been streamlined?

It could be that the game is now being developed without you as the target market in mind for the game. This could be because the developers were made aware that a small shift in focus would allow their game to be enjoyed by many more people. Maybe the publisher came along armed with graphs and slideshows and told the developer that they could get a bigger market share by doing something another popular game did, or didn’t do.

One game that stands out for me is Dead Space. Remember that game with the psychological horror, the mixture of gunplay, ammo management and amazing scares? Well EA did some research and apparently the game was too scary. Yes, a survival horror game, was apparently too scary. Now if you ask me, a horror being scary sounds to me like an amazing success. I loved Dead Space. Then EA got in there and told the devs to make something more action-oriented, a decision that was influenced by Mass Effect also going for a action approach and selling well (those two things could be totally unrelated by the way, maybe Mass Effect sold because it ~~~ wait, this is a completely different topic sorry).

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As a result Dead Space 3 became a very different game from the previous two. The horror was gone, the psychological elements were almost completely removed, except for in the few co-op missions. Even the survival element, scavenging for ammo and health packs was removed as the game contained far too many items in the world. Even if you didn’t collect items and look around, you could just enter your credit card information to get a new weapon and some health packs.

Some RPGs / JRPGs do a similar thing: changing a focus to western or eastern audiences, or trying to appeal to a younger audience instead. How many times have you played a game that dodged all the deep and dark questions lying in its theme so that it could have more appeal to pre-teens?

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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