In today’s videogame industry there lies a delicate balance between making games accessible to the masses and pleasing long-time fans of a franchise. Speaking on the subject, creative director Maxime Beland recently gave some revealing insight into the struggle of making the upcoming Splinter Cell: Conviction appealing to a wide range of gamers.
“I think it’s a subject that is very touchy right now because as an industry we want to grow,” Beland said when commenting about the effort to appeal to casual players. “We need to stop making games that are super hardcore. But we’re afraid because we don’t want to lose the hardcore people! At the same time, it’s a challenge because the journalists – the people that rank us – are usually hardcore.”
It’s not easy to please everybody, but from Beland’s perspective it seems more dangerous to ignore your “hardcore” audience. They are the ones reading the reviews from like-minded writers and they are the ones who will feel betrayed if the game doesn’t turn out they way they would’ve liked. Still, there is the growth factor to consider. Is it possible to make a game approachable without losing some of your original fanbase?
“I don’t like the word accessible because it makes it sound like you’re dumbing down your game,” Beland continued. “But to me, Call of Duty is very accessible. So yes, it is something we want to do – I’d love for 10 million, 60 million people to play the games we make.”
I may disagree with Beland on his interpretation of “accessible” — making a game accessible does not necessarily mean you’re making it easier or simpler. It can just mean that you’re making a game easier to learn, but not to master — but I really like his perspective on the topic. He’s very in tune with the macro view of how a game should be made in order to sell well, but he’s also sensitive about not selling out Splinter Cell’s fan base. It’s this modern way of thinking that can help the videogame industry grow in the future.