At AdventureDevelopers.com, Beiddie Rafól has written a feature called The Cold Hotspot. The Adventure Developers site is geared toward graphical adventures, and the feature's four articles (1, 2, 3, and 4) discuss the fallen state of once-popular adventure games, and possibilities for the future. According to Rafól, there are almost no commercial adventure releases and he describes a vicious cycle of unwillingness to change format or content, poor market research, ineffective advertising, and lack of financial success or backing. He mentions a cluster of recent or in-development titles as bright spots in a dimmed corner of the gaming market, and hopes they and yet-future adventure games will attract the growing segment of gamers who want to think and discover instead of twitch and destroy.

The feature was written in 2005.

As you can tell (or already knew), graphical adventures and IF have a lot in common as mediums: an early form of computer game, once popular and commercially successful, now virtually unknown in the PC and console market, even if you define them more broadly than purists insist upon. And IF is even farther behind adventure games in brand recognition, commercial success, and inflexibility in the face of today's market forces.

I'm sure articles similar to Rafól's were also being written about IF five years ago. Since then, the gaming industry has continued to boom. The number of casual gamers has increased dramatically. The fiction market is still huge. This generation reads and links copious amounts of digital text in e-books, websites, blogs, forums, comments, social networking, IM, and texting.

Yet adventure games and IF continue with virtually zero market share. What gives?
 


Comments

george
10/17/2010 9:48pm

I think you could make a case that a subsection of casual games are the new adventure games. Perhaps the adventure game as casual escape the room and pixel hunting games could survive on ever more connected platforms, whereas IF had no such stage to evolve into?

An interesting question is whether new platforms (such as tablets, the availability of which will probably explode next year) will create new opportunities for the kind of experience that IF offers.

10/19/2010 12:18pm

@george: Certainly you could say the spirit of adventure games lives on in escape-the-room games and the type made by pastelgames.com. And, like IF, there's a decent community of indie adventure game developers, most of whom release for free.

But most of these make money (if any) from advertising, not selling their games. Other game mediums, like platformers and shooters, have evolved with the times, and are still a billion dollar industry. Not IF or adventure games.

Is it that people just want to blow stuff up, and don't care about story? I don't think so, I think it's that IF and adventure games refused to adapt their gameplay style for modern audiences, and re-hashed the original formulas instead of going for the _innovation_ that made them so cool in the first place.

There are a few commercial adventure games happening, like the episodic Sam and Max series (and others) at telltalegames.com. Why nothing as popular and commercially viable for IF?


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