Minigame Burnout
April 6, 2007 9:09 AM   Subscribe

An Open Letter to Devs: "Minigame compilations. How many of these games can we possibly be expected to buy? On my Wii alone, I've already gone through Rayman Raving Rabbids, Super Monkey Ball, Warioware and Sonic, with Mario Party and who knows what else on the horizon. As for the DS, just about every other game I own has some kind of mini-game compilation."
posted by SansPoint (51 comments total)

 
Well, you're not "Expected" to buy any of them, and if you don't like 'em, don't buy 'em.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2007


Obsessive Shopper Blames Seller, Film At 11
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2007


I like the short games. Since I got my first DS a month ago, I'll pick it up to play Brain Age for a minute or two. If I need something more drawn out there are plenty of more complex games.

The article really suffers from "everyone thinks like I do" syndrome.
posted by drezdn at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2007


Open Letter to Open Letter Writers:

Has an Open Letter, especially an Open Letter 'published' on the Internet ever actually changed anything?

If not, please stop.

Yours,

The American Voting Public.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2007


Swap the word Wii for the word xbox360 and change minigame to FPS. What an awfully ill conceived article.

Plus minigames are great for casual gamers. Which is a hugely untapped market on the consoles.
posted by seanyboy at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2007


Wii and DS. There's your problem.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


The writer bought a Wii and is complaining that a lot of the games are of the pick-up-n'-play variety?
posted by NationalKato at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2007


Your favorite video game genre sucks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:25 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wii and DS. There's your problem.

Yes, because both have failed to develop a following and are being largely ignored by the buying public.

Right?
posted by quin at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I own both of them dipshit. I was referring to the fact that the author of the article is surprised that there is a large library of minigames for them.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:37 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


And what's up with all those Pokemon videogames?? I've never bought a single one of those, AND YET THEY KEEP MAKING THEM!!!
posted by Nahum Tate at 9:38 AM on April 6, 2007


A better question would've been, "Why has the mini-game become a central focus of recent game designs?"

* A changing audience that likes simpler fare (or rather, the realization that such an audience exists).
* Risk-averse publishers (or a risk-averse audience) that won't go for new intellectual properties.
* Budget-minded publishers that won't greenlight full-fledged games when a mini-game compilation with a recognizable license is available.
* Nobody knows how to really design for the Wii's innovative controller yet, beyond the creation of simple, one-note mini-games.
* Party games are more popular than ever, which means games are becoming more openly social activities.

Etc, etc...
posted by frogan at 9:39 AM on April 6, 2007


Can we get a batshitinsane?
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2007


I was referring to the fact that the author of the article is surprised that there is a large library of minigames for them.

I guess I am a dipshit, because that's not what I read. All I saw was one short line listing the names of two consoles and indicating that "that's the problem." Based on the level of 'Your favorite X sucks' Mefi tends to generate, you might understand my confusion.
posted by quin at 10:05 AM on April 6, 2007


Is this something I'd have to give a shit about to give a shit about?
posted by signal at 10:08 AM on April 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


How many of these games can we possibly be expected to buy?

All of them. Duh.
posted by Malor at 10:10 AM on April 6, 2007


I guess I am a dipshit, because that's not what I read. All I saw was one short line listing the names of two consoles and indicating that "that's the problem."

And if you'd read article this thread is based on, you might have understood my comment in the correct context, instead of becoming instant OMGFANBOININTYRULEZOMG poster.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


you people are all insane.

"blahblahblah people aren't allowed to criticise anything." Holy fuck, have you people read a gaming magazine in the past forever years? The entire industry is a duplicitous engine designed to boost game sales without discrimination for quality or originality, and you have a problem with someone pointing out, for once, that a trend is resulting in poor quality throwaway games and a glut in an already over saturated market? What on earth DO you want out of your gaming journalism?

The expression of discontent is valuable to any industry which seeks to progress. Open letters, editorials and forthright publishing of any kind is always valuable even if its for no other reason than to exercise the dialog between devs and consumers. This is especially true in an industry where that dialog is so infrequently had at its true potential.
posted by shmegegge at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


A brief history of video games according to open letters:

The 80's: How many platform games am I expected to buy? Also, why do so many princesses/girlfriends/damsels get kidnapped anyway?

The early-90's: Seriously, how many fighting games can one industry handle?

The late-90's: What's the deal with all the RPGs? You'd think people were buying them or something.

The early-2000's to Almost Now: I've had it up to here with Grand Theft Auto, Driver, State of Emergency, The Godfather, 25 to Life, Saints Row, Scarface, ad nauseum.

They're called "trends." Or "fads," if you will.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the "Open Letter" title makes this seem more pompous than it actually is. It's an editorial, and the author says that he's being disappointed by the glut of minigame based titles coming out because he feels it takes away from development on other types of titles that he wants to play.

There's definitely a lot of minigame titles out and coming out soon, but I'm not sure if it's really detracting so much from the large number of quality games that do come out.

And I'm not sure where the hostility comes from here about an editorial expressing a rather mild opinion ("Enough minigames already.")
posted by demiurge at 10:53 AM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


And I'm not sure where the hostility comes from here about an editorial expressing a rather mild opinion

I'm sensing that the Wii is inspiring Apple-level loyalty that make this seem like a bigger affront than it is (though I think that Dr-Baa nails it).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:09 AM on April 6, 2007


And I'm not sure where the hostility comes from here about an editorial expressing a rather mild opinion ("Enough minigames already.")

Nearly all online coverage of the Wii has been positive, despite the fact that some people like myself are beginning to wonder if maybe we bought the console too early. But no one's yet prepared to admit they might have made a mistake, or perhaps drank the Nintendo kool-aid prematurely (I mean, to read Joystiq, you'd think there was a cult devoted to the president of Nintendo of America). And before you start calling me out as a PS3 fanboy or something, please note: the only other console I own is a PS2, and I sure as hell didn't line up for four cold hours in February to buy a PS2.

The author is dead on: if you're not a huge fan of minigames, it's slim pickings out there for you. How many games offer a lengthy play experience? Off the top of my head I can only think of a few: Zelda, Red Steel, The Godfather. And whether you consider those games "quality" depends; I liked Red Steel's multiplayer component but my friend can't be bothered to play the single-player campaign at all. And reviews for most Wii games tend to hover somewhere between "hey, this game has Wii controls!" and "wow, they really dropped the ball with the Wii controls." Tiger Woods is a case in point: that should've been a really easy sell for anyone who loved Wii Sports Golf as much as I did, but then all the reviews basically said the controls were crap.

I guess I'm interested in Super Paper Mario, but I'm not really a Mario guy in the first place so that's kinda stretching it. Aside from that, I can't really think of anything on the horizon that I'm interested in. Meanwhile my friend got God of War 2 and though I've never played the first game, I discovered it was totally awesome. I haven't had that sort of rush since... well, playing Wii Sports with a bunch of friends.
posted by chrominance at 11:12 AM on April 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Though I will say that maybe minigames really are where the money is, and I'm just behind the times yet again. I mean, I just spent a couple of hours yesterday night trying to track down a Canadian retailer that sells Saitek joysticks because I just downloaded the fan-made Battlestar Galactica space-sim demo and discovered my old Sidewinder 3D Pro wouldn't work because I have no gameport. Talk about stuck in the past; I don't think anyone's even made a space sim in years. No wonder I can't buy a decent (read: non-Logitech) joystick to save my life.
posted by chrominance at 11:16 AM on April 6, 2007


demiurge - thanks, posts like yours make MeFi my internet home.
posted by django_z at 11:19 AM on April 6, 2007


I love minigame titles. Even though I actually work in the game biz at a developer, I'm what you'd call an "interstitial gamer," which is a term the industry is using to name folks like me who are usually busy, but who get a few minutes here and there to play a game - like, 10-20 minutes max.

I play Clubhouse Games on my DS quite a lot, during my short game times; I also like console games that use a checkpoint auto-save system like Call of Duty, where I can flip it on, play for 15 minutes, get past a few checkpoints, and then get back to real-life stuff.

There are a lot of people like me - a lot more than there are hardcore gamers who'll sit and play Gears for 8 hours straight (yeah, I've done that too, but very rarely these days). Minigame compilations and a lot of the downloadable small games on XBox Live are deliberately aimed at reaching people who might like to play games 10 minutes at a time - i.e., at expanding our target audience by about 50-fold or more.

This would be a good thing for the game industry, and will in the long-run result in more and better hardcore gamer titles because of greatly increased incremental revenue.

Remember, JAMDAT (now part of EA) made tons and tons of money selling $4 cell phone games, which people play for short periods of time.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:25 AM on April 6, 2007


I'm not much for the minigames, but at least they're not yet another FPS/RTS/RPG/fighting/Rockstar-type game. It seems to me that games have become genre-ified to death, to the point where nearly every game is "in the style of X". And as chrominance pointed out, there are even some formerly-quite-popular types of games that have more-or-less died out because nobody's making them. If the minigames lead to even one truly new game, that's more than enough to justify their existence... and considering that high cost and long development times are what brought us to total homogeny in the first place, maybe these cheap little games will actually spark some creativity.
posted by vorfeed at 11:50 AM on April 6, 2007


Historically speaking, I feel the minigame revival harkens back to early-80s era of gaming, except back then, to bounce from one minigame to another you had to swap cartridges...

Also, the nice thing about minigames these days is many of them have nice 3 or 4 simultaneous player action.
posted by kirkjerk at 11:51 AM on April 6, 2007


AN OPEN LETTER TO SOME WHINY LITTLE SHIT WHO DOESN'T REMEMBER PONG


Yeah, those "minigames"? That used to be the state of the art in video gaming. That was it. Not plot lines. No cinematics. Very little - if any - storytelling. Greasy, unhealthy nerds made video games. Nerds who were more concerned with using as few parts as possible than storytelling, hygiene, or getting laid.

Back then it was just... games. And really bad graphics. Just games. I know, it sounds really barbaric and cruel, huh?

At least you get to play Tennis with a wiimote and your cute little Wii avatar.

Remember Pong? Remember paying 25 cents to play it? Of course you don't, you ungrateful little shit.

Can you imagine paying 25 cents per game for Pong in 1975 dollars? White. On black. Anti-aliasing? Dude, we're talking pixels the size of your head. And a big, beer soaked knob. And probably some polyester-wearing freak horning a mountain of blow off the back of it.

Later we paid really good money for similarly simple games to play them at home. Some idiots even called them "video sports" and tried to organize tournaments and TV shows.

For years and years, what you now call a "minigame" was the defacto, standard fare. Asteroids, Mario Bros, qix, Tempest, Pong.

And many of us miss that. Play. Actual gameplay, not 500 hours of pretty cinematics and Chocobo-breeding. No level-up ladder grind, no far flung collection of random, useless bits of junk to go get as busy work.

See, a lot of us remember The Great Video Game Console Crash. You apparently do not. During The Great Video Game Console Crash - you had nearly exactly the same conditions you have now.

Overpriced consoles and games. Too many consoles. Too many really bad games. Too many developers. Too many specialized niches. Too much complexity.

Nintendo remembers The Great Video Game Console Crash. Remember, they were the ones that saved the industry after the last one. They were the ones to see how to resurrect it and reinvent it when it was thought it was gone the way of the hula-hoop - a mere fad, a flash in the pan, not a new cultural tool or art form.

Now, I'm no Nintendo fanboy. Historically, their consoles have been technically lacking and "behind the bleeding edge" over and over. Every single last one of them.

But you know what? It doesn't matter. They're the only company in the industry that has something on the order of 40 years of experience doing nothing but making games, and engaging in pure play. From their humble beginnings as makers of card games through the ill-fated VirtualBoy to the Wii, they've always been about play.

Now, I'm not going to argue that the Wii and the minigame are single-handedly preventing another Great Console Crash, because that would be silly. There are major differences between then and now, namely that the video game market has matured, and it's obviously here to stay.

But grow a fucking spine already. You don't have to consume everything. You bitch about them releasing so many minigames, but you pretty much bought them all.

And you wonder why they're releasing more? The only thing wrong with the game industry today is mindless hyperconsumers like you.

Physician, heal thyself.
posted by loquacious at 12:03 PM on April 6, 2007 [20 favorites]


Beyond being simply faddish, I think the current minigame trend is actually necessary, and an organic response (both by developers and by consumers) to the long buildup of epic development philosophies in the last ten years. We've seen games get bigger and louder and longer as graphical and sound tech has exploded, which has led to some very nice things but also crowded out some of the simple brainstorming and ideation that ruled the day back when consoles were very limited sandboxes.

So now we have some backlash, and the backlash is a minigame explosion:
- the devs want to do something less long-haul and iterative than Call of Duty XII or Another Epic RPG;
- the publishers want to sell games to more than the core gamer audience;
- casual gamers want something that they can get into without having to acquire a skillset.

The Wii and the DS have catalogs that play to all of these things, and minigames (and other Lite-philosophy titles) in general have been doing increasingly well, I think, because the market has such room for it.

That the Wii and the DS in particular are offering new ways for devs to stretch their legs makes it all that much more natural and good for the sake of game dev that we're seeing these things: there are new interface ideas to be worked out, new control schemes to take advantage of, and hence there are wheels yet to be carved out of raw material.

Red Steel was proof, from the reviews I've read, that you can't just saunter into making a great big title with an untested control scheme. You have to test. So do you do R&D behind the scenes and only release something when you've first worked out all the bugs and then built a big game from scratch around it? Yeesh! No, you turn the R&D itself into a game. You take every little idea you have about how to take advantage of this New Thing, and you build a game. The Jumping Game. The Pointing-and-Twisting Game. The Drawing-A-Line Game. Etc.

Things on the DS now are the fruit of that faddish, at times awkward process over the last couple years. The great, great innovative package-deal titles we'll see on the Wii in a couple years will owe a great deal to the minigame fad we're weathering in the early Wii catalogue now.

It's necessary. It's part of the life cycle, and proof that gaming is healthy and has a really bright near future.
posted by cortex at 12:05 PM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


In short, some people like Risk and others like Uno. Neither are wrong.
posted by drezdn at 12:16 PM on April 6, 2007


Loquacious, that was beautiful.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:23 PM on April 6, 2007


I'm rather confused at your letter, Loquacious. Is your argument that games reached their peak with pong and since the minigame titles mimic pong they're worth playing? Or that since he bought some of the minigame titles he can't complain about the glut of them? I don't think you need to have played Pong in 1976 to say there's an imbalance in the game titles for the Wii.
posted by demiurge at 12:36 PM on April 6, 2007


demiurge, I believe his point was that we're all little shits. ;)

That was a beautiful rant Loquacious. Well said.
posted by Bugg at 12:48 PM on April 6, 2007


loquacious: Actually, Nintendo started in 1889 making Koi-Koi cards. Thats 118 years of gaming experience.

I found this out reading the rules for Koi-Koi in Clubhouse Games for the DS. I really need to go outside.
posted by Mach5 at 1:05 PM on April 6, 2007


You know what improvement to the Wii I'd like to see?

Oh, I don't know, how about ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO FIND AND PURCHASE THE FUCKING THINGS?!?!
posted by redhanrahan at 1:18 PM on April 6, 2007


So much hostility and name calling! It's like I've visited some teenage arcade.
posted by cavalier at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2007


Mach5, actually the cards are called Hanafuda, and koi-koi is a game you can play with them. Like how playing cards today are called 'playing cards' and poker is a game you can play with them.
posted by hellphish at 1:54 PM on April 6, 2007


This comment thread has ended up in the WiiDS.
posted by davejay at 2:12 PM on April 6, 2007


Tired of minigames and last-gen ports? Stop buying Nintendo systems....problem solved.
posted by GavinR at 2:53 PM on April 6, 2007


"Actually, Nintendo started in 1889 making Koi-Koi cards."

I love Koi-Koi! I play that one online via DS. :)

loquacious: *clap clap clap clap*

"In short, some people like Risk and others like Uno. Neither are wrong."

Preciseamundo!

"Oh, I don't know, how about ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO FIND AND PURCHASE THE FUCKING THINGS?!?!"

Nintendo's on that. They're doing everything they can to ramp up production. This summer you shouldn't have a problem. But still, the Wii is outselling the other two month-to-month (but there are more total 360s sold so far).
posted by zoogleplex at 3:31 PM on April 6, 2007


While I'll generally agree here in regards to the Wii, I wonder how much of the problem is production rushes to get Wii-friendly mini-game games out before the Mario Party series launches and they're obsolete.

Also, if you're the kind of gamer that buys mini-game games for the DS, sorry but you're a mini-game gamer. Plenty of variety there, just not as much in mainstay genres.
posted by pokermonk at 3:42 PM on April 6, 2007


Shut the fuck up and put your mom's debit card away, jackhole. Problem solved.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:45 PM on April 6, 2007


Also, if you're the kind of gamer that buys mini-game games for the DS, sorry but you're a mini-game gamer.

Is that intended as an inclusive or excluse categorization?
posted by cortex at 4:13 PM on April 6, 2007


I'm lucky to own one of the very earliest Nintendo minigames.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:08 PM on April 6, 2007


Minigames are sweet. Fuck the haters.
posted by perianwyr at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2007


I actually just bought a Wii today. They're hard to find, but not impossible. I looked four or five places and finally one place had it. The other places all seemed pretty sure that no one in the world had them, but I found an EB that no one goes to.

As for the article, I completely agree with the point that no one is forcing him to buy a Wii, no one is forcing him to play Super Monkeyball. I, for one, love the minigames. What Nintendo realizes, that I think Sony and Microsoft miss, is that videogames are supposed to be fun. They don't need to be hyperrealistic World War II FPS and they don't all need to be advertised with dramatic music.

If that's the kind of game he wants, there are plenty of those out there. I'm glad to have gotten a system, four games, and three controller for less than I would have paid for a PS3. I'm also glad to have gotten some games my girlfriend can pick up and play with me and that we'll both have a lot of fun playing. You just can't find that on the PS3.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:42 PM on April 6, 2007


As for the article, I completely agree with the point that no one is forcing him to buy a Wii, no one is forcing him to play Super Monkeyball.

I guess no one's forcing him to play Super Monkey Ball, sure. But the idea that "if you don't like minigames you shouldn't have bought a Wii" is slightly absurd, no? Almost as absurd as "minigames are the ONLY way to have fun, if you like any of the longer games you're causing the next video game crash." But thanks, loquacious, for essentially telling anyone who doesn't really enjoy minigame collections that much to fuck off and die.

Not liking minigames does NOT automatically mean you are a hardcore Halo 2 player. Katamari Damacy is proof positive that you can create a simple, innovative game with one very well done full-game concept. Part of the appeal of the Wii was that it was supposed to open up a whole new realm of genre-busting games like Katamari; "look! crazy new control mechanism! lots of new ideas will flow from this!" But so far that sort of innovation hasn't really happened yet. Warioware's come closest to actually doing something interesting with the controller, but it's all still in service of minigames that last a minute at most (and often more like ten seconds). I don't want more minigames, but I don't necessarily want more FPSes either; I want more games that make me think "wow, I've never seen anything like this before and I want to play it right now!" like Katamari did.

And even if I did want to play more FPSes, what the hell is wrong with that? Did you play Half-Life 2? At the core it's an FPS, but it's also a big step up in terms of narrative storytelling in games and a fantastic artistic achievement. Just because someone takes on a tried and true genre doesn't automatically mean it will be a copycat clone. And besides, what about all the people clamoring for the next Mario and Mario Kart and Super Paper Mario and all that? Isn't Mario basically a platformer? Isn't Mario Kart basically an arcade racer? How are these not subject to exactly the same criticisms of "been there, done that" as, say, Call of Duty or Red Steel?
posted by chrominance at 8:22 PM on April 6, 2007


I want more games that make me think "wow, I've never seen anything like this before and I want to play it right now!" like Katamari did.

You do realise that innovation and creativity in video games are the exception, not the rule, yes? The devs don't have enough time because the publisher wants it out the door because the publisher has to make its quarterly numbers. Much like the flood of books and music released every year, roughly 1-4 per cent of new games will be super fantasticly awesome and life changing. The rest will be somewhere between terrible and meh.
posted by haqspan at 3:55 AM on April 7, 2007


wow, loquacious got very mad. And all because a guy had the nerve to say "I don't think companies should keep making so many mini games," without acknowledging how much qix rocked. huh.
posted by shmegegge at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2007


roughly 1-4 per cent of new games will be super fantasticly awesome and life changing

What was the last "life changing" game you played? Honsetly curious, with not more than 1-4% snark, really.
posted by signal at 10:45 PM on April 7, 2007


wow, loquacious got very mad. And all because a guy had the nerve to say "I don't think companies should keep making so many mini games," without acknowledging how much qix rocked. huh.

Dude, is this your first time on the internet or are you new here or something?

That wasn't mad. That was funny, and pointed. Besides, when I'm actually angry I'm suddenly very quiet.
posted by loquacious at 2:00 AM on April 8, 2007


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