Does the FPS Genre Lack Innovation? DICE General Manager Answers

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Karl Magnus Troedsson, General Manager of DICE, the studio behind Battlefield 3, believes that gamers will lose interest in the first-person genre soon if strides in innovation and technological advancements are not made.

Recently, Edge asked Troedsson what he thought about the FPS genre and whether he thinks other developers are doing what it takes to keep the genre fresh and interesting.

“The FPS is a very hardcore genre, and the hardcore crowd of the FPS is probably bigger than some other genres,” elaborates Troedsson. “And that crowd has extremely high demands on what the games are and how they develop.”

He adds “if they don’t see some kind of new, if not revolutionary then at least evolutionary, step of rendering in every game they will start to lose interest. And I think that is what’s happening. Because a lot of franchises out there don’t take this seriously; to actually make sure that we don’t just challenge ourselves on the gameplay aspect, or perhaps some other area like distribution method, but also how it [feels], how it looks and how it sounds.”

Innovation seems to have been a big part of DICE’s plan to get a strong foothold in the FPS market as their latest project, Battlefield 3, was powered by the brand new Frostbite 2 engine which has been in the development for a number of years and was built to push the limits of current-gen hardware as well as to spearhead the next generation of gaming.

However, Troedsson explains, “DICE has a strong history, for good and for bad, of doing this. We constantly bash ourselves and say, ‘We could have done that better’. It might just be a rendering feature but in the end it adds up to the complete experience of what we’re doing.”

Other than technological advancements, the setting of a game has also always been a large determining factor when it comes to reviving or boosting the relevance of any game series or franchise. Take a look, for example, at Call of Duty’s jump to the modern setting with Call of Duty 4 and what it was able to achieve. One could wonder whether or not we would be seeing as many modern shooters being pumped out these days if it weren’t for CoD4’s success. But Troedsson warns that a change of scenery cannot always be so heavily relied upon:

“I think we’re going to start seeing people moving away from the modern setting, because every now and again settings or themes start to get stale and then everyone jumps over. Y’know, at some point dinosaurs are the hottest thing and everyone is making games with dinosaurs, but there are trends. It used to be WWII, and recently it’s been the modern era and people are now moving towards near future,” as what happens to be the case with the upcoming Call of Duty title, Black Ops II.

Troedsson continues, “but it’s a bit cheap to just say, ‘Okay, we’re going to switch and go back in time or into the future and that will be innovation’. It will definitely drive the franchise forward for whatever game, but it’s not true innovation, it’s more a thematic change that has a perceived value to the gamers out there. But as a developer you can only make so many games in one particular era, and then you personally start to get a bit bored with it.”

To conclude, Troedsson states, “I think it’s our responsibility as game developers to always push ourselves when it comes to the experience of games. To always make sure that when we put games in the hands of consumers that we are proud of what we’ve done. I’m not saying we’re going to build an FPS that will make you cry, or anything like that [laughs]. But we want people to be amazed when they look at our games. And I think this is more important than becoming number one in whatever way you look at it – though naturally part of that comes from a very high level of competitiveness here within DICE. We want to make the best game that we can, and we want that game to be the best one on the market. If gamers think that, then we’ve done our job. We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it.”

Do you think the FPS genre is beginning to show signs of age? Is a change of setting enough to breathe new life into the world of FPS, or do developers need to step up their game when it comes to technological advancements? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!