Roundtable - October 12, 2003 - Part 1

Googleshng: Hello everyone, and welcome to another Roundtable discussion. This week we'll be talking about the myriad ways old games reach new audiences, but first, why don't our panelists introduce themselves?

Susan: I'm Susan Richardson, and I have a 4.0 GPA.

Sean: I'm Sean Peters, RPGamer's media head.

Paul: I'm Paul Koehler, RPGamer's Public Relations manager.

James: I'm James Enright, one of many RPGamer staff reviewers.

Brian: I'm Brian Wacther, former RPGamer media grunt. I'm not dead, seriously!

Googleshng: Our first topic this evening concerns those series which can't seem to stick to a single system, such as Shenmue, Kingdom Hearts, and so forth. What does everyone think of this sort of thing?

Susan: Good idea in that it allows maximum exposure, bad idea in that it usually ends up with slightly tweaked versions for each system, and if you don't get EACH ONE you'll feel like you're missing out. It's a good marketing decision, but...

Sean: Don't think that's quite what we're talking about.

Googleshng: Well, it's fairly related.

Brian: I think the idea, as Goog mentioned to me earlier, are games in which the sequels crossover to other platforms.

Susan: Ohhh. Well then, holy smurf that bites.

Googleshng: Kindgom Hearts 2 for instance is slated for the GBA.

Brian: See, I like that, because I don't have a PS2. The only real problem is in games that were originally planned to have some connectivity between them, like the Shenmue series. Cross-platform sequels really kills inter-title interaction.

Susan: My main objection is, well.. EXACTLY! You'll find a sequel for a game on a different system than you have, or will have a sequel come out on a system you have and not have the experience of the first one.

Googleshng: The downside obviously is that it forces players to buy more hardware. On the upside though, it encourages developers to make some really major changes.

Paul: I'll have to back up Brian on this. Not every gamer out there is going to have the full array of consoles.

Brian: Actually, to counter Goog's statement, I don't think it necessarily forces gamers to consider multiple platforms. If anything, it offers gamers a comfort zone.

Googleshng: I'll have one game in this series no matter what I own you mean?

Brian: Yeah, if they miss a game on one system, but they've got the system the sequel is for, it's not so bad, right?

James: Well, in Shenmue's case, it's not like there was any other choice. Either put the next game on a Next-Gen console, or let it die with the system.

Googleshng: Actually James, the Dreamcast was a far more viable platform than the Xbox at the time, and arguably still is. MS just bought the exclusive U.S. distribution rights to boost their sales.

Susan: But when a game that you love has a sequel on a console you don't have, the choice is either get the hardware or miss the sequel.

Brian: Of course, that doesn't really make sense if the RPGs are connected plot wise, and then there's Susan's point, too.

Susan: It's a hella sucky choice, specially when you have enough money to buy the game, but not enough to buy the hardware.

Sean: I can understand it just fine in the case of some series. I mean, we could hardly have expected all the Dragon Quest titles to be on the NES; hardware evolves. Jumping platforms during a single generation seems like a move with no benefit other than to the console manufacturer who'll get slightly higher sales from it.

Googleshng: Sequels tend to come out much faster today than back in the NES days though, so one would think games could really be kept all in one place.

Paul: Perhaps, but the technology behind the hardware of the consoles also evolves quickly. That and there aren't the traditional agreements holding back certain companies from making games for certain consoles. Seriously, how many of you guys would have thought eight years ago that Sega would be making Sonic games on a Nintendo console?

Googleshng: The other option is to take Capcom's route with their survival horror games. Any given series can be found completely on one system, but the GameCube gets the Resident Evils, and Dino Crisis went with Sony.

Susan: Yeah. If the technology moves on, then sure, go to a different console. People will most likely be buying a console of the next generation anyway, and as it's a border time, the "not having" will be the same with ALL the consoles...

Googleshng: Capcom also makes a habit of porting all earlier games over when hopping systems, which I honestly wish would happen more often.

Susan: I personally like backwards-compatible systems.

Brian: Hell yes.

James: Well, there's no money in that, now is there? Most companies tend to see multi-platform games as a way to cash in. More so with a popular title.

Susan: The PS2 and GBA come to mind.

Googleshng: True, but then we have a game hopping from one of those to the other.

Paul: Susan: Perhaps there's a reason why those two consoles dominate their respective markets?

Susan: Could be an influencing factor.

Googleshng: Well, the GBA dominates because it has a total software monopoly.

Susan: It doesn't really have any serious competition. What's up against it, the WonderSwan?

Paul: On the non-RPG front, Soul Calibur II is the most recent and blatant example.

Googleshng: SC2 is an example of a game making itself available on every platform. That's all well and good really, except that it's usually a sign that the game blows, and developers hope to make money back just by exposure.

Googleshng: Bringing things back on point though, are any of us not giving Square a dirty look for juggling Kingdom Hearts about?

Brian: I give Square dirty looks for many things, but that's not one of them.

Susan: I'm not, because it's on a system that I own. If it was on one I didn't, I'd be upset at them.

Sean: I'm not. Making a side-story for a system with a higher installed user base than the one it started on doesn't seem bad at all.

Paul: Not for Kingdom Hearts. I think there are enough GBA systems floating around right now to make the title worthwhile. We did have quite a few people snatch FFTA, yes?

Brian: Since I don't own a PS2, all this means is that, since the sequel is gonna be on GBA, I have an opportunity to get into the series.

Googleshng: Fair enough. I think the GBA is actually a better place for such a game myself to be honest, but the general principle behind it still gets to me.

Paul: Especially if it's between the main consoles of the same generation. (i.e. Gamecube - Xbox, and vice versa)

Susan: It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

James: I don't own a GBA, and it doesn't bother me in the least.

Sean: And also, there's some serious wondering whether it's a different story at all. I've seen plenty of people thinking it's a remake of the original.

Brian: Is there any proof of that?

Sean: I can only think of one example where a continuous series has gone between consoles in a generation, unless you want to count Tales of Symphonia.

Sean: And, well, everyone bought Shenmue II on the Dreamcast anyhow...

Googleshng: Those who bought it at all that is.

Googleshng: Any final thoughts before we move along?

Sean: Well, to summarize: Mostly bad in theory, but never happens.

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