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With the video game industry now grossing more than the movie industry for the first time ever, it’s time for some much-needed respect for gamers around the world. Just look at the numbers: $10 billion in video games sales versus $9 billion in movie tickets for 2003. By 2008, the video game industry is expected to hit a whopping $55 billion.
With all this money flying around, a typical video game production and marketing budget is now on the scale of a full-length movie. Trailers for TV commercials, or even before movies, are now commonplace for those big video game titles. The hype surrounding many of the big upcoming hits like Halo 2, GTA: San Andreas, and Half-life 2 have driven pre-order sales through the rough. For Halo 2 alone, slated for a November 2004 release, 1.5 million pre-order units have already been secured. It’s estimated that Halo 2 will break the magical $100 million mark on opening day, making it the biggest opening of anything (movies, books, games) in America, EVER.
Now that the current game library for all three major systems is in the thousands, there are a considerable number of different genres to choose from. Gone are the days of the side-scrolling adventure (ala Mario Brothers) and the time is nigh for new genres to dominate the gaming scene.
Over the last 10 years, the gaming industry has seen a number of genre-breaking games that mix a variety of different themes into one complete package. The popularity of the Half-Life series on PC is one example of that. On console, the Grand Theft Auto series has destroyed all concepts of what an open-ended design should be like.
There are so many different genres and mixes of genres that it’s difficult to put each game into a specific category. In the following sections we’ll cover the basic genres that differentiate between games.
The First-Person Shooter (FPS) and Action genre of games is currently the most popular. Games like Half-Life 2, DOOM 3, Halo 2, Medal of Honor, and Call of Duty are the most popular games in the FPS category. For Action, innovative titles like the GTA series, Max Payne, and BloodRayne are huge successes.
The Role-Playing Game (RPG) has remained strong throughout the entire history of console and PC gaming. Current hits like Fable, Final Fantasy, Knights of the Old Republic, and X-Men Legends are all based on RPG roots. The recent development of MMORPGS (massively multiplayer online RPGs) have been made possible by widespread broadband access, allowing gamers to play with thousands of people across the world in a ’persistent’ virtual world.
Adventure and Puzzle games remain strong despite being limited in scope and technology. The new concept of ’party’ games has recently injected new life into this genre. Titles like Myst 4 and Wario-Ware are familiar names.
Sports games are an increasingly popular portion of the gaming industry. Franchise titles from Electronic Arts (EA) have been making games licensed from the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB for over a decade. Another sector of the sports industry is the entire racing sub-genre. Huge hits like Burnout 3, Gran Tourismo, and Need for Speed have been turning many knuckles white.
The simulation category of games has enjoyed wild successes, including the best selling PC game of all time: The Sims & The Sims 2. The entire ’Sim’ series designed by Maxis is dominant in this genre. Jet fighter and flying sims are also important mainstays in simulation.
Strategy is a genre mainly restricted to PC. That’s because the mouse and keyboard are central to smooth playing. There are a few good strategy games for console, however. Big names in strategy include Warcraft III, Starcraft, Command and Conquer, and Warhammer 40,000.
Rounding out the categories that I’ll be covering is the Fighting genre. Developed from early monsters like Street Fighter II, fighting games have enjoyed a renaissance as they’ve received updates to fully 3-D characters and arenas. Big titles like Dead or Alive, Tekken, Soul Calibur, and WWE Smackdown are big favorites.
So what kind of genre player are you? Chances are if you’re a computer gamer that you prefer FPS, RPG, Simulation, and Strategy games. The console gamer typically enjoys Sports, Racing, Fighting, RPGs, and a few FPS titles. Of course, many people own both a console and a PC, thus marrying the best of both worlds.