Flash Games Getting Stale?

by Tass on Dec.04, 2009, under armor games, Flash, Game, jmtb02, Joey Betz, kongregate, NinjaKiwi

So I was talking to Greg today (Kongregate’s Greg)… and it came up that there haven’t been many great games released recently. Laments were had about lack of sponsored games and lack of video views. Tears were shed (probably… Greg’s that kind of guy). He then asked me what the guys at Armor were working on, and the list of stuff I gave him surprised me when I looked at it.

Armor has 5 full-time flash developers. This is what they’re working on:
Tony: Shift 5 & a spoof TD game based around his spoof RPG game
Con: The Last Stand: Union City
Krin: nothing official, but his forum’s moderator posted that he’s working on a Sinjid sequel
John: FlipSide, a mini-game compilation akin to FSF meets Simon Says… I have a feeling the title will be changed before release… I haven’t played it, but from my understanding of the game, the title doesn’t seem to fit that well.
Joey: that phuzzle that I mentioned in an earlier blog, plus he mentioned some sequels in an ArmorBlog interview.

Now, what does this all have in common? Not a single original idea in the lot… every single one is a sequel (I’m stretching a bit on John’s game, but go with it). This seems to be a big trend in flash games recently… very few new ideas, lots and lots of sequels / title re-works. BTD4, BTTD, CycloManiacs 2, Perfect Balance 2, Epic Quest, etc etc. I could give a very long list.

There’s nothing wrong with sequels. It’s far easier to come up with 1 great idea and then capitalize on the success of that game by releasing sequels. But you can only rest on your laurels for so long… it’d be nice to throw some new concepts in now and again. Console games have been doing it for years. My fear is that this is some sort of early warning bells for the start of the industry’s decline. I’m likely being paranoid, and this just happens to be a lull time, but I’m mostly dependant on ad revenue from video views to live… so forgive me my paranoia.

What are your thoughts on flash game sequels? Are you happy to see a 5th SHIFT game or 4th Bloons TD game? Where would you like to see these top developers spending their time? I’m a bit torn on it myself. This is something I’ve told more than one developer: Sequels have name recognition. That can be a good or bad thing (or both to different people). People KNOW what Sonny is; they aren’t going to play Sonny 3 if they didn’t like Sonny 1/2… even if Sonny 3 is 100x better. So you’re immediately alienating part of your potential player base. But, there is the other half… those who will immediately play it because they recognize it and like it, and portals that will host it for the same reason. With a non-sequel, players have no bias… they see a name, a picture, and a rating and decide if they want to try the game out or not. There are obvious pros and cons to both, depending.

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9 Comments for this entry

  • Chris

    To be perfectly honest, if I liked the game originally (such as SHIFT), I am pleased when the sequels arrive.

    Also, i disagree on your point that if you didnt like the original you wont play the sequel. I will. Not sure if it is just me but I will always play a sequel of a game even if i didnt like it first time round, to see what has been added and whether that makes it a good game this time round!

  • gamedumper

    Hmmm. Quite an interesting debate. If one looks at the console/pc market – the same trend abounds. Sequel after sequel. That market set the trend – and currently there seems to be no end in sight. Perhaps I am over optimistic…..I don’t know.

    I will agree with the point that many players who did not enjoy a 1 or 2 won’t play a 3. I did not enjoy Sonny very much and did not play the sequel….nor would I play subsequent sequels unless I happened upon a glowing review and word it had totally changed.

    Is the market getting stale – not sure because I am obsessively swallowed by a particular game right now and have no idea what has come out in the last couple weeks. Prior to that – I would agree. Not much ceiling busting innovation. That said – it is a huge investment to make any game as polished and inviting as those mentioned – Shift/Bloons/Sonny(even though I am not a fan)/Etc…. Revenues what they are today….perhaps I can understand. Play it safe or go all in….I don’t know about you, but I have to pay the electric bill….safe or not.

  • Ellis

    “New people breed new ideas”. There were no specifics stating that developers were in an idea funk, but it seems to me that developers are just out of ideas for new games. Add/recruit/hire fresh faces to the developing team and they bring new games with them.

  • Steve G

    As has been said, this is most certainly not a new phenomenon.. We had it as far back as I can remember playing games on old 8088 machines. King’s (Hero’s) Quest 1 thru 7, Ultima Infinity, etc etc etc.. It takes a new group to come up with new ideas, its just the nature of gaming. Even when ID invented a whole new genre of games with Doom, they never did anything other than sequels with Quake, and so on..

    Personally, I like sequels.. The learning curve is drastically reduced, and as I get older that is a very good thing.. And when I see a developer I like, or a title I like, I’m sure I will be playing the sequel.

  • Tass

    Doom and Quake is an interesting point. Extremely similar gameplay, yet different names. Is a sequel by any other name still the same? At least by varying names, it attempts to give an aura of newness. And they were able to say they went 10 years between 2 and 3. But where is my Quake movie, damnit?

  • LongAnimals

    Sure, we have CycloManiacs2 in the works, as well as about 15 other new games.
    Given the amount of requests we have for sequels to some of our games it could be seen as ignoring our audience if we didn’t oblige. Its what a lot of people want, and have been bugging us about it for some time.

    I have to say though, that whining about sequels to games which you get to play FOR FREE comes across as being a little, well, childish.

  • Tass

    Dude, please… don’t take it personally when I lump one upcoming game of yours with a bunch of others. I also don’t think I was whining at all; this is my job… just posting up stuff that I think about.

  • Gext3r

    And a damn good job you do at it.

    Personally, just recently hearing a rumor of A Knights Story 2 coming up on Friday has me wondering if what you say is true.

    However, I guess in the end of the day, if it’s what the viewers want, and your still able to produce other great games that arn’t part of the series, than by all means! Sequal away!

  • Danny123456

    I agree, tasselfoot is just doing his job, but seriously, the truth is there are no good flash games at the moment, and kongregate didnt do anything for the christmas, or new year spirit, so yeah, it is a bit stale at the moment, and I dont think many people are kongregating.

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