Baseball is boring. We have a new national pastime.
No other genre in the world of gaming is as maligned, or rabidly embraced, as the First Person Shooter (FPS). Regardless of where you stand on the matter, the sheer popularity of the genre cannot be denied. The combined Call of Duty franchise gross has outsold the top 10 grossing films in 2012. A record that previously belonged to James Cameron's Avatar. It still begs the question 'Why'? In a gaming industry saturated with every conceivable genre, sub-genre, and sub-sub-genre, why has the FPS maintained such a strangle-hold on the industry, for as long as it has? Look at the numbers for American pre-orders in 2012. The top three games are all FPS.
Why, depending on who you ask, has the FPS become the American gamer's new national pastime?
Why has the genre transcended every demographic—regardless of sex, age, console preference—and done so consistently for the better part of the last decade and a half?
Apparently we as a nation love to lock, load, and (digitally) blast fools to kingdom come.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II has shattered all previous release-day sales records by earning $500 million its first day, nearly doubling the $220 million Halo 4 pulled down its opening day.
Just re-read that last sentence and let those numbers sink in—half a billion dollars in 24 hours. This game is not a game. It's a phenomenon. Money could be the driving factor for saturating the market with as many shooters as we are currently drowning in, but if the player-consumer is the final arbiter of the industry, why hasn't our collective ADD forced us to move on to the next shiny bauble down the road?
Just re-read that last sentence and let those numbers sink in—half a billion dollars in 24 hours. This game is not a game. It's a phenomenon.
Look at any AAA (the industry designation for huge titles with massive budgets) video game release of the past few years. All of them have some sort of competitive online component, because players have demanded it. The FPS is largely responsible for this trend in gaming.
Now we could go on and on, spouting all sorts of college-professor-type insights, but what these numbers won't tell you is one simple truth. There are lots of different types of games to play, but they're something about an FPS. Proving that you're faster, more clever, and more skilled at running and gunning is just damn fun. There's something so simply and immediately gratifying about killing before being killed. Who hasn't wanted to be John McClane, Dirty Harry, or The Terminator at some point in their lives? Guiltlessly blasting away in a Zenlike trance of primal, bullet-riddled catharsis, these titles tap into something so basic in our monkey brains, it's no surprise that the FPS is at the top of the gaming food chain. Who can be mad at a baby-proof murder-simulator? Who doesn't need a safe place where your rage issues can be worked out, while at the same time improving your hand-eye coordination? What's not to like?