How Many First-Person-Shooters?

2016 has been great for gaming so far, with a solid list of quality games available for every console across a variety of different genres. Towards the end of the year, however, gaming becomes hunting season with all the different shooters seeing release. New Call of Duty? Check. New Battlefield? Check. Titanfall 2? Check. Dozens of more shooting games? Check. 2016 is quickly becoming the year of the first-person-shooter (FPS), and I’m here trying to figure out if this is a good thing or not.

So far this year we have seen the high-profile releases of Battleborn, DOOM, Homefront: The Revolution and Overwatch. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and No Man’s Sky are both just around the corner, with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 following over the next few months. Even Nintendo is getting in on the act with the (controversial) Metroid Prime: Federation Force releasing shortly. Why are there so many FPSs being released this year? Why do people still care?

call of duty infinite warfareThe answer to the first question is simple enough. So many FPSs are seeing release because they are still in vogue. Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are still hot-ticket items and to answer the second question, they are popular because they are fun. You’d think, however, that years of sustained FPS abuse would see the genre die down a little, people would move on to other things. After flirting with third-person-action games like Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed, people seem to have turned their attentions back onto the shooter.

The FPS is simple, fun and doesn’t require much thought. Playing an online shooter is much like playing a sports game. You don’t have to think about the game, you just stick the disc in and kill people for a while. It’s a genre that’s able to hold onto people’s interest for a long time because of its simplicity, I know that after a long day I don’t feel like thinking about anything, killing other people online is a retreat I’ve taken more than a few times.

Surely the number of FPSs this year is overkill though? Most people will have to miss out on a lot of the shooters, instead cherry-picking their preferred choice. I can see a situation developing where all of the game’s sales suffer, because they’re all competing with one another. Call of Duty and Battlefield will perform perfectly well, but I think it wouldn’t hurt for games like Titanfall 2 to see a small delay, launching early next year rather than during the oversaturated Christmas market. As it stands, each game is pitting their worth against the other. Competition is fine, but it strikes me as genre cannibalisation, they’ll eat into each others sales.

titanfall-2The high number of shooters will damage other games too. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 will all come with huge advertising campaigns as each publisher vies for your attention (and money). It will be interesting to see which game comes out of this the victor, but my money’s going on Call of Duty, because despite its overwhelmingly negative initial reactions, people have warmed to the game. As a bonus, pay enough and it comes with a remaster of Modern Warfare.

Other games will be left in their collective dust, as millions flock to the shooty-shooty bang-bang game of their choice. The multi-million dollar advertising budgets of companies like Activision and EA is nothing to be messed with. I’d argue it’s worth it to just ignore it, either releasing your game in the wake of a shooting storm and hope for longevity sales based on the quality of your game, or take the hit and wait until after the Christmas period to release your title. Either way, the shooting games will end up on top. Good luck The Last Guardian, because you’re going to need it.

battlefield 1Love them or hate them, the shooting genre is here to stay, as the number of releases this year would suggest. Who knows though? Something completely unexpected could happen, and they all fall flat on their face, thanks to the sheer number of them going at each other.

Personally, I enjoy a good shooter, so the more the merrier. I will have to choose carefully though, as I can’t afford more than one of them really. Competition should improve quality as well. Each game will be trying to outdo the other, better graphics, more online modes, fancier set-pieces, etc… I’m interested to see how each game performs, and will be eagerly awaiting the sales reports come January. In the meantime, I’ll probably be playing an FPS.

Toby Saunders is sometimes opinionated. You’ll find him posting garbage about games, films and his beloved Spurs and Bath City FC on Twitter.