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Solution to game industry's woes: New games, not sequels

Consumers have finally woken up and realized the game sequels just aren't enough to make pull out their wallets.

Electronic Arts posted a major loss on Thursday. According to the company, it realized a $310 million loss and will be forced to lay off 6 percent of its staff due to worsening financial conditions and bleak outlooks.

Of course, EA, as a public company, blames its results on economic factors and just about everything else, besides what it should really blame: itself. But the problem facing the video game industry isn't unique to EA. Each company in the market is facing the same problems, and they're all forced to blame it on ludicrous reasons.

But as anyone who follows the industry knows, the real reason behind poor performance is the general lack of innovation coming out of developer studios lately.

I don't think there's any debating the fact that innovation in the video game industry is practically nonexistent. Every time I turn around, there's another crappy first-person shooter hitting store shelves with the same basic mechanics and control scheme. Even better, there's always a new sports title out there to whet your appetite. But whatever you do, look past the same player models, and derivative gameplay, and look at the new enhancements made to this year's stadiums!

What a joke.

If EA and the rest of the video game developers that are struggling right now really want to turn things around, they need to stop making sequels and start making unique titles that people would rather play.

I know, I know: sequels are being developed because they're a "sure bet" and developers will turn a profit on major franchises with each iteration released. That may have been true a few years ago. But now, I think the public has finally woken up and realized that derivative gameplay and the same old junk isn't enough to make them want to spend money anymore.

Think of it this way: which company in the industry right now is performing exceptionally well? Nintendo. Is that just a coincidence? I think not.

Nintendo is performing so well because it offers gamers something unique. Instead of the same control scheme and the same basic gaming concepts, the Wii and DS allow you to experience video games in a totally different way. And although some of us were suspect of its ability to become a success, we all know now that innovation and being unique really does matter in today's environment.

Realizing that, why can't EA, Take-Two, and the rest of the major developers stop their practice of offering derivative titles and start releasing games that break the mold? Ostensibly, the suits in the corner offices are deciding that sequels are the key to their business, but I'm starting to think that it's time a developer gets back in the upper-echelon and makes some decisions that can have a major impact on the industry.

Unique gameplay is what the public is calling for. With each passing month, more people want a Wii and innovative titles. And in the process, the "copy cat" mentality that has permeated every area of the video game industry has felt the effect.

Enough with sequels. Bring on the fun.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed.