Crysis 3 is going to be a really vital game for Crytek, and they know it. They also make graphic engines and they need to showcase that well by creating impressive games for other studios to license it, and considering how Epic Games have a strong grip in this area with their Unreal Engine 3 tech, it’s going to be a very hard task for Crytek to showcase CryEngine 3 effectively.
But they have a major problem on their hands… not a lot of people care about the Crysis franchise anymore. How did I come to that conclusion? It’s simple, isn’t it? Crysis 3’s meek reception, specifically to the new gameplay trailer doesn’t bode well for Crytek. How did it get to this stage in the first place?
Crysis was a crown jewel of PC gamers, and a game that raised the ceiling so high when it comes to sheer visual fidelity that it was a daunting task for any studio to meet or exceed it.
That all changed with Crysis 2, however, and the announcement that it was going to be on the consoles changed the perception of PC gamers -their core audience- towards the franchise forever.
It’s not like the PC gamers didn’t give them a chance, they did. But Crysis 2’s reception among critics and gamers left a lot to be desired. It has reached such precarious position that Crysis 3 has to prove a lot to win back the audience Crytek have lost.
So what really made Crysis great? Was it the visuals or the semi-sandbox world that allowed gamers to do whatever they wanted and tackle each mission in a way they desired? I think it’s both. The latter was missing in Crysis 2 and it was strictly a linear game, and the design decisions implemented by Crytek in the game left a sour taste in many people’s mouth.
For example, why didn’t the game launch with Direct X11 support out of the box? Was it developed for the consoles first and then the PC? If you remember, the ‘press start button’ prompt on the PC version infuriated many. I, and many others, strictly believe that the Crysis franchise is mostly associated with the PC and for good reasons.
I mean, Crytek can expand their audience all they want, but ignoring their core audience which was based on the PC — was the biggest mistake they did with Crysis 2. Isn’t 3 million sales enough? Why didn’t they respect the people that bought the original game in droves and gave them a true leap, and a worthy successor that they so desired?
There is nothing wrong in putting their game on various platforms, but treating the PC version as a second-class citizen was ultimately a very bad move by Crytek. Let me get this straight, Crysis prompted a lot of people to upgrade their systems.
It gave a reason for people to upgrade, and hence, indirectly increasing the sales and popularity of the game too. Sure, it got pirated, but when they announced that it sold 3 million on the PC, I don’t think there’s any point in blaming piracy.
Now, I don’t know how much Crysis 2 sold. Recent reports from EA are that it shipped 3 million, which is great. It may have done a lot on the Xbox 360, considering the exclusive beta and what not, and considering the fact that the Crysis 3 gameplay trailer consists of choicest quotes from Xbox magazines, it looks like they are, again, targeting the same audience.
Crytek is not only a game developer, but they also create engines for other studios, so I can see why consoles are vital for them, but that doesn’t mean they have a reason to ignore the PC version like they did.
I loved Crysis 2, I’ll admit that. I felt the visuals were spectacular, especially the lighting and getting it running on consoles was a tremendous achievement only few developers can achieve. The fault here is the downgraded gameplay resulting from the smaller level sizes, and we all know why that happened.
Inspite of being impressive visually, the downgraded gameplay meant that Crysis 2 was just another generic shooter, and when you look at the original game and Crysis: Warhead, I can imagine why it is a huge disappointment to many.
The muted reactions to Crysis 3’s gameplay trailer which shows nothing new (well, a little bit), should be taken seriously by Crytek, and they should release a proper trailer or a gameplay video showing the game’s scope and informing gamers that, “Hey guys, Crysis 3 is indeed different and we’re going to show you things that you have come to know and love from this franchise”.
This is vital and just because you give a bow to the main protagonist doesn’t make him cool, and they can’t possibly expect to grab people’s attention this way.
Crysis is known for its visuals and gameplay (yes), and while they have a firm grip on the former, they need to convince gamers that the they have done a lot of improvements to the gameplay mechanics and that the fans of the original Crysis have a lot to look forward to.
When the game comes out in 2013, the hype for Sony and MS’s next-gen consoles will be through the roof (after all the tech demos), and Crysis 3 simply can’t impress anybody unless they give the PC version the respect and attention it deserves.
They will also be unable to make other studios adopt the CryEngine 3 en masse, unless it can match the new Unreal Engine in cost and features. Believe it or not, Crytek is headed for irrelevancy and they don’t have much time to change it around…
…but they can and hopefully should, as they’re one of the best developers the gaming industry has ever seen.
Catch the author on Twitter: @meisadragon.