Follow TV Tropes


Genre Killer / Video Games

Go To

  • The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 is called that for a reason: Caused chiefly by an overabundance of competitors in a fledgling market and competition from superior micro-computers,note  it killed the home console market in the United States for about two years. Perhaps more importantly, it effectively wiped out North American game/console development, to the point where it took over two decades to fully regain the ground that had been lost to Japanese competitors. There wasn't a successful game console from an American company between the Atari 2600, which died around 1983, and the Microsoft Xbox, released in November of 2001, eighteen years later. That's how badly it crashed.
  • Advertisement:
  • After the roaring success of Super Mario 64 in 1996, the platformer genre tried hard to play follow-up and suddenly almost every platformer coming out had to be a collect-a-thon. Despite the trend resulting in some classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon, the genre quickly wore out its welcome on one simple fact—all of the imitators only copied the collection aspects of Mario 64 as opposed to the expressiveness of Mario's versatile moveset, which could be utilized whenever the player wanted, but more importantly were never truly required to complete puzzles. But the straw that broke the camel's back is generally considered to be Rare's Donkey Kong 64, which took the collect-a-thon formula and cranked it Up to Eleven with not only 200 Golden Bananas to collect, but hours upon hours of backtracking to collect more items, including five separate sets of 100 regular bananas for each of the playable characters, and separate sets of coins to purchase ridiculously-specific moves often only usable for a single puzzle. Despite being a smash hit in sales and very well-received overall, it managed to turn most people off of the already oversaturated genre. Many of the subgenre's pioneers proceeded to abandon it: the Spyro series eventually abandoned the collect-a-thon format in The Legend of Spyro and Skylanders revivals. Jak & Daxter started off in this formula, but quickly turned into a third person shooter/platformer with little to no collecting from Jak II: Renegade and on. And finally, the Mario series gradually phased out the exploration in favor of more linear designs and fully embraced the formula of the 2D games with 3D Land and 3D World. To date, the only holdouts of the Collect-A-Thon are Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time, which are both deliberate homages to those kind of platformersnote . Eventually, Super Mario Odyssey had Mario revisit the exploration of 64 to wide acclaim and sales, while also taking steps to modernize the experience with several new gimmicks and quality-of-life features to make it more compelling. Only time will tell if other 3D platformers will follow its example.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Anthropomorphic Mascot with Attitude platformers that sprang up in the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog started petering out after Bubsy and the Battletoads dipped their toes into the world of multimedia franchising and saw incredibly disastrous results. When Bubsy subsequently crashed into the Polygon Ceiling with the infamous Bubsy 3D, the resulting backlash more or less exterminated every radical mascot that was not the Trope Namer himselfnote . Thankfully, the general acclaim and quality of throwback platformers in the same vein like Freedom Planet and Spark the Electric Jester could hopefully spark the return of such "Sonic-lite" games.
  • FreeSpace 2 destroyed the space shooter genre born of Elite and popularized by Wing Commander. It was not the fault of the game itself, which most critics consider the height of the genre and for which fans are still putting out new content both graphical and gameplay,note  but rather, how poorly it performed commercially: its initial sales were so bad that the genre was assumed dead and further development was halted, which most attributed to Interplay's (lack of) marketing. Attempts were still made to revive the genre, such as 2000's Tachyon: The Fringe having Bruce Campbell for its main character and gameplay additions like lateral thrusters, which was also featured in 2001's Independence War 2, as well as games considered staples of the genre like Freelancer, the X-Series, or Oolite (in and of itself a Fan Remake of Elite), but for a long while the genre was never able to reach the levels of popularity it had seen while Elite or Wing Commander were still going strong.
    • Thankfully, the advent of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites has seemingly restarted the genre, with games like Chris Roberts' Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and other games like Strike Suit Zero leading the charge.
  • The unfortunate retail failure of Unreal Tournament III, backed up by many freeware first-person shooters, has led to the end of commercially released fast-paced deathmatch-centric shooters as the Unreal and Quake series, in place of team-based and/or "tactical" shooters like Call of Duty/Modern Warfare, the Battlefield series, and Left 4 Dead. Team Fortress 2 is one of the few "Quake-like" games released in recent years, and while it is still being supported and heavily-played, it was actually first released in 2007; most everything else in its vein that has come out since UT3 has been free-to-play (TF2 three years after its initial release, Unreal Tournament 4, Quake Champions) or an update on a classic game (Quake Live), alongside the rare nostalgic throwback (Strafe, DUSK). Not too surprisingly, publisher Midway Games, who had been marred with financial trouble for years and had hoped Unreal Tournament III would revitalize their fortunes, declared bankruptcy just a year-and-a-half later. The aforementioned UT4 could have restarted the genre, but then Epic Games made a little game called Fortnite and UT4 was left in the dust.
    • It could also be said for true tactical shooters in the vein of the older Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games, the ones with planning and stealth as major elements where the slightest muckup led to the death of your squad, due to the line being blurred between the aforementioned team-based shooters and the "true" tactical ones taking on more actionized elements. Attempts to bring the genre back have had limited success at best, with only an actual Rainbow Six game in the vein of its predecessors, Siege, being particularly well-received (and even then it plays more like Counter-Strike as a Hero Shooter); other attempts marketed as being in the spirit of those games, like Takedown: Red Sabre, have met with near-universal negative reactions, mostly due to bad gameplay and little polish. ''ARMA seems to be an exception, although the playerbase is comparatively niche.
    • The only high-profile exception seems to be the Halo franchise which, while taking a few elements from Call of Duty, continues to be faithful to its roots. And even then, it's not completely immune when putting its online statistics next to those of its immediate predecessors.
  • The insane amount of Capcom Sequel Stagnation for the Guitar Hero franchise did this to the Rhythm Game genre in North America and Europe. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and Rock Band 3, released in late 2010, sold less than 1.5 million units combined, and the competition (Power Gig, et al.) outright bombed. While these are respectable figures given that both games come with expensive peripherals, compare this to Guitar Hero III (15 million units sold) and the original Rock Band (6 million), both released in 2007, and you can start to see how oversaturation of the market (a possible reason why Harmonix decided to focus more on DLC than new titles every now and then, unlike Activision) has destroyed the genre's profitability. Following the commercial disappointments of the latest installments, MTV sold Rock Band developer Harmonix for 50 dollars and Activision briefly pulled the plug on future Guitar Hero games, and other developers, having bled money from their endeavors, have gotten out of the market. Due to its different audience and "real guitar" street cred, Rocksmith seems to be the last man standing. It took five years after their "final" release (or two, considering that Rock Band DLC had still gone on until 2013) for the two main competitors to come back to the market for the eighth generation, via Rock Band 4 & Guitar Hero Live, the latter of which completely overhauled its guitar controller and outright abandoned the bass guitar & drums. Lukewarm sales, however, suggest that even for the creative strides these games took to distance themselves from their predecessors, it's still for nothing. Activision disliked how the new Hero game did on the market to the point that they sold the studio that developed the game to Ubisoft, the publisher of the aforementioned Rocksmith. Talk about ironic.
    • Dance-based Rhythm Games still hold popularity however. The Just Dance series may have been instrumental in killing off the once mighty Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. They were a less-expensive alternative, since they didn't require extra peripherals to play (unless you count the non Wii/Wii U/Switch versions which require a motion control sensor or a companion smartphone app, but it's still cheaper). Also, its casual appeal due to its use of both modern and classic pop songs, not just strictly rock, was part of the why it largely supplanted Guitar Hero and Rock Band as the go-to game for parties.
  • The 4X Real-Time Strategy subgenre was killed off when Empire Earth screwed up with its third installment and Age of Empires went bust with Ensemble closing down. Note that Ensemble going bust was Executive Meddling by Microsoft, who shut them down after they cranked out nothing but successful games.
    • Sins of a Solar Empire revived the genre a bit, but it's one of the few notable releases and it came out in 2008.
  • The Tycoon genre died when RollerCoaster Tycoon title owner Frontier Developments was sued by Chris Sawyer, coupled off with many other famous companies which made such games going bust.
  • The execrable World War II FPS Hour of Victory seems to have killed off WWII shooters, with the only noticeably successful ones since Call of Duty: World at War coming out nearly a full decade afterward, like Day of Infamy and the free-to-play Heroes And Generals. However, it should be noted that the market had been absolutely saturated with WWII shooters for about a decade by then and the major franchises had shifted to a modern setting (World at War was itself the final WWII-based Call of Duty game at the time, made mostly as a fall-back because Activision was convinced the modern-day jump wouldn't stick, and ending up only really noticed because of the Zombies mode that would become iconic to the franchise). Also, most of the damage was focused on games that follow the historical battles of the war; Alternate History-type games with plots that haven't been seen (or, for that matter, read about in your history class) a million times before, like Sniper Elite and Wolfenstein, have still been going strong (the former helping itself by jumping on the zombies bandwagon).
  • Call of Duty can itself also be linked to the death of WWII shooters and the shift to modern/near-future settings, due to the extreme popularity of the Modern Warfare sub-series - nearly every shooter released since Call of Duty 4 has been, in effect, a Call of Duty 4 clone. And now even the Modern Warfare style MMSnote  craze seem to be dying down and moving towards 'near future'/sci-fi territory with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Titanfall. Arguably, the combination of Medal of Honor Warfighter's failure, rising sentiment against the US military's involvement in the Middle East, deconstruction games such as Spec Ops: The Line (wherever or not they were actually successfull at decontructing them), and a backlash from gamers towards obviously-derivative modern day shooters, has led to this shift in subject. And now the near-future movement of games are gaining some serious backlash with Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare, leading to the entry after that returning to World War II. Which, to put it lightly, didn't really change that much in the long run.
  • The Point-and-Click genre in its inventory management form was practically killed off by the success of Myst, and was only recently revived via digital distribution as well as the serial format. The failure of the critically praised Grim Fandango in 1998 was seen as the final nail on the coffin for the genre, even though Escape from Monkey Island was released two years later – albeit with considerably less acclaim than prior Monkey Island games.
    • An alternative theory as to what killed point-and-click adventure games is presented by this article on Old Man Murray - they filled themselves with so many contrived and illogical puzzles that no rational human being could conceive the answer to on their own that they effectively committed suicide by driving away their own playerbase.
    • Ben Croshaw postulated that the adventure game genre was killed by advancements in technology. The inventory-management puzzle was a simple vehicle to drive gameplay and lengthen content that didn't consume much in the way of processing power, which made it easy for games like King's Quest or Monkey Island to squeeze in high-quality visuals and storytelling for their time. This was especially notable when many adventure games were computer-based, which gave them a niche over consoles. When technology evolved to the point that games could fit both decent gameplay and decent visuals and story, and computers developed other dedicated genres like Real-Time Strategy and the First-Person Shooter, adventure games suffered badly by comparison.
    • Telltale Games reinvigorated the genre with episodic decision-and-story-focused adventure games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, though at the cost of decreased production on traditional moon-logic style adventure games like Sam and Max. Which was fine, until they went so far with it that they oversauturated and ultimately killed the genre (and themselves) a second time in 2018.
  • Resident Evil 4, while highly successful and acclaimed both in its time and now, has been blamed for killing, or at least hastening the demise of, the Survival Horror genre in the '00s. This is largely due to its status as the Franchise Original Sin for the Resident Evil series, introducing many shooter-esque gameplay elements that would take over later games in the series, which other survival horror series would copy until, by The New '10s, most "horror" games were basically action shooters with creepy-crawlies and gothic atmospheres. However, the seventh game as well as P.T. (albeit its full game being canned) and several indie productions (notably Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast) seem to be making a movement of harkening back to the genre's roots.
  • As mentioned in the trope description, Street Fighter II codified so many tropes that most people don't even realize how utterly it killed off any Fighting Game, especially 2D ones, that didn't largely adhere to themnote . Game mechanics we take for granted nowadays such as being able to attack before completing a walk cycle, having all of your basic moves available from the outset, lack of stage obstacles or crowd interference, or even just being able to jump high into the air, weren't always standard features of fighting games. Today, it's considered noteworthy if a fighting game breaks just two or three of the rules that SFII placed down, such as Bloodstorm, Divekick, and ARMS.
  • Traditional base-building Real-Time Strategy games were killed by a pair of independent factors:
    • The more immediate hit was the release of Relic's Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, which popularized RTS games with less focus on strategy, base-building, and long-term resource management and more on micro-management and unit survival (typically referred to as a "Real Time Tactics" game). This directly led to EA meddling in the development of Command & Conquer. Namely, they first mandated the creation of a Gaiden Game aimed at Asian markets and internet cafes in particular, in the RTT mold, then partway through said game's development, decided to make it the Grand Finale for the first and most iconic universe of Command & Conquer, one of the progenitors of the classic base-building RTS, rebranding the game Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, despite it being a Real Time Tactics game instead of a Real Time Strategy game. When this inevitably flopped, EA pulled the rug out from under the entire franchise's feet, claiming there was a "lack of interest in RTS games", thus removing one of the two main series from the competition. Meanwhile, Blizzard had left their own followup RTS after the well-recieved Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos sit on the backburner for over a decade, instead chasing its own much more successful MMO spinoff. With effectively no big-name triple-A titles and publicity, the entire genre sunk into relative obscurity, shrinking its market.
    • The other hit took longer for its effects to be noticeable, but did more permanent damage - and, ironically, it was the release of one of the most preeminent games in the genre, the aforementioned Warcraft III, which came with a robust map editor that lead to the invention of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. While early MOBA-like concepts appeared in the StarCraft custom map, "Aeon of Strife," Warcraft's addition of RPG Elements like hero XP and items codified the fledgling genre. Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars became so popular that it spawned an entire new genre emphasizing micromanaging and tactics. As a result, the traditional RTS largely evaporated; in The New '10s, with the end of both of the traditional RTS genre's progenitors (Command & Conquer only seeing one failed attempt at a new game after the aforementioned C&C4, Warcraft having long since shifted focus to the more popular and lucrative World of Warcraft) and the rise of Dota 2 (which was the most popular game on Steam for close to five years before a completely different game overtook it), the only traditional RTS releases of note have been HD remakes of StarCraft, the first two Age of Empires games (the second of which has found itself capable of adapting and even thriving in the genre's new micromanagement direction) and Halo Wars, retraux games in the style of classic 90s C&C games, and the three parts of StarCraft II.
  • The day that Rise of the Robots was released is often cited as the moment when British gaming journalism died out. It was difficult before due to the massive oversaturation of video game magazines, which meant that they were all about hyping up the public for whatever game that would hit the store shelves, even if it was pretty bad, so that they could get review copies before anyone else. When a game that was outright horrible, led by the major gaming studio Time Warner Interactive, hit the store shelves, all British magazines that could make a review the day it came out were giving it high scores (Computer and Video Games rated it even as high as 92%) to be able to review the game before any other magazine across the country could get their hands on it, resulting in the game selling massive amounts of copies due to critics being unable to say anything even remotely negative about the game as that would mean that they would receive their review copies at a later date (Amiga Power, who gave the game a 5%, only got the game days after its release, and didn't get a review out until two months later in the January '95 issue). After most readers realized that most magazines they were reading were saying that they should buy horrible products, you can expect that most readers stopped caring about what they had to say, resulting in the demise of many of them.
  • Pokémon, for various reasons, has dominated the Mon genre so strongly it has made it very difficult for any other works in the genre to achieve mainstream popularity or sometimes even get made at all. Some, such as Digimon, are even assumed to be copying Pokémon by the mere name due to the public's lack of awareness that it's a genre that existed before Pokémon, not something pioneered by it.
    • Averted with Yo-Kai Watch, which has quickly become a massive competitor to the Pokémon games, both of them leading weekly sales charts for months after they come out and has created a comparably large multimedia and merchandising empire — in Japan. Outside of Japan, however, this is closer to a straight example where, while managing to avoid accusations and the resulting stigma of being a Pokémon ripoff, Yo-Kai Watch has failed to gain any popularity above a Cult Classic, especially in North America.
    • The only other gaming aversion would be the Shin Megami Tensei series and most of its spinoffs, which predated Pokémon and is considered the first successful franchise to use Mons, even if it looks like a deconstruction compared to Pokémon. Outside of Pokémon, Yo-kai Watch, and Shin Megami Tensei, video game Mons series are few and far between and not known by most.
  • The arcade racing genre suffered a decline in popularity and variety during the seventh generation of consoles, thanks to the commercial failures of Blur and Split Second (both of which lead to the dissolution of their studios) as the industry shifted towards realism and how many licenses they could get, which led to the dominance of Forza and Gran Turismo as the go-to racing games. In the eighth generation, only the fan favorite Mario Kart and Need for Speed series remain active.
  • The Kinect is widely seen as having killed motion controls for mainstream use, thanks to the glut of shovelware, technical issues, and games that barely worked plaguing the peripheral from its debut onward. At the time of the Nintendo Wii's launch, motion controls were seen as the future, and both Sony and Microsoft moved to quickly copy the idea with the Kinect and the PlayStation Move. Afterward, however, as people became aware of the technology's limitations and all three consoles' motion control peripherals became infamous for large amounts of shovelware, the phrase became something of a curseword, with both Nintendo and Sony heavily downplaying motion-control capabilities in the eighth generation (both of them kept a motion sensor within their respective controllers, but Nintendo instead focused more on an evolution of the Nintendo DS' touchscreen for the Wii U, while Sony essentially abandoned the PlayStation Move in the upgrade to the PlayStation 4). It may have even contributed to the Wii U's failure, as "Wii" was still associated with the concept Microsoft botched badly enough to discredit. The final nail in the coffin was Microsoft - whose fanbase had overall been the loudest in trashing motion controls - seeing their place at the top from the seventh generation very quickly slip after releasing an initial version of the Xbox One that couldn't be bought without a Kinect, resulting in the console being more expensive than the PS4 despite being slightly less powerful (and displaying a very take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards consumers' criticism of this), and then seeing their fortunes immediately reverse upon deciding to release a cheaper version of the console without the Kinect only six months later. That said, motion controls seem to have found a niche with virtual-reality games, which is the only place where they're still considered the way to play, enough so that Sony has started acknowledging the PlayStation Move peripherals again solely for use as PSVR controllers. Nintendo meanwhile has still kept motion controls for their subsequent consoles (Nintendo 3DS, WiiU, and especially the Nintendo Switch), albeit heavily downplayed (the WiiU and Switch controllers have a more traditional layout, and several games on either console do not require use of motion controls, with the only major titles primarily using motion controls being ARMS, Mario Tennis Aces, party games such as 1-2-Switch and Super Mario Party, and Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, a Gaiden Game intended as a holdover for Pokémon Sword and Shield and a gateway to the core series for Pokémon GO players) and not advancing any further than what the Wii introduced.
  • The PlayStation 3 and its Cell Processor marked the end of the road for video game consoles with highly customized and bespoke hardware. Sony spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the chip, eating through a good chunk of the sizable profits from the first two PlayStations, only to have the PS3 bomb upon release thanks to its custom hardware giving it a high price and making it difficult for developers to maximize the console's performance. While Sony managed to turn the PS3 around thanks to price drops, better marketing, and high quality exclusive games, they learned their lesson with the PlayStation 4, which uses a highly standard x86 CPU and AMD GPU, put together with a "streamlined PC architecture". The Xbox One used a similar design, and after the Wii U, which had a similarly bespoke processor to the PS3, bombed, Nintendo released the Nintendo Switch, which is powered by an off-the-shelf nVidia Tegra chip built around similar technology to smartphones, and the console, despite being underpowered relative to its peers, has sold more than well enough to finally bring an end to big-name third-party companies avoiding Nintendo consoles.
  • Dark Souls created what many consider a genre in and of itself called "Souls-like", that focused around challenging enemies with a slightly more sluggish control system designed to provide players with a challenging but rewarding setting filled with mystery and intrigue that required the player to piece together the lore and interpret it. Unfortunately, the "Souls-like" genre effectively killed itself because many games that tried to appeal to the "Souls-like" gameplay and setting failed to understand what made fans like the game, resulting in many game properties coming out that tried to Follow the Leader, and failing to leave a mark; whereas the Souls games are hard but fair if you know what you're doing and with plots that are dark but still interesting, most of its attempted competition simply comes off as unfairly difficult and hopelessly bleak for no real reason. Even the Dark Souls series itself suffered this, with its two sequels being more polarizing and the second game being put through a Troubled Production as a result of trying to outdo the first game. This was also coupled with Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki being open about his desire to abandon the Souls formula and do something new, a promise he fulfilled with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Not counting Bloodborne (itself also made by From), the only major game to succeed using this gameplay style was Nioh, which did so by basically reinventing the style into another setting all its own.
  • In addition to its effects on any continuance of its RTS predecessors, World of Warcraft destroyed the modern market for MMORPGs. The success and long-lasting nature of the game meant that almost every MMO that came out after directly aimed to be a "WoW Killer" - many trying to copy it outright, at that, and not making enough attempt to differentiate itself from WoW (there's only so many times you can do a fantasy setting with a war between humans and orcs before it becomes stale) - and, not understanding the kind of commitment needed to match a game that's lasted that long (MMOs thrive on community and volume of content, both of which favor the older and more entrenched game) and generated that much money, ended up destroying itself in the process. Very few MMOs, especially subscription-based ones, have managed to last in this era, with many either closing down only a few years later, or existing in dumbed-down and/or free-to-play states to attract a small audience and make some of their losses back. The only big subscription-based game to truly last as a rival to World of Warcraft is Final Fantasy XIV, which itself had a host of problems at the beginning due to an attempt to compete with WoW causing its release to be rushed, and has only stayed as strong as it has due to a combination of its name-brand recognition letting it last long enough to begin extensive work on fixing its problems, rather than immediately cutting its losses and running.
  • The failure of Planet Puzzle League not only killed its own series, it took the entire concept of puzzle games on mainstream consoles down with it. Ever since it came out in 2007, most puzzle games outside of mobile releases have been smaller-budget downloadable or indie titles, with the few holdouts being long-running, widely recognized juggernauts that can sell on name power alone, such as Tetris or Puyo Puyo. Even Dr. Mario and Yoshi's Cookie, which are connected to a hugely popular and spinoff-genic series and would have no trouble selling based on that alone, have gone largely silent since Planet's release, with only a few downloadable Dr. Mario titles being put out every now and then (and usually with minimal promotion). Nintendo attempted to give it another go in 2018 with Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido, but it released to critical indifference and poor sales, ultimately failing to revitalize mainstream interest in original, high-budget console puzzlers.
  • Gamespy, a consolidated master server hub for online gaming, was killed by Steam (where the master server hub is often internally called Steamworks), which not only required just a single client for both running the game and connecting it to multiplayer instead of multiple game- and purpose-specific clients, but also integrated several other features that had become standard on then-current consoles like an online store, player profiles and friends lists, and achievements. Notably, most games which used Gamespy that were sold through Steam and still widely played were updated after Gamespy's demise in 2014 - even if they hadn't received updates in over a decade by then - just to move their multiplayer servers over to work through Steam so people could keep playing them.
    • This had the knock on effect of killing Nintendo Wii and DS multiplayer.

Example of: