There was a time when I would note the shift in the role-playing genre; i.e., the death of turn-based and the fact that just about any RPG these days can be considered an "action/RPG." But I've just realized something…the RPG genre itself is dying.

Perhaps it's because so many action/adventure games hold role-playing elements and in general, the boundary lines between categories are becoming blurrier and less defined. Or maybe it's simply because the entire world has an ever-decreasing attention span. Then again, maybe it's just because the influx of casual gamers is essentially squeezing out any title that is – for the most part – reserved for the hardcore. It's probably a combination of all these things…but that doesn't make it any less true. I've been playing RPGs for a good 18 years and because I'm so busy with other things these days (like reviewing a ton of stuff, for instance), I didn't notice the fall of the RPG.

This year, for instance, it's all about Mass Effect 2 , Fable III and Fallout: New Vegas , as far as I can tell. I can't get into any of them (except for maybe Fable) because in all honesty, I have trouble defining the likes of ME and Fallout as RPGs. Final Fantasy XIII might be role-playing…hard to say, really. Beyond that, what? A bunch of handheld RPGs (I admit the genre seems to be thriving in the portable realm) and that's about it. Look at 5 years ago: in 2005, we got Dragon Quest VIII , Dungeon Siege II , Guild Wars , Jade Empire , Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II , Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga I and II , Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana , Champions: Return to Arms , X-Men: Legends , and more. And that's hardly the best year for RPGs; I just chose a 5-year span.

Is anyone going to make an RPG besides BioWare, Obsidian, Atlus Square-Enix and Nippon Ichi? The RPG-dedicated studios are going down and the really talented teams apparently don't want to have anything to do with the genre. I guess it's just because they don't sell well enough unless the name "Final Fantasy" is in the title. At this point, I dare say Dragon Age – and maybe Fable – are the only recognizable RPGs in my eyes. I can look at them and go, "yep, that's role-playing." But how much longer will I be able to do that? At this rate, we'll end up with maybe one or two RPGs in any given year and it's only a matter of time before the entire genre disappears…

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laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

"Perhaps it's because so many action/adventure games hold role-playing elements and in general, the boundary lines between categories are becoming blurrier and less defined."

Exactly the way I've seen this situation over the past year or so. I miss the good ol' fashioned rpgs that weren't as linear and featured vast world maps which you character (who was as big as the town you were traveling to) traversed. I even miss random encounters to a little.

I have no problem with real-time RPG's but I want both 🙁

booze925
booze925
10 years ago

its the age of the shooter. simple.

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

In the West.

Sadly it boils down to money since the two continents in the West are a bigger market.

Money killing art. Yup that's how it all begins

*cough* Hollywood *cough*

eLLeJuss
eLLeJuss
10 years ago

Not in Japan and other asian countries. They are still rich in RPG's. Only here in the west.

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

"its the age of the shooter"

Translation: it's the age of mediocrity.

The shooter fanatics who can't sit and think about their strategy for longer than a milisecond have finally managed to take over and ruin it for the rest of us.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Interesting editorial. To be honest, with the difficulty in classifying straight RPGs, it only makes sense that the genre would kill itself as a result of an identity crisis. I've heard people saying that the ME series is actually a TPS with RPG aspects tacked onto it. This I'm not sure of, but I would certainly class Fallout as an RPG, not because of the story, but because of the amount of micromanagement and the way you constantly need to be aware of whether you are using the right thing at the right time.

Just like Final Fantasy XIII. Sure, you're equipment doesn't matter so much, but if you select the wrong attack or Paradigm at the wrong time, you're deader than your average doornail. But yes, I think the genre is dying out because so many other genres use aspects of it, that it is now very much impure.

Then again, we must remember the maxim, 'everything old is new again'. It seems that in all mediums of entertainment there are phases when things just seem to fall off, and then resurge. Maybe this is just another one of those things. Right now, FPSes are surging, and sooner or later people will tire of that, and another genre will take its place. We must surely come back to the RPG at some point. Oh well, I'm hopeful, probably foolishly, but c'est la vie.
Peace.

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

Hey sorry I don't know what ME is, can you expand?

Also as far as I know we never didn't have shooters, and its not like they weren't popular. Heck I probably played more shooters in my earlier gaming years than my recent despite there being a bigger emphasis on them now; most likely to avoid boring myself with the over-saturation of the market.

That being said to say that RPG's would just die out is impossible for me to fathom. If anything I think we'll see just more integration with very few strict RPGs released each year. Either that or the term RPG will take on a much less strict definition if it hasn't already.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Eh…you don't always need to know what attack or skill you used in FFXIII during battle. In fact, I rarely even looked…which is why I have trouble calling it an RPG.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

ME is Mass Effect. You may be right for the shooters, but never before have they consistently been the best selling games available. That used to be a far larger range of games, while nowadays, the only real competition to CoD and Halo comes from GTA, and few others.

And yeah, I too believe that RPGs will, and indeed are already, losing the things that make them instantly identifiable from a crowd. Whether this will mean fewer true RPGs, or an influx of semi-RPGs, only the future will tell us.

EDIT: Yeah, well Ben, I think that I was pretty awful at the game. I swear I spent more than half my time with two medics on my team trying to stay alive.
Peace.


Last edited by Lawless SXE on 10/22/2010 9:54:50 PM

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

I actually paid close attention to what my characters were doing in FF13. As one example, I'd monitor when saboteur de-buffs and synergist effects would go into effect and then make paradigm switches based on that. This was likewise contributed to any of the other roles I had in the mix. My mind was actively calculating the best course of action. Honestly, having played FF7, FF8, and I'm on disc 3 of FF9 recently, of those games I've enjoyed FF13's combat system the most. My complaints against FF13 is more towards the very linearity of the game design. But even as it is, I thought FF13 fit the bill of a jRPG closer than any other kind of genre.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

While i can't vouch for ME, because i didn't play it, i did play ME2. And although i didn't play DA:Origins, i figured ME2 to be fairly analogous to Bioware. Am i mistaken?

I played it for the engaging story, wonderfully fleshed out universe (complete with history, culture, anachronisms, allusions, relatables); the characters, exploration and upgrades. And due to the insane amount of plot-hooks/decisions, it felt to me like a medley of Heavy Rain, Gears, and Ratchet.

I'm hardly an RPG aficiondo, but with FF7, ME2, DS, and VC, i think i'm no stranger to the genre.

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

Thanks for clarifying, and you bring about a good point. I'm pretty sure everyone knows how I feel towards GTAIV on this site by now (one last time just to clarify: grossly overrated) and for that to be another one of the top selling games annoys me as well. I guess it comes down to the fact that new gamers (for the most part) just play what others play. Thus simple games like these will prevail.

Come to think of it, as far as my experience this generation goes so far the five closest PS3 games I have to legit RPGs are
1. Eternal Sonata
2. Elder Scrolls Oblivion
3. Folklore (never did finish cause the tv at the time made it impossible to enjoy :/)
4. Valkyria Chronicles
5. Enchanted Arms

On an ironic side note I couldn't finish Enchanted Arms due to lack of interest in story and this was probably the closest to a legit turn-based rpg this generation.

What a shame 🙁

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Sensei Temjin, didja get the package today?

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Yes, indeed, Master Shams. Thank you.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Good to know, Laxpro. Two of those games (VC and Folklore) made it into my collection, last weekend. What did you think of DS (besides it being more along the lines of action/rpg)? The game held my curiosity because of it's reworking of traditional gaming conventions, and waiting what was around every corner, and every nuance and subtle feature.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Excellent. I'll be playing VC and inFamous (again, cuz i love it) to hold me over until Unleashed 2. Played the demo, and i'm impressed. Can't wait. Oh, and again, sorry for the wait.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Turn-based RPGs have pretty much gone the way of Shmups and beat'um ups. And while Fighters and hackn'slash have replaced beat'um ups, and FPS/TPS's have replaced Shmups for the most part, i guess RPG's have been assimilated and replaced by bunch of games…namely action-adventures, action/rpgs, open-world games, and the like.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Temjin,
I too paid close attention to what was going on on the game screen, and what each character was up to, but more often than not I would miss something that I shouldn't have and wind up with a dead character. All I can say is thank goodness for the way the Summons restore your team.

I should probably just say this, I'm not the biggest fan of RPGs. The only ones currently in my collection are VC, FFXIII, DS, Oblivion, Fallout 3, and FFX/X-2. I really do intend to expand on that list, but they just take so much time to really get into and complete that playing them exclusively means you've got little time to diversify.

I think that may be another reason for their scarcity. Because they can take such a long time to play, they sort of, squash out, other games, and reduce profits all around. So, developers create shorter games so that there is more incentive to buy them earlier. Maybe I'm just talking s**t here.
Peace.

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

@Shams, glad to hear that. I really have to pick folklore up again… the story was really intriguing from what I remember.

Anyway I really enjoyed DS a lot. It was an impulse purchase for me since I was in the mood of something with that atmosphere and I had heard good things about it. Needless to say as soon as I got it, I could not put it down. As far as an RPG goes yea it falls into the action rpg category.

IMO it was kind of an even split from each category. You had your RPG elements like the way you built your character, weapons & equips and the ability to upgrade them, standard HP and MP bar etc. It was also coupled nicely with the action which invoked a wide array of feelings ultimately leading down to just pure excitement.

Aside from that overall I thought the game was fun, novel, refreshing, and provided the feeling of freedom within its boundaries as well as a sense of accomplishment with every obstacle overcome. One of my favorite games of this generation!

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Well said, Laxpro. I'd say that would be a complete synopsis of DS's draw.

Bit of trivia: Did you know that the master-mind behind Folklore was none other than the creator of StreetFighter 2? Doesn't help it's case in this article, i know, but surprising info, nonetheless, isn't it?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

I'm not saying one doesn't watch buffs and what have you because I think we all did that.

My point is, I never really cared what sort of attack they were executing, or what sort of spell was cast. After doing Libra and setting it to Auto, the character would automatically choose the most effective attack and use it. Sure, you had to actually look for tough enemies but it was rare.

I didn't like the FFXIII combat system for a number of reasons. The animation required for the first Paradigm shift allowed enemies to continue to move while you were helpless (a definite flaw), you could never pause the battle and assign orders (the ONE thing I believe an RPG requires), and the Eidolons were borderline useless for too much of the game, in stark contrast to the Summons in other FFs.

FFXIII is a great game. But it's not a great FF.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Ben, I also think the whole picking spells thing got watered out in FFXIII. But, in its place is the paradigm system which helped add an active-time play dynamic that was rolled in with the staggering system. It was fun optimizing my party's abilities with various match-ups for specific purposes.

To me even though the game appeared to be moving in realtime, it still felt turn based as a player needed only worry about assigning commands before ATB cells were ready (sometimes in dire situations executing commands before all ATB bars were fully charged). Every so often it would've been nice to have the option to pause the battle to make a paradigm call or combat decision, but I'd say for the vast majority of the game that feature would've been hardly used by myself.

Also, the leveling of the characters and weapons were all still very RPG'centric.

I think FFXIII could've been a lot more if they simply didn't streamline the overall format of it's design.
There needed to be a lot more places like Vanelle's abandoned city. And maps that weren't so obviously linear in structure. Quite a few of those earlier locations could've been made into hallway racing tracks.

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

@lawless

actually in final fantasy 13, the equipment matters a whole damn lot, trust me. my entire team is maxed out and they are still getting effed up by enemies. i would farm to get the better equipment items but it just too much damn work especially after grinding for leveling up. i must've fought that damn giant turtle close to 200 times and i dont think i got more than 40 platinum ingots (item with highest sell value at 150000 i think).

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

If you say so, johnld. Just as far as I was concerned it didn't really help me. I was occasionally switching up what the characters had for the equip effects, such as prolonging the stagger, but I just didn't find that the attack and magic strength seemed to make a great deal of difference. Perhaps I just wasn't paying enough attention to that aspect of the game.
Peace.

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

@Johnld
If you got 40 ingots out of 200 adamantoise's, you're lucky. The drop rate is only 5%. Statistically, out of 200, you should only get 10.

@Lawless
Upgrades to weapons by one or two levels is insignificant, true, however, upgrades over a long period of time can make a massive difference. For example, with a Belladonna wand maxed out to whatever the max weapon is (can't remember what Vanille's best weapon's called), I can have her Death Spell (when she has necessary buffs and enemy has necessary debuffs) doing 999,999 damage every time. Before I leveled up her wand, she might have done 100,000 to 200,000.

Makes killing adamantoise's really easy. (Under 30 seconds for me)

Either way, I found it extremely simple to exploit the best status effects in this game. It wasn't so much strategy as much as it was manipulating the programming… the battle system in FFXIII was way too simplistic. The weapon upgrade system gives you the impression of complexity without actually having any.

FxTales
FxTales
10 years ago

I find it all surprising considering there's a huge fanbase for the genre.

frostface
frostface
10 years ago

It bloody well better not disappear. I'll go on a rampage and burn down real towns and villages and get into sword fights with unsuspecting, unarmed passers-by outside me gaff (house)!!!
I'll end up arrested but will be forced to call up my mage friend to bail me out with a violent display of fire and brimstone!
It's much safer that they keep making these games!

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

why not just have your thief friend with great sneaking and lock-picking capabilities sneak you out? You won't have to worry about a chase at that point!

That would be the best route to take unless of course your mage friend has enough potions and ethers for the escape and there is a town (with an inn) within a fairly close proximity which you can use to rest to restore your hp and mp.

frostface
frostface
10 years ago

Yes, you're certainly on the right track. I just have a thing for fire and brimstone. But a skilled rogue would be much better indeed!

SHADOW
SHADOW
10 years ago

I think the real issue is that in the hey day of the RPG (PS1 and early PS2 era) publishers could make back their money by releasing RPGs they know will appeal to a small niche of gamers. In today's world you can't release a game that people are going to be impressed by without a significantly higher investment for development costs. Thus RPGs need to appeal to larger audiences than they have in the past. That's why you see fewer actual RPG releases but a couple of Major Event-type RPG releases every year. Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout. This need to capture a larger audience is also what is leading developers to ditch classic RPG elements in favor of less strategy focused battle mechanics.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

You must've been between 3-5 when the hayday ps1 classics came out. Those games must seem ancient to you. I must've been 6-8 when i got my 2600 along with it's vaporware. Now THAT stuff felt archaic even when it was current.

SHADOW
SHADOW
10 years ago

I remember people owning PS1s when I was sevenish. I got my PS2 when I was 12ish. And with only a few exceptions (KoTOR, Zelda, Chrono Trigger) I didn't really play too many RPGs until this most recent generation.

SHADOW
SHADOW
10 years ago

Really down-voted for spelling out my personal history? (ie: ZERO editorialization). Make one comment someone doesn't like and they start sniping anything with my black and yellow avatar…

On Topic: This thing I mentioned about development costs sky rocketing on consoles can also help explain the shift to handhelds. It takes less financial risk to release a DS or PSP game so you don't need nearly as large an audience. Niche titles like classic-style RPGs can thrive.

D1g1tal5torm
D1g1tal5torm
10 years ago

It's the maturity (lack thereof) of the rpg'ers.

fstop
fstop
10 years ago

I couldn't agree more on this subject.
The casual gamers now rule the roost, which leaves the hardcore sitting on a few games that can be considered truly EPIC experiences graphically, emotionally as well as story and how interaction between gamer and characters are played out. The casual gamer cares less about these things yet they eat up games as if they'd cared since the beginning of gaming itself. The real problem lies with developers seeing this as a cash cow. RPG's take too much thinking to get into and most gamers now-a-days can't stand having to learn too much to play anything.
Sorry, I'm ranting.
Anyway, I fear I see the same trend Ben is seeing.

Slycly
Slycly
10 years ago

Seems to me that we got plenty of JRPGS all throughout last gen and when PS3 came out they just stopped even bothering to make any JRPGs on this gen of consoles. It wasn't even a gradual decline it was a sudden drop. They continued to make RPGs on handhelds though. Maybe they think everyone who owns a HD consoles just like shooters so they not even bothering to make many RPGs. I hope someone release a good JRPG and it sells well to jumpstart the genre again.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
10 years ago

If a "real" JRPG with traditional RPG elements that utilized the PS3's potential was created, it would blow all of these shooters out of the water. The devs are afraid to take a chance. Shooters have always been around. Think back to the effect that it had on you when the comercials for Final Fantasy 7 aired during the PSone era. That alone got non-RPG lover to start getting interested in the genre. I believe it needs to happen again and its around that time…

Riku994
Riku994
10 years ago

We need: LoD remake or prequel, Elder Scrolls 5, DQ11 on a GOOD system (don't try to tell me 9 on DS and 10 on Wii is a good idea), and Versus 13 to be as epic as it can be, PREFERABLY by staying away from the 360. If Nomura lets it slip to the 360, I hope he at least stands firm and still optimizes it for the PS3 and doesn't dumb it doubt so SE can make a quick buck from Microsoft, only to have the game lack in sales and review scores because of it.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
10 years ago

Agreed. They need to think about the wealth they get from loyal fans and cater to that. MS may offer a large sum of money for you to do what they want you to do but what is the true value of what you gain? Is MS going to save you when you're businees goes bankrupt and has to close up shop? The only real "true" support comes from the fans. Without us game devs companies would never have gotten this far where they had the power to betray us. All MS is, is a avenue for a quick buck while degrading oneself. Devs have to realize that they owe Microsoft NOTHING. One of these 3rd party devs has to take a risk and cater exclusively to their core fans to see what actually happens. Square-enix has yet to take that risk. Namco Bandai might be coming around according to what I've read about their "Tales of" series on 1UP and Tales union sites. Namco Bandai may still have hope when it comes to the PS3.


Last edited by shadowscorpio on 10/22/2010 11:58:55 PM

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Bethseda makes Oblivion. I hope that counts as an RPG =p

Perhaps the slumping japanese game market is mostly to blame for the lack of jRPGs.

But even then, Tales of Vesperia has been reviewed well for 360 fans this gen, and so has Lost Odyssey. Too bad White Knight Chronicles missed it's chance. And, of course, we have FF13, the mixed feelings jRPG of the century.

The western-devs are doing fine at delivering their side of the goods.
One can look to Oblivion, Fall-Out, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fable, MMORPG's and more for critically acclaimed and highly respected RPG and or RPG-like hybrids.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Also, there's the whole heap of poorly received jRPG's like Star OCean, Enchanted Arms, and (as I mentioned above) WK:C. It seems the jRPG's are still there. The devs just aren't putting out the quality goods.

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

oh yeah, and lets not forget Blue Dragon =)

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
10 years ago

Yea it seems like Japanese Developers really need to step up their game.

Then again, so does Bethesda…. I NEED ANOTHER ES

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
10 years ago

According to some, it was Playstation loyalist that bought a 360 (including myself) to play Tales of Vesperia. Not actually 360 loyalist. That's not to say that there aren't 360 loyalist that that wouldn't be interested in JRPG like TOV.

kokoro
kokoro
10 years ago

God I hate Call of Duty, and its massive fanbase of pre-pubescent teens . Sorry, but that game is so visually barren, and in fact I think I would say the same thing for almost all games which have a war context. I feel like my brain is deteriorating everytime I try to play it. I just despise the whole FPS genre and reading articles like this reminds me of that fact.

Another reason why I loathe the FPS genre is because it has created a cohort of gamers that think "RPG is gay" simply because it does not constantly reward them with the instant gratification that they have been conditioned to expect.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

He isn't saying that they aren't RPGs, or that they aren't good RPGs. He is simply comparing the number of them. So, if you can name more RPGs that were released this year on the PS3/360, go ahead and try to prove him wrong.

The other thing is that WRPGs seem to be less like Role-Playing Games and more like a medley of other genres with Role Playing aspects.
Peace.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

No idea what you're talking about. I listed all RPGs in the editorial; there's a drastic decrease in the number of overall RPGs released every year.

And Jade Empire and Mass Effect are entirely different; just because they're both WRPGs doesn't mean they're the same.

Please try to read more carefully before commenting.

SHADOW
SHADOW
10 years ago

@Lawless: I would make the argument that many old-school JRPGs or "real" RPGs as people on this thread are calling them, play more like spreadsheets than games… So it's really just a matter of taste. I for one, am totally for games playing more like games, and less like spread sheets while many others really like pressing an onscreen button that says "attack" and then watching the internal math play out on screen.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
10 years ago

@ Shadow (not me obviously ;))

Thats fine and dandy that you feel that way but there was a time when if you mentioned , shooter, action, adventure, fighter, racer, and RPG you knew that each was uniquely different. You prefer your games to play like games? What does that mean exactly? The original formula that RPG used was considered a game. Same with any other genre. Black Jack is different from chess but they are still both games. RPG's used to be a "definite" genre but as Ben states in this article, what we used to consider "RPG" is drifting away…

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Shadow,
I can understand that perspective, and I even agree with it. Of course it is more appealing to me to play and be rewarded. But at the same time, there is also the strategy aspect which is almost non-existent in WRPGs. I enjoy outsmarting, or being able to outdo whatever it is I'm facing. Reasons that I love Chess and Scrabble.

I suppose, at the heart of the matter it comes down to what you enjoy. Those clamouring for the old-school style of titles seem to be the ones that enjoy being pitted intellectually against an opponent and overcoming it, while the others are more about skill and timing. As you said, personal preference and taste.
Peace.