Early this year, Starbreeze Studios and EA launched Syndicate, an FPS reboot of a 1990s tactical classic. The game met with decidedly mixed reviews, and although some players enjoyed it, in terms of sales it's mostly gone down as a flop.
Speaking with Edge, Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark said he and his studio were proud of the work they had done, even though sales lagged. But he also outlined a dilemma that nearly every game developer encounters at some point or another, with any sequel, remake, or reboot:
We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took.
If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go.
Nermark neatly captures the peril of popularity, and the thin line between fan favour and fan rage. Every game will be too "samey" and not innovative enough for some percentage of players, while at the same time, every game will be too different and not similar enough to previous games for some percentage of players. In some ways, we gamers are a constant no-win situation.
That said, Syndicate evidently also managed to miss out on pleasing that large percentage of gamers in the middle. And those are the players you just can't live without.