Marketing, the Agent Smith of the gaming world?
This is what is killing gaming.
Years ago, games were marketed, but not to the extent we have now. We have Call of Duty clones that are pumped out year after year, yet still require $50 - $100 million budgets. If the assets are there, textures, map creation programs, sounds, developer console, etc. then why would it require an entire new budget?
Wouldn't developers just build on-top of the assets? It's not like every COD game is getting a new built-from-the-ground-up graphics engine; it's still running a very highly-modified Quake 3 engine that was debuted in 1999... Yes, 12 years ago.
But, there is a $100 million+ advertising campaign that goes along with it. Marketing the game to every single person will eventually win as you're convinced you want it. It shows the best bits of the game, but underneath it's no different.
Look at the latest Call of Duty title, Black Ops. It runs a poorer graphics engine than Modern Warfare 2. How can this be? It's a year newer. Shouldn't newer games look BETTER? Do you go to see the latest Transformers movie expecting the special effects to look worse? No.
Consoles appeal to the everyday person, the person who isn't really interested in gaming, but does it because it's quick fun. How many games now feature press-the-button action scenes? Falling from a ledge? Press X at a certain time and you'll be OK.
Need to kill that final bad guy? Press Y to finish him. I paid for this game, why am I being told when to shoot? Why am I having my hand held throughout the game? I'm not a child - I'm very capable of shooting or playing by myself.