Keighley/Straley Exchange Sparks Debate Over Innovation In Gaming

Debate erupts on Twitter after Bruce Straley criticizes focus on Star Wars, Indiana Jones titles

Innovation in Gaming
Innovation in Gaming

A debate about innovation in gaming has erupted on Twitter following ex-Naughty Dog developer Bruce Straley’s “thug reply” to journalist Geoff Keighley.

Key Takeaways

  • A heated discussion sparked on Twitter about innovation in gaming.
  • Many gamers and a game director (Bruce Straley) argue the industry relies too heavily on established franchises (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and lacks fresh ideas.
  • Others point to critically acclaimed games (The Witcher, Cyberpunk 2077) that are based on licensed IPs and argue innovation can happen within those universes. Licensed games can also be gateways for new players.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Cover

The Exchange

While musing on the legacy of licensed IPs and the recent announcements about Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles, Keighley asked, what’s next?

Among the many replies came one from Bruce Straley, who directed The Last of Us and several Uncharted titles before leaving Naughty Dog in 2017. He was unimpressed with the question:

In response, Keighley agreed that “we need great new IP/ideas,” but maintained that “there can be great innovation within licensed worlds too.”

The Debate

Predictably, this was only the start of the debate about innovation in gaming. Thousands of followers weighed in on the issue, with both sides bringing compelling arguments to the table.

“Truer words have never been spoken,” one user replied to Straley. “I am sick and tired of the gaming industry right now. All I see is generic games with no original ideas or risks, remakes, and remasters. Where is the originality nowadays??”

The Last of Us
The Last of Us Cover

To another user, Straley’s comment was “out of touch.” As they pointed out the universally acclaimed The Witcher franchise is, in fact, a licensed IP. Come to think of it, so is CD Projekt Red‘s other big title, Cyberpunk 2077.

similar argument held that licensed games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might serve as effective gateways for newcomers to get into gaming.

And then there was the guy who threw Straley’s retort right back in his face:

The Future

Of course, this is not the first time that the issue of innovation in gaming has been hotly debated, nor will it be the last. Many journalists are also tired of the gaming industry’s ever-deeper tilt into Hollywood franchises, and vice versa.

It all gestures toward the fact that games are now the biggest entertainment industry on the planet. This means that, at least for the big publishers, money is more important than creativity, a sure sell is more tempting than innovation.

Returnal Title Screen

Whether they use licensed IPs or create entirely new ones, the triple-A gaming industry in particular needs to try something new. Sadly, when a hefty bottom line combined with minimum effort remains a viable option, this is unlikely to happen.

But perhaps, as the culture of gaming continues to evolve, avenues will open for more auteur developers to try something genuinely new and exciting without having to make do with an indie budget. Hey, if Hollywood can do it (through, say, Christopher Nolan), then why not games?

What do you think about the topic of innovation in gaming? Share you’re comments below!

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