Readers’ Choice: The Death of Space Sims

“With Jumpgate evolution and Star Trek online about to come out (maybe… ) and Eve online seeing (or at least it was) steady growth – do these up and comers have a chance or is the market already saturated with these ‘niche’ titles?” - TickledBlue. I don’t think they are niche titles. I think space games have a ton of potential, and there’s a lot of space (wee, pun!) for more. Jumpgate Evolution seems to be taking a good approach by trying to be very different from EVE within the same basic genre. As for why we haven’t seen many Freelancers and the like, it boggles my mind and saddens me because I really love that type of game and think they’re very popular.

Want me to comment on something here at Nerfbat? Ask/provoke me in the Readers’ Choice post.

4 Responses to "Readers’ Choice: The Death of Space Sims"

  1. TickledBlue

    I hope you’re right!

    From my point of view I can only see the failures (Earth & Beyond canceled although there is a valiant fan attempt to resurrect it, Tomorrow War & Rogue Galaxy) or the determined desire to ensure the genre forever remains a niche (Egosofts impenetrable X series, Derek Smarts Battlecruiser series, the promising Evochron series that has far too little game in its simulation).

    I also don’t understand why (apart from Eve and a few of the RTS space games) it’s always World War 2 fighters in space. With a tradition of games like Star Control 2, Ironseed and Frontier why are our only ‘modern’ options space can trading or poor freespace copies?

    I know sci-fi in general is less popular than fantasy (unless we’re talking about FPS games) but when 1993 saw the release of Frontier with a procedurally generated galaxy where it had seamless space to planet transitions, and the best we have to offer today is distinct 3D cubes of space that you get to vie convenient “spacetunnels” (apologies to Evochron as its pretty close and as far as I’m concerned Infinity: Quest for Earth is vapourware) I just figured that the genre is dead and just waiting for someone to turn off the life support.

    I do hang my hopes on Star Trek (being a major licensed property, I’m not interested personally as the Trek universe seemed more about moral plays than sci fi) but the Trek has been poorly treated by game developers in the past. Personally I’ll sign up to Jumpgate the moment it comes out – but I figure that if STO tanks then we’re in for a long dry spell before someone comes back to the genre.

  2. *misses Freelancer*

    Can’t get it to work on my current machine :'(

    Of course I played it through several times, as well as the “open online” parts after finishing the story, had the fully tricked out Sabre, etc, so I don’t really feel the need to try reinstalling it again either.

    Looking forward to SWTOR. STO… not really sure. Jumpgate and Dark Prophecy both look interesting. Time will tell for me, I suppose.

  3. From my perspective the word “niche” is a relative term which depends on the existence of an established mainstream market. I think the space sims will be stuck at niche when compared with the “gaming industry” in general, but they might also be their own market of sorts as the user value is highly differentiated from almost everything we commonly see coming out of the industry.

    The killer for the olden types of game designs which the space sims come from is how they evolve with the user base who develop more refined tastes over time. This effectively closes the gate for newcomers to the genre and eventually the genre dies. What we can see is that sometimes old and dead genres regenerate with new users by starting the trend over. These are theoretically unlikely to fully please the old audience as the mechanics actually are old and fail to pop bubbles in the old player, while the mechanics are new and fresh to the new generation of player who might have come in from Facebook or another previously non-existent distribution channel.

  4. Edwin Ahe

    I don’t see how you can compare Jumpgate, StarTrek and EvE. Only thing they got in common is that they are about internet-spaceships. Also I can only call EvE “a niche game”, Jumpgate and StarTrek are aimed at mass audience imho

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