Yet, even beyond its entertaining gameplay, Ratchet & Clank seems to have resonated with its audience as much as it has because it offers a point of difference. It’s a great gameplay experience, and that is arguably the biggest takeaway from its success. Bizarrely, Ratchet & Clank feels innovative despite the fact that it is both a reboot and a genre that was once as over saturated and formulaic as the contemporary shooter and open world titles of today.
The crux of the point is in an ecosystem that is over-crowded with games that take themselves far too seriously, Ratchet & Clank has arguably been a success by simply standing out from the crowd. Consider all of the critically and commercially successful titles we’ve seen recently: The Division, Destiny, Fallout 4, The Witcher…. they’re all moody, void of comic relief and dark in subject matter. Ratchet & Clank makes a refreshing departure from those regurgitated themes and that in itself has been enough to boost its popularity.
Of course, games of this nature have always been synonymous and plentiful on Nintendo consoles, so why the renewed enthusiasm for platforming titles on PlayStation 4? To put it simply, Nintendo’s shrinking market share means their IPs can no longer be considered part of the mainstream; they aren’t even in the equation anymore.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One occupy such a lion’s share of the gaming industry that when our appetites suddenly turn to a new genre, the Nintendo Wii U doesn’t provide a viable option. Ratchet & Clank was a terrific game, sure, but its success ultimately proves that gamers want what they do not have. It may not be enough to prompt purchases of Nintendo consoles, but enough to make their voices heard. Diversity and creativity is always positive, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that it sells.
Platforming may once have been popular, but it’s long since been consigned to the history books as a genre no longer fit for mainstream attention. Yet, Ratchet & Clank has turned that sentiment on its head and there now seems to be a collective cry for more of the same. Ratchet & Clank is certainly a great game, but the overwhelmingly positive reception to its release probably does more to highlight the fact that the industry has become so stagnated and generic that we’re all chomping at the bit for a return to 3D platforming.
That isn’t to say there is anything wrong with the genre, but rather to illustrate the extent to which the industry, in particular the sector inhabited by the larger first and third party studios, have been stuck in the same tiresome pattern for far too long. Should we be excited that more platforming titles? Sure, but the outcome that we really need is for developers to realize that diversity promotes innovation as well as commercial results. A departure from overly formulaic video games is a win for everyone.