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It seems like a general trend by now. Every big developer and publisher is completely ignoring the once famous Space Sim genre. What was before crowned as the top of the line game category, back when Elite and Wing Commander were big hits, is now a shadow of its former self. Most games released under that type seem to either come from indie devs or to be rushed out. Yes, some still have potential, but we’re far from the kings that were there before! Where’s the true successor to Elite? If Freelancer was so popular, how come there isn’t a second one?

It really seems like the genre is dying. But why is that in the first place? Can the games appeal to a mass audience? Yes. Can they be fun and challenging? Of course yes. Can they take advantage of next generation graphics and sound? Very much. So why ignore them? Well, I can’t really tell. What I seem to notice, however, is that our beloved genre has been dissed by many of its former fans. Could the whole space sim industry drown under the pessimism of its fanbase? I do hope not. Unfortunately, I hear more and more lines of the style “Oh, space sims are a thing from the past!” or “It’s time to move on.”. With these kinds of pessimistic lines, the genre WILL die. If the fans start treating the genre as outdated and boring, the publishers will not allow for new space sims to be made. Which will in turn cut the number of high budget games drastically. Which will lower the general quality of the games. Which will lower the appeal they have. Which will make the fanbase turn down the genre even more.

Can’t we see this is all getting in an infinite loop that will only break when space sims no more exist? But then, what can we do? First, we should stop thinking a game is dead because it’s old. Heck, Diablo II and Starcraft are still very popular, yet they’re not the most recent games on the market, now are they? If we can stop running in circles for a second and think, we’ll realise the games are dying because we say so. People always come around screaming that gameplay is what makes a game good. Well then, prove it. The gameplay hasn’t changed since the games were released. This means the appeal should be the same. Yet, it doesn’t seem to be. Why for? Why can’t we realise we’re killing the game and all that came with it?

Let me take the example I know the most here: Freelancer. I think the game has tremendous potential, some of which has not even been used yet. Seems like others do not share my beliefs, though. The more I look around, the more people say it’s dead, stop beating the dead horse, RIP Freelancer, whatever! Well, yes, it no more has the appeal of the fresh new game. Neither does Diablo. I just want to try to make people realise it’s up to them to get the game back going. The modding community is one of the most active and dedicated I have ever seen. The sheer amount of mod is already incredible, but when you learn that all the existing tools were made by fans… Let’s say communities like those aren’t common anymore; they much prefer waiting for the devs to give out modding tools. This just means we have the power and potential to keep the game alive and kicking, but we have to do it!

This applies to every space sim that’s still played. Stop getting desperate and start acting! It’s never too late.

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