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How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?
In an era when full console games are distributed digitally with ease, however, it strikes me that his idea is now much more tenable. You could download the full game but, once you'd died once in it, the code would stop you from starting anew (at least until you'd forked out the cash for another try). What's more, the costs of digitally distributing a game are so low now that a publisher could charge a tiny fee for each subsequent 'new game'. Imagine, if you will, playing XBLA and PSN games like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game where you don't pay the one-off £7.99 price tag, but a much smaller fee instead every time you want to re-stock on lives and 'continue' your game. Hypothetically, you could pay £1 via digital download for the game itself and then 20p for each subsequent block of lives or 'continue' – the tenure of arcade gaming would be reinstated and its classic style of design could live on beyond the passion projects of devoted indie devs. Gamers would be punished ruthlessly for their mistakes and encouraged to play-on out of pride once again, not simply because the dangled carrot-on-a-stick of new items and unlocks compels them.
And so, arcade game design may be exhaling its dying breath on consoles but it can still be saved. It's got the power to change the console climate all over again as titles like Limbo, Super Meat Boy, and Braid have done for the platforming genre. And here's hoping that a developer or publisher somewhere has the cojones to take up that gambit, lest we be stuck in an infinite loop of insecure games that desperately want to be films, willy waving FPS titles, and licensed products that will inevitably strangle the industry of its creativity and pop the vast bubble of investment that paradoxically seems to be tying game development down. Failing that, here's a particularly touching video montage of classic arcade game deaths from Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza, which makes for a fitting obituary to this most tentacled of genres:
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