Growing like a plant – HDD-games

Today, Capcom and Bandai Namco Games announced a Tekken-Streetfighter crossover game for both HD-video game consoles. That reminded me of how silly I find these games that pick something exclusively, when they could feature a much, much broader variety of content. Why Tekken and Streetfighter? Why Marvel and Capcom? Why certain Nintendo-characters in Smash Bros. and not others? Why not – put everything together?

The above mentioned titles all are multiplayer-focused experiences, but it´d work just as well with singleplayer-games. Why are we still depending on whatever content is burnt onto a disc? With the exception of the Wii, current gen systems feature big HDDs, up to 250 GB if I remember correctly. Meanwhile, even the latest HD-games fit on 9 GB-DVDs. So why not use the enormous space of HDDs for gameplay purposes?

I´m talking about an ever-growing game that keeps getting expanded by newly added content. At the beginning of such a game would be a base-game. That game would work like the center of a spider´s web, and with every new content, it keeps getting larger. One game where I actually thought it would do precisely that was GTA4. I didn´t buy the exclusice DLC, but later I heard that this DLC wasn´t actually integrated into the main game, but was completely its own world, even though sharing the same world-design. I though you could start up GTA4 with Nico Bellic and enjoy all the new content, but no, that was all part of the DLC only. So, that´s what I imagine these HDD-games like: Introduce a game-world, then later sell new games that share the same mythology and let players combine both games into one by putting it onto the HDD. ‘Then keep doing so. If we stay with the GTA-series, imagine GTA4, GTA5 and GTA6 being released, all separately. And if a player has all three titles, he can put them onto the system´s HDD and the game world will be correctly combined into one giant place. As for fighter-games, just think of an ever-growing roaster of playable characters. Instead of the already existing games, it´d be more like Marvel vs. Capcom vs. Tekken vs. Streetfigter vs. Nintendo vs. Tatsunoko vs. whomever else. No limits.

My personal favorite HDD-concept would be a Mass Effect-game. If Bioware released DLC for ME2 more frequently, you could actually call them HDD-games. Instead of having a ME3, just keep fleshing out the universe by adding new content to the base-game. There´s really nothing keeping the developer from adding planets, missions, alien races and gameplay-styles to the existing game. What is now a 30 hour-game would be a 1000 hour-game over the course of the next five years. It´d be like an MMORPG…just offline and for your own, personal enjoyment.

You see, I always questioned the existence of big HDDs in gaming systems. My own 360 has that small about 10GB-HDD, which is well enough for demos. But as for actual gaming-purposes, I never saw a reason for them. With the increasing importance of digitally distributed full games, that´s probably one reason. But HDDs could do more than just be a storage for your typical content. These big HDDs could work as the basics of a whole new style of games, of a new generation of virtual worlds. And it´s not like there´s any new, unproven technology involved. It just has to be done.

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