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2D or not 2D: The Rise and (Not) Fall of 2D Gaming

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Harrison Lee

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As a modern consumer of electronic entertainment, I like my video games to look “cutting edgeé. Crank up the tessellation, I say. Add those high definition textures and give me more draw distance. And why shouldn“t I demand perfection? Most AAA-quality video games push sexier visuals, more sumptuous special effects, and more immersion within highly-detailed and interactive 3D environments. In our day and age, the better it looks, the better it sells. As we pioneer new frontiers in the realm of 3D entertainment, what happens to those games which reside squarely in 2D worlds?

 

If there“s one thing that“s true about consumers, it“s that nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions for companies and developers to tug on. For this reason, a number of studios and game developers refuse to make their games in 3D. They continue the trend of old school 2D side-scrollers, classic adventure games, and more. While bigger companies focus on pushing technology to its ever-expanding limits, smaller studios and independent developers have filled the niche role of delivering games that don“t need fancy 3D graphics to get the job done.

 

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One studio that“s bucked the trend of 3D gaming is Capybara Games. The young studio was one of the first development teams to exploit the Apple family of touch-based products for a classic 2D adventure game. Dubbed Sword and Sorcery EP, the game was a critical and financial hit. Capy won over millions of gamers with Sword and Sorcery“s beautiful pixelated art and whimsical visuals. The key to Capy“s success is that it developed the game for mobile devices, not consoles or PCs.

 

On handheld platforms, users expect far less from mobile games. Titles like Angry Birds flourish with simple 2D art and addicting gameplay. The mobile device market has provided the means for 2D games to succeed. 2D games don“t tax most mobile hardware and generally feature strong, on-the-go gameplay hooks. While some 2D games can be found on consoles and PCs, the expectations are generally defined by users who want the latest and greatest in 3D gaming experiences. Since mobile markets tend to price their offerings at a fraction of the cost of console/PC games, studios can focus on crafting better gameplay mechanics that fit mobile devices while sticking to 2D art-styles.

 

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This brings us to the question of whether or not 2D art in gaming is declining. The answer is a resounding no. If anything, 2D games are expanding at a remarkable rate due to the rise of the mobile market. Most consumers have a smart-phone or a device capable of playing games and apps. This allows small, independent studios to release 2D games that might struggle to find a home on consoles and PC. Factor in the always-popular nostalgia factor and the mobile market has ensured that 2D gaming will persist despite the advances in 3D-rendering technology.

 

If these 2D games find financial and popular success on mobile devices, there“s a chance that consumers will be willing to play more 2D games on consoles and PCs. Telltale“s The Walking Dead mega-hit resurrected the dying adventure genre. There“s no telling where the future of 2D gaming will go if the mobile market continues to expand. Even if our 3D world, the potential for 2D games burns bright!

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I just wish that they wouldn't focus so much on phones and handhelds. Gamers with consoles like me also want to play them on our systems. I know some are out but no where near as many as in phones, handhelds and pcs.

 

Nice article lee.

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Ha! I love how we've took the opposite stance on the topic. xD

 

It's a great read, though. You've certainly enlightened me on a few things ;D

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Ha! I love how we've took the opposite stance on the topic. xD

 

It's a great read, though. You've certainly enlightened me on a few things ;D

 

I also liked your viewpoint! We took different, but good, stances.

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