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Remember when Fuse, Insomniac's latest co-op shooter, was originally known as Overstrike? Well, the reason for the name change from one generic title to the other came with the change in the art-style. Why did the art-style have to change? Because focus groups thought it was too cartoony and for their kid brothers.
In a well-written, well-documented, well-researched article over at IGN regarding all things Insomniac Games, the studio was asked about the recent name change and art-style re-direction for the upcoming Xbox 360 and PS3 game, Fuse.
According to the creative director for Fuse, Brian Allgeier...
“The game started out with a much more stylized and campy direction. We were actually going for something on the level of Ratchet & Clank, except with humans,” ... “Maybe it was going to appeal to gamers who, we thought at the time, might be in their late teens. The industry’s changed quite a bit… We would focus test the game in front of a lot of gamers, and get their opinion. These are people that regularly play PlayStation 3 and Xbox games. We started to discover that everyone thought this was a game for their younger brother. We would hear this from 12-year-olds. So we decided that we needed to make a game that had an older appeal.”
Ugh, so much fail.
As a quick reminder, focus groups are the reason Gears of War 3 had forced an cringe-worthy “romance”, to which Cliffy B finally admitted that “focus groups suck”. Focus groups were also the reason Dead Space 3 has co-op, because obviously playing with a partner makes the game less scary than playing alone.
Now I'm not saying that what Insomniac originally had for Overstrike was gaming gold, but I find it funny that they went the complete opposite direction of what Valve did for Team Fortress 2, which some of you may remember as being a serious Battlefield-style clone but then received a major overhaul and turned into the cartoony shooter that it is today. Regarding success, all I'm going to say is...hats.
In all honesty, though, the new video for Fuse didn't look all that bad. However, with a forgettable name like Fuse and a sort of generic, sci-fi, co-op military shooter premise it's easy to confuse the game with other co-op shooters like Inversion, Binary Domain or Bulletrun just to name a few. I kind of fear that no matter how fun the game is the corporate-genericism that infects the game's promotional efforts could be its undoing.
We'll see if Insomniac and EA can do what EA hasn't been able to do all year: keep the marketing moderate, separate the game from the “me too” clones and manage to entice gamers to want to invest in the product by the time March, 2013 rolls around.
You can check out the entire article over at IGN.