Understands innovation is important to critics, but feels 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'.
Insomniac, the developer behind the PS3-exclusive Resistance series, has talked openly and candidly about the critical reception to Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, out November 6 exclusively on PS3.
The family friendly action platformer has received excellent review scores so far. Tom gave it an 8/10 in his review, and the game currently enjoys an impressive 83 Metacritic score.
While most reviewers agree A Crack in Time's core gameplay is fun, some have criticised the series for not substantially evolving over the years.
The US developer told us that while it understands such calls for innovation, it feels "damned if you do, damned if you don't".
"Overall I'm seeing what I expected," said senior community manager James Stevenson. "I'm seeing some people be a little bit harsher. I'm seeing some people I thought were going to be really harsh, be really positive."
TJ Fixman, described on his business card as the "Master of the Written Word", told us: "It's funny. We see that in a lot of reviews. They say the gameplay hasn't changed so much but the gameplay is really, really good."
When asked how Insomniac resolves that conflict, Stevenson replied: "I understand it [the call for innovation]. Innovation is important to critics. You guys play so many games. We play a lot of games too. You don't want to play the same thing over and over again. I can understand that.
"It's always hard. Look at the sports games like FIFA and Madden. They can't change their core gameplay so they have to figure out new ways to make it interesting. We are kind of in the same boat. I would almost say there's nothing we can do better. Maybe there is a way we can change things up. We tried with Gladiator. Reviews were not as good - fan reaction definitely not as good. Though, there are also the other people on the other side of that. We always focus on the larger group, but there is definitely a significant group that liked it. They thought it was the best shooting and action of the franchise. They thought it was a great step, and they loved it. Those folks probably would love to see another game like it.
"So there is always that damned if you do, damned if you don't feeling. If you go too far off of your established gameplay, you're not really the next Ratchet & Clank game. You're a side game or something. But on the other hand if you stay too close to it then you get dinged for too much of the same."
Stevenson denied that the release of nine Ratchet & Clank games in seven years is too many, and insisted that making the fans happy and making a profit were "the two critical factors to remaining a long term sustainable business".
"That said," Stevenson continued, "we also are aware that we can't milk it dry. If we keep milking and going back to the same well, and the well goes dry, that's not good for Insomniac with Ratchet & Clank and it's not good for Sony with Ratchet & Clank.
"Nothing will go unnoticed that people say. If people think the game is too samey or whatever, those comments don't necessarily fall on deaf ears. All the feedback we get is definitely considered. But at this point I don't think there are too many Ratchet & Clank games."
Look out for much more from our wide-ranging interview with Insomniac in the coming week. And, of course, for all the latest screens and videos, and our review, check out the Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time game page.
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