What's Driving the Comparative Dearth Of Horror For Consoles?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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What's Driving the Comparative Dearth Of Horror For Consoles?

One of the great things about this time of year--yes, even given how dark and horrendously cold it's been lately--is that it's a great time of year for horror movies. Turn off the house lights, fire up some popcorn, and stretch out with plenty of things that go bump in the night. "30 Days of Night" made it plain that the longer the night, the scarier the whole day is, and the real world is no exception on this front. But it's odd--and something I noticed recently--but horror gaming for consoles seems to be constantly behind its PC brethren.

While on YouTube the other day, I got a look at some "let's play" style videos, mostly from a guy going under the handle of Markiplier. I know, huge to most everyone, so me saying I caught a few of those isn't so big a deal. Looking at his contemporaries like PewDiePie and the like, I saw that there were quite a few horror games out there. Some of these were being developed for the Oculus Rift--a development we've discussed here several times previous--but also, some of these were just cropping up. And I saw an array of titles that didn't look like they'd come within spitting distance of a console--"Kraven Manor," "Terrorift," even "Slender" among a slew of others--and I couldn't help but wonder: why is the PC getting all the horror gaming love?

See, the more I saw of these games, the more I realized, there's not much of a reason that these games couldn't have been made for consoles. Yes, the Oculus Rift ones were a clear exception--the device doesn't exist for consoles just yet--but much of this could have been a console title, particularly over in the indie sections of, say, Xbox Live Arcade. Technological hurdles didn't seem to be the cause, so what was it?

Perhaps it was issues with the target market. Considering how well titles like "State of Decay" did, not to mention some of the bigger stuff like "Left 4 Dead", it was hard to say that console gamers just weren't in the market for horror. But there was one thing about the target market that caught me: the predisposition to action. Sure, console gamers dig that sweet sci-fi. Master Chief's extended run makes that crystal clear. But most of the horror gaming on consoles was heavily shot through with action. "Dead Island" and its followup, "State of Decay," even "Left 4 Dead"; every one had plenty of run-and-gun mixed in with its scares. So maybe the console market's seeming preference of action is keeping a lot of the scariest in horror gaming out of the mix.

That may not be what it is, of course; it could just be that programming in console right now is an animal too different to handle to port most games over from it. It could be that that will change with this generation. But whatever the cause, with this generation, I'd love to see a change get made that features more outright horror gaming--with or without shotguns--on consoles.
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