We Need To Talk About The Opportunity Cost Of Hades 2

I’m enjoying Hades 2, despite what readers of TheGamer seem to think. I’m able to be critical about the things I love and, at present, Hades 2 isn’t a great game. It’s unbalanced and unfinished, but that’s the point. This is early access.

I’m loving our glimpse into how Supergiant creates and tweaks games and how its development process works by checking out what changes between updates. It’s like a roguelike within a roguelike, where you risk losing all your beloved storylines when the developer decides they’re not in its scope to finish.

We Need To Talk About The Opportunity Cost Of Hades 2

However, Hades 2 is, at its heart, just more Hades. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Hades is great, but it means Supergiant isn’t working on something original for the very first time. Which is a shame, because few developers have come to the creativity and originality of its Bastion/Transistor/Pyre/Hades run. Each game was so different from the last, every one narratively moving and mechanically distinct. It’s a shame that we’re not getting another wholly original game.

This is the opportunity cost of Hades 2. Not only do we have to judge the game we’re playing, but we must judge it against the game we could have had instead. Now, none of us know what that game would have been, but if we look to Supergiant’s past, we can take a guess.

I’m not going to predict what mechanics Supergiant would have created, nor guess at what narrative it would have told. But I’m going to remind you of the state of this industry, the fact that we rely on tried-and-tested IP, and that creativity is stifled at every turn in order to chase profits.

We Need To Talk About The Opportunity Cost Of Hades 2

The biggest games revealed at Summer Game Fest were all sequels or games based on existing IP. Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, Lego Horizon Adventures, Star Wars Outlaws, Harry Potter Quidditch, Civilization 7, Batman: Arkham Shadow, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, Doom: The Dark Ages, Dragon Age: The Veilguard, Fable, Assassin’s Creed Shadows… the list is endless. I’m excited to play a lot of these games, but the industry relies on established brands far too often.

There were some outliers to this list, like Atomfall, South of Midnight, and Phantom Blade Zero, but they were very much in the minority.

Creativity is stifled in pursuit of quick profits. Slap Indiana Jones on a game and it’ll sell twice as well, original characters be damned. This is an especially big problem in the triple-A space, but Hades 2 proves that this feeling is penetrating double-A spaces, too.

We Need To Talk About The Opportunity Cost Of Hades 2

We need more games that take risks. We need more studios willing to push boundaries and create new experiences. We need more developers like Supergiant. Except, Supergiant has fallen for the sequel bait, too.

I have more sympathy for Supergiant. As an independent developer (an incredibly successful independent developer, but an independent developer all the same), it’s difficult to turn a profit. Creating a follow-up to your most successful game is a surefire way to secure the future of your studio and give your staff the security they deserve. In an industry as volatile as this one, where thousands of hard working staff are laid off by thoughtless corporate entities who can’t face up to the fact that perpetual growth is unsustainable when making art, securing a sustainable future is admirable, even if it means retreading old ground.

Hades 2 is good. By the time it’s finished, I’m sure it’ll be great. It might be worthy of Game of the Year. At the same time, I can’t help but mourn all the games that Supergiant could have made. Where’s the next Transistor? After seeing what it did to roguelikes, I want Supergiant’s take on a metroidvania or visual novel. It’s a studio that plays with genre constraints in the best ways, pushes boundaries and crafts innovative experiences. More Hades isn’t bad, but think of what we could have had.

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