For the past two console generations, AAA publishers have put so much focus on graphical fidelity. All we hear about is whose graphics are the most realistic. AAA publishers rushed to have photo-realistic graphics and creepy motion capture facial animations. To me, graphical fidelity has no meaning compared to aesthetically pleasing visuals. The best looking game don’t always have realistic graphics. Games had all the color drained out. Way too much brown and gray saturating the gaming market. Where did all the color go?
Some of the best looking games are filled with color and imagination. Video games shouldn’t always try to emulate real life. Games are a way of escaping real life after all. Nintendo has mastered making games that look great on weak hardware. Wind Waker and Super Mario Galaxy still look beautiful to this day. A more cartoony aesthetic ages better than realistic graphics. Early PS3/Xbox 360 games look like shit now. Have you seen what Dead Rising looks like now? Everything becomes bland and forgettable without variety. You could easily forget what generic FPS you’re playing.
There are plenty of gamers who aren’t looking for powerful graphical fidelity. Look at the flourishing indie scene. Many of these games look simple and cartoony. Pixel art is very popular in indie gaming. I’ve seen some breathtaking pixel art, like Freedom Planet. Indie developers pick up the slack where AAA publishers have ignored. The homogenization of the AAA industry is rather off putting.
AAA publishers are often shortsighted. They see a popular trend and smash it into the ground. Suddenly, all of their games must be the exact same thing. Milk that cow until the udder falls off. It seems they ignore anything that doesn’t conform to their cowardly and unfounded conclusions. Executives want their self-fulfilling prophecies. They make unsubstantiated claims that everyone wants realistic graphics. Meanwhile, games like Stardew Valley and Cuphead have proven otherwise. People want games with appealing aesthetics, not necessarily the “best” graphics.