Sequel Madness

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Let us all rejoice! We have next generation consoles, which should herald a new wave of titles featuring exciting leaps in graphics and game play. Okay, so we got the graphics bit, but when it comes to game play it's just the same old, same old. The fact is there are just too many sequels to mention, as the publishers continue to play it safe. Meanwhile us gamers have to sit with baited breath, waiting for some originality to inject some energy back into the industry.

After Metal Gear Solid 2, there comes Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance and after Gran Turismo 3, there comes Gran Turismo Concept and so the list goes on. The Tony Hawk franchise is nearing sequel saturation point – it's like the Friday 13th of the games world. Just as there are only so many ways you can kill a bunch of teenagers in a log cabin, so too there are only so many ingenious places to hide the letters S-K-A-T-E.

Then there are the bandwagon jumpers cunningly or not so cunningly disguised as original titles. Step forward every pretender to the Halo crown. If I see one more Xbox title in development that features robots and heavily armored armies killing hoards of aliens, I think I'll cry. At the moment it's all very PC gamer – sci-fi storyline, FPS involving ludicrously large guns and various shades of alien blood. Where oh where is Microsoft's Ico or Pikmin? And no, another shonky Star Wars game won't do instead and don't even think about mentioning snowboarding.

But lo! Look there, I see two knights in shining armor – or at least, they're polishing it, ready for battle. According to a report on the MCV website, industry veterans Sean Brennan and Peter Bilotta are getting ready to turn the traditional publishing model on its head. Whoo, hoo!

These two old gaming codgers have put their heads together and joined forces to set up an ambitious and dare I say it, heroic, new venture. This pair has a hefty 30 years industry experience between them. Their CV's boast coveted positions at Mirrorsoft, Activision, Acclaim, Interplay and Virgin. Since leaving the Titus group last year, they have stuck their fingers in a few pies, including establishing the consultancy Interactive Media Partners.

The dynamic duo is back and this time they're pissed. Who are they pissed at? By all accounts it's greedy publishers, and about time is what we all say. (Oh, apparently the GiN editorial team is leaving me on my own with this one). Let's stone them at the city gates"er, okay so I'll leave the big plans to Sean and Peter in this case. They're planning to offer better partnerships with developers. Pah, I'm still with the city gates idea .

"We know this business inside out," said Bilotta. "What we have learnt specifically over the last couple of years is that this is a creative industry we are working in and the creative talent deserve to have more of an input and be better rewarded." Couldn't have said it better myself Pete.

Then Brennan piped up with, "We have seen that the development sector has not been adequately rewarded. We will adjust the publishing model and redress the balance.

"We're not just offering additional royalties; we're offering studios a completely new partnership agreement. Publishers haven't done this before because they are inherently greedy – and have to be because the current model sees only a small percentage of a publisher's releases make any money. Our model allows more focus on a limited number of franchises and brands."

It's all very mysterious at the moment. Pete and Sean are keeping they're cards close to their chests, but they have said things like "dream team" and "serious" backing, which should pique our interest. It's about time something happened to shake up the ever-cautious publishers. We need some risk takers, some mavericks who can cultivate the creative talents of those mysterious developer types, without going the way of the lead balloon and financially sinking without a trace.

Good old Sean and Pete give us a glimmer of hope that the future isn't Metal Gear Solid 54 served with a dollop of Resident Evil 78 (with of course the original, fatally flawed control system still well and intact). I'm not even going to contemplate the media whore that is Lara Croft – I mean how big can her boobs get? In the future I expect the graphics will be able to create erect nipples in cold rooms, and then the franchise will be indestructible.

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