According to feedback from a Midway focus testing group, the release and subsequent popularity of GTA 4 has changed the expectation gamers have for open-world driving games from arcade-styled to a more realistic model. This directly impacts Midway’s Wheelman (PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), which faces a few changes as a result.
With the release and subsequent phenomenal popularity of GTA 4 (I do believe people are *still* missing work days because of it), the expectation gamers have for open-world games has been changed from arcade-styled driving to a more realistic model. They don’t want to be given things for free anymore, they want to earn their status as a driving god.
At least, that’s what Midway concluded from the feedback they got from their focus testers.
If you’re familiar with Midway’s previous plans for their upcoming game, Wheelman, this presented a bit of a problem for them. Wheelman features very arcade-y driving as it tries to emulate the kinds of over-the-top car chase sequences typical in Hollywood movies. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to dumb down the controls to make high-level drifts and stunts accessible to players of almost any skill level.
With the new industry standard set by GTA 4, they’ve been forced to change things around a little. According to Simon Woodroffe, the creative director of Wheelman,
Our job is to be up-to-date with current expectations and to manage them well. I’m very big on choice, and I’m very big on design and control systems. All the physics stuff stays very close to me and the design team, so it was work for a few hours or so, and polishing things up for a week or two, to change the way Wheelman felt to be a little more realistic and a little more grounded, based upon the feedback we were getting, based upon the impact of GTA 4.
With the changes in place, Woodroffe went on to express his confidence that Wheelman is now “right on the money,” and should resonate well with people’s expectations.
The game will be available on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 by February 16, 2009.
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