Cloning is out, hybridisation is in. Is this the end of gaming genres?
The last couple of years have been pretty depressing for gamers, overtaken by a horde of mostly substandard Quake, Tomb Raider and Red Alert clones.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel...
The age of the clone isn't over, but at least most publishers seem to be pouring their cloning efforts into trying to reproduce Deer Hunter these days, rather than anything that hardcore gamers might actually want to play.
Instead we're getting cross-fertilisation between genres as developers produce more and more gaming hybrids. Many of the best games this year, as well as the most promising ones for next year, are unholy combinations of different gaming genres.
System Shock 2 and Deus Ex are both role playing games with first person shooter elements. Battlezone 2 is a real time strategy game with action bits, and Team Fortress seems to be doing much the same thing but coming at it from the opposite direction.
All of this is giving reviewers a real headache. Instead of the familiar FPS, RTS and RPG, there are now role-playing strategy games, action-RPGs, and tactical shooters.
And then there's Nomad Soul, which combines a bit of almost every genre, and includes a virtual concert by David Bowie. Yes, it is French. How did you guess?
Of course, it doesn't always work. Sometimes the whole is rather less than the sum of its parts, and you end up with a hideous patched together mess that doesn't do anything particularly well.
And no doubt a few years down the line, when publishers have worked out what does and doesn't work, we'll be back to cloning again. Except we'll have an endless succession of System Shock and Battlezone clones instead of Doom and C&C wannabes.
But in the meantime we're in for an interesting few years.