1-Up on Wall Street: Will Telltale's "The Walking Dead" Forever Change Gaming?

Three Fools take to the air to discuss story versus spectacle in the video game business, and offer some ideas for which studios stand to profit most.

Mar 9, 2014 at 7:15AM

Story-driven video games are grabbing more headlines than they have in years. Take The Last of Us, an action narrative developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony (NYSE:SNE), which took home Game of the Year and several more honors during this year's D.I.C.E. awards. Telltale's The Walking Dead won the top honor the year before, at Spike's Video Game Awards. Does this mean we should expect studios to cut back on shoot-'em-up spectacle and focus more on open worlds and compelling characters?

Host Ellen Bowman puts this question to analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this week's episode of "1-Up on Wall Street," The Motley Fool's Web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

We're examining the topic at an interesting time. Telltale recently released Episode 2 of season of The Walking Dead to rave reviews. GameSpot scores the game 8 out of 10, while Geek Legacy scores it 8.5 out of 10. Metacritic's combined scoring system places the title at 81 out of 100. Tim says you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like what Telltale has done with the sequel, or any of the other narrative-driven games making headlines right now.

Screen Zombiefight

Players face complicated choices and harrowing encounters in Telltale's latest in The Walking Dead franchise. Source: Telltale Games.

Nathan agrees but points out that glowing reviews don't always pay off at the retail counter. Take The Last of Us, which, according to data compiled by VGChartz, has sold 4.34 million copies worldwide despite the year's second-biggest sales debut. By contrast, Activision Blizzard's (NASDAQ: ATVI) Call of Duty: Ghosts has sold more than 19.8 million copies despite largely unfavorable reviews from players. The message? While players say they want great stories, they're buying shoot-'em-up spectacles such as Ghosts or Battlefield 4.

Now it's your turn to weigh in using the comments box below. Do you see a shift under way in video game development? Or do you expect studios to keep delivering more of the same? Please watch the video as Ellen puts Tim and Nathan on the spot, and be sure to check back here often for more "1-Up on Wall Street" segments.

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Neither Ellen Bowman nor Nathan Alderman nor Tim Beyers owns shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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