SecondTalon wrote:When the developer comes to the boss and says "Hey, we've been kicking around an idea about a time-traveling Princess from the 1700s who went back to 700 to learn the Viking ways then forward to 2700 to kill aliens with her Cherokee Samurai sidekick, and we actually got Neil Gaiman to sign up for writing the backstory, and we've got a prototype engine up and running already" and the boss says "That's cute. If you waste any more company time I'm firing the lot of you. Now fuck off and finish the Guitar Hero 6 setlist"...
The boss is directly affecting you, the gamer. And it matters.
This seems like a slightly simplistic idea of what the game development process involves. Now, if you're working with a few friends over the internet creating a comparatively low tech but innovative game, then design and coding are likely to be handled by everyone, and probably no one even thinks the word "feasibility". However, big game developers (as in the corporate sense) operate like other big companies - with division of labour and a defined methodology for creating a new product. As Ixtellor says, you don't get everyone in the company round a table and say "So, what'd be a cool idea for a game? I know - time-travelling Viking princesses!" This is a stupid idea if you plan on continuing to be a multi-billion dollar company.
Rather, there is a multi-stage process which will already be fairly advanced before the first bit of code is compiled. This features such crazy things as market research, feasibility studies and cost-benefit analysis. This is entirely necessary if you are going to invest the kind of time and money into the rest of the development process that a big company (e.g. Activision) is going to do. Small, niche games are the province of small, niche developers. Big companies make big products.
Now, has our hypothetical game developer done any kind of marketability study as he presents his idea to their boss? If so, hurrah! Princess Gudrid And Sensei Awenasa Fuck Up Some Evil Martians is a potentially workable idea and is starting down the long and rocky road to being made. If not, and he's gone so far as to not only code a prototype before it's even known that to be worth it, but actually sign up a big-name writer, then he's probably lucky that his boss only threatened to fire him, and barely even swore at all. I agree that your hypothetical situation is ridiculous, not because Evil Bobby Kotick is simultaneously crushing both innovation and the souls of a million gamers beneath his toecapped jackboot, but because of the way this theoretical developer fails to understand what the company that employs him exists to do.
Fundamentally, it's the miracle of capitalism in a nutshell. Activision doesn't exist to provide a service to gamers by making innovative games, it exists to provide a service to its shareholders by making money. You, however, are free not only to NOT buy Modern Warfare 2 or Guitar Hero 5 if you don't want to, but to go out and set up your own company to hire Neil Gaiman and make your perfect game. But don't expect Activision to ignore the risk involved in making such a game - I'm pretty sure you wouldn't.