Gamasutra is really the best site on the Internet for game designers (I take that back. It is second to Google Image Search). Their latest feature is called Establishing a Beachhead in a Crowded Genre. It isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff as it generally reaffirms beliefs I already hold. It is nice to see people insisting (like the article does in its opening salvo) to “Gut Key Elements of the Design”. That might work when you are Nintendo and you have complete autonomy as to what is the minimal feature set one can ship with, but when you have a publishing group that wants to see a half-dozen bullet points of major features on the back of the box, it is a hard conversation to make.
I looked for an online image of Medal of Honor: Vanguard for the PS2 as a counterexample, but couldn’t find one. It shocked me when I looked at the back of the box and saw zero bulleted features. It was essentially a mission pack, but even then publishers tend to pull BS bullets out of their ass (Experience WWII as never before! Use one of seven authentic period weapons! Killing Nazis is socially acceptable!)
Hopefully the “less is more” approach that Nintendo is making vogue again catches on with the bigger players.