I continued my inquiry to discover the nuanced decision-making process that went behind re-shaping an already successful series, and I wondered why Kratos now has a child companion. Jason said, “In the original games, Kratos murdered his wife and child. Our audience did not expect Kratos to have a child he actually cared for. Unexpected twists are what a mature audience craves. Kratos murdered multiple gods and now he needs the help of his son to scale an eight foot wall. Unexpected. Cinematic. Mature. I would also like to point out that in no way was this decision based on the success and critical praise of the game The Last of Us,” McDonald grinned wide-eyed as he said this, putting me at ease. He leaned in close and gestured for me to do the same, “We brought the in-game camera closer to Kratos’ shoulder, slowed down all the enemies, added some crafting and RPG equipment elements to maintain the unique vision of the series. You’ve probably never seen all these elements come together in such a mature title. It turns out that the more generic you make your franchise, the more mature gamers it attracts. Aerial combos are a thing of the past,” he added, spitting on the floor.
McDonald took me to the play testing area of Santa Monica Studios to get a better idea of the maturation of the God of War franchise. Those playing the original games in the series could barely maintain their balance on their chairs, and several had to be strapped in to their seats. All their controllers had heavily stained drool guards and the scent of urine hung in the air. We proceeded to observe the play testers for the 2018 God of War title. The difference was staggering. All the players wore business suits and bluetooth headsets in their left ears. Next to each player was a crib containing one of his own children. Occasionally, they would pause the game to check on their babies, taking parenting cues that they learned from the matured Kratos. God of War grew up. And that’s a good thing.