I've noticed that recently there are considerably more 2-D games, especially of classic titles. Mario, DK, Kirby, and others for Nintendo, and no doubt other games for other platforms as well. What factors contributed to this increase of 2-D games in today's market?
Interesting question. I've actually been thinking a large factor is recent advances in 3D acceleration.
You may notice many of these games have 3D shapes, models or effects laid across a 2D plane. There's also an easier use of physics simulations thanks to 3D/2D interop.
Other considerable factors:
- Development time of 2D games is often less for core functionality, allowing more time for all the bells and whistles to make very unique games.
- Mobile games have caused an influx in 2D game developers which was followed up by an influx in mobile consoles, a favored 2D gaming platform.
- "Classic Style" games with a 'new technology' feel are nostalgic for older gamers and generally pretty cool for everyone. New spins on old ideas.
I'd put my money behind:
- the recent explosion in weak hardware with small viewscreens (how much can you really enjoy 3D on a 2x3 inch phone screen?)
- revolution in ease of software delivery - AppStore et al makes it practical for individual developers to once again market software to users
- it's easier and faster to program a 2D game to take advantage of point 2 than it is a 3D game
- 3D games require additional skillsets (modeling, physics, skinning) that 2D games do not
Other users already gave great answers, but I also want to add my opinion.
I believe that, in many cases, the 2D gameplay is easier to understand, easier to play and easier to master than 3D gameplay. This is specially true for games aimed at casual players.
- Most input devices are 2D (joysticks, keyboards, mice, touch screens...). Accelerometers are kinda 3D, but most time they behave as 2D input.
- Video output devices are still 2D.
- Even 3D displays are just two 2D images together, and not a true 3D space.
- It is easier and a lot simpler to move in 2D space than in 3D space.
- Moving in 3D space requires more input commands, which means more keys, more buttons or analog sticks, or a mouse and keyboard.
- Sometimes we don't have so many input devices available (think about mobile games).
- More input commands means the player must memorize more commands before mastering the game.
- 2D games usually don't have frustrating issues with bad camera placement.
- It is easier to get lost in 3D space.
Note: when I talk about 2D, I'm also including games with 2D-based gameplay and 3D graphics.