"I love pixel art," writes Blake Reynolds, the lead artist of Dinofarm Games. "But in the last year, I've come to a very different conclusion. It's not about what I like. It never is."
In an extensive post on the game developer's website, Reynolds explains why their team decided to stay away from pixel art in future games: Contemporary gamers simply don't understand it.
He walks readers through an excellent deconstruction of what pixel art is and does, why it's valuable—and why he believes the high-definition preference of modern gamers have rendered it commercially obsolete. Games that decide to use pixel art pay what he calls a "pixel tax," where even very sophisticated images and animations are considered more rudimentary than inferior works created in higher definition.
I could write you an entire book on why that is absolutely not the case, but that's the thing – it's not the audience's responsibility to read that book. It's my responsibility deliver them quality in a language they understand… My job was to make Auro's art polished, inviting, and clear to the audience, not to also educate the audience that pixel art is a deliberate style. It's not their problem that they don't know what pixel art is, and it's not their fault. Choosing pixel art was ultimately self-serving and wound up confusing and even frustrating people. This is all because we failed to embrace the medium.
While this certainly isn't a universal sentiment among pixel artists or people who play games, it's a bit of a sobering and saddening one for fans of pixel art. (Rob Beschizza and I still love it, too.)