The gaming industry is one of the biggest and fastest growing forms of entertainment today. This growth has meant that, year on year, increasing amounts of financial investment is being poured into the business.
Even though financial investment is the main driving force behind the success of a product, in the case of the video game industry, money has inadvertently been the cause of straining the relationship between game companies and gamers, which is resulting from a shift in a culture that is compromising fun and creativity for profits and laziness.
Along with this, there are plenty of other problems in video games that have come to frustrate me, the details of which I lay out in this article.
Installing Game Data
I understand that installing game data from a disc is meant to speed up the games performance but honestly, from my experience at least, most games still take an age to load, so installing a game kind of seems like a pointless and time-wasting process. Although the main issue I have with this is the fact that the large size of the data is quite big and if you own a lot of games then your hard drive tends to fill up after a short time, resulting in you either having to delete data from other games to make space or upgrade your console with a larger hard drive which is inconvenient.
Pricing of Games
I understand why most video games are released at a price between £40-£50. It's very expensive to make and market a video game, especially since the technology is advancing by the year and the minimum resale price maintenance agreement between publishers and retailers is regularly put into effect without resistance. But, as a consumer, I regularly find myself raising my eyebrows at prices for certain games and that disagreement comes from the way I value a game based on aspects such as fun factor, gameplay, length, replayability and number of modes. I do also think graphics are an important aspect to consider especially for AAA games where a big budget is involved. An example of a AAA game is Uncharted 4, which is an exceptional game, one that I feel gave me complete value for money. However, compare that to a game such as No Man's Sky, which was made by a small independent team, which originally cost about £50. Compare these two titles purely on the video game experience they offer, and you'll find that the Naughty Dog title is clearly the better game in every aspect and better reflects a £50 price tag. Another example of bad pricing is The Order 1886, which took the average player around 5 hours to complete and offered nothing else, yet it cost £50 upon release.
Annual releases such as FIFA and Call of Duty, come out with slight tweaks to gameplay and graphics, plus the possibility of an added mode or two. Is it justifiable for a publisher to ask for the same amount of money every year, if the game they put out is almost identical to the previous year's game?
Paid DLC, where you pay a price for extra content months after release is reasonable (e.g. story packs), since that is extra work the developers have put into expanding the game. But if that paid content is made available from day one then there's no way to describe this tactic other than a scam. What is baffling to me is that most DLC costs up to half the price of the full game even though the size of the data is only adding a small fraction of content compared with the full experience. Gamers can be a patient bunch. Even though that statement is probably false, we are willing to wait longer for a game as long as we are being told the truth and we get the entire experience up front, not in stages, especially if it means spending unreasonable amounts of money. Another infuriating issue here, is when you are given the option to pay to unlock all the features or purchase in-game currency, in other words, buying a shortcut. What happened to just playing the game to unlock bonus features or being more skilled at it allowing you to get those features quicker than someone less skilled? That is a huge part of video game culture that is being tampered with.
There's not a lot else that can be said about this that hasn't been said before, but when a gamer indulges in micro-transactions to take shortcuts you can't call yourself a gamer anymore. You don't pay to level up, you play.
Lack of Creativity
Why did a game like Rocket League become so popular in such a short space of time? First of all, it was cheap (or free if you had a PS Plus membership at the time of release), it has split-screen multiplayer (another part of video game culture that is dying), you can pick up and play it instantly, it's unique and most importantly... it's fun. There's no game like it on the market. The same reasons can be applied to Overwatch, apart from no split screen feature. It's a game that has a strong focus on teamwork and character, unlike other first person shooters where everyone pretty much has the same role and try to outdo each other in terms of kills/deaths. It also stands out against gritty titles like Call of Duty because the game is light-hearted and colourful. These two reasons were key in its success but this doesn't mean all first person shooters have to follow suit, they just have to try something different. This is exactly what EA did with Battlefield 1. They made a game set in World War 1, which was largely unexplored territory in video games compared to the amount of WWII games out there. Infinite Warfare was set in the future and space but there's plenty of games like that already and, significantly, it didn't offer anything unique either.
The negative response towards the latest Call Of Duty was also down to fans noticing a gradual change of identity in the series. Call of Duty pretty much started out as a Medal of Honor clone but developed its own identity when Infinity Ward literally changed the game (pun intended) when they made Modern Warfare because they got creative and introduced perks and killstreaks to keep you coming back to level up. The creativity is there and always will be, but they just need to bring back that ambition to innovate and create inspiring work.
The lack of creativity in the industry has resulted in many remastered games, that seem like they were made as a quick cash grab or a developer simply avoiding to make a new IP thus steering clear of a risk. In recent times, it has also been down to the lack of backwards compatibility in the latest console generation, which has given us remasterings for games that aren't even a decade old.
Games such as The Last of Us, GTA 5 and Dark Souls II were remastered, where the major differences were upscaled graphics, improved effects and frame rate. Although, admittedly the first person mode in GTA was a great addition but that alone isn't enough to warrant a full price tag especially for people who bought the last gen version. Acceptable remasters would look something like Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty or the upcoming Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Collection, since they're complete top to bottom overhauls, as well as the fact that a whole generation has gone by since the original games were released.
Unrefined and Unfinished
This console generation has been plagued with delayed and broken games. I don't blame the developers for these problems specifically because they work hard, however I believe it's more of a corporate problem. It's easy to suggest, but I think original release dates should be overestimated by about six months beforehand, then if there are any delays the time a game is pushed back wouldn't be as disappointing for fans. If development is on schedule, then simply announce an earlier release date, which would be refreshing to see in this day and age.
Everyone knows it's better to take your time and make a well crafted game but that isn't allowed to happen since publishers want a game out at a certain time to make the most sales. Since this is a business at the end of the day and the market has become very competitive, there are times of the year where there's a better likelihood of making more money and you'll notice the big budget games are released towards the end of the year and the reason is obvious. From that, other games have to release a significant time before or after in order to avoid overwhelming or burning out gamers. Certain targets need to be met for publishers but it seems like they'd rather take profit over reputation by neglecting lessons from history.
Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Super Mario Bros.) said it best - "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
Thanks for reading my article.
Anything you agreed or disagreed with?
What problems do you have about the video games industry today?
Let me know in the comments below, I would love to know your views!